The Definitive “Split” of ’93

Trey, 1993 (A.Dines)

Trey 1993 (A.Dines)

Sixteen years ago today, Phish was in Columbus, Ohio playing the second show of a two night stand approaching the end of their Spring 1993 tour.  The setting was the ornate Newport Music Hall, and one of the jams from this show would live on forever as a part of Phish history.  The band busted into “Split Open and Melt” as the third song of the second set, and soon engaged in some incredibly compelling improvisation.  The jam stood out to the band so much, that they decided to bring it into the studio.

Most everyone is familiar with Phish’s 1994 official release, Hoist.  The last track on this album, “Demand,” is a brief musical poem with elusive meaning, ending with the lyric “Driving home to Mom and Dad / To spend a weekend with no cares.”  Then, as the music ends, we hear someone get into a car, shut the door and pop in a cassette tape.  As the subject starts the engine, we hear a ridiculously ripping “Split Open and Melt” jam playing in the fictional car.  And here is where our stories intersect- that jam after “Demand” was plucked directly from our show in Columbus sixteen years ago.  The car drives off to the soundtrack of the intensely building jam until we hear it crash, giving way a layered live mix of “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav,” and thus ending the album.  Creating a sonic collage, and juxtaposing their stripped down studio work with their layered live psychedelia, Phish clearly chose this jam with intent.  On its anniversary, let’s take a look back at a jam so utterly breathtaking that the band decided to add it to an album.

41075wa00kl_aa240_At the onset of their 1993 “speedjazz” era, Phish engaged this “Split” jam like a lioness attacking an innocent zebra, proceeding to tear it to shreds.  This was a time where jams didn’t take time to settle, but started, earnestly, before the lyrical refrain even ended.  Trey’s licks began firing early and often as Page was all over the piano like a madman- both being held together by a lightning quick groove.  Fish and Gordon provided the super-glue for this stunningly tight musical conversation.  Trey’s licks became more condensed, often referred to as his “machine gun” playing, as his guitar acrobatics pushed the jam forward.  This amphetamine-laced music was led by Trey’s absolutely shredding guitar; far moreso than later Phish.  Moving at such a break-neck pace, this was the day where Phish left your jaw on the floor in a whole different way.

phish-hartford-4-30-93Building the momentum of the jam behind Gordon’s strapping basslines and Fish’s masterfully absurd beats, Trey progressed from notes to screams of tonal terror, creating a terrifying balls-to-the-wall soundtrack to an intense sci-fi movie.  The band slaughtered this jam, all four at once, like four lionesses shredding that poor zebra until there was nothing left.  Trey’s dissonant wails led the mission, as the band tore through the jungle, never missing a collective hit amidst the maddening psychedelia.  Mike’s playing was equally impressive as he molded basslines to complement the melodic themes while also leading the insane rhythm.  Page’s piano work was that of a true jazz player, using his instrument to achieve a drone effect in the jam while simultaneously playing dizzying right-hand lines. This was a piece of improv where all four members absolutely clicked during an era when the result was completely mind-bending, “can -you-handle-this” type of music.

Mike has referenced this jam as a moment where the band “got it” and figured out what they were trying to do musically.  It is no coincidence that after this spring tour in 1993, which finished only two weeks later, Phish went on to crush Summer ’93; a tour that is still revered to this day as the epitome of an era.  Taking Mike at face value, this “Split” jam- sixteen years ago today-kick-started one of the most well loved eras in Phish history.


LISTEN TO 4.21.93 “Split” NOW! < LINK (Roll over, click play)




4.21.93 Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH < TORRENT

Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH

Newport Music Hall

Here is the complete show in which this famous “Split” was performed.  A classic show of Spring ’93, this one was definitely a high point of the tour.  On-point jamming characterized this evening and it featured many other highlights beyond “Split,” including a raw “Mike’s Groove” at the end of the night.

I: Buried Alive, Poor Heart, Foam, Guelah Papyrus, Maze, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Famous Mockingbird, Rift, Punch You in the Eye, I Didn’t Know, Run Like an Antelope

II: Possum, Mound, Split Open and Melt, The Squirming Coil, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Big Ball Jam, Mike’s Song > Great Gig in the Sky > Weekapaug Groove, Gumbo

E: Sweet Adeline, Cavern

Source: Unknown

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167 Responses to “The Definitive “Split” of ’93”

  1. Mugician Says:

    PS – great topic, Miner!

  2. brandofunk Says:

    this is being talked about on, PT and someblogs.

    I think thi sis for real

  3. brandofunk Says:

    ooooppppsss…. linkage below

  4. spideyguy0 Says:

    I’ve sat in the boxes at Fenway before, if these are the same boxes I’m thinking of, they are corporate luxury boxes, and each consists of a small room with sofa/tv/table and then an overhang with seats (20 or so people to a box). They are all corporate owned (Boston Globe, Fidelity, etc.) which is why I’m unsure if I’m thinking of the same boxes or not. They are very nice to watch a ball game in but unsure about a Phish show, since they’re mostly cut off from everyone outside those 20 people, and filling a box with 20 randoms seems kinda strange to me.

  5. brandofunk Says:

  6. spideyguy0 Says:

    ok, using the precise seating site (great site) turns out its actually the section above the luxury boxes I was talking about and is just a big open air roof section

  7. voopa Says:

    “My question is, I’m planning on buying two Shoreline lawns off a guy who got ‘em off ticketmaster. The guy sounds legit, but is there anything I can do to ensure I’m buying real tickets? Or is this a pure trust thing?”

    You can do like I did, and threaten that Mr. Miner will send SOAM and Wax Banks after him if he doesn’t come through…btw, thanks again Anthony! I’m going to Shoreline!! WOOHOO!!!

  8. Mugician Says:

    Hahaha… Hmmm, I’m guessing by your reply that there isn’t much I can do?

  9. apple toast Says:

    if someone threatened to have wax banks talk my ear off in a foreign language about the intricasies of why 1998 was the downfall of phish and why big cypress wasn’t the best phish show ever, i’d be damned sure to send you a ticket, but that’s just me.

    yeah….it’s risky at best to trust strangers about tickets. have him send you something of value for collateral. Or tell him that wax banks is on the way. That would scare me.

  10. Mugician Says:

    I guess I might as well ask, I need a Gorge, either night!

  11. voopa Says:

    “Hahaha… Hmmm, I’m guessing by your reply that there isn’t much I can do?”

    If this person is a regular poster here, I’d go for it. Some random? No.

  12. Mugician Says:

    Well…. two tickets at face+fees? That’s hard to find. Unless someone here has two Shoreline lawns (or pavs) to sell to me, I’m going to have to!

  13. hairy pood Says:

    why does everyone call that dylan tune “easy chair”? its “you ain’t goin’ nowhere.”

    just wondering.

    misspelling minor makes more sense, because that’s how it would be spelled in the song (from my interpretation)…. thank you mr. minor, on the minor chord, then when it sung, later on a major chord. mr. miner here mines for gold in the archives, like a coal miner’s daughter or something. anyway….

  14. shpongleyez Says:

    Actually, the Miner in the song is spelled Miner. Owned the Hood factory or something? I thought it was Minor all along until Miner corrected me…

  15. null Says:

    elbows: YES!!!

  16. fromthetub Says:

    @Mugican – we have Shoreline lawns for you for face + fees if you need… what’s your email?

  17. null Says:

    elbows: and *that’s* why Camden had to be the last stop before Coventry. The last note of the last encore of the last show before it all finally had to begin to end – that note *sprung* like nothing else. Camden == amazing

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