The Palace Tweezer—Twenty Years Later

My Actual Ticket Stub—12.6.97

Twenty years later and I can still remember everything about that night—where I was, who I was with, what I was wearing. They say that live music can change your life, and that is exactly what happened to me on the sixth of December in 1997. On this night, something momentous happened. A piece of music harnessed from the outer realms of the universe came down through the instruments of a band from Vermont and transformed The Palace of Auburn Hills into a place of worship. On this night, we received “The Palace Tweezer.”

This jam is hands down, far and away, my favorite piece of music ever created by mankind. And it’s not even close. The Palace Tweezer has it all—the grimiest, subliminally connected funk grooves, a passage of ascension into spiritual realms of sound and soul, and an indescribable section of musical wizardry that I suspect was the soundtrack of the universe’s creation. The entire piece unfolds like poetry without a moment of hesitation, as if the music already existed—perfectly composed—and the band just allowed it to come through them. It seems impossible that a piece of improvised music so immaculate, so powerful, and so utterly dynamic could be generated by human beings on the fly.

I cannot begin to guess how many times I have listened to this jam over the past twenty years, but it sounds every bit as good today as it did when I got the analog copy sometime after tour. It has not lost a drop of freshness or power. The Palace Tweezer is a part of the fabric of my existence. Though I know the piece by heart, the feelings it produces on each and every listen are no less stirring than on the day I heard it.

Though Phish crafted so many sections of “funk” that fall, none approach the nuanced, four-minded mastery on display in this jam. The band members finish each other’s musical sentences, speaking as one entity rather than individual musicians. These grooves have a life of their own—locked in doesn’t begin to describe it.

The band gradually and ever so smoothly builds from these opening dance rhythms into a section of improvisation that opens a wormhole in space-time, allowing the music—and the Palace—to slip into an alternate dimension. This passage gives me chills every time I listen to it. Literally. Every time. Trey hits a lick in here that elevates the possibilities of the entire jam, and the band is right with him. From this point forward in the jam, words fail me. The music is beyond linguistic expression—a deeper magic from before the dawn of time.

I truly believe that the band communed with the divine while playing this jam. It is not far fetched, as we are all individual manifestations of the one divine energy of the universe. We are the universe awakening to itself and expressing itself as human beings for a short blip of time. Life is but a process of remembering not who we are, but what we are. Yet, because we are in human form, we are not in always in touch with this higher truth. But on that Saturday night in December, twenty years ago, Phish was not only in touch with it, they channelled this truth through music, through themselves and, subsequently, through everyone in the room.

It is this process that makes transcendent Phish jams such incomparably powerful experiences. This is the reason we keep going back—to remember and experience our truth. The Palace Tweezer is the greatest expression of my personal truth that I have ever heard. It is primordial music, an oracle of the infinite, telling a story of our past, present and future all at once.

Today—twenty years later—I will listen to the The Palace Tweezer again, and I will smile with awe and wonder, just as I did when the lights came on, oh so long ago.

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9,676 Responses to “The Palace Tweezer—Twenty Years Later”

  1. little umbrellas Says:

    Goin to see John McLaughlin tonight.

  2. sumodie Says:

    Front row at the Concert for Island Relief still available at TM!

    A mere $1500 per seat

  3. MrCompletely Says:

    umbrellas: it’s good. it is what it is, too many notes wise, but John can still really do it.

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    sure we can go to 40 for the nominees list to cover all eras and avoid dispute at the pre-voting stage, why not

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    ok so ROC if we’re not accepting Disease > Mike’s are we also pruning out Cypress Drowned > AM reprise?

  6. garretcorncob Says:

    Yeah, my take on the McLaughlin shindig was that there were many times I was more impressed by the music than loving it, but it’s always a treat seeing musicians of that caliber in person, and hearing the composed parts of the Mahavishnu material live was fucking powerful.

    I’d forgotten how much I like actual Mahavishnu Orchestra songs, even though I often find the soloing to be on the self-indulgent wankery end of the spectrum.

  7. MrCompletely Says:

    oh really well said garret – like especially the beginnings of the classic Orchestra tunes, with the violin parts featured? The way they have a really nice melodic theme and then kind of explode upwards in energy – those parts were thrilling.

    Then it was a lot of solos. That was def the most drum and bass solos and duets I’ve sat through in…maybe ever?

  8. realoutcasty Says:

    i mean, that’s just me… people can get carried away with the song combo/jam sequences. there are tons of great jams that are viewed as a combo. i just like to look at it from a strict single jam. unless it’s a jam sando.. i think that’s acceptable. but not something crazy like Mikes>??>??>??>Weekapaug

    just my opinion.

  9. Darth Vaper Says:

    Riverport Gin has to be in there

  10. sumodie Says:

    Jam sammies deserve their own Top 40

  11. Darth Vaper Says:

    The Gotta leave the After Midnight but ditch the Drowned.

  12. realoutcasty Says:

    ya know..Drowned>AF is basically all one thing.. that’s a bit different i think. it’s all one jam with an AF reprise in middle.. no?

  13. Darth Vaper Says:

    Seems like Deer Creek needs some representation. The Cities or the big Gumbo.

  14. joe Says:

    The easiest way to do it would be to have people submit their own top 10 designated 1-10. 10 points for 1st, 9 for second, etc.

  15. joe Says:

    I’m not qualified to do any of the ranking though. To quote Richard Cristy “They’re all my favorite”

  16. realoutcasty Says:

    which DeerCreek Gumbo?? cause ’03 is the shiz! holla stapes

  17. Darth Vaper Says:

    ‘98 and ‘03 need a classic cage match showdown and they are both great.

  18. Darth Vaper Says:

    Same with MLT. DC vs Star Lake?

    The MLT > Whipping Post is up there in top 10 in house experiences.

  19. realoutcasty Says:

    yeah, see, i would count MFMF>MLT>Whipping Post as one jam… ha

  20. BingosBrother Says:

    Went Gin would like you to have a seat over there. Ventura Gin too.

    “stay golden, Dorny Boy”

    Top 10 comment right there. Fucking stellar.

  21. vapebraham Says:

    yo. don’t sleep on the 7.26.17 Steam. golden jham. tops of the donut crop. $$$+ so cool top to bottom. the coda. the outro . hmmmnnn

    saw no mention of 11.14.95 Stash sandwich in your top ten discussions. Mann Twist has to be in there too. 11.19.97 2001 and that crazy terminator Sand form Dec. 99 12.16 maybe. was 12.30.97 Bag in there?

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    okay look sure why not

    check out the spreadsheet in my orange.

    if you want to add a nominee, add it at the bottom. The math is set up to work through row 45 so there’s some room.

    when you’re ready to add your votes just add your name to the heading of a column. Use your BB handle.

    In order to make it easier on the math, your TOP choice gets 10 points (not “number 1”)

    and so on down to your #10 choice gets ONE point.

    Since you get to vote 10, 9, 8, 7 etc your column should add up to 55. Row two checks that to make it easy.

    no you can’t give all 55 to your top choice because that would be a dick move. just play along okay. Please also don’t do “cute” “funny” “jokes” like changing someone else’s shit or voting under their name, no one’s got time to add security to this thing, thanks, love you

    Obviously column B adds up the scores for each jam.

    First two people in, replace the two test/sample columns I have in there. If we need to go past column Z someone tell me.

    If there’s something about this setup which is dumb, speak up soon?

    OK go for it

  23. vapebraham Says:

    Fukoka 2001.

  24. MrCompletely Says:

    note the nominees are in whatever rando order they were posted here. deal with it I guess

  25. Arty Rankin Says:

    Please let me know when you have this all figured out

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