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:

    Just because they strongly disagree doesn’t make it defensive. Seems to me like you’re finally getting the ranking argument you always say you want. Certainly your position as a jams first guy is well established but unless someone buys that premise there’s plenty of room for disagreement

    Jejune is a fantastic word, note that was for anyone going at the tour as a whole

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    Wait you just figured out the origin of your own handle?

    That’s beautiful

  3. phishm Says:

    All I know is the 12/7 show was the absolute perfect show for my dad’s first. He loved it. Of course his favorite tune was the JJLC. He still to this day has me play it for him when he’s here. I’m glad they played exactly what they played and how they played it. Turned out to be absolutely perfect.

  4. realoutcasty Says:

    actually figured it out on Monday, but yes. had no idea. T3 gave this one to me when Telas_Muff stopped working.

  5. Jerome Garcia Says:

    12/7/97 from the top you bunch of whiny cunts. Ha!

  6. Jerome Garcia Says:


  7. stapes Says:

    Mmmm sandos.

  8. stapes Says:

    I miss slow build Pipers.

  9. MiA Says:

    Sometimes a band comes out and seems to be hooked up from the start. Like the choice of songs and the flavor of the set just make sense. From the start, everything is just “on point”

    Fall ’97 is definitely the jams. There are shows where setlist construction is just O.K. But highlighted by some great jams.

    To me, the setlist construction grabs you or it doesn’t.

    I think there are (4) 20 minute Bags in existence. (I see what I did there). And the on lot lore of the first one (Hampton) didn’t really make anyone disappointed to get a “pinner” one. At least not in the room. They just seemed to be going into Psycho Killer.

    While this Bag didn’t go the distance (there were only 3 in Fall ’97) the Bag > Killer … and associated jam coming out of it, are top notch.

    I’d take exception to it being a “TH” cover, with that jam coming out of it.

    To move into another cover (ZZ Top’s JJLC) seemed utterly seemless. Like Fishman’s transition into it is just golden.

    MMGAMOIO seemed more like a Beacon of thought than a bluegrass cover. The song drops itself into quite a few epic shows. It was a rarity then and still is. The old “Hey, they’re dropping FOAM in the first set, clean out your pockets for the second” kinda comes into play here on MMGAMOIO.

    Everything from then on is just jaw dropping to me. The It’s Ice to Tube.

    Set II’s doesn’t go off the rails. It was almost like they wanted a fun breather. No 21 minute Character Zero’s. Does it hold down a good second set? Sure. What is weird about a lot of Fall ’97 seconds is them taking a ride on stuff you would never expect them to. Like ROC was saying, and second set Bouncin’ > Julius has every reason to say “meh” until you’re thinking “Oh, they’re gonna turn this up”

    Ending on a Guyute > Possum isn’t blowing the doors off the place for sure. But this isn’t one I’d kick to the curb either.

  10. MiA Says:

    TL;DR – I still like 12/7/97.

    12/7/99 Halley’s is maybe top 10 GOAT songs by Phish. Amazing.

  11. MiA Says:

    Also, I wasn’t far from the guy yelling “Mike’s GROOVE” at the top of his lungs either. So they start the next night in PENN with it.

  12. sumodie Says:

    Free Relix webcasts – CRB (tonight) & Hot Tuna w/ Steve Kimock (Friday night)

    Earthless & Kikagaku Moyo announce spring tour

    Still stuck on 2017PH!

  13. Stoney Case Says:

    which live bait has the quad c Halley’s?

  14. Stoney Case Says:

    If you didn’t already, check out 12/6/96 from aladdin theatre. bands first visit to vegas. gadzooks. that’s a smoker

  15. jtran Says:

    For a tour that had an annoyingly tight rotation of dumb songs like My Soul and Sparkle a 1000-show bustout that would later become a staple is pretty noteworthy, for sure.

    Just like the Tube jam turning Tube into a jam vehicle for a couple years is important as well.

  16. jtran Says:

    Also, after you lay down 12/6 II there’s no real reason to try the next night in the same slot.

  17. jtran Says:

    A ton of Guyute, Bouncing, PYITE, Ginseng Sullivan and probably one too many loving cups throughout this tour too.

  18. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I love that you just figured that out, roc


  19. jtran Says:

    That being said, when’s my box set coming out? I’m buying!

  20. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    @Tela’s- you have never seen this hoody?

    i think i know what to get ya for Christmas

  21. stapes Says:

    Italian spaghetti!!!

  22. jtran Says:

    Happy almost Friday

  23. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Gonna 20YL 12/7/97 in a few hrs w/ Lady Bear. She is stoked. Pre custy cast soundtrack. I sense a dance party in my offing…

  24. realoutcasty Says:

    Heady – have not seen that! wow!

    cruel jtran. cruel.

    hey, have you guys heard of African Head Charge?

  25. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I’ll just assume y’all have already played the 12.07.1999 Halleys at full volume today so no need to bring it up again

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