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. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    oh boy…

    reads like you guys ate your intellectual wheaties.

    I am practicing the art of enjoying not knowing what I don’t know.

    It’s a bunch.

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    Olé is a tremendous and very overlooked piece. For me, India takes me deeper or further personally but I mostly think about the Village Vanguard live performances of that song, which are apex Trane for me from a feeling perspective. But this one is right up there. His first stab at the dual bass lineup right?

    It’s interesting to me how he pushed pretty far out by the VV dates then dialed it back a little in terms of keeping things a little more accessible then blew it all the way out. Or that’s how I perceive the flow of his music from about 1961-65

  3. little umbrellas Says:

    Good thoughts C.

    That Village Vanguard concert is certainly so apex. Boom.

    Olé not as searingly high level.. but soooo vibe’y

    Great 61-65 thoughts.

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    I did just spin Olé again right now and that is some fire. Def portal worthy so to speak. Has a great simmering build and then Trane just dunks all over the ending like the Harlem Globetrotters

  5. vapebraham Says:

    Lovin Ole. thank you. So much Trane to delve into.

  6. Wolf Like Me Says:

    those thick bass lines around 11:30 in… just incredible tension.

  7. vapebraham Says:

    have Coltrane’s Sunship on CD. need to revisit. recorded in August 26, 1965 w/ McCoy, Jimmy G, and Elvin. posthumously released.

  8. vapebraham Says:

    damn, son. last 4 minutes of Ole. forgot about the intensity of this one.

  9. Mr.Miner Says:

    *love* Ole. Rereccomending Transitions. Posthumously released in 67 and recorded in 65. A fierce portrait of the quartet on the way out the mask door into the avant garde, but still rooted in modal jazz. hence the title

  10. vapebraham Says:

    anyone else get Jerry vibes from Coltrane?

  11. vapebraham Says:

    and vice versa

  12. MrCompletely Says:

    Certainly vape. Trane was one of Garcia’s most profound influences, and that’s true for Phil as well, and since those two formed the core of the musical conception of the band, it’s true in general. And McCoy Tyner is often cited as the primary influence on Weir’s unusual rhythmic and chordal approach to playing a complementary role. As much as anything musical (which I’m sure Lu could speak to more directly) it has to do with the idea of music as a vehicle for transcendence. That’s what Trane became about, and that’s explicitly what JErry was about.

    BTW that Janelle track you linked last page is FIRE right? and it’s not just Prince influence – he was working with her when he died and the synths in that song are his.

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    Miner, good call, I haven’t listened to that album in a couple years and I’m sure I’ll get more out of it now than I did last time.

  14. Mr.Miner Says:

    Word. Also “John Coltrane Quartet Plays…”. Another one on the brink of free but still rooted in modal.

  15. vapebraham Says:

    word, C. Tha janelle caught my ear hard. that intro is otherworldly. w/ prince’s synth = mind blown.

    man I love this place. I gotta get to SQB for the jazz symposium portion of the program. currently chilluin out with Blue Mitchell – Blues’s Moods. straight forward swingin stylee. ahh but the Blue tone. . . .and Wynton Kelly- a personal pianist crush.

  16. vapebraham Says:

    Blue’s tone was silky and bold.

    too much thought?

  17. Mr.Miner Says:

    Conceptually, sure, but I don’t hear any Coltrane in Jerry’s playing.

  18. little umbrellas Says:

    C !!!! Yeeessssss. That slam dunk at the end is searing light fractal folded crystal lead.
    And McCoy has the most mystical tapestry going.

    Plus the flute and trumpet solos aint bad ;).. how about that one bass playing slap-bass with the bow for the solo.

    Two uprights!

  19. little umbrellas Says:

    I see Jerry’s leads as being distinctively less ‘guitar history oriented’ then much of the instruments history.. and his playing featuring running lines that you find in jazz and bluegrass no doubt.

  20. little umbrellas Says:

    Miner , Vape. OLEEEEE♡

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    I get that.

  22. wilbard Says:

    Yeah, that last half of Olé. Damn.

    It’s so strange that Trane up and died in ’65. He pushed it about as far out as you can possibly go and then just left

  23. MrCompletely Says:

    right it’s not as much about copping licks from Trane or trying to approximate his technique, it’s (as it has been explained to me) more about the methods of small group improvisation taken mainly from Miles and Trane. But in the humblest of ways. They knew they were only capable of catching crumbs, so to speak.

  24. MrCompletely Says:

    Trane died in 67 but your point is still valid

  25. MrCompletely Says:

    you can def hear that Eric Dolphy vibe in that Ole tune. Weird he isn’t credited. Wonder what business thing that was about

Leave a Reply