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:

    it’s clear the fella really enjoys his professional identity. who wouldn’t?

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    So here are 27 nominees for the top 10:

    Quad C Halley’s – 12/7/99
    Star Lake MLT – 7/21/99
    Palace Tweezer – 12/6/97
    Rupp Gin – 11/7/96
    Providence Bowie – 12/29/94
    Amsterstash – 7/2/97
    Dick’s Light – 9/1/12
    Fukuoka Twist – 6/14/00
    Radio City Ghost – 5/22/00
    Darien Lake Drowned – 9/14/00
    Hampton Halley’s – 11/22/97
    Cypress DWD – 12/31/99
    Cypress Drowned > AM reprise 12/31/99
    Cinci Melt – 12/4/99
    Boise Bag – 9/14/99
    Nassau Roses – 4/3/98
    Nassau Twist – 4/2/98
    Greek Reba – 10/29/98
    Raleigh Tweezer – 12/16/99
    Woosta Jim – 11/29/97
    Alpine Tweezer – this is 1998 right ?
    Denver Ghost – 11/17/97
    Randall’s Chalkdust – 7/13/14
    Vegas Wolfman’s – 10/31/98
    Gorge Rock – 8/5/11
    Lakewood Ghost – 7/23/97
    IT Waves – 8/2/03

    I missed a few that were mentioned once and that’s what I want to clarify. Say we cap this at 30. What absolutely has to be on here?

    FWIW I think a guideline that we need to keep it from sprawling into infinite lunacy is to keep it to single jams – my feeling is it could include examples like the Drowned > AM reprise where the transition happens as part of the movement of the jam, but not whole extended segue sequences. But like if you include Drowned > AM reprise then it seems like Walnut Creek DWD > Mike’s is on the table right? Whether you’d add it I don’t know, but just the way it comes out of the jam naturally and directly. Ventura Bowie > Cities > Bowie would be on the table too, stuff like that

    I’m fine either way but ya know, in or out, pick one

  3. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    uh, so I have a lot more to contribute to that list if we are really doing that

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    You’ve already got a job!

    We gotta cap the nominees somewhere, seriously. The point is to cut that back down to 10. Will be painful, yup

  5. Drew Cluley Says:

    I concur MrC – Spread Sheet Away

    Gotta Add Amsterdam Carini

  6. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:


    yeah, I’ll have that for you here shortly

  7. MrCompletely Says:

    I’m not saying we can’t add to it t3, that’s why I’m asking

    but just not another dozen or something. Everyone list your additions and give opinions on other people’s and whatever, and anything there’s agreement on we’ll add

    think of it this way, be honest, if it’s not getting more than a couple votes going up against the rest of that list that’s already there…

  8. garretcorncob Says:

    Do we need to have a pool that we’re voting from?

    Can’t we just all put in our votes on 10 jams chosen from whatever and then use those?

    Obviously that’s going to be less likely to end up with consensus picks, can imagine a lot of jams with one vote or whatever, but at least then there’s no controversy over the initial voting options

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    the goal is to actually generate a playlist that represents the closest thing we can get to…not consensus, but a crowdsourced BB top 10. I don’t care what method

  10. BingosBrother Says:

    Mind Left Bowie is only one song. And I love it. Top 10? Idk.

  11. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    check yer tronz @MrC

  12. dorn76 Says:

    When you can link the playlist, I’ll be back, and not a moment before!

  13. Drew Cluley Says:

    Well Dorn hopefully that will happen – linked playlist, Flac of course

  14. jdub Says:

    Oh dorn, you do remember that this site is based on Phishoughts.

    C, this is a great start. Appreciate the push.

    I think we could push the initial list to 40.

    For me, this isnt a ranking but more a retrospective of both great phish jams and the taste of fellow heads ive gotten to know. Which is why phinest version is a little shallow for me. I dont know the people voting.

  15. jdub Says:

    Also, a guidline could be to try and spread it out over eras.

  16. realoutcasty Says:

    no era spread… a great jam is a great jam.. i also don’t like the idea of counting combos, like Disease>Mikes. Let the jam stand on it’s own merit. not a sequence, segue fest, etc.

  17. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    stay golden, Dorny Boy

  18. Joe Says:

    Tahoe Tweezer and dicks carini 17

  19. jdub Says:

    Is there anything creepier than 12 massive turkey vultures sitting in a bare tree overlooking your house? They Attack!

  20. Joe Says:

    Kind of like the 2 votes Edgar Renteria got on this years hall of fame ballot but at least they got mentioned.

  21. realoutcasty Says:

    yes, Dorn sitting bare in a tree overlooking your house would be much creepier

  22. realoutcasty Says:

    listening to 12/31/95 Paug to see if it’s fitting for my top 10. it would be if i included Sea & Sand…

  23. little umbrellas Says:

    Island Roses
    Island Twist
    Fuku Twist
    Cypress Mike’s
    McNichol’s Ghost
    Palace Tweezer
    Nutter Tube
    Vegas Wolf
    Gorge RnR
    Drive In

  24. little umbrellas Says:

    ^with Phish it’s hard to make a top 20 let alone a top 10.
    Those just came to mind first for me.

  25. dorn76 Says:

    why so serious Jdub

    smoke a peace pipe, maaaan. Why not do so in m kitchen in fact. I’ll be home in 20.

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