A Record of History

Niagara Falls 12/7/95

Niagara Falls 12/7/95

With all of the hubbub surrounding Fall Tour, Phish’s release of their December ‘95 stop at Niagara Falls Convention Center flew way under my radar. I just recently listened to the discs for the first time and I must say, it’s another winner in a recent hot streak of Live Phish drops. This show—a classic even within a classic month—had been begging for the re-master treatment for years, and this shimmering two-setter has finally gotten its due. What a treat it is to get a Live Phish release from such a hallowed era in band history. Much like Hampton/Winston-Salem provided a glimpse into Fall ’97, and Ventura opened a portal to Summers ’97 and ’98, Niagara Falls brings us back in time to December ’95, the home stretch of legendary two-leg, 54-show fall tour on which the band truly realized all the skills they had been honing for years.

Having stretched the limits of abstraction over the courses of Fall ’94 and Summer ’95, Phish spent the fall of ’95 selecting the best elements of this growth spurt and tightening things up into a full-throttle, psychedelic arena rock show. In a matter of weeks following Niagara Falls, the band would play a career-defining show at Madison Square Garden, but on this night on the other side of New York State, Phish cemented another golden block in their yellow brick road of December.

imgresThough this show isn’t a masterpiece of set craftsmasnship, it contains elite, jaw-dropping versions of “Slave to the Traffic Light,” “Split Open and Melt,” “Reba,” “Mike’s” and “Weekapaug.” Additionally the we hear an early incarnation of “Taste” in the second set, at this point called “Taste That Surrounds.” Phish showcased their free form creativity of the era throughout this show, as they dove deep into second-set versions of “Split,” “Mike’s” and “Weekapaug,” taking each jam far off course and forming tour highlights out all three. A “Reba” that sounds like it’s in fast-forward compared to recent versions highlights the middle of this second set, as Trey’s comically confident and exceptionally emotive soloing evokes the sound and intensity of days gone by—a true gem that is often overshadowed by Niagara’s copious highlights.

Retro Niagara Print (Welker)

Retro Niagara Print (Welker)

The first set features an out-of-nowhere version of “Slave” that sounds like it’s plucked from the end of a hugely dramatic frame of music. Unfurled in between “Rift” and “Guyute,” this standout version—which sits in an incredibly delicate space for quite some time—could anchor the opening half all by itself. However, a unique “Curtain > Bag,” a bust out of “Demand” and a full-throttle “Possum” provide solid support.

In short, this Niagara Falls release provides a stellar portrait of Phish’s sound and jamming in one of the most historic months of their career. The band brought all sorts of furious jams to Niagara Falls that December night, though they delivered them within a less-than-artistic setlist. But when Phish drops so many Grade-A excursions on a single audience, how they unfold becomes largely irrelevant. This one is a keeper.


Niagara Falls CD Giveaway!

Hippie Santa

Hippie Santa

Just in time for Christmas, and thanks to the kind folks at Phish Inc., I have three copies of this release to give away! If you’d like to enter your name into the ring, please write a haiku that touches the essence of December ’95. I will pick my favorite 10 entries (and post them), put the names in a hat and draw the three winners. Please have your haikus in to mrminer@phishthoughts.com by 7:30 pm Tuesday (tomorrow) night! Thanks for playing and Happy Holidays from Phishthoughts.com!


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500 Responses to “A Record of History”

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  1. the Baker Says:


    Imma gonna get working on my haiku…


    Happy Monday folks!

  2. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Great review miner. Thanks again! Baby spaz had me up at 430. Ouchie. Not silent in the morning.

  3. Spasm Waiter Says:

    So if you fine folks could give me a little feedback on my sites new design, that would be great. I made some color changes: page is now Miner black instead of traditional white. Makes reading the actual articles a little tougher. Any thoughts on this would be hugely appreciated. My partner is dead set on changing it back to a white page which maybe what we need to do. Thanks folks for any positive or negative feedback.

  4. George W. Kush Says:

    Spasm, Laura and I think the black background is easy on our aging eyes. Looks sharp and deadly like a good lure.

  5. George W. Kush Says:

    the Water Rights bill seems to be yet another mangled piece of legislation slipped past the public eye for corporate benefit. #countryhasgonetoshit

  6. phlorida phan Says:

    Looks good to me @Spasm. Not at all hard to read.

  7. Jeremy Wallace Says:

    Saw most of the tour and every show in Dec. and Niagara Falls has always been on my short list of favorites. Ever. Not just that tour. We just called it a very unique setlist back then but that it was. It was one of those shows where you had no idea what was coming next. Loved dancing on that wide open floor! The cover of the CD doesn’t do the Falls justice though seein as how my lady at the time and I went to see them the next day AND THEY WERE FROZEN! Should’ve gone with a photo of that.

  8. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Thanks guys. Hugely appreciated. Yeah that bill is a fiasco KushKushKush. Our gov sucks in many ways.

  9. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    this could be interesting…

    I think the text might need to be slightly larger. I like your layout – great mix of text and imagery without looking too busy – which is important based on the visual nature of your subject matter. The dark background does help make the images “pop” but with the smaller text if readers aren’t used to it it can be challenging. I would imagine you have a diverse readership which includes a healthy contingent of older demographics since that sport draws lots of hobbyists, so perhaps increasing the font size will help out the strain on those aging eyes.

  10. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    whoa! forgot to turn off the html there…

  11. aj Says:

    Morning, freaks.

    5 days left of work this year, let’s do this.

    Also, because I mentioned it a bit when I started it up, just thought you might be amused to find out that I am not only in my ff playoffs, I am down to the final 2. I honestly didnt know it was the playoffs until today, when my coworker told me I defeated them and am now in the final two. I have just been plugging along every week, doing my picks based on stats only (still have not see a football game, ever), but it has served me well. Reading and luck! Not sure what I win, if I do, but fun experiment to try out. Dont think I will be a repeat ff participant, but at least I gave it a whirl and learned a bit along the way.

    Have a great week, see some of you at MSG.

  12. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    way to go, joggerz.
    proving once again that “knowledge” of the game is highly overrated.

  13. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Moneyball AJ! Thanks T3. Very helpful.

  14. sumodie Says:

    Spasm, I much prefer reading websites like Miner’s that use white font on black background. I’m not familiar with your website so I can’t compare the old version vs the new. I don’t get why white font on black background is harder to read, as it isn’t for me.

    I do think the font choice on your site might be a little harder to read ( /less clean) than other font types. Not a font expert, but I bet there’s a web article out there about using fonts if you’re inclined to explore an alternate font.

    That’s all I got; looks like a great site for anglers!

  15. sumodie Says:

    Yup on T3’s font size comments

  16. Kaveh Says:

    Morning BBers….

  17. sumodie Says:

    Miner, nice Niagara review, thnx! Love the return of the haiku contest

    Still haven’t spun this show ::ducks:: maybe I need to brush up on my haiku skillz tonite

  18. Kaveh Says:

    5 days left of work this year, let’s do this.

    ^ THIS!

  19. vapebraham Says:

    Getting into the Dec. 95 spirit w/ 12.9.95. $$$.

  20. MiA Says:

    Spasm, I agree with text size, but I would also give a sans serif font a show. Words like “fishing” have a lot of serifs and on small text, looks very “dirty” with small dots attached to letters.

    Great Documentary”Helvetica” on Netflix. Highly highly recommend it. So much intrigue and passion about a fond.

  21. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Thanks Sumo and Mia. Superb feedback from the BB. It is hugely appreciated and really helpful.

  22. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    5 days of work left this year- yes! i feel you on this! the niagara falls release is phenomenal in my opinion. it crackles with enthusiasm, energy, urgency, and spirit . every single song sparks. a wonderful release. when i first heard the release, it tugged on my heart strings a bit- that sound flooded my head with memories.

  23. plord Says:

    I was expecting more from the Niagara Split, to be honest. Admit it, if they botched the return like that these days we would all complain, no matter how hot the jam, right? Look at SPAC this year…we stopped talking about that one in a hurry.

    The Reba and the Mike’s Groove, on the other hand, had my full attention. That is how Reba do. or did. I wish it would again.

  24. plord Says:

    +1 bigger fonts on that site Spasm.

    My pitiful old eyes.

  25. dorn76 Says:

    8+ days of work left in the year. Woo.

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