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”

  1. butter Says:

    Stoney’s idea of a west coast tour is 6 nights at Arcata Theater , followed by 4 nights at the Mateel in Redway

  2. Random Poster...Nutbag Says:

    They’d have to play both Telluride and Dicks right? I can’t see Phish giving up the Dicks cash cow. Easy weekend and huge pay day. Telly is amazing though, absolutely beautiful. I highly recommend the bluegrass festival for everyone at least once.

  3. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I’m too lazy to go thru a ticket hassle anymore.

  4. Stoney Case Says:

    i can safely tell you none of the the locals, bartenders, business owners, town officials, etc. give a shit what we think about ticket allotment.

    ^tela, that’s not my audience. Phish Inc would be my audience here.

  5. tela's_muff Says:

    @random – if phish strictly cared about the cash cow they would have never played Oklahoma City. 😉

    Anyway, I have no idea either way, just a rumor. Last I heard phish didn’t sign up for dicks for 2014. I assume a Fest will end tour next summer. Who knows.

  6. tela's_muff Says:

    I’ll take 1,500 Telluride locals over 1,500 Gapers all day.

  7. Stoney Case Says:

    tela. those tickets get scalped……to Gapers.

    fantastic article from the last run. just one complaint I have, the locals only tickets. not like i’ll boycott the event. you can put the arms away 😛

  8. Mr.Miner Says:


  9. Stoney Case Says:


    said article^

  10. Random Poster...Nutbag Says:

    A festi would be very cool, haven’t been to one since the ball. I’d love to see them in Telly, I was out of town the last time around. Only partial to Dicks since it’s 5 miles away which is just too easy.

  11. tela's_muff Says:

    Ha. Dude. I’m already working the local ticket connection. None for Stoney.

  12. Stoney Case Says:

    i know. i’m gonna have to bring pliny’s to get past the locals. cases of it.

  13. tela's_muff Says:

    Now you’re talking!!! I’ll be stocked by Telluride Bud Co. And Telluride Brewing.

  14. Jerome Garcia Says:

    tela’s ain’t foolin

    Can hit TBC for retail when I’m there for Blues & Brews & potentially Phish?

  15. phishm Says:

    Just took in the 2nd set from MSG 95 NYE. I feel like a better person for it. 3rd set commencing. Love this show.

  16. Stoney Case Says:


    sorry. must watch. someone beat us to the phishmass album.

  17. Stoney Case Says:

    i’ve been there JG. another thing that’s for ‘locals only’.

  18. Stoney Case Says:

    here’s the make-up to the phishmass song link. the new Garcia / Wasserman Island release on Groovesnark:


  19. phishm Says:

    I just see that sentence as my ass there Stoney. That would be a horrible album IMO.

  20. phishm Says:

    You know I was just kidding around there Stoney. Anyway, listening to this YEM from NYE 95. Wow is all I have to say. Spun me all up in a good way. Been a while on this one. Fun show.

  21. Brostafarian Says:

    Phish played Oklahoma City just to see if there were still fans stupid enough to drive for 10 hours to see them in Oklahoma City. They rewarded them by playing the worst show of the summer.

    Phish = pranksters

  22. sumodie Says:

    Telluride 2014 dreams!

    Hey, I had a local ticket in 2010. Not scalped either. Everybody in town easily got to hear the show even if they weren’t inside town park. (shhhhhhhh!)

    2014 Austin Psych Fest official mixtape:


  23. sumodie Says:

    Hobbit sequel kicks ass!

    Waaay better flick than the first. Officially a fan of the high frame rate too. Visually stunning, some intense action sequences, much better flow & character development

    Smaug the dragon is a fantastic creation

    And Kate from Lost is still a babe, an Elfin babe, and very lethal ;0>

  24. Brostafarian Says:

    I wish phish would just play hip small vacation towns where people usually take their wives/girlfriends to get laid.

    1) poconos
    2) finger lakes
    3) telluride
    4) Santa Barbara
    5) Carmel-By-The-Sea
    6) San Juan Islands
    7) Mackinac Island


  25. sumodie Says:

    cashortrade.org is a hopping with xtras for 28th, 29th & 30th

    yet I still cannot snag a decent pair for the 28th, lol

    Getting super pumped for another garden run, renovations be damned

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