Today’s December time travel brings us back to the ninth of the month in Albany during Fall ’95, and in Arizona during Fall ’94. The highlighted pieces — Albany’s classic “You Enjoy Myself” and Mesa’s lesser-known “Antelope — showcase two outlandish mid-’90s jams that will leave your jaw on the floor.
“You Enjoy Myself” 12.9.95 – Albany, New York II
Albany and “You Enjoy Myself” have always enjoyed each other. Phish has performed their seminal piece in all but two visits to New York’s capitol during their entire career. Though many of these versions brought highlights and exclamation points to shows at The Knick and beyond, none stand out like the version that went down fifteen years ago today. This breakout “YEM” — with no parallels through the years — brought wide open improvisation to a largely structured jam. Though stellar versions allowed for plenty of freedom within the groove, “The Albany “YEM” broke down walls and transformed into a triumphant masterpiece that is generally considered the “best version” ever played.
This all-timer got moving in full when Trey scripted a now-iconic, melodic theme early in the jam. This chord progression ran through the entirety of this monstrosity, setting the musical framework for the band to blast off. Amidst a slamming rhythmic template and in a moment of full-speed revelation, this free-form piece left any semblance of “YEM” in a wake of original dance music. The band toyed with the jam’s signature theme throughout sparser grooves, as Page and Mike each emerged for periods of prominence. When Trey assumed the lead again, he tore into a solo that kicked the band into another gear and Phish chugged forward as a four-headed machine fueled by IT. Fishman and Gordon took center stage as Trey tickled a series of repetitive “disco” licks. Fully immersed in a bass-led groove, the band slowly peeled out of the mix, leaving the stage quiet as Phish entered a “silent jam.” Continuing to play their instruments in animated fashion without making a sound, Phish infused this mind-bender with a brief dose of antics. But almost two minutes later, Trey led the troops in a cliff dive back into the conventional “YEM” jam, taking the adventure to one last peak. One for the record books — take a moment to celebrate the 15th anniversary of a “You Enjoy Myself” like none other.
“Run Like an Antelope” 12.9.94 – Mesa, Arizona I
Frenetic. Diabolical. Psychotic. These are words that come to mind when describing “Antelope” from Mesa, Arizona on the penultimate night of Fall ’94. Taking a step into the desert during early December, the band hit the ground running in this skull-fucking set-closer. Phish demolished the opening of the jam, wasting zero seconds getting into the middle of a ferocious music. Moving directly into tightly-laced chaotic improv, the entire band crushed the type of “Antelope” that no longer grazes the Western plains. Aggressive and hardcore machine-gun patterns underlined this twisted blast from the netherworld, as Phish explored music that could only have come at the end of 1994. The band communicated so closely that their offerings fused into a sonic bolt of lightening in which one could hardly decipher a single instrument from the explosive whole. This is full-on, ballistic Phish, a style unseen since its mid-’90s hey-dey. Fasten your seat belt for this fifteen-minute trip — things could get hairy.
This unconventional take on “Simple” turned into the centerpiece of Penn State ’97; another jam that proves Fall ’97 wasn’t only about funk.
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
11.28.98 The Centrum, Worcester, Massachusetts
With Worcester fast approaching, here is a small dip into the venue’s history. The middle show of Fall ’98 three-night finale featured some hot moments, but didn’t carry the weight of its two surrounding dates. “Wolfman’s > Timber” and a late-set “Tweezer” held down the second frame, while “Gumbo” and “Split” book-ended a solid first.
I: Gumbo, Tube, Down with Disease, Guyute, Albuquerque, Foam, The Moma Dance, Split Open and Melt
II: Julius, Wolfman’s Brother > Timber Ho, Loving Cup, Scent of a Mule, Prince Caspian, Crossroads, Tweezer, Cavern
E: Sample in a Jar, Tweezer Reprise
Source: FLAC – Nakamichi CM300’s/CP4s :: MP3 – Schoeps cmc6/mk41