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. phishm Says:

    Absolutely Stoney. One of my favorites.

  2. BingosBrother Says:

    Cool stream.


  3. Stoney Case Says:


    selection two for the day off. which means cleaning the house and doing dishes, and making phone calls.

  4. Stoney Case Says:

    ruh roh


  5. bob dylan Says:

    Went to the capPhil link and saw joe rosso’s almost dead. Looks awesome. Benevento in the mix among others.

  6. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    the national report is hilarious. i loved this line, ” Many concert goers and innocent pedestrians have been hospitalized for drug overdoses and being punched in the eye.”

  7. dorn76 Says:

    “There have also been riots, open sex displays, and gratuitous drug use by fans of the acid metal jam band.”

    And how!

  8. little umbrellas Says:

    Lee Scratch has been the continued post Nas Phish break-

    Kung Fu Meets the Dragon:

    Super Ape:

    been a nice break. but I’m gonna spin 8/10/97 this afternoon it seems. perfecto.

  9. little umbrellas Says:

    “pre-rolled ellis dees and maryanna mollies”

  10. little umbrellas Says:

    the first Almost Dead show is well worth a listen. Heat.

  11. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Did someone say Vol 1? Just fired it up.

    Fothermucker! Jonathon Wilson just added a Wed 2/26 show in Austin which is also the same night as Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings. Might have to catch first half of Sharon at ACL Live & then hop a petty cab for JW at Parish. Kinda turning into a fanboy but I do love my soulful funkified rhythms.

  12. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    8/10/97 is a wonderful show. someone once told me that they thought it was the worst second set ever played at d.c. i told them we have drastically different points of view on what makes a second set cool. this dude was expecting “a rocker” and instead got “some weird bullshit”. i love that whole show. the second set is so beautifully weird. split>bye bye foot and hood in the first set are amazing. sick show.

    the first almost dead show is very good, i concur little u. a positive, unique take on the dead’s music. tommy hamilton’s (one of the guitar players/singers in almost dead) band, brother’s past, used to play in my living room in the late ’90’s. the dude is a good guitar player.

  13. Stoney Case Says:

    heady, that is such a divisive show it seems! ever checkout the phish.net reviews? personally love it. think set 2 gets to be one of the strangest/darkest sets they’ve played. the good times > rotation jam > rock a william is straight Evul. and as you note, a stunning set 1 with jams and anthems.

  14. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    one of the fun things about the end of the year are all of the “best of” lists (including the music ones people have been dropping here and elsewhere).

    here’s a cool one highlighting neato science-y imagery.

    I highly recommend checking out the full video on the Chaldni Plate experiment using the tone generator.

  15. little umbrellas Says:

    yall heard that Prince put out a new song today?

  16. little umbrellas Says:

    ‘Da Bourgeoisie’

  17. little umbrellas Says:

    here tis:

  18. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Never heard of this 8/10/97 of which you speak. Looks interesting. Remastered on phishtracks.com taboot. How’s the phishtracks sound qual? Could be perfect for post work Stoney Case walk.

  19. little umbrellas Says:

    bluesy’ funky’ … Lou Reed-ish?

  20. little umbrellas Says:

    or should I say it’s actually pretty P-Funk.. cause it is..

  21. vapebraham Says:

    dang. groove shark is awesome. first time. thanks for the links, boys. spinning the lee perry courtesy of lil um now. awesome. this is kung fu. shick a shick

  22. little umbrellas Says:

    bit of a ‘sly’ voice styley approach

  23. little umbrellas Says:

    8/10/97 now commencing.

  24. Stoney Case Says:

    JG, the Phishtracks copy is nice. take it from the top. great two setter. Split has some ‘Larks Tongue in Aspic’ King Crimson jamming. do it do it do it

  25. little umbrellas Says:

    thanks T3, gonna share that outside of the BB. cool link.

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