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.

Tags: , ,

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

  1. Sex&City Says:

    Let me know if you do. I’ll find you tix.

  2. MiA Says:

    @Vegas – a monotonous/monstrous Mike’s was just what the doctor ordered that night.

    It fit the night perfectly. But alas, also broke the mold of the Mike’s > Simple that was the hallmark of Sunner ‘98. And Killer Gin’s.

    Star Lake ‘12 with the Mike’s Simple Light Groove.

    I for one like Vernon Downs. Just still need more Dec ‘99.

  3. theBaker Says:

    BEST IN SHOW’s coming right-Up on FS1 @WestminsterDogShow!¡!

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    the original blackstar def one of the best rap albums of the mid 90s. from that through BoBS Mos was killing it. Shit even Common’s verse on the Blackstar jawn is fire and that cat can’t rap for shit

  5. little umbrellas Says:

    Yes yes but new music from madlib regardless of who’s rapping.

    Yessssss. Then add Mos Def on there!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!!!!!!

    (Oh yeah Talib too )

  6. little umbrellas Says:

    Talib who?

  7. little umbrellas Says:

    Jk i loved Blackstar.. should spin it again. Been awhile.

    When that shit dropped is was like damn this is the G.O.A.T (tho we didn’t say that yet

    But then mfdoom & lib. Next level stoner beats.

  8. little umbrellas Says:

    I wanna hear what Mos has to say now over the freshest lib.

  9. little umbrellas Says:

    El Is A Jound Of Joy –

  10. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah I’m not really a kweli fan but blackstar is him and mos. agree mos and madlib is the headline. mos needs someone to set him straight, he’s been off course for a long time now

  11. MrCompletely Says:

    one of the last really dope Mos tracks I’ve caught

    Sun, Moon, Stars

    great bassline, one verse and then a flute jam?

    dope though

  12. little umbrellas Says:


    Yeah years ago someone here compared those two when talking about Black Star and Kweli got called out for being a ‘pen and pad’ rapper.

  13. little umbrellas Says:

    Most recent historic moment in hip-hop- Black Thought’s 10 minute verse live freestyle on the radio.

    Was washing over me so many minutes in, no hooks, and then it flipped on me and became clearer and brighter into focus. So nuts. Gets even better at the end. Most insane ridic fire verse ive ever heard.

  14. little umbrellas Says:

    (And probably ever will?)


    Dude C this is a funky bass nice ^ sun,moon,stars

  15. little umbrellas Says:

    HAA true way better then the J5 flute style

  16. Drew Cluley Says:

    Agree S&C – Waste was almost our song to dance at our wedding 15.5 yrs ago ( and likely many Phans contemplated it as well ) – didn’t choose it ultimately as we thought it would offend her P’s – who did drop the $$,$$$ for the weekend wedding. Went with Etta At Last. Still we dance in the living room when ever Waste comes around. 98% of the time anyway….

  17. MrCompletely Says:

    my prob with kweli is that I don’t feel his flow. stilted to me. not everyone is a freestyler, I don’t mind that part

    there’s a great documentary on freestyle and cyphers and such, in it Boots is the dissenting voice, he’s basically like “fuck that I write my shit down and hone it because I want it to last forever”

  18. Light Glaze Says:

    Vernon downs was an amazing celebratory show from a tour that had an energy to it that on any given night something not only original but memorable would stick with you forever. Amazing night.

    Plus the recordings of this show were always miserable. Great call on this release.

  19. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    sure sure vernon downs and whatnot.

    but do yourself the favor of revisiting the WInter 2003 tour that began 15 years ago today in Inglewood.

  20. Guitarpicker420! Says:

    My wife loved Dicks 3 the best because of 1)Gin and 2)Waste last year. Definitely the special song at our house too.

  21. RoosterPizza Says:

    I finally hit the wall with my writing yesterday, so I mailed it in and went snowboarding at Whiteface for the afternoon. I listened to 8/8/15, and really enjoyed that second set. One of those shows that doesn’t jump out on paper…

    It was also a crystal clear day, so I was looking at the northwest corner of Mount Mansfield and thinking about Squabetty. Soon enough…

  22. RoosterPizza Says:

  23. MiA Says:

    The Loving cup has extra sauce. Great stuff.

    Geez I hate sleeping monkey though.


    > week.

  24. Diego Says:

    ^Geez I hate sleeping monkey though.

    does not compute. error error

  25. MiA Says:

    I’ve changed my attitude over time for sure. The YEM > Sleeping Monkey > Antelope at Dane County in ’95 was great.

    It’s such an easy skip song now. Fishman sang dick joke song just doesn’t do it for me anymore.

Leave a Reply