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. Calpain Says:

    keeping an eye on cashortrade for an extra 12/28, just in case.

    if you wanted the njtransit it departs NYC at 4:30am.

    will prob take the port authority bus prior to that.

    4 hands reprise red is a perfect example of the ‘hoppy red ale’ style.

  2. dorn76 Says:

    Indeed man. 30th is my New Year’s as well, hope to make your acquaintance. You can check out my “T-rex” dance moves.

    Apparently a head full makes me pull the arms in tightly. For aerodynamics.

  3. sumodie Says:

    Freedom Isn’t Free…

    …according to Team America


  4. Kaveh Says:

    A good morning for this:

    Pure Jerry 8 – Marin Veterans Auditorium, San Rafael, California, February 28, 1986

  5. sumodie Says:

    Willowed, that’s a great seat but it doesn’t look like a good section to squeeze another person into the same seat. So I gotta pass

    cashortrade will snatch that single easily

  6. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Kaveh none of the Pure Jerry releases are available for streaming on Spotify are they?

  7. btb Says:

    Just recently revisited Team America movie. Classic.

  8. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    @jg- there are a bunch of pure jerry on grooveshark. i still haven’t put them up in my orange. i have been so busy. i need to do that soon.

  9. Kaveh Says:

    I don’t think they are @JG. But like @Heady said; grooveshark has some.

  10. plord Says:

    That Pure Jerry 8 might be my favorite of that whole series. It won’t drop yer jaw with acoustical pyrotechnics or anything but it is a straight up Sunday Morning Jerry Church kind of set.

  11. Kaveh Says:


  12. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Kaveh’s & plord’s collective endorsement enough for me. Spinning Vol 8 right now.

  13. jtran Says:

    thanks for the reminder sumo. hope it’s not a phish-style on sale (can’t really imagine it is, but it’s a new venue so who knows?)

  14. George W. Kush Says:


    For all headed to MSG, the above site has some cool city suggestions.

  15. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    i really like all of the pure jerry’s. vol 1, 4, and 9 are super classics. i have been really into vol 7 because hornsby is playing electric piano. hornsby and jgb- a nice combo. if you can get your hands on it, the jerry garica collection vol 2: let it rock, may be the best jgb release of all time, imho. i still need a download of that if anyone wants to share!

  16. Kaveh Says:


  17. little umbrellas Says:


  18. little umbrellas Says:

    1,000 NYC list. wow, big list. browse’n it.

  19. sumodie Says:


    ” On Friday FAME added a pair of pictures featuring the guitarist to its Facebook page. While FAME didn’t reveal much about what exactly Anastasio was doing at their studios on Friday, Bob Ezrin, producer of the new Phish album tentatively titled Wingsuit, is featured in one of the photos. None of the other members of Phish appear in either shot. Local radio station Star 94.9 posted that, Trey was “in town recording at FAME.” Read more about Ezrin’s past projects here.

    In other Wingsuit news, on November 27 Nashville session trumpeter Vinnie Ciesielski posted on his Facebook page that he got “booked for a recording session for the band Phish in December.” “

  20. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Phil Capitol Theatre “Season Pass”

    yes, that’s tickets to all 30 shows he will perform there next year. you in, palmer?

  21. jtran Says:

    got spiritualized tix!

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    actually, in reading it closer, if they add more shows you get those thrown in for free. which is nice.

  23. plord Says:

    jtran, so jelly.

  24. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    re: phil cap season pass- the cheapest option is $100 a show. how much did he charge during his last run?

  25. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Don’t think so. Lot of scratch. Lot of commitment

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