The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

12.31.09 (Wendy Rogell)

December – one of the Phishiest months of the year. We have once again returned to the last page on the calendar, and with each passing day, memories of epic Phish shows flood our memories. This month is especially significant as it represents the 15-year anniversary of December ’95, one of the most powerful months of music that Phish has ever produced. In addition, early December brings memories of Fall ’97’s home stretch from Philadelphia out to the Midwest and back to Albany. And of course, December goes hand in hand with New Year’s Runs – one of Phish’s greatest traditions. Many monumental moments have come over the four final days of the year, and as Phish returns to the same two venues that hosted their epic run 15 years ago, it will be (in the word of living-legend Yogi Berra) deja vu all over again. Over the next few weeks, we will look back at significant December moments in Phish history, especially at the band’s legacies at Worcester and Madison Square Garden. But today, on December 6, there are two significant segments of music that celebrate their birthday. Hailing from 1997 – the all-timer – “Tweezer > Izabella,” and from Phish’s ’96 Vegas extravaganza, a sizzling “Mike’s > Simple > Hood > Weekapaug.”


Tweezer > Izabella” 12.6.1997 – Auburn Hills, Michigan

Fall 1997

The “Tweezer” from The Palace at Auburn Hills, Michigan on December 6, 1997 needs no introduction. Amidst a well-loved and uber-creative tour filled with superb “Tweezers,” this version took the cake. Carving out, and then transcending, the gargantuan funk grooves that defined Fall ’97 versions, this one opened the door to another galaxy. Taking the jam on an inter-galactic ride Phish threw one of the defining “Tweezers” of the late-’90s thirteen years ago tonight. An unforgettable experience, when the set ended I knew that it would stand any test of time. And sure enough, over a decade later, here we are. A full-band journey into the center of the universe and back again, seldom do jams come together like this one did. Last week a friend posed the absurd question – “If you had one day to live and could only listen to one more “Tweezer,” which would it be?” Without hesitation I replied “12.6.97.” With no further ado, Happy Birthday to my favorite “Tweezer!”



Mike’s > Simple > Harry HoodWeekapaug” 12.6.1996 – Aladdin Theatre, Las Vegas, NV

Vegas ’96 Pollock

Phish pulled into The Aladdin Theatre in Las Vegas for the last stop on their extensive fall tour of 1996. Though everybody remembers the absurd and extensive “Harpua” encore featuring many Elvis impersonators, Les Claypool and Larry LaLonde of Primus, yodelers, and various other stage antics that punctuated the affair, earlier in the night, Phish dropped an hour-long “Mike’s Groove” that provided the musical meat of tour’s finale. Starting with a ferocious “Mike’s Song,” the band crunched the darkness, straddling the slowed down rhythmic style of late-Fall ’96 and their fleeting arena rock paradigm. Blasting through an aggressive version on the heels of San Diego’s monster two day’s earlier, the band landed seamlessly in “Simple.” This extended version contained the most original improv of the sequence, as Phish passed through a tranquil pond into a web of snarling musical textures, and then onto a soaring transcendent plane. Descending into an explosive and heart-melting “Harry Hood,” the band pushed the delicate music with exquisite energy and urgency, sculpting a top-shelf rendition of lore. Trey’s guitar leads took on a narrative quality that lent an especially cathartic aura to this “Harry Hood,” and the entire band stamped the tour’s “farewell jam” with a dizzying peak. A smoking run through “Weekapaug” bookended this adventurous musical suite, and added one last sprint to the end of Fall 1996.



Jam of the Day:

Reba” 12.31.93 I

Here is the sublime version from the Worcester Centrum on New Year’s Eve 1993 to kick of the week.




8.26.1993 Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland, OR

Mp3 Torrent, Megaupload < Links

Summer ’93 Pollock T-Shirt

A relic from August 1993, this show from Portland, Oregon smokes from beginning to end. A particularly burly “Split” highlights the first set, while “2001 > Bowie” opens up the second half with a bang. Enjoy this show from one of Phish’s golden months in history, going out via reader request to Chuck D.

I: Runaway Jim, Guelah Papyrus, Reba, Fee, Split Open and Melt, Esther, It’s Ice, Harry Hood, Golgi Apparatus

II: Also Sprach Zarathustra > David Bowie, Lifeboy, Rift, Jesus Just Left Chicago, The Lizards, Hold Your Head Up > Mice and Bats*> Hold Your Head Up, Chalk Dust Torture

E: Free Bird

* w/ Baby Gramps, who was also the opening act.

Source: (FOB) Neumann km140 > Sonosax SX-M2 > Sony D-10 II pro (@ 48 kHz)


524 Responses to “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

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  1. thedayman Says:

    first, great topic, love me sum december phish!

  2. Al Says:

    absolutely right, Miner. December is Phishin’ time. I really hope that Kevin Shapiro will release one or the other archival releases between NYE and the next summer tour. As I have always suggested. They should do a voting for the next archival release. Three choices, one winner.
    My three choices for the next archival releases would be:
    1. Auburn Hills 12.6.97
    2. Dallas 07.25.97
    3. Cypress

    Now that would be a tough choice for Miner…;-)

  3. MikeThong Says:

    Thanks Miner, there’s some seriously great stuff on this post.

  4. BrandonKayda Says:

    Thanks Miner

    Second all nighter of the past month complete! 😀

  5. Luther T. Justice Says:

    I’ve said it many a time on here, 12-6-97 changed my life. I walked-out of that show a transformed man.

    And then I got lost in the suburbs of west Detroit. Yet I remained transformed.

  6. phoammhead Says:

    great theme for this time of year – love it!

    i’ve never made a new years show, but made the philly show on 12/28 in 1994

    can’t wait for msg . . . excitement building! 🙂

  7. willowed Says:

    Snow on the ground here in CT., Jets vs Pats on Monday night and December Phish.

    Can it get any better?

  8. Calpain Says:

    So excited for the holiday (Phish) season to come around!!

    I noticed there is no meet-up tab on the spreadsheet for the Worcester shows?

  9. J.w.bulldawg Says:

    I missed 12-6-97(had a baby) but saw everything else mentioned and can’t say i disagree at all with your opinion.The tweezer from binghampton was a seagueathon that everyone should hear! One of the toughest tix of the tour(ATL and Hershey were the only harder ones) did not disappoint. So happy to have seen every show from that EPIC month.Ahhhh….. December phish!!

  10. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Cap- I don’t know Worcester but this place looks like as good a spot as any…

    Appears to be less than a mile from DCU.

  11. butterflyeffect Says:

    I took the liberty of creating a Woosta ’10 tab on the spreadsheet

    bow down before my awesome creative power

    not sure if i’ll be able to make the bars but we’ll see

  12. butterflyeffect Says:

    @BK well done sir

    @Spaz looks good, again dunno about my bar status because i’ll have a sub 21 friend with me

  13. Calpain Says:

    @Spaz- nice find, some good brews on the draft list

    I wasn’t sure what the protocol was @butteryfly about alternations to the spreadsheet, I appreciate your awesome creative power!

    Happy Monday everyone!

  14. P.S.H.S. Says:

    is there a “No Brainers” playlist? the tweezer>izabella is from “no brainers” but i can’t find it here, there, or anywhere

  15. Spasm Waiter Says:

    I am so excited for the 28th that I am already planning what beer I am going to order first. Giddy with excitement 3 weeks out… time will not be whizzing by I guess…

  16. Calpain Says:

    @Spasm- likewise I have not seen a show since the summer and I am beyond excited. As for the beer I have decided, but I will probably only need 1-dogfishhead 120.

  17. voopa Says:

    Great write up Miner. Tweezabella and that Vegas Mike’s have been in my heavy rotation for years!

  18. Kaveh Says:

    Who is the f’ing dillhole that is talking during this Tweezer?!

  19. Chuck D Says:

    crunchy grooves today. $$$$.

  20. andrewrose Says:

    My only problem with the Auburn Hills selection today is that it doesn’t include the whole set. The way they land in Twist out of the Izabella funk jam is just read-icculus.

  21. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    mornin’ all

    december phish is a wonderful thing. here’s to more in the coming weeks!

    re: woosta bahs
    brew city is solid. pretty decent food and a great beer selection. the bar area can get pretty tight but since these shows are a monday/tuesday it shouldn’t be too bad.

    another really good option is the Dive Bar which is even closer to the venue and has a very very very good beer selection. no food, but a really great bar near the venue.

  22. Chuck D Says:

    is the megaupload giving anyone trouble on todays dotd? it seemed to start D/Ling fine, then my browser froze up and now it says “The file you are trying to access is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later”. anyone?

  23. BigNasty Says:

    I’ve been listening to the Worcester Jim all weekend.

    I love it for the pure nasty guitar tone Trey puts out.

    Tone school right there folks – big time, powerful, gut churning, tractor beam tone.

    Some of Trey’s finest on display in that Jim.

  24. themanatee Says:

    would have been pretty sweet to see The Phish at Arlene Schitzner in Portland , uber nice “opera” style hall – too many seats of course, a la radio city but that type of vibe

  25. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    @bingos (if you are out there today)

    how you feelin’ about your canes going up against the irish in the sun bowl? hard to believe they haven’t played each other since 1990. I hope it renews the vigor of that once rivalry in advance of the 2012 showdown even if a mid tier bowl game doesn’t have much juice to it.

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