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:

    ‘ I adore that Fleurette Africaine track’

    ^when heaven is dark and spicy like hash. ♡♡♡♡

  2. wilbard Says:

    I think I read Phil Lesh say somewhere that Scott LaFaro was the only bassist who really influenced him.. (LaFaro from that Bill Evans at the Village Vanguard set, and died like a week later at age 25)

  3. little umbrellas Says:

    Loving hearing the Olé ♡♡♡

    I can listen to that song over and over. The vibe.

    And there’s one lick at the end where Trane spells out some full on kunzite full-termination double-helix level lead line.

  4. little umbrellas Says:

    Makes sense^ Scott LaFaro on Sunday at the Village Vanguard is some of the most counterpunctual melodic bass ive ever heard. And yar too bad about that car crash right after that recording.

    The way they play the theme to Alice in Wonderland!

  5. wilbard Says:

    Olé, man, that double bass is $$$. On my third listen tonight.

  6. wilbard Says:

    Bandcamp is spamming me new Sun Hop Fat!

  7. MrCompletely Says:

    this last couple pages turned into a firestorm of hot recs, thanks everyone

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah I think they spelled your name wrong on the BC page dawg

  9. Mr.Miner Says:

    @lu. check out Vijay Iyer Trio. Saw them in SF last month. Top level stuff. He also has a new school sextet that put out an amazing album last year, but his trio is his well established band.

  10. Mr.Miner Says:

    I haven’t dove too deep on Ahmad, but his album Outertimeinnerspace is awesome. Picked that record up a while ago.

  11. Stoney Case Says:

    7/29/98 from AZ is my chestnut find of the day. Second set rips

  12. Mr.Miner Says:

    You mean 97. All-time Antelope and gnarly early Twist.

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    Vijay Iyer is pretty great

  14. MrCompletely Says:

    Charlie Miller just circulated an upgrade to a 73 Dead show that’s always had a sketchy tape situation – Nassau 3.19.73.

    Thanks to Wilbard for the 24bit link. I tagged it and am uploading that along with 16bit flac and mp3 conversions to this orange

    Based on a quick sampling it’s a big upgrade though still not a perfect tape.

  15. little umbrellas Says:

    Word Wilbard! Bandcamp dude digs us. We got this new album of 6 originals and the single is about to drop.

  16. little umbrellas Says:

    Vijay Iyer Trio.

    ^ never heard of this thanks!

  17. MrCompletely Says:

    He did that excellent solo piano version of King Solomon’s Marbles on the Day of the Dead covers album


  18. Mr.Miner Says:

    As someone who didn’t believe in an afterlife, Stephan Hawking is on a helluva trip right now…

  19. gavinsdad Says:

    Work is busy but on a little skim think I’ve repped Ole on here a few times…Dahomey Dance! Just a late pickup for me prob 94 while down in Florida finishing school

  20. wilbard Says:

    That Vijay Iyer Trio release Far From Over from last year is pretty nice

  21. wilbard Says:

    You guys familiar with that Oscar Peterson album Solar Winds? Rare chance to hear him on the Fender Rhodes. Awesome:

    Ahmad Jamal on the electric piano on the ’73 album is pretty cool to hear, too

  22. wilbard Says:

    fishing for some LU thoughts on this –

    “The Musical Imagination of Phil Lesh: The Grateful Dead’s Difference Engine”

  23. little umbrellas Says:

    Solo piano King Solomon’s nice! (Whoaw that album was a trip)

    -gdad! Yeeee Dahomey! respeck

    Wilbard, i def tripped the first time i heard ahmad or oscar ripping anything but a straight up piano. Nice shares.

    ♡Hawking, rest in peace to one legendary homie. To the stars!

  24. little umbrellas Says:

    HoLEEcrap willy! this Difference Engine article is so money!! Wow heck yes. Gonna take me a sec to really read it sometime soon.

  25. vapebraham Says:

    ^^ yo, isn’t that OP rhodes album called Night Child? Solar Winds is a choice track from that album.

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