Show #70: 8/27/88

Saturday, 08/27/1988
Food Court, Mont Alto Campus, Penn State University, Mont Alto, PA

Set 1: Satin Doll,  You Enjoy Myself >  Funky Bitch,  Walk Away,  Fluffhead,  Mike’s Song, Take the ‘A’ Train,  Golgi Apparatus[1],  Tela,  Poor Heart,  Good Times Bad Times

[1] Extended intro.

Some shows you listen to for the jams. Some shows you listen to for the bustouts and one-timers. Others you listen to strictly for the banter. This is one of those shows. Phish fans definitely are in love with Trey Anastasio’s banter. There’s even a Twitter account @trey_talks that keeps track of the band’s banter for each tour. Trey has had some great stage banter over the years with lots of jokes and stories. Here for the amusement of the very small audience, the band takes it to 11.

This show was played at the Penn State Mont Alto campus. For those thinking a giant football stadium and amazing ice cream, you’re not correct at all. Mont Alto is a small town between Chambersburg and Gettysburg. How they booked Phish or had any idea to do so is beyond me because this school is so in the middle of nowhere and cut off from the band’s home base of Vermont that it amazes me. According to Phish.com, there were 3 people in attendance at the show, again making me wonder how the band was hired by this school. But they showed up and played at the Millstream Cafe. This gig has long been billed as the food court and the Millstream Cafe is a main eatery but before you imagine Phish playing amongst a SBarro and Taco Bell, the description makes it seem it’s more of a central dining hall than your typical food court. They also played on the performance space, which is outside. This location will play into the show’s banter later on.

The show starts off innocent enough with a rendition of the jazz standard “Satin Doll” with Page’s “Lawn Boy” persona shining through on smooth vocals. Trey starts “You Enjoy Myself” with his usual joke, “This next song is called You Enjoy Myself. We hope you enjoy ourselves.” The “YEM” is fairly standard 1980s YEM, not quite as fiery as the tune would become but still a very complex, competent rendition with excellent organ work by Page in the middle section. It remains unfinished and does not have any of the songs’ lyrics instead transition the jam into “Funky Bitch”. It’s a solid “Bitch” if nothing explosive. Playing off the empty crowd, Mike yells after the song, “Thank you! Thanks a lot! We’re Phish! We’re still Phish!” as if there’s a crowd of 60,000 people out there. This empty crowd theme makes the rest of the show hilarious.

Trey yells, again as if the crowd is huge,
“OK! Hey you guys up in the dorms there! Cool! How y’all feeling back there?” Groovy? We’re feeling groovy down here too! Looks like the whole basement is feeling groovy! The whole valley. Well we think this is a good time to play a song! How about you? We feel like ROCKIN’ and ROLLIN’! Fluffhead? We’ll play that one next! First, we’re gonna do some rockin’ and rollin’! Let me hear you say *choking sound*,”
going into the intro chords for the James Gang’s “Walk Away”.

The song doesn’t have the same energy as later versions and feels incomplete even though they play the whole tune. Rockstar Mike yells “THANK YOU. THANKS A LOT!”  Rockstar Trey comes back full force, “WAS THAT SMOKIN’ OR WHAT? Ladies and gentleman the long wait is over! We can start playing now because Becky has arrived! Let’s hear it for her! (long pause) We’re gonna play Fluffhead now! This is dedicated to the people at the top of the mountain. We’re giving it to you from the bottom of the valley! I think you should stay there! Or come on down, the party is just beginning! Here it comes now! Fluffhead. Becky is here and she wants to hear Fluff-head.”

This version of “Fluffhead” is pretty unremarkable from earlier versions except for one tiny request from Trey. At the 6:06 mark of the song, Trey says “Let me hear you say Woo!” Again, trying to play up that fact that they’re rockstars for only 3 people but it’s odd that he asked for the woos. As fans know today, they would finally get the message after all these years with the stop/start jam of the now legendary Tahoe Tweezer. Every since then, Trey and Fish have been asking for the Woo in many jams, even for those who dismay it. Time really is a flat circle. Maybe we’re all just the band’s crazy dreams in a storage shed…but I digress.

This version of “Mike’s” is probably the highlight of the set as the band really throws down an excellent early version here. It sounds really focused with a nice jam section. The rest of the show musically is solid as well with a very light “A Train”, a “Golgi” with an extended intro, and a solid “Tela” with a very odd vocal jam section in the middle, which Trey prematurely introduced before Golgi by saying “This song is called Tela and you’re very lucky because we hardly ever play it.” A sentiment that unfortunately remains today and bolstered by the fact that this was the last known “Tela” of 1988. The recording leaves off “Poor Heart” and “Good Times Bad Times” unfortunately. Especially “GTBT” because I’m sure Trey was in full rockstar mode for that one and the closing banter would have been prices.

During the pause between “A Train” and “Golgi”, there’s more great banter, including a fun fact. You can also very clearly hear Paul banging on something to fix it before Trey introduces him as “Dan Tana” The last nugget from this show is it actually is the true end of Phish 1.0. Trey has the play-by-play as he says “It’s an interesting thing we’ve got going on stage right now. Page just presented an ultimatum to the band. Fish left, quit. Mike is quitting because he’s pissed at Fish for quitting. We’re all back and this is the Phish reunion right now!” So, in actuality, Phish broke up twice in the past and we’re in Phish 4.0. School some jaded vets with that one.

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