All selections and text by Chris “Topher” Mont
The 80’s Like Totally Didn’t Suck…
Hello. I feel I should preface this by saying that in no way am I actually qualified to speak facts about Phish in the 80’s. While I was alive and well during that decade, I did not even discover Phish until ’97. I don’t want to give anybody the wrong idea. That being said, I do love to study up and do lots of research on the band. So, I hope this can help to expose people to an era of the band that I feel is very underappreciated. I tried to choose songs based more on historical interest as opposed to “best versions.” Hopefully it will be enjoyable regardless. A quick shout out to all the ATLiens. I look forward to another great summer this year. Be excellent to each other, and party on dude!
“Whipping Post“ 5.3.85 II, UVM, Burlington, VT
No better place to start than the beginning, and for me this show is it. This was Page’s first time playing live with the boys…boys being the operative word there. It is very interesting to listen to the band at such an early stage. It is quite unpolished, but you get to hear the potential that was eventually fully realized. Plus, it’s interesting to hear two guitars.
“Run Like An Antelope“ 10.15.86 III, Hunt’s, Burlington, VT
In the next year, Phish made some changes and entered a new phase. Jeff Holdsworth left the band in the summer, and they added Paul Languedoc into the mix. This was his first show as the band’s sound engineer. Perhaps he was partially responsible for bringing some new effects to Trey, which help to put some fire on this otherwise very humorous, early version.
It seemed like a tradition for a while to play “Bowie” on Halloween, which I would assume is because this concert was its official debut. I wish they actually would play some Bowie for a musical costume, or in my wildest dreams some Zappa. But, I guess this is as close as it gets. There is some different treatment in the composed section that makes it especially fun to hear. Also, “Peaches” was played a little differently, albeit not really as good as the later versions in my opinion.
“Punch Me In The Eye“ 4.24.87 UVM, Burlington, VT
That’s right! It’s not a typo. No, not those few times Trey called “PYITE” by this name. There was one time when Phish had an entirely different version of this song. Can you call this the same song? It definitely somehow brought about “PYITE,” and also some sections from other future Phish classics. It was just too interesting to resist putting on this playlist.
First off, this entire show from Nectar’s is quite enjoyable. It is simply an awesome setlist, plus there are pretty decent recordings as far as audio is concerned. I chose “Melt the Guns” because it is absolutely my number one, single most desired bustout. I friggin love this song! Speaking of bustouts, I felt very lucky to be at the Charlotte show for the bustout of “Fuck Your Face,” which debuted at this show. Shout out to the Queen City.
One, two, buckle my shoe…Rock on Marley, and rock on Ian, wherever you are!
“Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley“ 2.24.88 II, Gallagher’s, Wattsfield, VT
This certainly is not the best version of this song, but, I thought it was interesting to hear since some other dude named John Carlton sat in on the drums allowing Fishman to really let loose on the trombone!
“The Curtain (With)“5.24.88 I, Nectar’s, Burlington, VT
This is another one of those old school classic shows, and this song opened up the first set of three. This is probably my favorite version of “The Curtain.”
“Jesus Just Left Chicago” 5.24.88 II, Burlington, VT
This song opened up the second set, which was a rare example of a three-song set from concerts pre-97. Don’t think Phish didn’t jam back in the day. Much thanks to Fish and Mike for playing along with the drunk dude in the audience who was yelling “slower…”
“Reba“ 10.26.89 II, Wetlands, NYC, NY
I went in chronological order for this playlist since I figured it is worth noting how much growth the band made in the three years from May ’85 to May ’88. But, as far as saving the best for last goes, I’m so glad that this works out to have the final spot because this is really what I was most excited about. This is what really started my idea for an all old school playlist. I really wish they kept in the “Don’t Get Me Wrong” segment. I absolutely love it! For those of you who have not heard how Reba once was…
Tags: Pre-1990, Reader's Picks