Out West in April ’92

When listening to Phish, I am always apt to pop in something from their latter era of 1994 and beyond. However, the years that Phish spent laying the groundwork for their 1995 peak and subsequent reinvention, were the foundation needed for their later greatness.  And I always forget just how sick early Phish really is!  Beginning to tour in earnest in the Fall of 1990, the band played incessantly in building a loyal grassroots fan base.  Moving through bars, clubs and colleges all over the nation, Phish began to debut new songs, experiment with their musical direction, and integrate quirky, humorous elements into their live show.  With each run of shows in this period of rapid development, Phish seemed to get markedly tighter and more adventurous.

Phish circa 1992

Unquestionably, the band’s first creative peak came in the Spring of 1992.  Armed with an array of new songs, most of which would comprise Rift, and a new “secret language” that directly involved their fans with subtle musical cues, Phish was fomenting a unique identity.  After the month of March, which included many standout shows (see 3.11, 13, 19, 20 and 26,) Phish embarked on a western journey that would comprise the hallowed month of  April.  Moving into Colorado on the 3rd, and California on the 15th, the band existed as a four headed, well-oiled improvisational monster.  With fast-paced, jazz-rooted psychedelia, Phish continued to carve out their ever-evolving musical path.  The band’s energy in this month of shows literally jumps off the many soundboard recordings that have leaked over the years.  Kick-starting their era of “speedjazz” that would culminate in 1993, this band represented a young lion aggressively exploring its world.

1992 Tour Ad Poster

Each and every 21 shows from April of 1992 have legitimate musical highlights, with the most acclaimed jams coming in the California run from 4.15 through 4.21.  From the well known 4.21 Redwood Acres “Tweezer,” 4.18 Stanford “Harry Hood,” and the 4.16 Anaconda Theatre Mockingbird, to the less circulated 4.13 Tempe “David Bowie,” Tucson’s 4.12 shredding “Antelope,” or the pristine “Foam” from the Warfield on 4.17, amazing moments were aplenty.  Marked with a “sense of urgency” in their playing, Phish was in the middle of discovering what they were musically capable of, both individually, and as a quartet.  Teeming with the enthusiasm, Phish was consitently on-point during this month of insanely tight communication.  Tearing apart the western US, the band created new fans as quickly as they created stellar jams.  With a polished sound, goofy presence, and a fiery demeanor, this Spring run represented Phish in the process of becoming.

Phish circa 1991

Before long, 1992 would turn into 1993 and beyond, and this incredibly Phishy run through the wild west would remain a frozen moment in time, capturing an innocence that would gradually pass with the rapid development of their organization and scene.  Marking the most significant musical adventures to date, April 1992 will forever be remembered as some of the best and most exciting Phish ever.

1. YEM 4.5 Fox Theatre, Boulder, CO

2. David Bowie 4.5

3. Reba 4.12 U of Arizona Student Center, Tucson, AZ

4. Run Like An Antelope 4.12

5. David Bowie 4.13 After the Gold Rush, Tempe, AZ

6. Fluffhead 4.13

7. Split Open and Melt 4.16 Anaconda Theatre, Isla Vista, CA

8. Col. Forbin’s > Icculus > Famous Mockingbird 4.16

9. Mike’s > H2 > Weekapaug 4.16

10. Foam 4.17.92 The Warfield, San Francisco, CA

11. Reba 4.17

12. David Bowie > Catapult > David Bowie 4.17

13. Tweezer 4.17

14. Rift 4.18 Wilbur Field, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

15. Harry Hood 4.18

16. Tweezer 4.21 Redwood Acres, Eureka, CA

17. YEM 4.25 Campus Rec Center, Evergreen College, Olympia, WA

18. Harry Hood 4.25

19, 20. The Landlady > Possum 4.29 First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN

21, 22, 23. Mound > Oh Kee Pah > Llama 4.29

24. Brother 4.17 The Warfield, SF, CA

25. Stash 4.13 Tempe, AZ


I want to extend an open invitation for article / post suggestions!  After 100, it’s not as easy to conjure up a creative angle every single day, but so far so good.  if you think you have a topic that in any way relates to Phish that you would like to see featured on Phish Thoughts, drop me a line!  I cannot promise I will use them all. and there are some I am purposely avoiding for now, but I’d LOVE to hear what you have to say. The mailbox is always open at!

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