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. MrCompletely Says:

    and yes the dual bass part about midway is fucking choice. I def have never heard anything like that from earlier than 1961

  2. vapebraham Says:

    ^^^ yes. the spirit of Trane envelopes, cradles, and encourages his playing more than dictates its form. <- dancing about architecture. just cued uop Transition. thanks!

    in between these jazz dives have had Nick Drake's Five Leaves Left rollin. what an album!

  3. vapebraham Says:

    Coltrane’s Transition:

    HQ pull from vinyl

    as I age, my musical taste has become more open and accepting, wiser, seasoned. I was not ready for a lot of this Trane stuff in my 20’s even though I dug jazz; very challenged by it. now its hardness and freeness soothe me. damn Trane could wail.

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    I ride for all the Nick Drake albums and don’t care about the hipster appropriation issues. They’re all great in different ways.

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    vape, I’ve had at least some appreciation for the open/free Trane material for awhile, but it’s historically always been something that only works for me in rare moods. In the last six months or so I find myself reaching for those albums in unexpected times, including as work music when I need a flow state but can’t be distracted

  6. vapebraham Says:

    Trane in 1965. chills

    1st track of Transition – Transition – Trane’s solo is so hard and then McCoy comes in and soothes the scene. Mccoy – what a human!

    Thank you for this rec. The Trane universe is vast. If I was into tatoos I’d get some sort of McCoy tribute on my back, behind my heart.

  7. vapebraham Says:

    I don’t know from hipster, but pink moon, five leaves left are good. my boy in high school dug Nick Drake. i couldn’t get past the moodiness of his voice. not ready for it. now I recognize his greatness in lyric and voice and dig it. mood.

    Oh man, this Trane is a top to bottomer. Trane says – wake up! Just enough rhythm section anchor for me to love his deep space launches. fuck this dude was bold.

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    Five Leaves Left – spare, melancholy, beautiful

    Bryter Layter – hopeful, still sad but reaching upwards, striving, his attempt to be something other than what he was

    Pink Moon – a stark, harrowing surrender to depression rendered with exquisite beauty

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    for a long time I didn’t like Bryter Layter because all of the production on it, but man, those musicians are great really, and there are some amazing songs on it, like Northern Sky, which to me captures the feeling of a sunrise at the end of a sublime psychedelic experience

    “Oh, if you would and you could
    Straighten my new mind’s eye”

    or the incredible piano part on One Of These Things First

  10. vapebraham Says:

    I was so down with the My Favorite Things Album and Giant Steps. But Star Ship . . . challenging.

    oh my, Dear Lord from Transition (2d track). that some sweet Trane. blown away. ah man. such range. and then McCoy like a waterfall. like Ahmad jamal’s Poinciana.

    ^^ Ahmad Jamal at the Pershing (1958)

  11. wilbard Says:

    Lol yeah ’67 not ’65

    A couple years ago I had a period where I was real into that way far out stuff, like Ascension and Kulu Se Mama. Might be time to dive back in.

    You guys have that remastered release of that insane 1966 Temple University concert that came out a while back? I can share if anyone wants it.

  12. vapebraham Says:

    I dont know that middle Drake. album. tomorrow’s listening.

    knee deep in Ahmad Jamal

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    I love Ahmad Jamal but don’t know his catalog well. I need to correct that. Would be glad to get pointers all in one place – I know you’ve linked him many times vape

    I’d snag the Temple show thx W

  14. MrCompletely Says:

    Bryter is really different. Understand as you listen that he was consciously trying to make something more people would listen to. It has folks from Fairport Convention and the Beach Boys along with John Cale of the Velvets, who were all fans of his. It’s not as pure as the other two, but the good parts in it are so nice

  15. vapebraham Says:

    re. Ahmad Jamal. The live at Pershing (1958) above and The Awakening (1970) to start.

    and Outertimeinnerspace (1972)

    ^^ Extensions from the latter.

  16. vapebraham Says:

    and you gotta hit up Jamal’s Freeflight. if Mccoy is behind the heart, Ahmad Jamal gets tatooed on the chest. Cedar walton on the left forearm.

  17. Jerseyjim Says:

    Tiny desk concert, in the vibe of Nick Drake, but I am also trolling Dorn with the video…

  18. little umbrellas Says:

    Dolphy fo sho!! The whirl!

  19. little umbrellas Says:

    That Yusef Lateef album i left earlier is rad.

  20. Jerseyjim Says:

    Tiny desk – in the spirit of Nick Drake

    But for the video, I’m just trolling Dorn

  21. wilbard Says:

    In my orange: Offering – John Coltrane Quintet Live at Temple University, 11-11-66 (with Rashied Ali, Alice Coltrane, Sonny Johnson, Pharoah Sanders)

  22. little umbrellas Says:

    In my top favorite piano trio albums are def:
    Money Jungle- Duke, Mingus Roach
    Sunday at the Village Vanguard – Bill Evans
    But Not For Me: Ahmad Jamal live at Pershing (1958)

    Live at the Perishing got me into jazz in the first place. Before Kinda Blue. I wrote my college application letter on that album.

    It’s not super flash like Oscar Peterson.. but it’s melody and space are immaculate. It’s almost like classical in it’s regard to composition and melody.

    The space Ahmad left , Miles acknowledges that’s what gave him the idea to say less and leave space. Ahmad.

    Awakening is rad, but the Perishing has a chill and a vibe that’s of its own world. Will be spinning it until the day i die no doubt.

  23. Jerseyjim Says:

    Fishman Approves this Message.

  24. wilbard Says:

    LU, three great albums right there. Money Jungle is one of my fav albums, I adore that Fleurette Africaine track

  25. little umbrellas Says:

    Recs of Transitions, Quartet Plays noted. Need a refresher on both of those. Thanks Miner

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