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. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    yeah, I was kidding. that takes a special kind of phil fan to commit to that. I’d be interested to see how many of those they actually sell.

  2. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    so, kaveh… you hitting this tonight?

    I suppose any of us can stream it

  3. little umbrellas Says:


    3-6 G’s . wow.
    But they do have a really old school photo of Phil ^

  4. phishm Says:

    “so jelly” That was an awesome South Park that just aired.

  5. little umbrellas Says:

    a youngin’

  6. little umbrellas Says:

    Needing a Phish break, (been heavy listening)
    Nas, Illmatic. should do the trick, ahh

  7. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    my current favorite older phil pic

    (courtesy totd)

    I love that bass

  8. Gavinsdad Says:

    Biggest rackets:

    Razor blades

    For the Santas out there wtf with the price of Legos. Bullsh

    (If they threw in Garcia, that Cap package would be worth it)

  9. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    and billy
    and bobby
    and mickey too
    and why not bruce while we are at it since we are being greedy

  10. Brostafarian Says:

    Legos drove me to be an Engineer. High ROI there Gdad.

    But yeah that was when Legos weren’t outrageously expensive.

    My first “Expert Builder” was the car. I think it was $89 in 1979 dollars.

  11. plord Says:

    Yeah modern lego prices are wack, and special edition eBay prices are worse. But eBay or Craigslist bulk old school lots can be a bargain if you can find one.

  12. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Eh… It’s just as easy to pick a night or 3 to go check out Phil… Tickets won’t be an issue. Good to know that quality band will be playing 30+ shows 30 minutes from my front door. Nice. I can pick and choose dates and lineups… Love it.

  13. little umbrellas Says:

    upshot. nice

  14. dorn76 Says:

    Hologram Jerry!


  15. little umbrellas Says:

    that Illmatic link sounds wrong to me.. could be this gear… testing:

  16. little umbrellas Says:

    Palmer with the easy win.

  17. little umbrellas Says:

    “As long as no one makes Hologram Garcia, everything’s gonna be cool.”


  18. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Ha! Thought you might be referring to the Grant Green tune but nope the vantage point for the T3 Phil pic. D’oh.

    Lovestrong one of my favs on JW’s Fanfare. $$$ tune.

  19. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    love legos and we had a steamer chest full of them when I was a kid (it still lives at my parents’ for when the grandkids’ descend upon their abode). my daughter digs em but we haven’t gotten to the big phase of kits yet. for now I live vicariously through my nephews on that front.

    however, I still remember the day my dad gave me his original erector set from when he was a kid when I was old enough to understand that the motor was more than just a toy. you could make some serious stuff with that kit. and toting around a box full of metal in a metal box builds muscles and character. but mostly muscles.

  20. Gavinsdad Says:

    My 3rd favorite pic of Phil (scouring around for 1 and 2):


  21. joe Says:

    late to the game:

    power from Niagra Falls
    No match for the Phish

  22. Kaveh Says:

    @T3: Nice…I didn’t even know about it….I should swing down for Riker’s Mailbox.

  23. dorn76 Says:

    Phil fave pics.

    Looks alot like Mike in this one…




  24. Stoney Case Says:

    Just got paid on a long, protracted, stress inducing RE transaction. Taking rest of day off. Spin some Phish favorites. Utilize ice and a tube together with combustibles.

    8/10/97 Cities kinda party….

  25. Stoney Case Says:

    For those that miss my constant pimping of this jam:


    entire show worth a listen

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