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:

    Look out! Look out!
    Pink elephants on parade

    Here they come!
    Hippety hoppety
    They’re here and there
    Pink elephants ev’rywhere

    Look out! Look out!
    Arrayed in braid
    Pink elephants on parade
    What’ll I do? What’ll I do?
    What an unusual view!
    I could stand the sight of worms
    And look at microscopic germs
    But technicolor pachyderms
    Is really to much for me!

    What a sight!
    Chase ’em away!
    Chase ’em away!
    I’m afraid need your aid
    Pink elephants on parade!

  2. Stoney Case Says:

    Unpopular fact:

    03 Cincy Bathtub Gin snatches the 03 Nassau Tweezer’s lunch money and gives it a swirly at recess.


  3. dorn76 Says:

    Huh. I thought he meant that guy’s assclown opinion on Coltrane proved that human thought is indeed meaningless.

    Interesting congruence.

  4. dorn76 Says:

    We’ll all die soon, in fact we are already dead. Eat Arby’s.

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    That too

  6. little umbrellas Says:

    “It’s After the End of the World, Dont You Know That Yet!?”

  7. realoutcasty Says:

    w/o a doubt Stoney. w/o a doubt.

  8. Mr.Miner Says:

    yeah, i think both things are true. in relation to what @C said music and sound is beyond the mind, an incarnation of the divine manifest in this world, which is why I now believe that thinking about and analyzing music is pretty much the antithesis of what it is actually about——”Coltrane, especially the latter era. He became invested in the idea of manifesting all possible permutations and combinations of sound as an expression of the divine.”

    We can not articulate the divine in words, because there are no words that can describe it. Music, tone, sound goes beyond the mind and gets in touch with such divinity. So trying to deconstruct music with words and to give it meaning or lack there of with analysis makes no sense. It took me twenty years to understand why music is so powerful, and I’ve come to understand that it speaks to the eternal part of us, transmits truth that cannot be named. The part of us that connects to the power of music is our eternal selves. We catch glimpses of what is really “true,” and this truth resonates with the soul so deeply that is continues to draw us back. This is the phenomenon that enraptures us, gives us goosebumps, and urges us to return to experience it time and time again whether through a concert, record or tape…

    “That’s an idea very in tune with some concepts from Indian and Buddhist spiritual practice – exhausting all possibilities of consciousness on the way to enlightenment – “after having been every kind of thing you can think of, you become nothing””

    ^ I agree with this. And in becoming nothing comes the realization that you are, simultaneously, everything.

    And also what I was saying is that all thoughts that can possibly be thought by humans have been or will be thought, which essentially renders them meaningless. If every side and every angle of every thought or issue has been / / will be manifest, then, in actuality, they all have no true meaning because they all exist. I get lost in my thoughts too often, and also find myself getting caught up in the thoughts of others—which is truly silly—but I try to remind myself that the part of me that is caught up is the false, ego-driven self that associates meaning to thoughts. The true self is beyond thoughts and beyond the mind and exists in peace if we can allow it to. It’s hard, but it’s possible…

  9. BingosBrother Says:

    Those are beautiful thoughts Miner. I’m gonna post those on my fridge next to Mr. C’s poem. Thank you.

  10. Stoney Case Says:

    When the nasal drip meets the dab cough half way down and you puke up lunch.


  11. dorn76 Says:

    Dumb religious conservatives had this figured out long ago.

  12. dorn76 Says:

    Not the dab thing

  13. Stoney Case Says:

    Posted before reading the serious meta-poem above^

  14. little umbrellas Says:

    Stoney, Starlake ’03 😉

  15. realoutcasty Says:

    Bingo, i was so looking forward to getting that in person in VT… LOL

  16. little umbrellas Says:

    But we do have a system to describe the music played in the Western World (Coltrane included) that we call Music Theory.

    And we can say what instruments are being used, and in the case of music that uses electricity, what processing has happened to the signal.

    And we can describe with the language of Theory,
    what notes and scales and chords and rhythms/times are being used,
    and how those aspects relate to each other.. ..
    based on the structure inherent in the physio-acoustic properties of sound (and what our brain does with it) , and using the agreed upon language we developed to describe that structure.

  17. Fly Says:

    JRAD driveby amidst deep thoughts:

    Anyone going to JRAD ‘Cuse?

  18. phlorida phan Says:

    ^ Island Tour Dust. Fiy-freakin-ah! Band is unstoppable. Break neck pace that I dream to see. If you were there and kept up with them dancing the whole song, bravo!

  19. vapebraham Says:

    feeling divinity in the 7.14.17 Hood w/ the Allman bros tease. $$$

  20. gavinsdad Says:

    VW and Telas – useless historical stuff. Andy Duvall (carlton melton) was a punk from Wilmington DE. in the late 80s I did some time at Wesley College in Dover, DE before transferring to CSU. I met a guy Rick Hodgson who had a punkish band called Marcus Hook…he later played/toured w Smashing Orange…he now works for PRS guitars. The singer of Marcus Hook was Andy Duvall…real maniac and music lover. I’d say that Rick was responsible for a massive branching off of my musical life upon meeting him and his friends in late 87….fIREHOSE, Das Damen, agitpop, doughboys, ignition, fugazi, big black, and the list goes on for infinity we listened to the heavy with Rick. And we would go to Andy Duvalls house in Wilmo and listen to Beefeater, happy go licky, dino jr, fire party, rites of spring, embrace and a trillion other things. Andy later played in Zen Guerrilla and then moved to NorCal where Carlton Melton was formed in the geodesic dome of psychelic intent. Really formative guys in my life way back and super funny ultimately bizarre guys. Andy is on IG (@grayjpride).

    one of my favorite roadtrips ever was with Marcus Hook from Dover to mebbe bridgeport CT to play a punk show in a squatter type venue the nite after GG Allin played and the cops were not really letting the gig happen but finally relented. was my first earful of what GG was all about.

  21. Selector J Says:

    Which edgelord music writer was dissing Coltrane?
    Couldn’t find it on read-backs.

  22. Selector J Says:

    Nevermind. Just saw that it was Lu’s buddy. Carry on.

  23. MrCompletely Says:

    Umbrellas – we have those languages which are used to describe the language of music. However they do not describe the meaning of the music which is played. I think what Miner is getting at is the content or intent of the expression, which I certainly agree with him gets at concepts which are very difficult or impossible to frame in linguistic terms.

    IOW it may be possible to describe the form and structure of, say Interstellar Space using musical terminology. But would that get at the meaning of it? The closest description I’ve seen in language was one horn player who interpreted the meaning or intent as being about moving from the constriction of gravity and orbits (conventional musical modes) into free flight in space, out of those constraints – so the dynamic between constraint and freedom is shown in the music metaphorically by the way it becomes more free, moving away from structure.

    See how clumsy that description is though, compared to the experience of the album? The idea or feeling is best expressed by listening to the the music itself – any other description of it is about the form, not the content or meaning.

  24. MrCompletely Says:

    Miner, I really have nothing to add to your statement, which I thought was beautiful and very well articulated.

  25. little umbrellas Says:

    I think when you associate your ear and the sounds of music with the language.. then you begin to have a feeling associated with what the language describes.

    Like Dorian isn’t just a word, it’s a sound, and hence a feeling or vibe.

    Of course the combination and dynamic possibilities are endless, and hence pretty indescribable or subjective to say what the art means.

    But my comment wasn’t a critique on Miner’s post. It was just me saying: we can describe what’s happening in the music without value judgment.

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