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. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Nice webby Spasmo. Ditto what they said. Sharing w/ my buddy who owns/operates Fish The Fly http://www.fishthefly.com in Jackson WY.

    @bob dylan how was London Souls TRB & Crowes @ BGCA on Sat?

    NiagaReba ftw!!!

  2. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Nice webby Spasmo. Ditto what they said. Sharing w/ my buddy who owns/operates Fish The Fly http://www.fishthefly.com in Jackson WY.

    @bob dylan how was London Souls TTB & Crowes at BGCA on Sat?

    NiagaReba ftw!

  3. RoosterPizza Says:

    5/6/93 Split just steamrolled me…

  4. vegas wolfmans Says:

    “NiagaReba ftw!”

    here hear!

  5. ren Says:

    Still no countdown clock!?!?!


    We’re in the final stretch!!! Time to finishing getting all my ducks in a row.

  6. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Thanks Jerome. He is in some nice trout country. You been out to hit the Green? River that is…

  7. Jerome Garcia Says:

    @avila how was Kimock & Friends last night at Sweetwater in Mill Valley? Going to have to try to locate some good pulls of those shows from archive.org seeing as how they were playing primarily Garcia/Saunders tunes.

    ren it’s t minus 12 days just in case you were wondering 😉

  8. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Nope just the Snake. But someday…

  9. garretcorncob Says:

    Fuck yeah, Champions League round of 16 draw!

    Dortmund couldn’t have asked for much better than Zenit, although I doubt St. Petersburg is a nice place to visit in February/March.

    Now, to wait…

  10. dorn76 Says:

    Great points on living a more aware existence by PB at bottom of last post.

    I take issue with some stuff, but can overlook it in favor of all the great advice within. Have a garden. Get some money out of dollars. Be suspicious of corporations and all their machinations. Buy local.

    Right the fuck on man.

    As for energy, I too dream of a house off the grid some day. Stocked to the gills with unregistered guns and 9/11 truther books. (I KID)

    Kudos for being a thoughtful and proactive dude.

  11. RoosterPizza Says:

    I take issue with some stuff, but can overlook it in favor of all the great advice within. Have a garden. Get some money out of dollars. Be suspicious of corporations and all their machinations. Buy local.


  12. vapebraham Says:

    12.30.99 LUOLMA — triple money. sublime version. soaked with psychedelic goo and flowing passion.

  13. RoosterPizza Says:

    5/6/93 is just a good show. Wow…

  14. Stoney Case Says:

    Fantastic post by Phamily Berzerker last thread. Illustrates problems, gives references, offers solutions.

    Hats off.

    Bobby, NYC confiscating certain firearms.

  15. Gavinsdad Says:

    Anyone here do Star Lake 98? Listened to the official release because of the Jim but the rest is great playing. One thing I could hear via the recording was that it was a shed…I normally can’t detect this sort of stuff. But I was dawn in during the Time Loves A Hero….so love that tune…got 2 of em in ’10 but the Star Lake version was a one off after a 10 year gap. I always avoided heading to Pittsburgh (ghosts of GD ’89 riots in my mind) but I see how that was a mistake….one of my favorite phish jams ever…top 5…is the 99 My Left Toe.

    Stories from Star Lake 1.0/2.0 please…

  16. Gavinsdad Says:

    Anyone else’s in room take on Niagra ’95 would be helpful too.

  17. ren Says:

    Love hearing peoples 1.0/2.0 stories of yesteryear. I 2nd that request and good call Gdad! Hope today finds you well

  18. little umbrellas Says:

    Also curious to hear about the TTB & Crowes show at Bill Graham and the Sweetwater last night…

    @BobD, also, not sure if you’ve tried texted me, phone currently lost ;(
    -hope the show was killer.

  19. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    @phamily b- some good points and some paranoid points on previous post.

    i love all of the buy local points. in my little town, we will organize cash mobs to bring money into little mom and pop stores.

    “Buy a nonregistered gun at a gun show. If you think the government won’t ever institute martial law and come door to door to collect registered guns, you are seriously naive.” this quote sounds like it was written after being 100% brainwashed by the NRA. nobody is taking anyone’s guns away. period. if you think that, you are seriously brainwashed and paranoid.

  20. Calpain Says:

    Howdy BB. First time checking in since the AC shows but have been enjoying Miner’s articles. Nice to meet a few folks in AC from here: dancingfool, revise, spasm waiter.

    Winter vacay is nonexistent but considering an up&back on the 28th.

    The ’09 Miami tweezer still holds weight.

  21. Phamily Berzerker Says:


    Site looks great! and content is top notch as well. Shared with my family of fisherfolk and they are gracious in their comments on the content and layout.

    Keep up the good work. Let me know if you make it out to AZ.

  22. dorn76 Says:

    I was at Niagara and won’t bore everyone here again with that onion belt story.

    Was in pure Wooderson mode that December though. Suspended from school but still hanging around and taking my buddies to Phish.

  23. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Thanks Pham.

  24. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Apparently kimock played The Wolf last night

  25. Phamily Berzerker Says:


    Much of the content from my post yesterday is weighted towards to over-prepared side of the could-be vs. the what-is. a neighbor and I have been discussing the themes i over the course of time and I clipped for our thread which was all over GMail the the Illluminati already know 😉

    I am neither brainwashed nor paranoid, unless you are taking about me. 🙂

    I am Pro-gun and I have been shot.

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