Song combinations and segues can make Phish sets infinitely more exciting, while opening up universes of improvisational possibility. When an open ended jam finally arrives at a landing point which, itself, is another launch pad, things can get dirty. We all go to Phish shows for different reasons, but if you’re into the psychedelic dance party aspect of things, there is no more lethal of a one-two punch than “Tweezer > 2001.” Merging one of their most exploratory jams and a subsequent clinic in groove, you’ve got yourself a chunky half hour of Phish.
This vigorous adventure has only been traveled three times in the band’s history- and interestingly, twice at Deer Creek. However, the first-and mother- of all “Tweezer >2001s” hails from Christiania, Copenhagen, and was born on 7.1.98 in a dank stone barn called Den Gra Hal. Aside from June’s Noblesville excursion- one of the mightiest segments of the tour- the only other time that Phish brought the two epics together was on the first night of three in the cornfields during the summer of ’03. Read about, and listen to, all three below.
7.1.98 Christiana, Copenhagen
This forty-minute monster that dominated the show’s second set has always lived large in Phish lore. Taking the intimate Scandinavian crowd on a journey like never before, Phish carefully crafted one of the quintessential highlights of the late ’90s. Built in 1891 for the Danish military, and converted into a concert hall by hippies that created Christiania Freetown in the 1970s, Den Gra Hal made a surreal room for this trip. To no more than a thousand fans, Phish masterfully played one of the definitive improvisational segments of 1998. The band flowed through endless sections of collaborative rhythmic playing, as Trey switched back and forth from lead to rhythm and Page led the jam as much as anyone. Mike and Fish owned the bottom end- Summer ’98 style.
Totally locked and shredding one of the hottest dance parties ever thrown, Phish took this “Tweezer” on an extensive ride through galaxies of groove, finally settling into a more mellow portion of music. From here the band waded into minutes of beautifully murky and quieter music that built tremendous musical tension, only to be unleashed by Fishman’s snare hit. Confined within a small room, this “2001″ took on a whole different character than its larger-than-life brethren. Featuring far more notes with less space to travel, Trey, Mike and Page were cemented together, bouncing their funked-out musings off of each others’. The interplay between Page and Trey was particularly sublime. Laid back, yet simultaneously driving, this version is certainly up there on any “best of” list. Fishman just crushes the entire segment holding it down like only he can. Honestly, this was one of my top Phish experiences ever.
7.21.03 Deer Creek, IN
For five years, the legend of “Tweezer > 2001″ grew with every spin of those DATs. With so few people there having actually bore witness, it became almost a piece of Phish mythology. Through the many tours the band played, never again did this combination pop up- until after their hiatus in 2003. In Phish’s return to the summer circuit, they pulled into Deer Creek for a three-night stand in late July, and midway through the second set, crawling out of a dark “46 Days” jam twisted the opening lick of “Tweezer.”
This time around, the entire episode was far more succinct, as the combo was shorter than Christiania’s “Tweezer.” Right out of the gates, Trey hopped on his horse, leading the band with some standard “Tweezer leads. As he began to improvise, the rest of the band remained largely anchored to the song’s composed structure. Finally, Fishman started up a percussive beat that shook things up, leading into several minutes of minimalist improv. As the band methodically chugged away, bridging the music to a smaller place, the jam didn’t turn into anything terribly interesting. Taking the band out of their meandering, Fishman rode his cymbal into the intro of “2001.” With a version that was nothing more than lazy funk, I felt as though this “Tweezer > 2001″ should not have been able to be called “Tweezer > 2001″- it didn’t deserve to carry the title! Nonetheless, this was the second-ever combination of the two songs, part of a relatively forgettable opening night of three.
LISTEN TO 7.21.03 “TWEEZER > 2001″ NOW! (listen only)
6.19.09 Deer Creek, IN
Phish was done; the combo had only happened twice- and only once for real. And then the whole unretirement happened. Just as extra innings is often referred to as “free baseball,” we all of a sudden had “free Phish!” And so the story goes…
The band pulled back into Deer Creek this June, almost five years later, underneath a canopy of intense lightening. Having thrown down a nasty first half of the set in “Oceans > Drowned > Twist,” the band ended “Let Me Lie” with a roar into “Tweezer!” With Alpine infamous for hosting “Tweezers,” and so much improv having gone down already- by June ’09 standards- I never saw it coming. But all of a sudden, a bomb exploded in the pavilion as the crowd was engulfed by the mid-set favorite.
Entering the jam with some outright rhythm grooves, the band loosened their chops in preparation to devour the improv. Carrying the momentum of their best set of tour, the band did not hold back, swimming into smooth, yet forceful, dance rhythms with precision. You could feel the energy leap off the stage as the band crushed this spirited rendition, making their way beyond “Tweezer’s” conventions and into a blissful plane. Settling into ambient textures, this wasn’t like the other ambient jams of tour- this had “2001″ written all over it. Phish prepared to take launch.
Smashing into a series of late-set dance grooves, “2001′s” dynamic funk provided a stark contrast to the previous Noblesville incarnation, as it burst with energy and purpose. It was a classic whiffle ball “do-over” for their lackluster performance in ’03, and completely surreal to be basking in the third ever “Tweezer > 2001,” this time in 2009! Who would have thunk it?
No one knows if the band will ever choose to combine these two songs again, but between Chritiania’s sacred odyssey and Deer Creek’s jiggawatt-inspired throwdown, we now have two shining relics for the vault.
*Note: I totally forgot about Albany’ ’03s “Tweezer > 2001″- which says something about its quality. Regardless, sorry for the oversight!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY PHISH THOUGHTS!
It has been brought to my attention (Thanks Matso!) that today, July 9th, is the one year anniversary of Phish Thoughts! Happy Birthday!! Thanks to all the readers and contributors who have turned this site into an incredible online community! Here is a link to my inaugural post!
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
6.20.09 Alpine Valley, East Troy, WI < TORRENT
6.20.09 Alpine Valley, East Troy, WI < MEGAUPLOAD
Here we have the first show at Alpine Valley, and final show of our run through June’s initial leg of summer tour. A distinctly old school first set got the audience revved up for a second set that fell a bit flat. An enjoyable time nonetheless.
I: Punch You in the Eye, Runaway Jim, Stash, Ya Mar, Bathtub Gin, Kill Devil Falls, Train Song, Farmhouse, Sparkle, Run Like An Antelope
II: Waves > Sample In A Jar, Maze, Makisupa Policeman, Ghost > The Lizards, You Enjoy Myself > NICU, Prince Caspian > Waste, Fire
E: Character Zero
Source: Schoeps mk41