Show #92: 4/14/1989 The Base Lodge at Johnson State College Johnson, VT

Friday, 04/14/1989
The Base Lodge, Stearns Hall, Johnson State College, Johnson, VT

Soundcheck: Time Loves A Hero

Set 1: AC/DC Bag >  Foam,  Walk Away,  Fluffhead,  Fee,  Halley’s Comet >  Run Like an Antelope,  Contact,  Fire

Set 2: You Enjoy Myself,  Bold As Love,  The Lizards,  The Sloth,  Possum,  If I Only Had a Brain[1],  Mike’s Song >  I Am Hydrogen >  Weekapaug Groove,  Esther

[1] Fish on trombone.

2007 067

Before we dive into this show, we need to take a moment to reveal some big movements that happened off the magnetic tape. Between the last recording on 3/30/89 and this one, Phish had hired Chris “Steck” Stecher as interim lighting director and was feeling out him filling the role. At the same time, they posted this add in the March edition of the Phish Update (the band’s newsletter) and in local newspapers: “WANTED: Creative light person to run new light show for PHISH on a salaried, permanent basis. This very valuable partner will travel with the band as a 5th member. We are looking for someone from the New England area — no need to live in Burlington. Call (802) 654-9068.” On April 7th, Steck had newly hired roadie Chris Kuroda fill in on lights during “Famous Mockingbird” at the Stone Church. Trey later noted to the crew how he really liked the lights during “Mockingbird”. Kuroda stepped up and told Trey that he had been running the lights during that song. Stecher was immediately let go and Kuroda has been on lights ever since (except for one weekend in Vegas we’ll talk about in a few years). Kuroda made his lighting director debut on April 13, 1989.

We don’t have a recording of that show. We do have this one, a fun rowdy night at Johnson State College. Page makes note to the crowd that this was the 5th show the band had played at Johnson State and Trey would say how they’ve played at Johnson for 3 years. It was always a reliable place in the frontier of those early days. However, this would be the last show at Johnson State as Phish would outgrow the tiny performance space known as the Base Lodge. On the tape, you can easily hear the raucous crowd through including several loud guys yelling for certain tracks. Trey dedicates “Fluffhead” to the people from the dorm they were just hanging out in and this “Fluff” has some experimentation by Trey on guitar sounds and is well done. “Halley’s” goes out there with a some light vocal jamming and then a nice outro jam that in a later year would probably have lead to something great but here just gets cut short for “Antelope”. The “Antelope” is hot here though with a very playful intro by all members before dropping into the next part. Trey’s getting close to his guitar god phase here with quick, nimble playing and phrasing rapidly becoming more apparent each show. Building on the last recording, “Antelope” continues to be a top song for the band in this period. “Contact” is a must listen if only for the banter. As some fans yell for the song, Trey advises “we’re gonna get a little audience participation during this next number. This is a very important philosophical tune. Please pay heed.” The “Contact” itself has a very nice groove in the bridge jam. The banter continues from Page, “And if I could take this moment to say that, you know we play a lot of gigs throughout a lot of places but Johnson State, we hold a dear spot in our heart for Johnson State. And I know it brings a tear in my eye…” Trey interjects over Page, “But what you don’t really know is we have a special affinity for Johnson State because we own Johnson State! And all of your tuitions are going right into our pockets. So, you might as well just throw all your money up on stage right now cause we’re gonna get it in the end. If you know what I mean. There’s nothing like getting it in the end every once and a while.” The band then ends the set with “Fire”, which has Trey playing with tones and tuning more than just wailing over the top for an interesting version of the song. “A brief hiatus and we shall return.”

Set 2 kicks off with Page practicing his “You Enjoy Myself” riff and then the band yells its name in unison, “YEEEEEEEEM”. The “YEM” is kind of broken down, played slower than usual as if they’d been having trouble keeping pace with the song. I dig the building vibe of this version though. Makes it stand out like Johnson was safe enough to not have to “show off”. Trey shouts “YEM” again during Mike’s bass solo. Mike really goes off during the descending part too. He’s really going out there, which is excellent to hear. Other second set highlights include “The Sloth” with a weird outro after the fade out. We get a full “Mike’s Groove”, the highlight being a very danceable “Weekapaug”. Be sure not to miss the show ending “Esther” though. It’s clear they’re still working out the song (being that’s only the 3rd time played) and at one point a guy in the crowd thinks it’s Mary Poppins “Chim-Chim-Cherie”. But the work print edition has some cool quirks and alternate ideas that are interesting to hear. Hopefully, the money from Johnson State kept rolling in despite no more appearances on campus. If not, there’s always UVM tomorrow…

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