Shows #36, 37, and 38: 2/3, 2/7-8/1988

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Alright, we’ve got a trio of shows here. I’ve grouped them together because we have a snippet of 2/3 and then 2/7 and 8 are a run together. I haven’t decided whether or not to group runs together or not. Might depend on the run. These really runs though are fairly similar so it makes sense to group them together when writing these pieces.

Wednesday, 02/03/1988
Gallagher’s, Waitsfield, VT

Set 1: David Bowie

Set 2: Sympathy for the Devil[1], Fee, Run Like an Antelope, AC/DC Bag -> Possum

[1] First known Phish performance.

Back in Waitsfield, we have this nugget that somehow has slipped out into the public. No idea where the rest of the show is. The clear highlight is the “David Bowie”. It’s really the band first “extended” jam reaching just over 18 minutes. It also however clearly shows the young bands limits as Fishman keep trying to end it most notable around the 13-minute mark but the band just keeps going, despite running out of ideas were to take it. Fortunately, the band would resolve this through practice and the concept of type II but for now, it’s not quite ready for prime time. The 2nd set is well-played but nothing notable.

Sunday, 02/07/1988
Nectar’s, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Fire, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Shaggy Dog, Golgi Apparatus >Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues, Peaches en Regalia, Phase Dance[1],Dear Mrs. Reagan, I Didn’t Know[2], David Bowie

Set 2: Happy Birthday to You, AC/DC Bag > Timber (Jerry), Flat Fee, Fee, Possum, The Lizards, Fly Famous Mockingbird[3], Whipping Post

Set 3: Suzy Greenberg[4] > The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu > The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, Clod > Bundle of Joy, The Curtain With, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Good Times Bad Times

[1] First known performance.
[2] Fishman on trombone.
[3] Debut.
[4] Stopped in the intro as Trey jokingly said “Good night” to the crowd and restarted.

After taking a few months off, Phish finally return to home base at Nectar’s. We’ll be hanging in Nectar’s a lot over the next few months as 1988 really marked the place as the band’s home. This show actually sounds really great for not being an SBD and might actually be better mixed than the following night’s SBD. It’s also exciting because you can hear the energy of the crowd at this early show. They are really into the band here. A raging “Fire” kicks the show into high gear. “McGrupp” follows and at about the 6-minute mark there’s a great Page solo in the middle. Some lively banter as someone yells for “ROCK ‘N ROLL!” and a lady follows it up with “No more reggae. Play some rock n roll!”, though I would not consider “McGrupp” reggae by any means. What does Phish do in their typical ways, plays an old folk tune in the form of “Shaggy Dog”. Way to win ’em over, boys. The next song, “Golgi Apparatus” however does get them as it goes into full-blown sing-along mode on the chorus. The rock vibes continue with “Alumni>Letter>Alumni” and “Peaches en Regalia”. The band then takes it down a notch with the first known performance of Pat Metheny’s “Phase Dance”. It’s a valiant effort but lacks a little bit of the emotion of the original as well as some of the technical prowess required but it does establish all the members as fine jazz players, building on that reputation. Phish.com has the debut of Charlie Parker’s “Moose the Mooche” but that was not found on any recordings that circulate. Instead, we get an actual coherent version of “Dear Mrs. Reagan”. I’m still not a fan of the song but at least the lyrics are decipherable now; still antiquated however. Following the song, Trey proves the perfect host of the evening introducing “Alex”, the new Nectar’s waitress and advises to tip her well on her 2nd night. I wonder where Alex is now. Trey then introduces Paul and asks if anyone wants to buy his old guitar, most likely his red Timecaster. I wonder where both Alex and Trey’s red Timecaster are now. The next song is not a debut but it has an important new addition. It is the first time Fish joins the band on trombone, playing on “I Didn’t Know”. A much more coherent Bowie finishes the 1st set.

Set 2 opens up with “Happy Birthday to You”, dedicated to Kristy, Roz, and Meg. Kristy being Trey’s sister, who also the song “Joy” was written for. Kristy interestingly enough was running lights for this show. Trey brought all of them up on stage but Meg wasn’t here so he had roadie Del Martin sub in. “AC/DC Bag” still has the original intro and segues into a nasty “Timber (Jerry)”. They get really out there, even inverting some of the rhythms. This might even be the jam of the show. Then we get the “Flat Fee/Fee” combo. The crowd also knows “Fee” and sings along! A key demonstration that the band is beginning to gain its legendary fan base. “Possum” begins to gain its “intro” as the band hammers on the intro chords dissonantly. The fans seem to enjoy it though screaming along, hitting the chorus. It’s probably the best “Possum” so far. Next, we get the first full-length “Lizards”. This early version is cool in that is has some Talking Heads/Latin style jamming before dropping into the “If I Were A Dog” outro around the 5:30 mark. We get another important debut following in “Fly Famous Mockingbird”. It’s a little jarring without the usual “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent” proceeding it but it’s played extremely well for a debut. It’s interesting to note that this the debut so that when Trey said “Flying around up there. 30 years later” during the MSG NYE truck set, really should have only been 25. Set 2 closes with a wild “Whipping Post”. Set 3’s only really stand out track is another fantastic “The Curtain With”. It also has a shortened “Clod” with a loud audience sing-along and a long “Good Times Bad Times”. Overall, a great show just to hear the crowd as it sounded in 1988 with some fun highlights.

Monday, 02/08/1988
Nectar’s, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Slave to the Traffic Light, Funky Bitch, Take the ‘A’ Train, Golgi Apparatus, Phase Dance, Fire, You Enjoy Myself

Set 2: Fluffhead, Wilson > Peaches en Regalia > Divided Sky, The Lizards, Run Like an Antelope[1]

Set 3: The Sloth, Flat Fee, Dinner and a Movie, Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page >Alumni Blues, Harry Hood, Bike[2], Fee, Jesus Just Left Chicago, Big Black Furry Creature from Mars

[1] “Moses Heaps” and “Moses Brown” references.
[2] Trombone solo from Fishman

Hey, do you like Mike bass bombs? Then 2/8/88 is FOR YOU! This SBD is a little poorly mix so Mike comes through loud and clear all night. It’s a little overpowering on this delicate 1980s recording and rattles my system. Night 2 of 2 (or 3?) at Nectar’s opens with “Slave to the Traffic Light”. Right from the bat, you can hear the problem with the recording. “Funky Bitch”, “A Train”, and “Golgi” are all good versions. We get a second take on “Phase Dance” and this version is little more lively and feels more like Phish. A shredded “Fire” is destroyed by too much bass. “You Enjoy Myself” is well-played.

Set 2 kicks off with the complete “Fluffhead” suite, including the previous night’s outcasts “Clod” and “Bundle of Joy”. It’s odd that the band keeps going back and forth between having hem be separate songs or part of “Fluffhead”. It won’t be too long though before that’s resolved. “Wilson” has cool little jam intro before going into the main part of the song. “Peaches” and the short “Divided Sky” are tight. “Lizards” still has the funky middle jam in it. The set 2 closer “Run Like An Antelope” is a rager though and the highlight of the set. The band hits all cylinders as they build to a raging pace. Trey even throwback to 10/31/87 by intro ducting the band as Moses Heap and Moses Brown as he did back during the jam with the Joneses that night.

Set 3 opens with a great early “Sloth”. The band hits a great groove on this tune here, that’s just a little more loose than later versions. Next is a fast moving “Flat Fee” that seems to have a quicker tempo than other versions so far. It does a great job of showing off the jazz chops again. They seem to have at least one showpiece per night. “Dinner and a Movie” has been shortened. It also does not have it’s syncopated intro, just dropping into the verse. Still very tightly played though. Nothing too crazy about “Alumni>Letter>Alumni”, except only guy really digs it by letting out a blood curdling scream. “Harry Hood” is the other big showpiece here. This version really cooks with tight interplay between all band members. A funny moment happens the band goes into the final jam after “Thank you Mr. Hood”, where today fans would throw the glowsticks, an audience member loudly says “Finally!”, as if he has been waiting for this part of the song. Trey and Page have some great interplay at the beginning of this section, working off each other’s licks. The band perfectly builds up to the big tension and release of the jam. You can hear the patience in the moment. They know how to move forward without pushing it. It’s as masterful as some of its later counterparts. A must listen for any fans of “Harry Hood”. Fish comes out to sing “Bike” but messes it up. He combines “Bike” with “Love You” and ends just playing an extended trombone solo, which is still fun. “Fee” comes next but the intro sounds like the band is going to play “Timber (Jerry)”, which is a little odd, like someone forced the change. Page does another fine job with “Jesus Just Left Chicago” and they bring it all home with “Big Black Furry Creature from Mars”. I think I prefer 2/7 to 2/8 but that might be due to audio quality. You could put together highlights from both and have a pretty great ’88 compilation. The big takeaway here is even if it’s marked SBD, it might still not be great quality. Thanks for reading. Hope to pick up the pace on 1988 here!

One thought on “Shows #36, 37, and 38: 2/3, 2/7-8/1988”

  1. Just came across this page as I have been taking my own adventure, listening to every show available via ‘fromtheaquarium’ (https://www.youtube.com/user/fromtheaquarium) YouTube page. As I’ve been listening while working, it’s been an interesting adventure thus far and now having your input and insight, it’ll make my adventure that much better. We both have a long road ahead of us, so just know there is someone else listening with you and looking forward to your writings. Off we go!

    *currently listening to 2/7/88 Timber (Jerry)*

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