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

Tags: ,

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

  1. verno329 Says:

    @JP Its a dvd and the audio is listed in the text file as unknown FOB. Haven’t spun it in a while so I’m checking it out now before catching some tourney action. Looks pretty good. I think the first set is a single cam but the second set is a two cam mix. Shoot me an email at chris dot vernarsky at gmail dot com if you’re interested.

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    there is a very nice FOB of it which the video was originally synched to

    then there is also a SBD synch version, I am not sure if it is from the Pure Jerry release or the circulating board

    the FOB is a clean pull if I recall right though

    eventually someone will matrix them if it hasn’t already been done

  3. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Mr.C- my buddy that used to be in event production also had a company called Cascade media. Audio supplies, dat’s, mikes . etc… ring a bell?

  4. JP Says:

    sweet – thanks verno. mostly interested in the audio aspect, going to poke around a bit and see what’s out there, but definitely appreciate your offer

  5. Mr. Completely Says:


    I know him, yes. Good man. Saw him at Furthur but couldn’t catch his eye. He will remember Tyler I think.

    “It’s pronounced ‘FRONKenstein”

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    I bought all my shit from Cascade for years

    big Panic fan right?

    never got real tight with him but we hung out and partied at shows and stuff quite a lot.

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    JP, there’s an official release of the Hampton JGB show

    it’s a good release – there’s a perfectly fine circulating sbd you should be able to find, though

  8. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Bingo Mr.C! Small world. He and I go back to our college days. One of my good friends.

  9. Mr.Palmer Says:

    He was at PDX Furthur.

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    yeah I was pretty sure that was him. I was waving and stuff but he didn’t see me. I was all the way around to Fake Jerry side, I was down in my seat and he was up walking around the ring

  11. verno329 Says:

    Yeah this version was put together by TaperGuy27 and it was one of the first Jerry vids I got. The audio does sound pretty good but my setup is far from ideal.

    Glad I put it on. This Think is pretty sweet in the second set. Thanks for reminding me about this

  12. JP Says:

    thanks C

  13. Mr. Completely Says:

    I really like him. Like I said, just never got too much of a chance to kick it outside the show scene. But he always struck me as a top quality guy.

  14. EL Duderino Says:

    I saw Hot Rize @ the Hardly Strictly BGF in ’08

    I’ve always been a big BGF.

    Del, Peter and Tony I’ve seen several times.

    When it comes to BG it has to be the roots.

    @ Mr. C

    Actually I don’t think there is a SBD of the JGB show w/Hornsby

    You’d have to be the pure Jerry Release if you want a board.

  15. EL Duderino Says:


  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    Jerry shreds the fuck out of that Think, right?

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    it circulated on cassette @dude

    surprised if it never made it to digital, but you’d know a lot better than me

  18. butter Says:

    Faux Jerry – people in the bay didn’t get enough

    Phil’s 70th had so many guests, the general consensus is we don’t know
    F. J. well enough yet, and his toes got stepped on hard on 3.12

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    you should go to MerleFest since you’re in Cakalack now Dude

    it’s huge and not what it was, but it’s probably still ten times the real bluegrass scene that most of them are

    my favorite hands down

    if you (or anyone else) know of digital copies of the ’91 and ’92 festivals please let me know. I have the ’92 Midnight Jam, a legendary scene.

    The ’92 MerleFest was shot in multicam and a 10 part special ran on PBS called “Pickin’ for Merle”

    finding good quality copies of that video is one of my holy grails – 10 hours of some of the best grass you’ll ever see

    even the audio pulled from it would be sweet but I know the video is out there somewhere

    I even tried contacting the producer at one point

    That ’92 festival was a lifetime highlight for me, the parts that I recall

    That was the moonshine vs. liquid weekend I have spoken of before so there are some gaps

  20. butter Says:

    its interesting when you start pushing buzzes in competitive directions

    they can turn and over take each other from moment to moment

    children please do not try this at home

  21. EL Duderino Says:

    I’ve known about Merl Fest for a long time as well.

    I’ve never made it as of yet, but i have been to Spring Fest and Magnolia Fest in Live Oak, FL.

    Love that venue, right on the Swannee River

  22. EL Duderino Says:

    Don’t even get me started on the FJ thing Mr. C

    You know how the Dude feels about FJ.

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    I have not been back to MerleFest since 92

    it was 8000 people that year

    now it is at least 40k or more

    still, I hear it remains the king of the bluegrass festivals

    Telluride is nothing but a yuppie wannabe scene in comparison (and Telly ain’t bad)


    Seriously, anyone that ever sees “Pickin’ for Merle” on a video list, please holla

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    @butter it was interesting to say the least

    one of my homies was from a serious backwoods hillbilly clan, they were all
    ‘shiners who had turned to growing weed in order to stay in business, but they still made the shine for fun

    we camped next to them, a bunch of full on Dead tour veterans

    both sides were quite nervous at the start

    we traded clear liquids as peace offerings and off it went

    it went phenomenally well, no problems all weekend

    somehow it turns out those crackers could handle their acid fine

    (my boy Chris ended up passing out onstage at the midnight jam but that’s another story – the shine won out in that case)

  25. butter Says:

    we’ve been down that road Dude

    and let’s just say its a Dead end

    it is Friday, after all and Phish has 29 dates set out for us

Leave a Reply