The Virtuosity of Summer ’93

Pollock Summer '93

In interviews these days, Phish consistently discusses the importance of striking a balance in their lives during this era of their career. Combining Phish, families, side-projects, and some down time, the band members, thankfully, seem to be prioritizing personal sustainability in round three. But this is not the way it always worked. For the first decade plus of their career, Trey, Fish, Mike and Page dedicated their entire beings to the entity of Phish. Virtually every waking hour was spent pushing, practicing, and refining their skills. Phish, unquestionably, represented the most important facet of their lives. Notoriously intense practices and improvisational exercises drove the band’s single-minded musical communication, as they lived, ate, and breathed Phish 24 hours a day. And when listening to their sublime musical output during their first massive peak of Summer ’93, one can hear the hours of intense dedication; one can hear the complete and total focus on the mastery of their music; one can actually hear their burning desire for excellence.

Laguna Seca Daze - 5/93

The summer of 1993 represented a crucial phase in Phish’s development. After touring the summer circuit in 1992 as an opening act for Santana, in ’93 the band began headlining larger amphitheatres, themselves. At the same time, Phish sought to distance themselves from the first wave of “jambands” with whom they co-billed a couple of July’s H.O.R.D.E. tour stops. At this time, the music industry grouped, and often dismissed, Phish with other neo-hippie acts such as Blues Traveler, Aquarium Rescue Unit, The Spin Doctors, and Widespread Panic. But combining a youthful exuberance with a dedication and passion rarely seen in modern music, Phish forged ahead, breaking down boundaries of live music. Ensuring that every night provided a wholly different experience for their fans, the band held themselves to rigorous standards, playing with a life-or-death urgency every time they hit the stage. All the while, Phish shows grew more adventurous then ever before; the music began to take on a life of its own.

Durham, NH - 5.8.93

The intense drive that Phish possessed in this era never wavered, in large part, due to their lack of distractions. Not yet rock stars on any level, the totality with which the band dedicated themselves to their craft crossed the line of obsession, and simply became part and parcel of who they were as people. Yet to marry or to start families, Phish – the band – was, without a doubt, the singular, most important entity in any of their lives – and it showed. Over the previous four years, they played 532 gigs – an average of 133 per year – and going into Summer ’93, Phish carried the momentum of a torrid four-month winter/spring tour that had ended only a month before. Add that run to the scorching year of 1992 in which they played 121 shows, and the band had a full head of steam. While their early years fostered the band’s burgeoning virtuosity, Phish sat on the brink of Summer ’93, primed and ready for their first massive musical peak of their career.

The band displayed drill-bit focus and overwhelming creativity throughout the summer, resulting in nothing less than superlative, transcendent improvisation all season long. With their roots firmly planted in both the jazz and rock traditions, Phish crafted sublime, original music nightly, launching into vastly different universes with nearly every jam. One simply didn’t know where the music would travel each time out of the gate; their improv had zero predictability. Similar songs got different treatments on different nights, as the band explored completely divergent musical territory. The meticulous musical conversations that characterized this tour were indicative of the telekinetic connection, and unity of purpose, the band members felt at this stage of their lives. Jumping into the void multiple times per night and playing with calculated vigor, Phish locked into each others’ ideas and responded to them subconsciously, playing with a style of wizardry that would dissipate in their later years of groove to the chagrin of many fans.

Laguna Seca - 5/93

Laguna Seca Daze - 5/93

During this summer, Phish sounded like they were playing for their lives every time they hit the stage, and essentially, that is exactly what they were doing. On the verge of breaking from of the pack of H.O.R.D.E-style bands, Phish dedicated the entirety of their lives to making Phish the craziest live experience and most enticing music in the scene. The scintillating surreal adventures that characterized their entire tour, solidified Phish as the preeminent force in improvisational rock. With fewer jam vehicles in their catalog than later days, each time out, songs grew more unique, moving away from previous incarnations and into uncharted domains. Open, or type II, jamming became the norm rather than the exception, as Phish explored all corners of the musical cosmos with white-hot intensity.

Also of significance,The Grateful Dead kept on truckin’ during 1993, leaving the Phish community protected from the masses with a youthful  innocence that would be lost come Fall ’95. Summer ’93 still held a certain intimacy, like everyone shared a secret from the rest of the world, and secret power of Phish. Possessing shining skill sets and incredible enthusiasm, while constricted by few other cares in their lives, the band, themselves, raged Phish harder than ever before. The band never came out flat or careless. Each time they performed, the show immediately transformed into the most important event in the world, and this relentlessness pushed and pulled their musical exploits into fantastically ludicrous, mind-expanding planes. The psychedelic unknown became the defining quality of their improvisation; one took the leap of faith with Phish each time a jam dropped, trusting that whatever mania ensued, the band would, eventually, lead the way home. Giving oneself to this experience held a different meaning when there was no predictability where the music would go.

While Phish played outstanding shows throughout July, in August 1993, Phish achieved one of their all-time peaks. Alongside other career high-points of April ’92, June and November ’94, December ’95 and November / December ’97, and December ’99; August ’93 possessed a separate musical quality all to itself. Boiling down to hunger, desire, and stretching the possibilities of live music, Phish absolutely annihilated their two-month, bi-coastal jaunt. Every show during August contains genuinely outlandish moments of improvisation, pieces that one must hear to believe and digest. Providing a portrait of Phish at one of their highest musical mountaintops, Summer ’93, though seeming like ancient history, lives on 17 years later through memories, recordings, and in the hearts, minds, and souls of the Phish community.

To honor this incredible summer and the exploits within, I have compiled “Miner’s Picks: August ’93.” Because Phish had less vehicles in their repertoire at the time, I have split up the compilation into two “sets,” each with similar songs. (I left out the LivePhish releases (Murat, Tinley Park) for which I only have the official SBDs.) These selections paint a vivid, six-hour picture of a band centered in the moment, while careening towards the future. It’s truly an era that is not to be forgotten.



MINER’S PICKS: AUGUST ’93 < Megaupload

Set I:

1,2. “2001 > David Bowie” 8.17, Kansas City, KS

3. “Split Open and Melt” 8.26, Portland, OR

4. “Reba” 8.16, St.Louis, MO

5. “Stash” 8.21, Salt Lake City, UT

6. “Run Like an Antelope” 8.20 Red Rocks, CO

7. “Tweezer” 8.15 Louisville, KY

8-10. “Bathtub Gin > Makisupa > My Mind’s…” 8.2, Tampa, FL

11-13. “Mike’s > Faht > Weekapaug” 8.16, St.Louis, MO

14. “Harry Hood” 8.26, Portland, OR

15. “You Enjoy Myself” 8.3, Miami, FL

Set II:

16,17. “Buried Alive > Tweezer” 8.6, Cincinatti, OH

18. “Stash” 8.15, Louisville, KY

19,20. “Split Open > Glide” 8.9, Toronto, ON

21. “Reba” 8.12, Rochester, MI

22. “Runaway Jim” 8.21, Salt Lake City, UT

23. “Run Like an Antelope” 8.28, Berkeley, CA

24-26. “Mike’s > Great Gig > Weekapaug” 8.11, Grand Rapids, MI

27,28. “2001 > David Bowie” 8.26, Portland, OR

29. “Slave to the Traffic Light” 8.20, Red Rocks, CO

30. “You Enjoy Myself” 8.28, Berkeley, CA


1993 Rift Promotional Video  (Great Footage!)


Jam of the Day:

2001 > David Bowie” 8.17.93 II

This selection opened up the second set in Kansas City, and also kicks off the above compilation.




8.15.93 The Macauley Theatre, Louisville, KY < Torrent

8.15.93 The Macauley Theatre, Louisville, KY < Megaupload

The “Stash” and “Tweezer” were worth the price of admission alone.

I: Sample in a Jar, All Things Reconsidered, Caravan, Runaway Jim, Fee, Paul and Silas, Stash, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird, Chalk Dust Torture

II: Rift, Tweezer, The Lizards, The Landlady, Bouncing Around the Room, Maze, Glide, Sweet Adeline, Ginseng Sullivan, Nellie Kane, Free Bird

E: Harry Hood

Source: Unknown

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1,037 Responses to “The Virtuosity of Summer ’93”

  1. BTB Says:

    The old people interviews in today’s Rift video are great!

  2. stash Says:

    It’s the eperience that has brought us here. I’d never been to a show that made me laugh so hard. It changed how I view music/concerts forever.

  3. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    fantastic Miner!!

    great write up, really look forward to the compilation, and that video is incredible!

  4. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    yeah, there are musical signals all over phish’s music but the key difference to me is that this is conscious decision with UM whereas the phish approach seems to be more of finding the direction within the music itself as opposed to directing it (if that makes sense).

  5. stash Says:

    @TIII – i totally agree. but look at any great orchestra. you need a conductor to keep it all together. there are countless spots where phish has predetermined how things will go:

    the break in it’s ice, the break in tweezer…. decisions to take runaway jim and play it for an hour. it’s like the LG, once they make the decision to go – they go.

  6. stash Says:

    my dad used to say, “practice does not make perfect. perfect practice makes perfect.”

    if practice shit, you perfrom shit.

  7. EL Duderino Says:

    Was seeing way more more GD in ’93

    World Music Theater – Tinley Park, IL. was my only show that year.

    Only if I knew then what I know now…

    I would have seen a little more Phish than 1 show that year.


  8. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    and that’s why we all can’t get enough of them!

  9. kenny powers Says:

    this ’93 write-up has reminded me of a question i’ve been meaning to ask y’all: does anyone have an idea of what the first true type II jam was? Clearly 1994 was the year they really started popping up all over and extending waay out there, but i know there were some in ’93 (Murat Gin comes to mind)…were there any as far back as ’92? They were playing pretty contained, short jams back then…

    i can’t believe i don’t know this, since something like that must have been a seminal event for the band and the fans…like “whoa, what the fuck was that?!?”

  10. stash Says:

    that is a serious research question.

  11. BTB Says:

    Miner –

    After reading today’s pots, you deserve an interview with the boys. Just saying. You might actually ask relevant questions.

  12. Amazin1986 Says:

    8.6.93, Peacock Pavilion at the Cincinnati Zoo, Slave, “See the city, see the zoo.” Masters of their domain.

  13. marcoesq Says:

    morning all, very nice piece Miner. I was too young then to even acknowledge ’93 Phish but only a few short years later I was catapulted into the life of these 4

    I’ll definitely have to go back and check out some of these jams

  14. marcoesq Says:


    I know that you posted that last night but if you’re still around let me know

    Camden>MPP are my local shows so I can most likely give you a ride if you kick down some of that “parental loan money” 🙂

    jk man, but definitely let me know because its looking like those will be the only 4 shows I’m hitting during Leg I

  15. mrfergie Says:

    Fuck and yes…
    Fiance is gone for the weekend, and we just came across some neemsbane. looks like my weekend is now planned out for me…

  16. ColonelJoy Says:

    Type II jams emerged in 86’/87’….albeit messy ones. All depends on how you define type II….

  17. albert walker Says:

    my first 2 shows
    did not really know the band
    went with 2 deadheads from my dad’s business at the time

    8/13 – 8/14
    turned out to be 2 of the best I ever saw

    great write up Miner wish I could have caught more or known what I was seeing

    anyone interested

    I added some of that Dr. John with the Meters – Desitively Bonaroo

    with too classics most likely you have heard

    Kenny Burrell – Midnight Blue
    JJ Cale – Naturally

    2 close to perfect albums

    laterz kids
    have a good one

  18. jdub Says:

    Well done Miner, you must have put a lot of work into this one and it shows. What a great video as well. There seemed to be a real purity in music and scene, lots of youthful energy.

    Fishman had me cracking up in that video when they are discussing the trance like state of being in a jam. Shit running down your leg… had me rolling.

  19. albert walker Says:

    just hit my name for my mediafire

    nothing better than a 93 Bowie > Have Mercy segue

    can’t beat it

  20. danno Says:

    7/24/93 – Great Woods. My first show and first for many, as it was the first time they sold out a venue of that size on their own accord. Hooked for life.

  21. ColonelJoy Says:


    Your best write-up in awhile…good job. I joined the Army in January 93’….hadn’t seen the band yet and couldn’t see the Dead that year…had heard a bit of a crappy Junta copy on cassete back in the spring of 90’….not too impressed at the time. In the barracks, in the summer of 93′, some dude from conneticut loaned me Nectar on cassete…wore out my little sony…couldn’t get enough of that album. saw the band back home in Portland Maine while on leave…12/30….rest is history…

    Sometimes I wish I had gotten into the band early…89′ or so, as I could have seen them play several times at the Tree Cafe in Portland….Amy’s farm was twenty minutes from my house, too….but then again, so was the Oxford Plains shows….well, you don’t know what you don’t know.

  22. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Cincy Zoo show 8.6.93- i wore that tape out. the Yem>cocaine>Yem is the stuff of legends.

    TII- not to beat a dead horse here. I called my buddy last night who i went to SPAC with last year. We definitley stayed at the Hilton. Not the garden Inn though. There is another one on the other side of town. On broadway i believe. Two different places.

  23. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    right! I forgot about the hilton on the other side of town… at least you have some closure on that now!

  24. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    decided to go back and listen to the 93 Murat show in honor of today’s post.

    after stash, when trey first puts on the acoustic for Ginseng Sullivan, he very clearly plays the guitar line from Starship Troopers (right before he announces fishman coming out to play the madonna washboard). it’s brief, but it’s there! and the acoustic intro to fluffhead is genius. now that is a song that would be amazing for a noon time acoustic set…

  25. marcoesq Says:

    Maybe it’s just my inexperience to this era of Phish but some of these metal-esque jams make me want to drop a bunch of doses and go snort some rails of a hooker’s tit with a handle of Jack in my hand…

    am I wrong?

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