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. Mr.Miner Says:

    totally agree with your assessment C. But here’s what it comes down to. These guys are awesome musicians who are now in—by far—their most financially successful situation of their lives. Their talent—Russo, Benevento and Metzger, specifically—has far outweighed their ability to make loot. So here they are selling out shows in an instant with a fan base that eats up the Dead thing, so they are riding it for all it’s worth. And it’s worth a lot. The GD are the never ending pot of gold. I am sure that somewhere, they feel the same as we do, but most of them have solo projects in which they express their individual creativity, and JRad is their cash cow. Hard to fault them for what they are doing, but yeah, it’s hard for me to sit there and listen to them run through that song catalog. When they jam though, it’s usually pretty damn good.

  2. Wolf Like Me Says:

    Yeah I mean their Tiny Desk concert is very reserved in comparison to their normal shows (as is tradition)

    But that musical spoken word, seamless movement, stream of consciousness thing is still very much the fabric of their sound.

    And incredible band that has been grinding for years around here, and finally get some recognition they deserve.

  3. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah their live show is extremely highly regarded. by most accounts they stole the Pickathon last year

  4. MrCompletely Says:


    Real Talk!!!!!!!!!

    Every single one of them words rang true

    nothing to add to that. that’s how it is.

  5. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Curveball bitches

  6. MrCompletely Says:

    I got nothing against talented musicians being able to pay the bills. And since they’re selling out they won’t miss my money when I don’t go

  7. MrCompletely Says:

    selling out venues I mean. not the other thing.

  8. Wolf Like Me Says:

    I mean it is solid energy exploding from the stage.

    Quite frankly I really haven’t ever seen anything like it.

    Sure there are plenty of bands who are energetic and masters of charging the room.

    But in an age of homogeneous derivatives, they have managed to find a unique line into the steam of musical consciousness

  9. Wolf Like Me Says:

    The lead singer actually did a track with Mickey Hart not too long ago that is pretty wild.

  10. Wolf Like Me Says:

    a better representation of their live act:

  11. gavinsdad Says:

    ^to that end re Jrad…just a reflection at how wild it was to see Red Rocks sold out by them last Sept. obviously everyone was in town for Dicks shows but still….that was 9500 people…I’d seen them at the Phila TLA (cap 1000) mebbe only 1.5 years before. get it while the getting is good.

  12. Mr.Miner Says:

    just spun magna tweezecaspitweeze.

    every time I hear a peaky phish jam now, I’m all like…”hmm. I bet @lu doesn’t like this.”

  13. phishm Says:

    That would suck to wonder if someone else is enjoying the jam you’re enjoying. Seems like a lot of senseless thinking.

  14. vapebraham Says:

    check out this bumpin track form Zion-I – Wake up!:

    1st class modern day hip-hop

  15. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    When is the next run of last dead shows ever at soldier field and will they play dark star

  16. bobby weird Says:

    had bartender buddy spin Both Sides of the Sky at lunch this afternoon. i liked it quite a bit. thought it sounded quite good, too, so far as i could tell in that setting.

  17. sumodie Says:

    JRAD Red Rocks proved that they can’t really play a venue that large. Esp since so many in the audience are chomping away in their own little worlds

  18. Mr.Miner Says:

    That would suck to wonder if someone else is enjoying the jam you’re enjoying. Seems like a lot of senseless thinking.

    ^ amen.

  19. vapebraham Says:

    yall familiar with McCoy’s Focal Point (1976):

    modal style. $$$

  20. Tghost Says:

    Dudes! Just walked through Christiania, that place is a total mindfuck! 5 minutes drive from the highest acclaimed restaurant in the world, an open hashtag and flower market and no rules whatsoever. Cold as fuck here in Copenhagen but still a few people here and there. Had no idea.


  21. Tghost Says:

    Haha, autocorrect of hashtag. Hash of course. No hashtags, or photos, allowed.

  22. lumpyhead Says:

    damn Tzara’s is doing it!

  23. dorn76 Says:

    Dark hams

  24. MrCompletely Says:

    thanks for the Ahmad Jamal prompting. great work music

    Eremite back catalog going up on BC. Mostly modern free jazz

  25. vapebraham Says:

    one more jazz rec Eddie Henderson Inside Out (1974):

    file this one under space camp. absolutely love it. some of that headhunters feel, but more free. w/ herbie, bill summers, and bennie maupin. $$$+

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