Show #24: 5/20/87

Wednesday, 05/20/1987
The Ranch, South Burlington, VT

Set 1: Wilson > Run Like an Antelope, Golgi Apparatus > Back Porch Boogie Blues >Lushington[1] -> Possum, Harry Hood, You Enjoy Myself, Alumni Blues[2]

Set 2: Fire

[1] No lyrics.
[2] Guests from The Joneses and Mental Floss on rhythm guitar and saxophone.

Our first video! We finally get to see what this band looks like at this time. Sure the quality’s not the best but it’s a 25 year old tape! If only the ability to digitize it had come sooner. But alas, I still suffer through my bootleg of Pink Floyd “The Wall” live at Nassau 1980, just to see what the spectacle was like. We finally see that while Trey has started to gain his signature sound, he is not yet playing his custom signature Languedoc. He IS however playing his red Timecaster, which was built by Paul at Time Guitars in Vermont. Trey also already has his custom built cabinets. Mike is playing a Time bass but not the Languedoc bass. Page and Fish are a little too darker to fully make out their look. Fish is buried behind Mike in this setup. This show is a split bill with the Joneses and believe to be tied to Graduation at UVM and/or Goddard. This might even be Mike’s classes party as Mike graduated from UVM in May 1987.

The band returns to fine form after the sloppy performance of 5/11. Wilson kicks the set off and is more like modern version. The E chord intro however is played under a drone form Page and also is a high E instead of the low E we know today. Definitely nailing down the power of “Wilson”. “Run Like An Antelope” is quite good with great leads form Trey on the middle jam. Looks like there’s at 20 people grooving at the show, including a couple on the roof! Wild to see a crazy 80s house party. It looks nothing like all those terrible movies. Except for Trey’s holes in the knees of his jeans. Those are quite real. He and Mike could have been stand-ins in Wayne’s World. We even see someone being an early “That Guy” wearing a Phish logo t-shirt to the show. I wonder if he still has that and what it’d be worth. After a lengthy pause with no good banter (but a Marley appearance!!), the band busts into “Golgi Apparatus”. Trey almost nails the middle solo. It’s hilarious when he flubs it and then looks to Mike and Page and shakes his head. He wants to be perfect so much at this stage. There’s an interesting run of notes up before the ending crescendo. Also, the vocals are much improved as Trey becomes more confident in his voice. Mike’s bass also sounds fantastic on “Golgi” as well.

Trey hits the opening lick to “Bach Porch Boogie Blues” and it’s time to get down. The band has perfected the tune. It’s an early glimpse at how amazingly the band would play bluegrass tankards later on. Page’s keys mirror Trey’s riffs quite well and he even has a great solo on the Rhodes early on. About midway through “Back Porch”, the speed demons inhibit the band and they get faster and faster. All the way, they maintain the vibe and it’s impressive to watch. Trey nailing hot licks and Page right by him; Mike keeping up with Fishman and the four-headed monster is just looking gnarly. The song dissolves into noise. This version absolutely smokes and it’s wonder that the tune has been shelved. I think it might be time for a comeback! Someone make a sign for SPAC! “The Chase” comes next and they are just nailing the odd time signature and structure. It quick rolls into a short instrumental version of “Lushington” before hitting the groove to “Possum”, which is played well and hits a fun groove if nothing else.

The band tunes and Marley (maybe other dogs) bark. It almost sounds like the band’s going to play “Slave to the Traffic Light” but we get the opening chords to “Harry Hood” The “Hood” is quite good here as Trey and Page play well with each other on the “landing” jam. The band also sounds really tight. Unfortunately, the end gets cut off so there’s no release. “You Enjoy Myself” follows. We finally get a nice long shot of Page! With a full head of hair! The band’s still working this one out with all the intricate changes and patterns but damn if they aren’t trying. The set ends with Trey inviting members of the Joneses and Mental Floss to the stage to do a Burlington All-Star version of “Alumni Blues”. It’s especially interesting to here Peter Danforth on soprano saxophone adding to the tune. The jam doesn’t really go anywhere that much but it’s always to hear a stage full of musicians rip through a Phish tune. The ending sax solo almost makes it seem like a Night Court jam before the ending chorus of “I’m Alright” kicks in. Another interesting day in Phishtory. As a bonus, I’ve included a clip of the Joneses playing the Grateful Dead classic “The Music Never Stopped” from the same day. Enjoy this piece of Burlington music history. At 3 minutes in, you can see Page stroll by the volleyball court.

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