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. bobby weird Says:

    i know next to nothing this year. and, of course, the bracket doesn’t list the teams’ records…. arg. done anyway. in 3 mins. predicting last place finish.

  2. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I’m basically randomly picking at this point. too many pools

  3. Doc pro Says:

    Yeah which is this year’s pool?
    Think I won last year? Can’t remember

  4. little umbrellas Says:

    B E T H E L
    W A V E S
    S O U N D C H E C K

  5. Kaveh Says:

    My bracket for last year wasn’t the official one. MiA is the ring leader, and I honestly don’t remember what he name that bracket.

  6. Kaveh Says:

    I think both brackets were done through CBS.

  7. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    yeah there are actually three BB based brackets that show up in my CBS profile

  8. phlorida phan Says:

    Dr. P, you were back to back Champs in ’14-’15, been slacking since.
    Halcy is the only other 2 back to back champ in ’11-’12
    I pulled the elusive win off last year and am looking to join the 2 utes in BB glory.

  9. Doc pro Says:

    Ah, nice!

    So…..which bracket is it? Gotta get it in soon, right? With the Badgers not dancing for the first time in 19 years, I can finally not be torn by allegiances

  10. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    bracket linkage?

  11. phlorida phan Says:

  12. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    not invited via my registered email.

    Signal’ed email, Pablo

  13. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Just stopping by to say I’ve never heard a lick of John Mayer playing the dead, never heard spafford, jrad or tweedle

    So much win

  14. Mr.Miner Says:

    Just stopping by to say I’ve never heard a lick of John Mayer playing the dead, never heard spafford, jrad or tweedle

    So much win

    ^ this is a LOT of win. Jrad, though I am thoroughly burnt out on any GD-related stuff at this point, do get into some very cool, original jams. I wish they would just play their own music, because that lineup is awesome. I have seen some great jrad shows.

  15. Wolf Like Me Says:

    dont think Tweedle should be in the same category as those other bands personally.

    I am not a big fan of Dead and Co myself, as I too am suffering from Grateful Dead projects fatigue. There really are waaaay to many avenues playing this music IMO.

    I think JRAD is an incredibly talented band who achieves improvisational heights that are stunning. Though I agree, I would like to see them do their own material. But to me, they are the only one of the GD band actually breathing NEW life into those old tunes.

    Spafford, well I haven’t been sold on them completely yet, but I can certainly see why they are getting the traction they are getting. I do feel they are a little derivative, but all jambands are at their inception. It takes a while to carve your own lane.

    Twiddle is just garbage to me. Bad Dave Matthews impersonation on the vocals and HS jam band music composition behind it. I really don’t understand how they have even crossed over to the mainstream jamband scene.

  16. lumpyhead Says:

    agreed jrad is sick but burnt out on that music // dead n co is better than no dead but df will never admit that // don’t even get me started on spafford or twiddle

    bethel. waves. soundcheck.

  17. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Yall talkin bout roundball? Fuck that noise. Ha!

    Oh hey hi. How are yall? I am phine. Missing Untzy salty d & dornholio up in the High Country for the thriving metropolis of Hello Cleveland! for the other NCAA tournament. Alma matter going for 7th championship in 8 yrs. Fuckeyes standing in the way. 3 of my fav days of the yr. This yr marks my 26th NCAAs but 1st w/out the padre. All the feels.

  18. MrCompletely Says:

    when JRAD starts playing more than 50% original material is when I’ll listen to em again. I would also like to see a much broader tonal and improvisational palette as to my ear they are a little two dimensional, mostly because both their guitar players are pretty limited in expression. And finally maybe get Russo to chill a little. The guy overplays pretty heavily.

    I know that sounds like a lot of critique but I do think they are not far from being a band I could enjoy.

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    I do appreciate the fact that they at least disrespect the material, which I mean in the best possible way. Make it your own if you’re going to do it. If I want to hear conservatory music I’ll listen to Wynton Marsalis (which is not happening either). Playing Dead music by attempting to cop the style directly is frankly stupid and misses the whole point of the band. It makes me wonder whether people were ever actually thinking about what was good about the original.

    The above doesn’t apply to local/regional tribute bands who are just trying to have fun and create a party scene for friends and stuff. That’s a different deal

  20. MrCompletely Says:

    Overall though yes I think we’re well past Peak Post-Jerry Dead Music and are entering a pretty creatively depleted phase that looks more and more like pure nostalgia exploitation. That’s where JRAD does have the advantage: at least it’s different and technically sound.

    But yeah maybe they should spend like a year doing nothing but seamless sets of Fela Kuti and Miles Davis covers alternating back and forth and then move into original material. Throw off the chains. Do something amazing.

  21. gavinsdad Says:


  22. lumpyhead Says:

    3 feet high n rising be hard to find on wax

  23. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    time and again the NPR Tiny Desk series delivers by introducing me to music I might not otherwise hear. this one is no different

  24. Wolf Like Me Says:

    speaking of Tiny Desks..

    what yall know about Tank and the Bangas? (Local New Orleans group)

  25. MrCompletely Says:

    dang Raul is killing it. I dig his voice. Does the Keller vocal thing but way better

    yep, Tank & Co – won the contest, was it last year? interesting sound for sure.

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