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. Jerome Garcia Says:

    SQB or bust yo

  2. Kaveh Says:

    Jumping on the Winter ’03 LA show; thanks T3 and Tela’s

    Does anyone have the Vernon show music files to share? Thanks.

    And I’m looking for one set of Denver tickets if there is an extra set out there.

  3. Sally Says:

    Winter 03 was so fun, I hit the Forum through Rosemont! Wild years for everyone on that out of control train..

    I’ll take Monkey currently, my Cup has overflowed and not in a good way Waste all day every day

  4. RoosterPizza Says:

    7.1.16 Carini is solid $$. CDT deservedly gets all the attention, but the solos in that Carini are not to be overlooked.

  5. little umbrellas Says:

    Word yeah @ ‘feel his flow. stilted to me. not everyone is a freestyler, I don’t mind that part’

    I guess the hypothesis there was that freestyle inclined poets might have more inclination to a less stilted/more natural flow.

  6. little umbrellas Says:

    El Is A Jound Of Joy –

    ^ i know malibu and dorn feel this way lol we all probably do.

    L is a sound. El is a sound of Joy.

  7. little umbrellas Says:

    @T3 20min+ WOTC

  8. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    @lilum DO NOT skip the Fee->Taste, Gin in the 1st in getting there

  9. little umbrellas Says:

    ^40 min of dank 1st set music

  10. Kaveh Says:

    LA Walls of the Cave is bonkers…in a good way.

  11. realoutcasty Says:

    interesting discussion in regards to Trey and his comments about not being into politics. just watched the vid and since it’s seems to be a thing with hot takes i feel its a perfect BB convo.

    i look at it two diff ways:

    1 – If the idea is Trey doesn’t want to enter Phish into the fray, nor himself as the frontman of Phish, into the fray, then I kind of understand that as it’s never been who Phish is. I feel they do their own part with Waterwheel, but overall, nobody is going to a show looking for Phish to be political. Even in todays time where taking a stand is something we all face everyday almost.

    2 – If Trey is saying, he as a person, has no interest in anyway of being involved in politics or having a personal voice on the issues all of us are facing right now, then that’s pretty weak, and i agree that it does reek a bit of rich guy entitlement. I have seen pics of his wife and kids wearing political shirts, and making political statements. I find it hard to believe he doesn’t have thoughts on these subjects. If he stays that removed, then def pretty weak.

    i also didn’t like the way he brushed off his “quasi-political drummer”. Fishman has gotten involved in his community to make a difference. that should be respected. he got behind something he believed in, that should be respected. felt that was a pretty shortsighted diss towards Fishman.

    that’s my hot take after thinking about it a bit more. this is more fun that work.

  12. RoosterPizza Says:

    “this is more fun than work”

    ^ That’s a BB t-shirt if I’ve ever seen one

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    Umbrellas, Boots Riley disproves that hypothesis to me. Great natural cadence.

    Obviously am improvisation gets extra degree of difficulty points or whatever

  14. MrCompletely Says:

    Monkey sucks

  15. Sally Says:

    Forum Gin!

  16. realoutcasty Says:

    i’d also add that i find it interesting that heat would be put on Trey for not engaging in politics, when we’ve basically had an unwritten rule on the BB for the past 10 years of not discussing politics. knowing most of us here think alike (basically), but we still avoid it. a matter of fact, of all the times i’ve hung with the BB, politics hardly ever comes up. it’s not what we do as a community, imo. as individuals, yes, but Phish/Politics has never played. ever.

    but i do agree if trey as a human being in today’s world pleads ignorance to the shit going, it’s weak.. it just makes me hate Rise/Come Together that much more. basically he’s saying we all need to Come together to make the world a better place, but he’s going to avoid politics all together. that’s not that way it works. remember that push for the use of Drug Court versus incarceration? politics yo.

  17. vapebraham Says:

    did someone say Boots Riley?

    this shit is the supreme flow. and what a storyteller! GOAT

  18. stapes Says:


  19. realoutcasty Says:

    can always count on you to not ignore me stapes!

    tough crowd. guess politics is a tough subject…

    Don’t sleep on the Miami ’03 Tube. shit is real.

  20. Sally Says:

    Change happens by making WOTC Bonkers again

  21. BingosBrother Says:

    Vernon Down got that extra STANK on it yo.

  22. BingosBrother Says:

    Vote for Bob Weaver

  23. MrCompletely Says:

    Actively stating you “don’t fuck with politics” is a political statement whether you or anyone else wants it to be or not. It signals passive, in my opinion cowardly, acceptance of things as they are.

    Note that this is a stance that’s really only even possible for those hiding behind layers of privilege, such as wealth and whiteness, and maleness to a large degree.

    The inverse of the above points is that it amounts to accepting the suffering of others who don’t share those protections.

    Making a statement like that in front of an audience you know is influenced by your statements is even more of an abdication. At that point it’s actively damaging, encouraging a similar lazy disengagement on the part of the fans.

    Obviously from this perspective it makes the trite pleadings of his recent “conscious” lyrics even more pathetic. There must be something more than this, but I’m totally unwilling to actually do anything about it. I’ll just wish it into existence by making vague statements about how it should be better. Well that’s just fucking great dude. Thanks for that deep thought

    For the record, I equally despised this selfish, fantasy world mode of being as an aspect of Garcia’s character. It’s really okay that your guitar hero kind of sucks on this one specific level.

  24. stapes Says:

    Phishy anecdote:
    Roll up to the local ski area w/ SmuffOutCasty on Saturday. Get there early, drink coffee, spin jams while the snow falls and wait for lifts to spin. Listening to that Miami 03 Tube, just getting into the LA Woman section. I get out to run in lodge and use el bano. Walk in still bopping my head to Tube/LA Woman. Totally in my own head. Then I realize, wait, what is this playing over the lodge speakers?!? Fucking LA Woman. Kinda freaked me out!


  25. MrCompletely Says:

    I mean I’ve just never taken Trey seriously as a person on a political or social level so this doesn’t actually bother me or anything. It doesn’t change how I feel about Phish in the slightest. Great music great band great guitar player. Love all that stuff.

    I personally just think he’s pretty obviously spoiled and full of shit on this one specific level. Hope that doesn’t bum anyone out but I’m also ok if it does

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