Soundcheck: Bertha (performed by The Joneses), Blues Jam (with members of The Joneses)
Set 1: Mustang Sally, Camel Walk, Golgi Apparatus > Slave to the Traffic Light, Melt the Guns -> Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, Halley’s Comet > Back Porch Boogie Blues >Shaggy Dog, Fluffhead
Set 2: Jam > AC/DC Bag, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Peaches en Regalia > David Bowie, Have Mercy > Harry Hood, Sanity, Skin It Back > Icculus, Alumni Blues
 Richard Wright on vocals.
 First known version.
 Jah Roy on vocals.
This post will most likely be a little shorter as this show is very similar to 10/15/86. But at least we have the first Halloween gig. While not the spectacle that later Halloween shows would become, when your band is tapped to play a holiday, you know you’re doing something right. This show is a split bill with The Joneses. A more low key affair then 10/12/86, it took place in a smaller room, probably more in line with the party atmosphere. The show kicks off with standard readings of “Mustang Sally” and “Camel Walk”, a good way to get people moving. Trey then makes it clear that the name of the next song is not “I Saw You With A Pistol In Your Hand” but “Golgi Apparatus”. “Golgi” is another great early version. “Slave” also shows it’s headed in the right direction with also another great early version. Again though, Trey doesn’t quite have the formula down to end the song. The band unveils a “new on record” cover next with XTC’s “Melt The Guns”. It’s also interesting that they have a “Fuck Your Face” and “Minkin” tease while Jon pounds out the cymbal beat. It’s a fun song with a quirky beat and lyrics that surely drew the band to it. It’s also interesting here that the Phish version is SHORTER than the original. A very smooth segue moves form “Melt the Guns” into “Sneakin’ Sally”. “Sally” is fine but nothing notable. “Halley’s Comet” is up next and features Nancy on vocals yet again. This is a mess. I can’t recommend it to anyone. The band effortlessly goes into “Back Porch Boogie Blues”. It’s well played but nothing notable. More notable is that Mike allegedly told the band it was an original to get it played but the truth is it’s a Max Creek cover. This would prove to also be interesting as Mike would later write songs with Scott Murawski of Max Creek! How weird the world turns. “Shaggy Dog” comes next and then the set ends with another early “Fluffhead”.
Set 2 opens with a jam. Always welcome when the band just takes off. It opens with Jon playing a driving hi-hat line with some textural drums underneath. Trey plays a sick funk riff over the top. The jam is a fast and furious little ditty that just shows how tight the connection is between Trey and Fish, with Mike jumping in with good measure. They take the energy and go into a high-flying “AC/DC Bag”. The “Bag” carries over the jam energy and is played at a quicker tempo. “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” exercises the jazz chops once more. Another tight “Peaches en Regalia” follows and then we get to the main highlight of this show, the first-ever “David Bowie”. It gets a little rough in the beginning between David Bowie and UB40 but it’s interesting to hear them start out REALLY SLOW during the start of the jam and then bring up the tempo. Fun to hear the beginnings of that monster. “Have Mercy” gets an extended take with new lyrics from Jah Roy of Lambsbread. It’s fairly standard except for the length. It again gets paired with “Harry Hood”. “Hood” is solid as always. “Sanity” still hadn’t come the band’s way at this point and unleashed that fact on the crowd. Two fans begin clamoring for “Skin It Back” and “Icculus” so what’s a band to do? You play both of them back-to-back in the order requested. “Skin It Back ” comes first. The ending jam is quite tasty. “Icculus” is short but mentions he was born on Halloween 1948 in ancient Greece apparently. How do you send them home? With the shuffle of “Alumni Blues” of course! Let ’em dance one more time. That’s the first Halloween, kiddos.
Set 1: Alumni Blues > Makisupa Policeman, Skin It Back > Cities, I Am Hydrogen >McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, AC/DC Bag, You Enjoy Myself, Lushington
Set 2: Peaches en Regalia > Golgi Apparatus > Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Camel Walk, Shaggy Dog, Mustang Sally, Fluffhead, Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, Wilson> Slave to the Traffic Light, Quinn the Eskimo -> Mike’s Song, Have Mercy > Harry Hood
Set 3: Roll Like a Cantaloupe, Sanity, Anarchy
 First known Phish performance.  First known performance.
We’re slowly inching our way towards better documentation of Phish’s history. In this show, we actually get to hear two full sets from the band on a typical Wednesday night at Hunt’s. We also get to hear the variety that Trey talks about in the quote I posted in the 12/1/84 review. Also, important to note is that this is the first show where Paul Languedoc is the band’s sound man. This would prove to be extremely important as Paul also built Trey’s guitars and some of Mike’s guitars. That personal knowledge helped the band dial in their sound over these formative years and translate it to larger spaces over time. Languedoc would retire in 2004 and some would say he’s dearly missed.
The show kicks off with a fun “Alumni Blues”. It’s interesting to hear it with out the “Jimmy Page” segue. “Makisupa” follows it up and stays with the new format but the same lyrics as 10/12/86. A new cover comes next and it’s very important to the history of the band. The song is “Skin It Back” by Little Feat. Little Feat would be important for its laid-back tai on Southern rock. Obviously a favorite of Mike Gordon, who sings lead, clearly the other members are also fans of their material. Little Feat might be the most unheralded influence of Phish but their impact is apparent in the band’s desire to make people dance. Little Feat has also appeared as the backing band on Robert Palmer’s “Sneakin’ Sally”, already a Phish staple. Little Feat’s mix of Rock and R&B, with some New Orleans influences made it clear choice to help bar patrons dance. The groove here is good if not “out there”. The band goes into Talking Heads’ “Cities” but without a smooth transition. Anything to keep people moving though. “Skin It Back->Cities” would be solidly in the rotation for the next 6 months.
Another original debut “I Am Hydrogen” follows. “Hydrogren” has always been a very overlooked tune in my opinion. The beauty of Trey and Page playing together on this delicate riff makes my day and I’m a little sad when it’s not between “Mike’s” and “Weekapaug Groove”. Sitting by itself though, it gets the appropriate time to shine as a nice breather for the crowd. “McGrupp” follows and gets a bit of a re-do as someone matches Trey’s lyrics with a high-pitched voice. The spoken word is still here but a little less hard as in previous versions and also no Bob Dylan style vocal. More Gamehendge comes down the pike as “AC/DC Bag” follows. It returns with a short version of the 4/1/86 intro. This version’s interesting because Trey does his best lounge singer impression for some reason, dragging out the vowels, almost as if he was Richard Cheese covering Phish. “You Enjoy Myself” follows and it’s the best version the band has played so far. The intro is very clean. Page’s keys are starting to hit their marks. Still no drum and bass section at this point. The set ends with the debut of “Lushington”, meaning 10/15/86 will always have a place in PhanArt Pete’s heart. The chord progression is actually quite beautiful and very danceable. The lyrics however are quid awful about all the things a guy finds in this orifices. The middle section would actually end up being part of “Fluff’s Travels” and the longer suite of “Fluffhead”. So we can at least thank “Lushington” for that part of the opus. I stand with Pete Mason that I too would like to see a Lushington bust-out. It’s time. Maybe even some new, not so gross, lyrics.
Set 2 kicks off with the introduction of Paul on the soundboard form Trey and then another important cover. Trey and Fish have long been acolytes of Frank Zappa and only Phish would be a bar band with the hutzpah to cover a Zappa tune. This one’s fairly straight forward in the strict composition “Peaches en Regalia”. The tune would come and go but it’d be an important part of their repertoire for years. “Golgi Apparatus” gets a little funky intro next. It’s pretty standard but Page’s synth at the end gets weird. I like it. We get a nice little jazz interlude to the tune of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”. It’s a nice break that shows off the jazz chops. Jazz is creeping in slowly to the band with the addition of Page and it suits the band well. I think the addition of jazz influences is what made Phish stand out to me personally and really helped them stand out amongst other Burlington bar bands. It’s important to know that side of the band especially later on.
However, we are in a bar so that dancing must continue, so of course we go down to the disco again with “Camel Walk”. Of course, this is the first “Camel Walk” without Jeff. Trey takes over lead vocals and Page gets a bigger piano part, or at least one that can be heard more clearly. Trey gets weird on the vocal, which is fun. They also let the tune breathe a lot more than when Jeff would play it. It still does not yet have the “Strut Your Stuff” sung in the round. Another cover debut happens with “Shaggy Dog”, a changed cover of “Shaggy Dad” by Lightnin’ Hopkins. It’s an interesting choice because while the blues-influenced rock of the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers have been introduced, this is the first time a track from the generation that influences those bands is brought forward. I’d love to know which band member brought this tune up at band practice. It also has tinges of the bluegrass sound that Phish would add more and more in the future. Trey’s solo on “Shaggy” is quite beautiful here. The band slides back into bar band mode busting out a cover of Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally”. It’s a fairly standard version for Phish, which means they destroy the cover and play it better than 95% of the bands out there.
After playing bar band, the band heads back to their own material with “Fluffhead”, which hadn’t been played since 12/1/84! Now without the Dude of Life on vocals and adding Page’s keyboard, the tune begins to take the now familiar shape. It’s a beautiful early version. Having played some Little Feat earlier, why not continue the trend? Getting the crowd moving with “Sneakin’ Sally as usual and it’s in fine form. “Wilson” follows next and the recording comes in in the middle. The song’s still not “there” yet. Very tame. Same goes for the following “Slave to the Traffic Light”, it’s close but missing something. The ending feels rushed and doesn’t have the patience needed to push it over the top. “Quinn the Eskimo” follows and about the 7 minute mark, it does get a cool little jam at the end but is a pretty standard version. That cool little jam also has a nice segue into “Mike’s Song”. This “Mike’s” gets quickly into the jam and it’s an early beast. It’s really the first time all night that all four guys are hitting on all cylinders. The trademark tension and release is poking its head out and I like what I see. Remnants of the odd ending remain but no lyrics for now. After heating it up, Phish cools things down with “Have Mercy”. Keeping the reggae theme, “Mercy” jaggedly goes into “Harry Hood”. This is the first “Hood” where Page gets to shine and he hits it out of the park. Where as “Slave” doesn’t quite have the power yet, “Hood” is the major player here. Trey’s phrasing is fast yet eloquent as he nails the peak and the band moves quickly behind him. It’s in that bliss the song evokes so often.
Set 3 (!) opens with “Roll Like A Cantaloupe”. Some of you might say, “Wait. That seems very close to ‘Run Like an Antelope'” and you’d be right. It is “Antelope” with different lyrics. Played on 4 times, it has instructions for the next time you’re in the supermarket that sound rather cultish. It’s a good laugh though and worth a listen. The craziness continues as the band introduces “Sanity”. Not introduced in anyway like later versions. A wild ditty about losing one’s mind (not just a clever title), this version does not have the trademark riff that would be later added but still is a reminder of how fun Phish can be. What happens when you lose your “Sanity”? You get “Anarchy” and that closes the set despite some yelling for more. The rest of set 3 appears to be missing but always a pleasure to get any and all early Phish. For the encore, the band decides to debut an original called “Clod”. We get some fun banter in that Mike now has a kazoo and plays it for everyone. Trey tries to bring the mode down but saying “OK, this is serious now” with Mike following up, “On the heavier side” and the tune begins. “Clod” can be recognized as the nonsensical lyric section in the middle of “Fluff’s Travels” and later “Fluffhead”. It is also the part where Mike goes “Check it out” and “Check this out”. It is cool to hear on it’s own but make much more sense in “Fluffhead”. “Clod” however does show off the band’s newly forming jazz chops in a way that also shows off their ability to write their own take on the form. Just another way the early bar shows really do illustrate the band’s history and drive for success on their own terms.
Set 1: Golgi Apparatus > Slave to the Traffic Light, Wilson, Halley’s Comet ->Possum, Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, Makisupa Policeman
 First known performance.
And so it begins, the first show in the classic Phish lineup; Trey, Mike, Page, and Fish. The band has also graduated from the cafeteria to the stage of the Haybarn theater at Goddard College. Trey and Jon have enrolled there to focus on music full time. Mike has stayed at UVM and is in his senior year. It’s an interesting time of change but it also has given the band freedom to focus.
The show kicks off with a debut of “Golgi Apparatus”. A now classic Phish tune, this version finds the band playing it at a slightly slower speed but the tune seems fully fleshed out with even the angelic composed section in the bridge. The final notes segue into “Slave to the Traffic Light” and it’s on this tune you can really hear the space that Jeff’s departure has given to Page. Page’s synth gives the song great tone and doubles well with Trey’s guitar. Here we get the signature interplay between Page and Trey. The peak still isn’t built yet but the potential is captured in the ending.
The band chooses to debut another new song and rolls into “Wilson”. It doesn’t yet have it’s two-chord intro and of course the chant wasn’t even a fan invention yet. The song also has Trey doing weird Bob Dylan style vocals again. Can you imagine of Trey had recorded all of Gamehendge as Bob Dylan? It would not have the gravitas for sure. The crowd however clearly enjoyed the song and claps along to the beat before Page’s solo. Page’s solo has some “When the Music’s Over” teases and a very Doors vibe which Mike picks up on. The song even includes the Blat Boom section albeit closer to the end. The band also pulls out another new one, albeit having been played a few times at this point, “Halley’s Comet”. They also bring out the song’s writer Richard “Nancy” Wright to sing it. This version has no frills but can be noted for the smooth segue into the newly arranged “Possum”.
“Possum” has been retooled after the departure of it’s creator Jeff. It’s less bluegrass stomp and more back roads boogie. It also gets a more sleek vocal arrangement opening up the chorus for more fun. Trey rips off a nice solo here. Mike takes over the lead and lays the groundwork for every “Possum” most people know. The night’s only cover follows next in “Sneakin’ Sally”. It’s fun but fairly standard. The vocal jam is the highlight. The recording closes with “Makisupa Policeman”. This version also takes its now current form, with a Qaddafi reference in the keyword section. The jam goes out there with some serious reverb and effects. Same as it ever was with Trey tweaking and learning his rig.
University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
Set 1: AC/DC Bag > Dear Mrs. Reagan, Prep School Hippie, Quinn the Eskimo -> Slave to the Traffic Light, Makisupa Policeman, Have Mercy, All Blues > Dog Log > Possum, You Enjoy Myself, Anarchy, Camel Walk -> Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues
 First known Phish performance; approximately one minute long.
Well, Phish as a five-piece was fun while it last but if not for graduation, he might have been left in a men’s room in Colorado sometime. I’m only idling but with graduation looking, this is the last recording I have access to which has Jeff Holdsworth as a regular member of Phish. Jeff would graduate from UVM in May and go off to seek his fortune in electrical engineering. Some say he found God and condemned his work with Phish. He did have this to say according to Relix magazine, “I have not made any effort to follow the ‘Phish phenomena,’ other than information that comes freely my way. I feel there is a certain psycho-spiritual void in this generation making the transition from adolescence to adulthood which Phish has ‘hooked’ into.” Regardless, he has kept very quiet.
The show was the UVM Earth Day concert and took place outside Bailey-Howe Library on the school’s campus. Itkicks off with “AC/DC Bag”. Again it has a different intro but the one used in this how is not as slick as the one on 4/1/86. I wonder what promoted the change. The band kicks into two newer tunes with the one-two punch of “Dear Mrs. Reagan” and “Prep School Hippie”. “Reagan” again feels out of place even on such a political day as Earth Day. “Hippie” on the other has great chemistry between both Jeff, Trey, and Page working together. The refrain “I can’t wait until I’m 21” being sung in the style of “Not Fade Away” is also a highlight and gives the tune another dimension as it does speak towards 80s Deadheads. Continuing the theme, the band launches into popular Bob Dylan cover of the Grateful Dead, “Quinn the Eskimo”. There’s a hilarious moment about 3 minutes in where the entire band except Mike stops playing and the whole song breaks down. The crowd laughs. Trey introduces Mike. Shortly there after, everyone picks it back up and continues the song. It’s a lighthearted moment clearly planned by the rest of the band.
Phish goes into “Slave to the Traffic Light”. The “Slave” sounds good put is pretty standard early version. “Makisupa Policeman” comes next with a heavy bass intro from Mike with “Tell Me Something Good” by Rufus teases. The song finally stays seriously and has great jams from Page and Trey. Similar to the previous show, it goes from a Phish reggae original to their reggae cover du jour, “Have Mercy”. The song goes just a hair more out there than last time but feels less urgent and cohesive. Jeff then introduces the trio you’ve all been waiting for, “The Bob Dylan Band”, again references the previous show at Hunt’s. Very clear the band’s starting to have inside jokes with their fans, a trademark even to this day. Jeff points out someone has asked for “lively dance music” to which another person wells “Help on the Way”, calling for the Dead tune. Trey retorts, “That’s lively dancing music as far as I’m concerned!” The band then jams out on the chord progression to “All Blues” by Miles Davis for a minute while Trey gets his other guitar.
Once Trey’s set up, we’re back with a dedication to all the dogs out there, especially Marley the Wonder Dog! Marley would be a figure of the band through out the first part of their career, dying mere days before the band took their first hiatus. The dedication is “Dog Log”, which is fitting because Marley’s poop probably was a big inspiration. “All you people in bare feet can appreciate that one!,” someone remarks. After “Dog Log” comes Possum, still in it’s early incarnation, with more bluegrass stamp and oddly timed lyrics. It’s not the powerhouse it is now but fun to hear with Jeff on vocals, as it would be the last time on record. They then go onto “You Enjoy Myself”. “YEM” is still in the building stages and isn’t the epic well all expect now. This version does however have the “Boy, Man, God, Shit” lyrics at last and is inching closer to the tune we all know and love. It ends with a pretty funky jam and a short vocal jam.
Trey then introduces that the Joneses and The Sierra are playing Slade Hall that night and dedicates “Anarchy” to them. They play it actually 3 times in a row, changing the lyrics to “Jim Tasse” and “African Killer Bees”. Phish then gets back into dance mode, taking everyone down to the disco with “Camel Walk”. Jeff paints the picture with “colored floors and a disco ball” as he goes into the verse. This “Camel Walk” is at slightly faster pace than others and gets quite funky. The show closes with a very short “Alumni>Jimmy Page>Alumni” also at a faster pace.
The impact of Jeff Holdsworth on Phish is probably largely forgotten. Jeff was important. His solid rhythm allowed Trey to build confidence on lead and his control on difficult Dead and Allmans covers helped push Phish to fill Burlington bars. This marks the turning point where Phish set their sights on careers in music, something Jeff didn’t see happening. Trey and Jon would leave UVM and follow Page to Goddard College, where they could freely learn music. Page himself would earn $50 EACH for getting his friends to enroll. The added freedom allowed Phish to become the monster they are today but they’ll always remember those steady chords that help served as their training wheels as they got launched down the driveway toward rock immortality.
Set 1: Quinn the Eskimo > Have Mercy > Harry Hood, The Pendulum -> Dave’s Energy Guide, Icculus, You Enjoy Myself
Set 2: Help on the Way > Slipknot! > AC/DC Bag, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters > Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues > Dear Mrs. Reagan
Encore: Not Fade Away
 First known Phish performance.
 With Zenzilé Madikinea. Madikinea recited revolutionary poetry.
 First known performance.
 Spoken in Dylan-esque fashion.
 First known Phish performance; with The Joneses.
Another tape. Another night at Hunt’s. The booker must have seen something in this gang. Would love to know who that is and pick their brain. This show was Hunt’s Festival of Fools. It was a split bill between Phish and The Joneses. The band’s would switch of 45 minute sets for 4 total. They then encored together. The show here’s a typical bar show but at much better quality with some surefire highlights and debuts. But we also have two full sets! So exciting for more history on tape.
The show opens with Bob Dylan’s “Quinn the Eskimo”. For a long time, this was marked as the songs debut until it was discovered that they had played it at least once earlier on 4/6/85. The song does not differ much from the version the band plays now, except for the extra rhythm guitar of Jeff, having last performed it on 10/31/13 in Atlantic City. It’s a great-off lead-off tune, getting the crowd energy up. One drawback, however, is that the crowd jokes the Phish is now the “Bob Dylan Band” for the rest of the evening. This leads into another cover, the Mighty Diamonds’ “Have Mercy”. “Have Mercy” is an interesting tune because it’s only been performed 13 times in the band’s history, 3 of those coming since the band’s return in 2009. Trey dedicates the tune to Pam as it starts up. So, thank you Pam for all the glorious shows with “Have Mercy” in them. Have Mercy’s interesting because it’s the first time we hear the band working on harmony fully. The three-part harmony of “Have Mercy” is not very easy and they don’t perfectly execute it but for a band that’s become known for barbershop, it’s an interesting first step. The tune out of side of that is not very noteworthy and will appear in a few more upcoming sets. Interestingly enough the seque from an authentic reggae tune to their own reggae jam, the opening of “Harry Hood”. Also of note, “Hood”‘s starting to become the monster we all know and love. The tension and release and peaks of the end are starting to take shape. It’s beautiful to again hear how powerful the band is even in the early years.
The band brings back South African poet Zenzilé for another performance. The song is uneven as the band plays a dirty blues groove underneath his poem. You can tell how loud the crowd is that they early were not on board. I, personally, am not really on-board at all. The instrumental track sounds like a fun jam but the crazy yelling over the top just distracts from the song. The band kicks into “Dave’s Energy Guide” as he finishes adding to the craziness. Zenzilé yells “Which side are you on?” as the dissonance of the song plays up. “Dave’s” continues the energy and it really is a ripping version that moves hard and fast with Jon’s driving drums.
The band takes a breather as a short Jazz jam with Page, Mike, and Trey. Fish says “We thought we’d play some seining for you as Trey [takes] care of his guitar.” Trey retorts, “Bob Dylan performing for you here. The Bob Dylan Band, ladies and gentlemen!” The jazz jam is quite good and shows how tight they are as a trio. Trey again, “The Bob Dylan Band just blowing my mind here on a Tuesday night!” The jazz jam ends and then gives away to an important moment in Phishtory. “This next song is written by one of our favorite bands, Sneeze Blood Eyeball,” says Trey but by the opening chords it’s time for the people to read “Icculus”! The version actually sounds very similar to the one just performed at Madison Square Garden, especially since Phish used their old instruments for that set. It’s however much shorter with less buildup then future versions but still funny nonetheless with the jam fake out.
Trey then mentions the 45 minute set length and invites the Joneses to kick them off stage whenever they want to. Trey then dedicates the next song to Peter, who’s here “all the way from Washington”. At 3:35, Mike plays a bass riff that sounds like part of the future “Mango Song”. After a long pause, the band finally launches into “You Enjoy Myself” to close the first set. This version is much better than the 2/3/86 debut, tighter and with a better groove. We’ll be taking about “YEM” a lot over the next year or so as it was played a lot even night to night in the 80s. Written during the trip to Europe, the lyric “Wash Uffizi Drive Me to Firenze” was allegedly inspired by a wild cab ride in Florence. Also, a German named Jurgen, also commented tot hem that “When I’m with you, you enjoy myself!” Whatever sparked the tune, thankfully it happened. This version still omits the “Boy Man God Shit” lyrics BUT does have the birth of the “YEM” vocal jam. It’s short but marvelous that it’s there.
Set 2 kicks off with the Grateful Dead’s “Help on the Way>Slipknot!”. It’s the only known version by Phish and while it does reach glorious heights, it almost feels like a backward step for the band. I’m sure it helps keeps patrons in the bar but the band’s original material feels much more fun and fresh. Grateful Dead covers, at least to me, feel tired already and it’s only 1986. Luckily, a debut takes the “Slipknot!” segue from “Franklin’s Tower” and we get the first-ever “AC/DC Bag”. Trey’s trips to Gamehendge are now infiltrating their sets and man are they coming together well. The first “Bag” has a funky intro that gives the song a sinister overtone. Other than that, it’s pretty standard but again amazing to hear so complete so early. The band decides to stay in Gamehendge going into “McGrupp”. The tempo is a little faster than it has been in previous versions and it’s a welcome addition. Trey continues the spoken word version but this time giving the lines a Bob Dylan-esquire cadence and voice, fitting in the “Bob Dylan Band” theme.
The band then drops into “Alumni>Jimmy Page>Alumni” and it is a must listen not because of the jam or that it’s pristine. This a must listen because everyone except for Jeff misses the segue back into “Alumni”. The thing grinds to a halt except for Jeff’s rhythm guitar. The band tries to pick up the pieces but it’s too late and Trey just cues a big rock ending to just finish the song. I laughed so hard hearing this. To be fair, the “Letter to Jimmy Page” was pretty fiery and probably difficult to land. The band ends set two with the political tune “Dear Mrs. Reagan”. Phish has never been a fiercely political and so to hear such anti-Reagan lines is a little off-putting but it’s an interesting listen and quite the 80s time capsule. After “Reagan”, Jeff decides to tell people about International Lemming Day, while Trey gets the Joneses on stage to join them for the encore. Someone who sounds like Fishman points out they have 18 guitars and 3 drum sets on stage and then someone else yells “Guitar Army!”. Trey asks “What song is it you want to hear?” and of course some idiot yells “Freebird!”. Page then teases the chords to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird”. Begin that the Joneses and Phish both cover the Dead quite a bit, they end on Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away”, a popular Grateful Dead cover. Unfortunately, the recording fades out (IRONY) before the jam gets going. A successful Festival of Fools? Not quite sure but it at least sounded fun. Two interesting notes on this recording. The first is Jeff is buried in the mix for a lot of it, giving it more of the usual Phish feel. It’s an interesting twist. The second is Trey’s tone. He’s starting to move to his signature tone. I’m not sure what was happening with his rig but it begins moving in the right direction. Another great artifact in the Phish canon.
Set 1: Slave to the Traffic Light, Mike’s Song > Dave’s Energy Guide, You Enjoy Myself, Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues, Prep School Hippie,Run Like an Antelope
Set 2: Tonight, The Pendulum, Babylon is Burning, Dec 1661  First known version.
 “It’s alright” quotes from Trey.
 Jeff Holdsworth on slide guitar.
 First known Phish performance. With Zenzilé Madikinea.
In this long road ahead of myself, there will be shows that aren’t going to warrant a lot of words. Shows were you put it on and go “Why am I doing this again?” I’m sure the band felt that way about a few nights and certainly I’ll have shows where I won’t feel like writing about it. But you can’t say you’re going to review every show and skip one you’re jus tnot feeling. This is the case of 2/3/86. The tape quality is terrible. It might even be playing at the wrong pitch. It bends up and down. I was so lackadaisical that even when they kicked into the first recorded “You Enjoy Myself”, I wasn’t even paying attention on first listen. It’s at least interesting to hear the beginnings of the song. it’s missing several sections that would become staples over time but in its infancy, you can tell it’s going to be important. Eve more notable is hearing it in the 5-piece setting. Jeff can’t really keep up with Trey’s parts as far as rhythm go. It’s kind of the first time he’s struggling with the material, which will be important. Trey introduces South African dub poet Zenzile, which was the headliner on this bill. The show was a benefit for the African National Congress and apparently cost $4 for admission. Trey then asks for requests and gets someone to shout out “Alumni Blues”. After some tuning, the beginning of the “Mike Says No” saga happens as Trey says, “Mike says real bands don’t play requests. So we’re going to play a request” and they go into “Alumni>Jimmy Page>Alumni”. Outside of the banter and YEM, not a lot here to write about. If you’re looking for great early Phish, this is not it.
I wanna take a moment and thank everyone for the huge outpouring of support! Big thanks to Surrender to the Flow for posting about this. I mostly wanted to do it as a writing exercise and hoped some people would enjoy it. Apparently people do! So I hope I don’t let you down and thanks for reading.!
Ah, we finally made it to Goddard. Already the school of Page McConnell, almost a year later, it would become where Trey and Jon would finish their studies as well. Goddard College is a very interesting place that unfortunately is under threat of disappearing forever. In fact, it has already changed, for better or for worse, when it ended its traditional residential undergrad program in 2002. Located in Plainfield, Vermont, just east of Montpelier, the capital, Goddard College grew from a preparatory school for Tufts College in Medford, MA to its own college in 1938. The college was founded under the progressive principles of John Dewey. The school is unique in that instead of traditional curriculum, the student gets to choose their own curriculum and experiences and have narrative transcripts from the advisors and teachers to guide them as opposed to letter grades. It’s in this free form learning that allowed Phish to spread their wings. Other notable alumni of Goddard include playwright David Mamet, Jonathan Katz of Dr. Katz fame, William H. Macy, and lyricist Howard Ashman.
This show as played in the cafeteria of the Haybarn, one of the oldest and most classic buildings on Goddard’s campus. The campus is of note in that they took an old farm and made the existing buildings the school. It’s worth a trip if you’re in central Vermont. The Haybarn is pictured in the center of the above photo. You might think “Another short set? Please.” BUT DO NOT MOVE ON! THIS IS MUST-LISTEN PHISH. The “Mike’s Song” is a bit of a throwaway. The heart of this recording is the “Whipping Post Jam”. It is as good a jam as you’ll find in the band’s career. I feel it has been so overlooked at how locked in this band has been from very early on in their career. This is 27 minutes of where the band is going! There’s “Norwegian Wood” teases from Mike. There’s “The Other One” teases. In my first post, I said Phish could have been Vermont’s best Grateful Dead cover band. This is the closest the band comes to BEING the Grateful Dead. It’s as if they channeled ’67-’68 Dead in this jam. It has that wild, unified cacophony feel that capsulated those early Dead jams so well. I don’t hear Whipping Post at all in the jam so I’m unsure where that link came from but it doesn’t matter. We get some great ambient guitar parts while Page plays a nice piano solo over Mike’s bass and Jon’s steady cymbals. You tell it’s building. Even Jeff plays a great rhythm part with Jon’s drumming. The so far unweildy five-piece is actually sounding great for once. The tension and build is steady for a good solid 3-4 minutes and then there’s a shift, the drums change and there’s a slide guitar cue and then it gets into some early Pink Floyd vibes as well, as if anything can happen with the mood and atmosphere created. At 9 minutes in, the building tension finally releases and we’ve gone over the edge. The band begins charging along. The tempo increases and all members begin putting things in motion. The “Other One” teases hit but it’s about more than that as Trey keeps soloing over them. It almost all disintegrates but the twin guitars of Trey and Jeff just drive harder, taking the jam in a new direction. This gallop goes for another 9 minutes, slowing and speeding, bending the flow to create new ideas. it’s frenetic and well-paced but nothing compared to what begins at the 19 minute mark. There’s a few “Dark Star” teases and also some “Slave to the Traffic Light” quoted but the band hits its first ever peak. The uplifting chord profession seeps out of everyone as Trey flies over the top. PURE GLORY. I’d put it against anything I’ve heard so far in the catalog and the fact they were playing like this LESS THAN TWO YEARS after their first show is nothing less than astounding. The jam then ends with a reggae jam that sounds like the start of “Harry Hood”. If you have to come back down, at least let ’em dance right?
The tape then fades out and when it comes back in we’re deep in “Run Like An Antelope”. It has some good playing and the song is starting to get its signature feel but there’s not too much noteworthy about this version. The recording then closes with a “Dave’s Energy Guide” that is similar to other versions except it goes off the rails and is a bit more wild. But the jam. Holy cow! It’s such a harbinger of what’s too come from Phish. Luckily the band was successful or else this would be a mark of what could have been. The show is also important because it’s well-marked as the show where Mike had a “peak experience” or his epiphany. It was at this show, most likely during that jam, that he decided he wanted to play music for the rest of his life. He explains in Phish: The Biography by Parke Puterbaugh,
“It was the night I decided I wanted to make music a full-time career. I wrote two full journals just about that one night of playing. I had this incredible self-actualization, and I dedicated all future journals to figuring out what happened that night and what makes a peak experience like that occur.”
[Puterbaugh] asked whether that particular show was taped and whether the band might ever release it.
“I taped it, but I’ve never even listened to it,” he said. “I vowed never to listen to it. There’s no possible way that listening to it would ever be the same. It would be like being an entirely different person listening. So I just wanted to save the memory.”
With an experience like what I heard, I don’t blame him either. Moving on to a big year in 1986! Next on “One Show at a Time”.
Thursday, 11/14/1985 or Tuesday, 11/19/1985
Memorial Auditorium Basement, Burlington, VT
Set 1: Slave to the Traffic Light, Hurricane, Makisupa Policeman > Piggies ->Makisupa Policeman -> Drums > Alumni Blues > Dear Mrs. Reagan
This show’s date is disputed because Mike’s notes say it was on the 19th while Del Martin’s tape is label the 14th. Regardless, this show found the band stopping down for a short unplugged set alongside fellow local artists The Joneses and The Visions for some type of benefit show. The recording comes in with the only known performance of Bob Dylan’s “Hurricane”. Trey makes notion of the importance of the song in that the song’s subject, Ruben “Hurricane” Carter, had finally been released from jail without bail that month. The song isn’t particularly noteworthy excepted to hear Trey drop a rare n-word. I will say that in this show, you can really hear the evolution of Mike as a bass player. His bass lines are very melodic and really add depth to the performance. The band goes into “Makisupa” and again the keyword tradition has not begun at this point. However, it again is used for band introductions. It’s also interesting to hear Trey sing that Mike is NOT smoking a spliff unlike other band members. Splitting up the “Makisupa” is a cover of “Piggies” by the Beatles. It’s a little odd because they maintain the reggae feel through the cover, so it’s not as true a cover as we’d hear 9 years later in Glens Falls. It’s also interesting that it’s dedicated to “Howard Mitiguy”, referencing Harry Mitiguy, the then-president of Howard Bank. I like this reference because I grew up with Howard Bank in Vermont and miss all the small, local banks we had as kids. Now they’re all owned by larger companies, Howard Bank notably becoming in the larger TD Bank chain. Fishman’s intro from “Makisupa” leads to an extended percussion solo which fades out the recording. It is interesting to note that Fish is only playing percussion and not his full drum kit to fit the acoustic theme. Phish, going unplugged before it was cool.
Set 1: Harry Hood, Dog Log > Possum, Slave to the Traffic Light, Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, I Wish, Revival, Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues, Prep School Hippie, Skippy the Wondermouse
 First known version.
 First known public version.
 Lyric referenced pumpkin pie.
“This is Phish. They are bad.” So begins the 7th show in our series as Phish returns to Hunt’s for the first time on tape since March 4th. This show has a lot of good banter. The band is still in its odd 5-piece configuration at this point with two guitars and keys. This show holds a soft place in this author’s heart it marks the debut of my favorite Phish song, “Harry Hood”. Trey introduces the song being about “a story of the man who lives directly across the street from us right now. This is the story about his trip across the globe to the sunny beach of Greece and it all starts as our friend Brian places a carton of Hood milk in the refrigerator door.” This is significant because the origins of the song actually do come from Greece. On the aforementioned trip to Europe in the summer of ’85, Trey, Fish, and Brian Long decided to take LSD and swim in Greece. A fast moving storm came in and they almost did not escape unharmed. Somehow after this incident, Trey wrote the music to “Harry Hood” on that beach. The remarkable thing about this version of Harry Hood is how it hasn’t changed much in 29 years. The song structure is intact. While many Hoods would have better peaks and more blissful jams, the fact that the bare bones for he song were in place from this first performance on is pretty incredible. One minor difference is the “Thank You Mr. Minor” line is a little more light and “singsongy” than the angry intonation it would have on later performances. Someone who sounds like Fish chimes in, “We’re gonna get sponsored if it kills us. One day they’ll pay us to play that. I know it. Not Yet!”
The band decides to keep the debuts coming and slides into “Dog Log”. “Dog Log” is fun tune that’s seriously about stepping in dog shit. The tune has a fun intro that finally shows off what Page is adding to the band with some fine organ coloring over the opening rhythm. Other than that a simple reading of the song but more noteworthy “Dog Logs” are coming for sure. The band segues from “Dog Log” into the first recorded, second ever “Possum”. Now, this “Possum” is a little different than what you’re used to using for a piss break at today’s shows. It’s got a slower rhythm, some different guitar parts, and some weird harmonies over the lyrics but the core elements are there. It’s also of note as Jeff sings lead goals and Page has a solo.
Before going into “Slave to the Traffic Light”, Trey thanks those who came to seem them at Goddard College over the weekend, referencing a Halloween gig they played and that “it’s good to be back in the real world.” “Slave” is dedicated to their friend Brickle; it’d be interesting to know who that is. Besides that, this is pretty standard early “Slave”. The band kicks into dance mode with the first recorded version of Robert Palmer’s “Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley.” An early staple in the band’s career due to it’s very danceable groove, the song has recently seen a big comeback in the band’s repertoire. Starting about 5 minutes in, the band shows off their combined vocal chops is very nice vocal jam that is on par with many future “Sally” vocal jams. Not bad for very really on in their career. “A dance song” is announced and someone retorts, “Hey, hippies have a right to dance too.” The band then launches into the only recorded version of Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish”. Jeff holds down the lead vocal and it’s just out of his range. There’s some good guitar parts but you can easily see why it was dropped from the lineup after just two performances.
The covers keep coming with the band’s version of the Allman Brothers’ “Revival”. Trey and Jeff easily handle the dual guitar parts in the intro and Trey plays very tasty leads over Jeff’s rhythm. It’s a gorgeous cover and makes me wonder why we don’t have more version of it. I’m fairly sure the band probably played it more than was able to be recorded. I’d consider it a must listen if only to hear Jeff’s technical prowess at the time. Jeff thanks the crowd for coming out but Trey then hopes everyone is listening to Peter Becker’s radio show on WRUV on Wednesday nights. Wonder what prompted that. The band then kicks into the slow shuffle of “Alumni Blues” with a great drum build-up by Fish to lead into it. After that it’s a fairly standard “Alumni>Letter>Alumni”.
Following it however is a big Phish rarity, “Prep School Hippie”. One of my favorite “old” tunes, having, like Trey, attended a New England prep school, I can relate to the lyrics. I hear it and think of me and my friends, who would listen to and go see Phish. “Big tent kegger at the frat or watching Jerry shake his fat” might be one of the best lyrics Trey has ever written. The song also has a nice jam between the last verse and the outro refrain of “I can’t wait ’till I’m 21 to dip into my trust fund!” It’s a song I’d love the band to bust out sometime, if only to hear “trust fund” in 4-part harmony one last time. The recording closes with “Skippy the Wondermouse”, making me wonder why the band back and forth between “Skippy” and “McGrupp”. To me, “McGrupp” is the much better of the two songs and to “fall back” on “Skippy” seems like a step backward but as a much later song would state, “you’ve got to take it with you if you’re going forward” and at this point the band was very much going forward.
Set 1: T.V. Theme[, Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues > Mike’s Song,Dave’s Energy Guide, Revolution, Anarchy, Camel Walk, Run Like an Antelope, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters
Finally a full set of originals. Sure Phish covers are fun and we have a lot more of them to go through but it’s nice seeing the band become the gang we all know and love. Considering they had more than enough covers to fill 4 nights at Madison Square Garden, it’s nice to know this was the first solid recording to support that. This show was played at Finbar’s, which you can see it’s current iteration above. It’s interesting that most of these location still exist as bars in Burlington, as the number of bars have dwindled and they were all concentrated on Main Street. I’d except to see some Church and Pearl but no, the band really did play Route 2 for most of their career as Trey said at Bangor ’94. Anyway, more on that in a later post.
This show is also important because it’s the first since Trey, Tom, Marc, and Fish all went to Europe for the summer and essentially backpacked and wrote music. Some very important songs in the Phish catalog and as they’re introduced, I’ll note which ones came from this trip. It’s also important because it’s the first recording that Page is a permanent member of the group. This was announced on 9/26/85 on UVM’s radio station WRUV. Sometime between saying Phish is a two-guitar band and then, most likely talking it over with Fish in Europe, they both agreed Page made the band stronger. And that’s something I think we all can agree on now, Page Side Rage Side for life. Unfortunately on this recording, Page gets buried in the mix making it hard to feel his contributions.
This version cuts off the TV Theme. Don’t really understand why but not an issue, not a big miss. It drops in with “Alumni Blues>Letter to Jimmy Page>Alumni Blues”. The song was a pretty common track in the days and this is a ripping blues version played perfectly. A great early danceable number in the set. Mike’s boppin’ bass line is especially funky. Next we get “Mike’s Song” introduced here as “Microdot”, filling in for “Mike Wrote That”. The name would stick for a few gigs before simply reverting to “Mike’s Song”. A fairly standard version but also retains the odd outré before again segueing into “Dave’s Energy Guide”.
After the standard “DEG”, Trey introduces “one of our few punk songs.” A fan yells out Leunig’s Sucks, which indicates the band has accumulated a few fans at this point since Leunig’s Sucks used to be the title of the tune, which is now called “Revolution.” Leunig’s being the name of a fancy French restaurant on the corner of Church and College that apparently Trey had a beef with at some point. They wail through it yelling Revolution over the short song. Then Trey says, “We actually do have one other punk song. Since you reacted so well to that one, we’ll do this one. This one’s called ‘Anarchy’. The joke being that “Anarchy” and “Revolution” are the exact same song just with the words changed.
The band kicks in to dance mode again with a very funky “Camel Walk” that has a nice extended intro. It jams out for about 3 minutes before dropping into the familiar shuffle of the tune. The tape cuts and dropped into a raging “Run Like an Antelope”. Obviously, the bar has gotten more people as the crowd gets louder. Still it’s a tasty jam, filling out more of the traditional song structure and getting more of that familiar “Antelope” feel as compared to 5/3/85. We also get the lyrics too! Clearly a song that had been worked on since May. The available music closes with “McGrupp”. Again, the lyrics are in the spoken-word form, not quite yet set to the music. The song also closes with a nice jam that begins at about the 6-minute mark and takes it out until the tape ends.
And that’s 10/17/85. If you have suggestions, feel free to drop me a line and follow me on Twitter @harryphood. See you tomorrow!