Today’s flashbacks bring us into two legendary periods of Phish history – Fall ’97 and Fall ’95 – and showcase two pieces of music that define these eras to a tee – Dayton’s “Tube > Slave” and Niagara Falls’ “Split Open and Melt.”
Capping off a fun-filled opening set at Dayton’s Nutter Center, Phish reeled off the defining musical segment of the entire show. Tw0-thirds of the way through a tour filled with dance grooves, “Tube” — still a three-minute song — had yet to make an appearance. Thus when Phish took the rarity off the shelf in Dayton for a rendition that many fans now know by heart, they completely redefined the song for the late ’90s and beyond. Instead of firing through a musical shot of adrenaline, Phish applied their Fall ’97 paradigm to the song, crafting a legendary dose of “cow funk.” A revelatory moment in which one could feel the burgeoning excitement deep within, Phish locked into an addictive groove clinic that set the Nutter Center afire. Phish, themselves, felt so good about the birth of the funk-generation “Tube,” that upon its ending, they burst back into the rhythmic crack that had just drenched the crowd. Lighting up thrilling back-to-back dance sessions, Phish built these grooves away from “Tube” and into an iconic slice of Fall ’97 music. The band slowly infused melodic leads into the bubbling brew, and Trey introduced the opening hints of “Slave” while the band still soared through a rhythmic wormhole. The band heard his idea and slowed the tempo for a gradual move into “Slave.” Capping this momentous segment with a glorious “Slave,” the band had invented a brand new improvisational vehicle for years to come.
“Split Open and Melt” 12.7.95 – Niagara Falls Convention Cntr, NY
Surrounded by so many mind-stretching highlights in the same week, let alone the same month, this show from Niagara Falls doesn’t always receive the recognition it deserves. Boasting top-shelf renditions of “Reba,” and “Mike’s > Groove,” its most blistering piece of music remains the second-set opening “Split Open and Melt.” Illustrative of the rapid-fire communication of late-95, the band chugged their way into a vintage psychedelic jaunt. Spinning into a four-piece symphony, the band converged in a piece that pushed the limits of improvisational tightness amidst cacophony. A chaotic version that remained tightly glued together, the skills on display in this jam were the skills that made December ’95 such a spectacular month of music. Progressing into a more palpable rhythm, the band slowly built the abstract jam back into the back end of “Split’s” sinister build. Taking plenty of time to peak this enthralling rendition, Phish also traveled down a creative path to end the piece, softly closing one of the more impressive renditions of the year.
Another stellar nugget from Niagara Falls ’95.
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
10.27.1995 Wings Stadium, Kalamazoo, Michigan
This Fall ’95 reader’s request goes out to Vinnie in San Francisco. In his own words:
The “Runaway Jim > Fluffhead” opener was pure bliss. The “Suspicious Minds” cover was in tribute to the epic rumor of an Elvis spotting at a Burger King in Kalamazoo. The “Bowie” was a melter for all in attendance, and they finished off with a classy David Bowie cover of “Life on Mars?”
I: Runaway Jim, Fluffhead, Taste That Surrounds, Horn, I Didn’t Know, Rift, Stash, Fee > Suspicious Minds > Hold Your Head Up
II: Also Sprach Zarathustra > David Bowie, Dog Faced Boy, Poor Heart, Simple, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters > Keyboard Army, Bouncing Around the Room, Possum
E: Life on Mars?
Sources: FLAC – (FOB) Schoeps cmc3/mk4, Mp3 – AKG 460sTags: Jams