Show #39: 2/20/88

The Alpha Tau Omega house at St. Lawrence University.

Saturday, 02/20/1988
St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY

Soundcheck: Golgi Apparatus

Set 1: Funky Bitch, Golgi Apparatus, Peaches en Regalia, Take the ‘A’ Train > Possum,Phase Dance, Good Times Bad Times, Skin It Back, David Bowie

Set 2: Wilson, I Didn’t Know, Fluffhead, Fire, Fee, You Enjoy Myself > Divided Sky, AC/DC Bag > Whipping Post, Slave to the Traffic Light

Encore: Big Black Furry Creature from Mars

One of the major perks of being a college band is that if you get popular enough at your own school, people visiting will want you to play their school as well. So, Phish’s traveling college gigs began here, playing a frat party at St. Lawrence University, deep in the Adirondacks in Canton, New York. Only 120 miles away but with no direct route, the journey takes just over 3 hours. But a gig is a gig, and you never know if it will lead to more. So off they went to play this pledge party. A little different than Otis Day and the Knights, eh? With Phish being in new territory, we don’t get too much new stuff. “A Train” has a very nice transition into “Possum”. The “Possum” is super tight here. “Skin It Back” is the set 1 highlight with an excellent building jam. “Skin It Back” ends oddly enough with “We’re gonna take a short break.” but is followed by “David Bowie” and listed as Set 1. I believe this is an error. “Bowie” has an awesome dissonant jam at about the 5:40 mark. The ending is also very clean.

Set 2 opener “Wilson” has some interesting effects at the 4-minute mark. I think they’re from Mike but it is unclear. “I Didn’t Know” is sans trombone. “Fluffhead” is extremely well-played with some fun banter from Trey, including him asking people to clap along. “YEM” is shown going into “Divided Sky” but it’s just more of an awkward transition on tape. The rest of the set is fun but nothing exciting. “Slave” cuts off before the peak. A third set was played but does not circulate, except a locked down video of “Big Black Furry Creature from Mars” that no one has seen. A solid show on new ground but no must-listens here. Much like the recent Jazz Fest set, a solid show if nothing else. It just goes that a standard Phish show is still better than most bands’ best nights.

Show #35: 1/27/88

Gallagher’s at the corner of Route 17 and Route 100 in Waitsfield, Mad River Valley, Vermont

Wednesday, 01/27/1988
Gallagher’s, Waitsfield, VT

Set 1: Funky Bitch, Mustang Sally, AC/DC Bag -> Possum, Jesus Just Left Chicago,Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues,Take the ‘A’ Train, Good Times Bad Times

Set 2: Wilson, Slave to the Traffic Light, Corinna > Fire, Fluffhead, Divided Sky, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, You Enjoy Myself, The Sloth > Whipping Post

Set 3: Fee > The Lizards[1], Suzy Greenberg, Golgi Apparatus, Bike, Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, Camel Walk, Harry Hood

[1] First known performance.

So where in Vermont do you go after you’ve successfully slayed the Burlington bar scene? Why to the apres-ski scene, of course! And so, it was here in Waitsfield, VT during January 1988 that Phish made their triumphant debut in the world of apres-ski. Waitsfield, of course, is exciting to me because it’s my hometown! I might have even been privy to catch part of one of these early gigs. Gallagher’s was one of two apres-ski bars across the street from each other in Waitsfield at this intersection. The other was Mooselips, more of a local dive bar than Gallagher’s. My mother once did a show at Gallagher’s and were friends with the owners at the time. The club was upstairs in the larger spec while there was a restaurant downstairs named Mother Macree’s. I remember the place being packed often. It has a barn type feel with a post and beam structure. I remember a pinball machine by the stairway between the two businesses. I also remember the restaurant having a killer brownie sundae and interesting historic pictures of Waitsfield. Anyway, would have love to know why the owners booked Phish in the winter of 1988 but alas we may never know. Gallagher’s closed. The space then became the new John Egan’s Big World Pub and Grill, with a renovation to open it up, then it also closed and the building currently sits vacant. Of course, most Phish fans would be exposed to the charms of the Mad River Valley years later in 1994. But that’s another story…

The show however has some nice highlights. Set 1 is mostly cover, which makes sense breaking in a new town and a new room. The “AC/DC Bag>Possum” is a highlight though as is “Jesus Just Left Chicago”. Set 2 has a solid “Wilson”. Building on the success of the 11/19/87 “Slave”, the version has another excellent early peak. “Fluffhead” is interesting because it drops the complete suite and goes back to the simpler version despite the longer running time. “Curtis Loew” is quite beautiful as usual here. “YEM” is well-played. “Whipping Post” is noteworthy for the Page organ jam that begins about 8 minutes and 30 seconds into the song. Set 3’s biggest note is it has the debut of “The Lizards”, one of my favorite Phish songs and favorite Gamehendge song, maybe in part due it debuting in my hometown. I actually could be a douche and say “I come from the land of Lizards”. Unfortunately, the recording starts off with the intro and then cuts to the “If I Were A Dog” outro. It’s my favorite part so it’s enough for me but it would have been nice to hear the whole song. This snippet however demonstrates that even as a first time, the song was just as strong as later versions and complete at this time. Trey plays his solo beautifully and showing master of his tone. He introduces it as a new song called “Where have all the Lizards gone?”. “Bike” is a fun entry. Fishman finally speaks and sounds excited to perform. The performance is a step in the right direction but Fish mumbles a little too much on some of the verses. “Camel Walk” gets loopy especially on the “Strut Your Stuff” lyric. The show then ends with the evening’s main attraction “Harry Hood”. Less of a peak but some really fun interplay at about the 7 minute mark with almost an early Plinko style. Page really grooving and Trey filling the gaps. I usually like a more subtle and building “Hood” but the fast flurry of notes by all members (Including Fish) is quite amazing here. A nice little show in spaces I vaguely recall. Wonderful.