All selections and text by Poster Nutbag from Online Phish Tour
“Curtain With” 5.24.88 I, Burlington, VT
One of my favorite ’80s tapes. Had this show mislabeled as 5/25/88, but that seems inconsequential right now. This jam shows what Phish could do at a very early age. I always like listening to this stuff because you can just hear how good they will be. Other noteworthy items to check out in this show are “Whipping Post” (absolutely shreds) and “Ya Mar” with Jah Roy for some reggae stylings.
“Rift” 2.25.90 I, Baltimore, MD
I wanted to put this on here for those who haven’t heard it yet. As sad as I was to see the “With” leave “Curtain” from 1988-2000, I’m glad the music found a home in “Rift,” as I cannot imagine “Rift” being played in this form. The one part I do wish they had kept was the line “And so fell the weight I never can lift/Behind us the darkness between us the rift”.
The classic 1-2 punch of “Landlady > Destiny” executed to perfection here. This is from the same show that features the “Prison Joke.” This show is your average/great show from 1991 and this “Landlady > Destiny” exemplifies how tight the band was back then, a few minor flubs in “Landlady” notwithstanding. I’d also love to hear another standalone “Landlady” (i.e. not in PYITE), but that’s about as likely as me seeing “Peaches” (still chasing that one).
“Run Like an Antelope” 11.19.92 I, Colchester, VT
This show was released by the band as the Haiti earthquake benefit and features really fierce playing throughout, but no moment more fierce than at the 4:24 point in Antelope where Trey releases what I think might be the most perfect guitar lick he has ever played. I also love the “Those Were the Days” teases sprinkled throughout, especially the one preceding “rye, rye, rocco.” Just turn it up and listen…
Digging deep yet again, this sequence is quintessential 1993 Phish. 1993 is one of my top 3 favorite years of the band, falling behind 1997 and constantly changing places with 1995. We all know about August 1993 and most of us know about the Roxy run in February and the May shows (thanks to the releases of 5/3/93 and 5/8/93), but the July shows which led up to the August shows get lost in the mix. July doesn’t really have the moments of pure insanity that August does, but it has some truly excellent moments of its own like the one above. “Leprechaun” makes a worthy replacement for “Hydrogen here,” and I would certainly be game to see this song make an appearance once again.
“Slave to the Traffic Light” 12.31.94 II, Boston, MA
A monumental “Slave” to close out a monumental year. All New Year’s shows should end like this.
“David Bowie” 6.19.95 II, Noblesville, IN
This may be my favorite “Bowie” of all time. The jam is typical for Summer ‘95: dark, meandering yet focused, visiting different themes, and incredible peaks. This “Bowie” does all of that. For one, listen to the theme that Trey establishes at the beginning of the jam, then listen to how he brings it back at various times (the same should be noted for the “Reba” in ths show too). That is the kind of stuff only Trey, and the band for that matter, can do and its one of the reasons why Phish is such a special band. I also like the use of effects Trey uses as the jam gets going. Very unique and I can’t say that I have heard them before or since.
Summer 1995 is such a pivotal point in the band’s history. I think today we tend to forget the impact the death of Jerry Garcia had on Phish. Just to refresh everyone’s memory, in the summer of ‘95 the Grateful Dead were imploding and Jerry was not much longer for this world, while at the same time Phish was approaching an apex of sorts. The death of Garica couldn’t have come at a better (or worse) time for the band. It gave the emerging Phisheads who were splitting their time between the Grateful Dead and Phish the ability to focus 100% on Phish and gave all the fence-sitters a place to go. It was a coincidence that this influx of interest came at the precise moment when the band was fully realizing their powers, which brings us to…
1996 has been discussed at length, both here and elsewhere. 1996 was a transitional year, both for the music, the band, and the fanbase. Fall 1996 generally isn’t the strongest tour ever but there are many gems in there waiting to be found. This “Simple > Sparks” is one of those. It should be noted that to fully appreciate this sequence, you should listen to the “Wilson” that precedes the “Simple” and the “Sparkle” that follows the “Sparks,” but in order to highlight the meat of this sandwich I chose this segment to highlight.
Anyone who knows me knows that I sing the praises of this show to anyone who will listen. Overlooked because of the preceding shows (the three night Worcester run) and the show that followed it (12/3/97 with its huge jams), 12/2/97 might be the most consistent show of Fall ‘97. Most people know the “Mike’s Groove” from this show (and if you don’t, you should) which I think is better than Hampton (flame away if you must), but this opening sequence really kicks things off in style. Phish really needs to find an indoor home in Philly now that the Spectrum is gone. Nothing could ever beat a show in the Spectrum.
“Free” 7.31.98 II, Columbus, OH
My chronological journey through 1.0 is coming to an end a bit early (sorry 1999 and 2000. Had I not been limited to 10 picks, for 1999 I would have chosen the encore from 10/7/99 because it’s so weird or the “Bowie > Have Mercy > Turd Sandwich > HYHU > Cracklin’ Rosie” because even when Phish screws up they can still run with it, and for 2000 the 9/9/00 “MFMF > Gumbo > Maze” for the silky smooth groove of Phish 2000) , so I thought I’d highlight this “Free” from one of my favorite sets from the summer of 1998. This “Free” exemplifies how “Free” should be played. Out of all the songs Phish has played in 3.0, I think I am disappointed in the drop off in quality of “Free” the most. The way they play it now just doesn’t do it for me, but fortunately we have a record of “Free” in all its glory to listen to whenever we are in the mood.
Sick encore from a forgotten tour. First time played for both. Would have loved to see “Stand!” make it into the regular rotation in 1997. For another awesome version of “Stand!” check out the side project Trey and Mike played in called “New York” where they also do a cool cover of the La’s “Timeless Melody”.
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