Show #82: 2/6/89 – The Front Burlington, VT

Monday, 02/06/1989
The Front, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Suzy Greenberg,  The Curtain >  Wilson >  Peaches en Regalia,  Fee >  La Grange,  You Enjoy Myself

Set 2: All Blues >  Sanity[1],  Take the ‘A’ Train,  Golgi Apparatus >  Divided Sky,  On Your Way Down,  I Didn’t Know

Set 3: Good Times Bad Times,  Walk Away >  Harry Hood,  Big Black Furry Creature from Mars,  The Ballad of Curtis Loew,  Colonel Forbin’s Ascent >  Fly Famous Mockingbird > Whipping Post,  Corinna

Encore: David Bowie

[1] Fast version.

The SkiRack (formerly The Front) looking up Main St. towards The Woodbury Armory (formerly Hunt's).
The SkiRack (formerly The Front) looking up Main St. towards The Woodbury Armory (formerly Hunt’s).

While the band was beginning to grow in statue outside the Green Mountain State, Phish remained deep in the fabric of the Vermont music scene for years to come. So after taking Boston by storm, the band played Dartmouth College, their usual Wednesday night gig at Gallagher’s in Waitsfield, and their first New York City show at Forty Worth, an art gallery/performance space in Tribeca. Unfortunately none of these shows exist in circulation. The leaves us with night 2 and night 3 of the band’s first Burlington shows since the Paradise gig. The band is continuing to establish the Front as their home base but they haven’t quite left Nectar’s yet. The only problem with 3 nights and no albums yet, the material stays about the same as recent shows. That’s not to say there are no highlights here on Night 2. The “Wilson>Peaches” combo is back. A really tasty take on “La Grange” happens though that I like. We get a taste of Phish’s version of Miles Davis’ “All Blues” into the fast version of “Sanity” again. “Divided Sky” continues to be amazing. The ending jam to “Harry Hood” has some interesting interplay between all 4 members. But the standout is “David Bowie”. The band has fun with the opening segment as that tradition seems to be improving. Trey does the Batman TV theme to open, when the composed section is about to break into the jam, the whole band gets in on the riff. Then Trey starts the jam on the Batman riff and they use that as a launchpad into the jam. It’s an interesting look at the band listening to each other early on and moving as a unit, rather than just Trey wild over the top. At 8:46, you can hear Page signal to the band and he initiates a call and response with Trey that’s just magnificent for them to build off. Also, Mike plays almost the base line to Wipe Out at such a fast pace that holds it down. Tight playing indeed. Night 3 next!

Show #73: 9/13/88

Tuesday, 09/13/1988
Sam’s Tavern, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Walk Away,  Funky Bitch,  You Enjoy Myself,  Flat Fee,  McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters >  Wilson >  Peaches en Regalia,  Good Times Bad Times

Set 2: Ride Captain Ride,  Boogie On Reggae Woman,  Cities >  Dave’s Energy Guide > Cities,  Run Like an Antelope,  Fluffhead

Set 3: Jam,  Andy’s Chest[1] ->  Big Black Furry Creature from Mars ->  Dave’s Energy Guide ->  Big Black Furry Creature from Mars,  Sanity ->  Jam[2],  Fire

[1] First known Phish performance.
[2] Fish on vacuum; first known public occurrence of Fish playing the vacuum.

Night 2 at Sam’s Tavern and what a night for history. The only problem is we don’t have the tapes. We only have the first two sets minus the “Good Times, Bad Times”. This is a total bummer. I wonder if it was another case where the taper had to leave early or if it was the tape was destroyed or lost. We may never know or maybe Phish Inc. is sitting on it waiting for a historic reveal. Only one man knows and I unfortunately am not that man…yet. Let’s focus on what we do have and end with what we don’t have. Phish.com lists Set 1 and 2 as one long get where Phish.net breaks it up. It is unclear not he recording as “Peaches” seems to go right into “Ride Captain Ride” but that might just be due to the loss of “GTBT”. The first set is pretty “Smokin’!” as Trey said at Mont Alto. Two opening rippers int he for of “Walk Away” and “Peaches”. A “You Enjoy Myself” almost played at half-speed. I can’t tell if this is them learning it in anticipation of recording it (for Junta) or a tape imperfection causing playback at a slower speed. Might even be both. It’s definitely a candidate for slowest “YEM” yet. A quick spin through “Flat Fee”. This is interesting because it will be the last performance of “Flat Fee” until the Giant Country Horns tour of 1991. It may be a short jazz tune but it is dearly missed and I can’t wait for it’s return. This “McGrupp” forms a wonderful early showpiece for the stylings of Page McConnell almost taking on a modern “Squirming Coil” feel. The 1st set highlight though is the pairing of “Wilson” and “Peaches”. Right when Trey would normally break in to the “Boom Blat” lyric, he instead yells out the drum into to “Peaches” and it’s a beautiful early segue.

Set 2 kicks off with a trio of covers. First, we get a “Ride Captain Ride” that’s well played but has botched lyrics. The only performance of 1988. Then after a request of “Aborigine Women?” per Trey, he deciphers it for Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie On Reggae Woman.” This is not a very good version and the band rightfully shelved the tune afterwards. While common today and a huge fan favorite, this would be the last performance of the song until 12/7/97 in Dayton, OH. Hopefully, they’ll hit it better after almost 10 years of practice, right? Another nice performance of the “Cites>DEG>Cities” combo but nothing outstanding. We get the first “Run Like An Antelope” since Colorado. This is important because it’s a 19-show gap for the song, the 3rd longest. We’ll have one more long one in 1992, so fortunately for me I like the song and can’t wait to see where it goes. This version gets very jazzy during the build-up and Fishman’s drumming seems a little more erratic, which is fun to listen to. “Fluffhead” ends the recording and gets cut off before it can finish.

Now let’s talk about what’s missing. We’re missing an untitled jam that would have been cool to see unstructured jamming from 1988 before songs could go “Type II”. We’re missing the only known version of Lou Reed’s “Andy’s Chest”. This is the last song by Reed performed by the band until 1995, taking the Velvet Underground influence away until formally acknowledging it in 1998 with Loaded. We’re missing an I’m-sure-wild performance of “BBFCFM>DEG>BBFCFM”. Some real punk rock potential there. The big missing puzzle piece here is the jam out of “Sanity”, which is the first known performance on the vacuum by Fishman. Fish playing the vacuum has become such a huge piece of lore that it has it’s own line of Phan art. Crosswalk signs with him pulling the vacuum would become seen everywhere. It won them the battle of the bands at the Front later.It was the centerpiece of this past New Year’s gag. It would be amazing to hear what that first solo sounded like or the crowd’s reaction to such a wild idea.  Again, I’m not sure if we’ll ever know what it was like and that makes this historian a little sad. This however does earn 167 Main St. a place on the Phish history map.

UPDATE: So, I told Kevin Shapiro about an error on the 9/13/88 setlist page of Phish.com. It listed “Ride Captain Ride” as “Mystery Train”, two totally different songs. Not only did he fix that but confirmed “Ride Captain Ride” as the Set 2 opener. I’m gonna leave my original test as is but it has been updated on Phish.com.

Show #72: 9/12/88

Monday, 09/12/1988
Sam’s Tavern, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Shaggy Dog,  Take the ‘A’ Train,  Fee,  Bold As Love

Set 2: Timber (Jerry),  Satin Doll >  The Lizards,  The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu >  Bundle of Joy >  Camel Walk,  The Practical Song[1],  Harry Hood, Esther[1]

[1] First known performance.

As with early shows, you’re going to get some real rough tapes that are either late generations or perhaps were not recorded that well. This show is unfortunately one of those tapes. It’s got tape clicks and poor balances but what survives has some interesting moments. No real banter here just solid playing back at the smaller Sam’s Tavern. “Fee is performed with the megaphone. “The Lizards” unfortunately has the “If I Were A Dog” outro cut. Avenue Malkenu has a “Chag Sameach” greeting from Mike on the occasion of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year that had begun the night before and segues effortlessly into a rare “Bundle of Joy” outside of Fluffhead”. Trey tries to milk time by debuting “The Practical Song”, a song about stocking up on peanut butter. A solid “Harry Hood” is ruined by the poor quality of the tape. The set closes with what probably make this show have any significance. This is the first known performance of “Esther” and it also has different lyrics. This version has more detail about the puppet and ends with the people chasing the old man and not Esther. Without the change, maybe Esther wouldn’t have died in Vegas…but that’s for a much later day. The only must listen is the early version of “Esther” but even then, the quality is poor enough to advise anyone to just skip this one.

Show #71: 9/8/88

Thursday, 09/08/1988
The Front, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Peaches en Regalia >  Walk Away,  Slave to the Traffic Light,  Wild Child,  AC/DC Bag, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent >  Fly Famous Mockingbird,  Bold As Love

Set 2: Possum,  You Enjoy Myself,  Cities ->  Dave’s Energy Guide >  Cities,  Good Times Bad Times,  On Your Way Down >  Whipping Post

Another week, another gig at the Front. As it’s still the top played venue in Phish history, we’re gonna have a lot of these. Not a lot to talk about with this show. It’s solidly played top to bottom. Phish t-shirts had clearly been around before this gig as they’re seen in photos from the Colorado road trip and there’s the legend that at the March 12, 1988 Frank Zappa show at Burlington’s Memorial Auditorium, he hung one on the clothesline on stage after a fan handed it to him. Much in the grand tradition of Phish Dry Goods, Trey doesn’t hesitate to tell the crowd they have new t-shirts available at the soundboard after a hot “Slave to the Traffic Light”. More things change, the more they stay the same. I wonder if it was just logo shirts or some unique design. Unless someone out there has one sitting in mothballs, we’ll never know. After this announcement, we get the last every played “Wild Child”. This Lou Reed tune was last played in 1985, making it a very early “bustout”. You can really hear the band on the verge of breaking in “Bold as Love”. It’s just fantastic and on par with any other version, clearly its band had the chops for something. After “Bold”, Trey announces home movies coming up.

Set 2 kicks off with a raging “Possum” and then it’s movie time. Trey, about to tell Paul a suggestion, decides to tell Paul “You know what you’re supposed to do.” It’d be interesting to find these movies and sync it up. I wonder if it was the band or actual old home movies or if they found random home movies. The most notable thing about this is shows the band was experimenting with making their live show more of a spectacle. The inkling that would fuel their holiday shows and festivals was a glimmer in the band’s eye from the very beginning. “Cities->DEG->Cities” is a combo that we’ll see a lot of over the next month. Very interesting that the band’s repertoire is growing but Set 2 closes with 4 covers in a row. Maybe trying to harness them for a growing fan base? We’ll see but they’re played well. This show had a Set 3 but apparently the taper had to catch his ride home! Too bad, might have been historic! I would have opted to sleep in my car that night instead. I know you can get away with it on Pine St. around the corner, pretty easily, at least 15 years later…

Show #69: 8/13/88

Saturday, 8/13/1988
The Front, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Peaches en Regalia, AC/DC Bag, Take the ‘A’ Train, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent>Fly Famous Mockingbird, Light Up or Leave Me Alone, Suzy Greenberg>Alumni Blues>Letter to Jimmy Page>Alumni Blues, Fire

Set 2: Wilson, Divided Sky, Jesus Just Left Chicago, Possum, Harry Hood, Corinna>Whipping Post

The band found their way back to Vermont, riding the beautiful high of a successful trip West. But the band also not only was expanding nationally, the band was also expanding locally and by now had outgrown Nectar’s to move permanently to The Front. This recording comes from night 3 of the band’s first 3-night run at the venue. The Front would be very important to the band, in some ways even more important than Nectar’s. While Nectar’s had been an incubator for the band and their ideas early on, The Front would give them the professional polish that would propel them to stardom. These residencies would also ground the band with a home base while their national touring presence ascended over the next three years.

As for this recording itself, you would think that the energy of Colorado would carry over the band and here it does but not in the way you would think. Especially during “Fly Famous Mockingbird”, I really thought, “Man, the band is flying through this tune but the band’s vocals are a little high.” It was more obvious when Page’s voice seemed a little strained during “Light Up or Leave Me Alone”. The big reveal is during “Suzy Greenberg” when you can hear the tape slow down at the 4:18-4:20 mark (cue getting high and the world slowing down joke here). With this imperfection, I can only suggest listening to it if you’re a completist but there’s not much you’re missing here.

Show #62: 7/25/88

Monday, 07/25/1988
Nectar’s, Burlington, VT

Set 3: Skin It Back,  Harpua,  Big Black Furry Creature from Mars,  Sanity

Encore: Icculus,  Camel Walk

“We’d like to do a little Jimmy Buffett now.” A short show today as Set 3 is all that exists of this one. However, it’s still an important show in fact for some fans this show contains the first live tracks they might have ever heard. The set opens with a nice “Skin It Back”. The band’s really grooving here. Page lays down a real nice bed of Hammond organ and then Trey and Mike push and pull on top of it in a deep groove. We then get “Harpua” dedicated to Paul Languedoc. Trey changes Jimmy to Paul in a playful way. Mike also gets Page to riff on alternatives to goldfish such as crawfish and halibut. This “Harpua” is also played at a much slower than usual pace adding odd tension to the song. “Big Black Furry Creature for Mars” comes next and it has Mike really having fun with the audience. “TAKE IT RIGHT AROUND!”, Mike yells and Trey drops into a punk rock “Theme from the Flintstones” as he yells “KEEP TAKING IT AROUND! PICK IT UP! PICK IT UP!” Never heard Mike so animated during this song as he’s a but more demure on current versions. After another verse, he turns his energy on the crowd yelling “HERE’S YOUR TURN TO SING ALONG! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” Mike’s shenanigans continue introducing “Sanity” as a Jimmy Buffett tune as quoted above. This is the version of “Sanity” that appears as bonus tracks on the Elektra CD re-release of Junta that most people know so well. This might have even been your introduction to live Phish. It’s a fairly straight forward version of Sanity but with a seat rumbling trombone solo from Fishman that’s quite impressive. “Thank you good night! How’s everybody doing tonight? We’re Jimmy Buffett, good night!”, Mike yells as the audience claps for more. Make me wonder what got into Mike that night. They come back on stage and Mike informs everyone that “We’re gonna lighten it up a bit” and we get the second track that appeared on the Elektra version of Junta, “Icculus”. “This is a special song, this is an important song,” starts off Trey. “This is a dance song,” interjects Mike, over clearly a beat to slow to dance to. “THIS IS RED ROCKS! THIS IS THE EDGE!,” continues Trey, riffing on U2. Mike throws in one last “Diarrhea” over the top. Icculus continues its build to the name of the author of the Helping Friendly Book, the book which could save your life like it did for the band, the great, and powerful, the one, the only, the man who wrote the FUCKING HELPING FRIENDLY BOOK, THE ONE WHO WROTE THE BOOK! ICCULUS! But I digress, it’s probably the definitive “Icculus” for most people as the song is extremely rare. The set closes with Mike’s “dance song” finally in “Camel Walk”. It’s a little sloppy but fun. Mike plays a lot of notes. Page thanks the crowd. Mike reminds people to tip their waiters and waitresses. Trey reminds people that Ninja Custodian will be playing there tomorrow night. The band then loaded the van and headed west on a great adventure. All in all, a very silly set from Phish before hitting the road. Probably, trying to get some of it out of their system before a long drive. We’ve got some big shows coming up. Due to the release of Colorado ’88, I will do my best to piece together the most accurate shows but it may prove difficult. It also may delay the next few posts. Thanks for reading.

Show #61: 7/24/88

Sunday, 07/24/1988
Nectar’s, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Walk Away,  Golgi Apparatus,  Funky Bitch,  Colonel Forbin’s Ascent >  Fly Famous Mockingbird,  Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley,  Mike’s Song >  I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove,  Bold As Love

Set 2: Light Up Or Leave Me Alone,  Fluffhead,  La Grange,  The Lizards,  Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page >  Alumni Blues,  On Your Way Down,  Cities,  David Bowie

Set 3: The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday >  Avenu Malkenu >  Peaches en Regalia, Jesus Just Left Chicago,  McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters[1] ->  Run Like an Antelope

[1] Fish on trombone.

Teases:
· Moby Dick tease

After an explosive show in Underhill and the excitement of Colorado on the horizon, it’s easy to see why the band’s regular stand at Nectar’s may not be the stuff of legends. This is definitely evident on the first night. That’s not to say this is a terrible evening of Phish. No, in fact, it is quite the opposite. We get a competent evening of Phish with some excitement. Set 1 opens with a nice fiery “Walk Away”, continuing to explore the new cover. Other highlights include a tight “Forbin’s>Mockingbird”, a groovy “Sneakin’ Sally”, and the 2nd-ever “Mike’s Groove” played quite well. The “Mike’s Song” is not worth for the intro they wrote for it detailing that “it’s his song”. “Weekapaug” also has Mike yelling “LET’S TAKE IT TO RHODE ISLAND NOW!” before the jam, which is fun. The band closes with an empowering “Bold as Love”.

Set 2 takes it up a notch with a high quality “Light Up or Leave Me Alone”. “Fluffhead” and “The Lizards” are nice, tight versions. “Alumni>Letter>Alumni” is notable for how the band stops on a dime and then goes right back into the song during “Letter to Jimmy Page”. Fans of 7/11/00 will recognize the unmistakable riff of “Moby Dick” played by Trey and Mike between “Alumni” and “On Your Way Down”. The set 2 closer of “David Bowie” could also be considered a highlight.

Set 3 has the excitement of “The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday>Avenu Malkenu” appearing for the first time since February. It’s always a nice treat. The “Peaches” that follows it is also tasty. The set highlight hear is a DIRTY “Jesus Just Left Chicago” with Trey wailing by the peak of the jam. Highly recommended. “McGrupp” with Fish on vacuum is always a treat. The set-closing “Antelope” also tears but unfortunately the recording cuts out just after the song peaks, missing the outro. Overall, a technically good show but nothing too exciting here. Again, I think the energy of the long gig the night before coupled with the excitement of Colorado has the guys a little burnt out for the hometown crowd but one more show before the truck pulls out. We’ll see what’s left in the tank tomorrow.

Shows #58/59: 7/11-12/88

Monday, 07/11/1988
Sam’s Tavern, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Satin Doll,  Suzy Greenberg,  The Curtain With,  Funky Bitch,  Fire,  Bold As Love, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent >  Fly Famous Mockingbird,  Golgi Apparatus,  Alumni Blues >  Letter to Jimmy Page[1] >  Alumni Blues

Encore: McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters[2] >  La Grange

[1] Fish drum solo.
[2] Fish on trombone.

Teases:
· Dave’s Energy Guide tease in Suzy Greenberg

Finally, the band gets back on track with some purpose here at these two gigs. Now you’d think Sam’s Tavern means a new venue and some more Burlington music history. However, it turns out Sam’s Tavern was just Finbar’s renamed and remains Manhattan Pizza today at the corner of Church and Main. So nothing exciting there but let’s get to the music. “We’d like to speed things up a bit”, kicks in the recording on 7/11 as he begins to play the chords to “Satin Doll”. It’s interesting to hear him sing a real jazz standard here. I liked it. “The Curtain With” is noteworthy in that Trey seems to think the jam was awful and calls the tune “The Living Nightmare” and that it was written by their drummer. Oh Trey; busting Fishman’s balls since 1983. We get a smoking double shot of Hendrix with “Fire” and “Bold as Love” To date, this remains the only time this has occurred in Phish history. This is also the first recorded “Bold as Love”. It apparently debuted at the Front on July 7th, a show that has not seen the light of day. Trey nails the outro solo with great tone for such an early performance. A very solid “Forbin>Mockingbird” follows but does not contain narration. Of note, Trey graduated from Goddard the day of this show and according to the show notes, pulled out his diploma, set it on Page’s piano, and then proceeded to tear into the very spirited “Alumni>Letter>Alumni”. He makes note of that fact at the end of the song. We only get part of set 2. The highlight hear is a very nice “McGrupp”.

Tuesday, 07/12/1988
Sam’s Tavern, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Cities,  The Lizards,  Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley,  Good Times Bad Times, Happy Birthday to You[1] >  Peaches en Regalia,  You Enjoy Myself,  I Didn’t Know[2]

Set 2: Blue Bossa,  Take the ‘A’ Train >  Timber (Jerry),  Fluffhead >  Jesus Just Left Chicago, Makisupa Policeman,  Slave to the Traffic Light,  AC/DC Bag >  Roll Like a Cantaloupe

[1] Sung for “Jen.”
[2] Fish on trombone.

Teases:
· Happy Birthday to You quote in Peaches en Regalia
· Flash Light tease in You Enjoy Myself

7/12/88 however is the better of this pair. It starts with a solid “Cities>The Lizards” combo. However, “Sneakin’ Sally” is where it picks up. They go into a very “YEM”-like vocal jam. Totally going outside the usual framework of “Sally” and getting weird with it. They finish up but then do a weird acapella “Happy Birthday to You” for Jen. Whatever got into the band continued and they sing along with the melody to “Peaches En Regalia” AND THEN they turn the “Peaches” melody into “Happy Birthday to You by Frank Zappa”, which is hilarious. But then they do play “YEM” and it in turn has its first real funky vocal jam. The vocal jam was already present but I think this the first real time it became the YEM VOCAL JAM, fi you understand. Not just wild screaming into the microphones. They close the set with a fun “I Didn’t Know” in a new key of A-flat!

Set 2 opens with a double shot of Jazz. The actual debut of “Blue Bossa”, we think. It’s played very well. If you listen carefully enough, you’ll swear it sounds like another song and after a little research, the studio version of “The Landlandy” on A Picture of Nectar definitely had a couple of bits ripped from “Blue Bossa” especially by Page and Mike. Another long, if not exciting, version of “A Train” follows. A solid “Timber (Jerry)”, a tight “Fluffhead”, and casual “Jesus Just Left Chicago” bridge nicely up to the set’s top highlight. Earlier in these posts, I wondered how the band found what to do with “Slave to the Traffic Light”; that it hadn’t yet reached its potential. This is the show where that magically happened. This “Slave” is an early masterpiece. The composed section plays easy enough with the right tone and feeling but at 3:23 when it drops down, Page and Trey get very quiet but with amazing interplay between the two. The jam then has an amazing slow build to the peak. Around the 4:30 mark, Page hits just the right notes on his electric piano to fill Trey’s empty spaces and it’s glorious. The way the while thing pauses and almost breaks down at about 5:00 is amazing. Mike playing the counterpoint bass is tasty. Fish eases off just enough to be effective. This is the blueprint for a perfect “Slave”. It’s incredible. Then when it bursts wide open at 6:43, it’s had just the right among of tension from the band that it hits HARD. You’re ready for the glorious peak because you’ve had the perfect journey there. And the peak is nailed, not too many notes from Trey, perfect coloring from Page and Mike. The arpeggios at 7:50 just magical. In my mind, it should have closed the set. However, you got to give the bar crowd one last chance to dance and they do so with a boogying “AC/DC Bag” and then rips right into “Roll Like A Cantaloupe”, which the crowd rightly goes nuts for. One of only 4 times it’s ever been played, I wonder what sparked Trey to bust it out that night as they just played “Run Like An Antelope” during the previous Nectar’s run and would go back to it the next show. The band reaches wild peaks during this version, pushing the tempo harder and harder. It’s almost the antithesis of “Slave”. Where “Slave” needs patience and delicateness to counter the peak, “Antelope/Cantaloupe” needs chaos and energy to reach the peak. That release before the refrain is just a blast off point. Such a crazy range of energy and emotion in only 3 songs. It’d be wilder if they had played them back to back. The band nails the release here though and Trey goes into the story about going to the grocery store. Page thanks the crowd and end tape. 7/12/88 is a must-listen. Such a powerful night.

Show #57: 6/24/88

IMG_0737

A statue of Big Joe Burrell, a Vermont music icon, stands guard outside Halvorson’s on Church Street in downtown Burlington, VT.

Friday, 06/24/1988
Halverson’s, Burlington, VT

Set 1: The Lizards,  Possum,  Blue Bossa[1],  Alumni Blues >  Letter to Jimmy Page >  Alumni Blues,  On Your Way Down[2],  Golgi Apparatus,  Fee,  Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley,  You Enjoy Myself,  The Ballad of Curtis Loew,  Fluffhead

At the end of 6/21/88, Page comments that the band will be playing at Halvorson’s that Friday. It’s interesting to me that Phish only played Halvorson’s one time. Halvorson’s has always been a pillar of the Burlington music community since the 1970s. Every week, Big Joe Burrell and the Unknown Blues Band would play in the courtyard to the delight of Vermonters. This is important to note because there are probably two local bands that were the biggest influence on Phish. The more obvious one is the Sneakers Jazz Band. Every Tuesday, Sneakers, a small restaurant in Winooski, around the corner from the band’s house, had their house band play. In 1998, Trey recalled to local music ‘zine Big Heavy World strolling over and spending the evening. listening to some of Vermont’s finest players. The horns of the Sneakers Jazz Band would go on to form the Giant Country Horns in 1991. But Big Joe and the Unknown Blues Band were just as important. Big Joe’s rhythm section consisted of two guys names Tony Markellis and Russ Lawton, who would in turn form Trey’s solo band’s rhythm section. The original incarnation of Trey’s solo band really was a veritable Vermont all-star band with the Unknown Blues Band’s rhythm section and the Sneakers Jazz Band horn section coming together and viperHouse’s Ray Paczkowski on keys. Adding another angle to this importance, the guitarist for both bands is Paul Asbell, who also gave guitar lessons to Trey. Clearly two very important influences, so much so they both ended up in the liner notes for A Live One. Halvorson’s also is of note for hosting a weekly gig for Grace Potter before she became a national recording artist.

So the fact that the band only played Halvorson’s once is a curious stat but nonetheless, the venue still left its mark on the band. Different than the usual bars, Halvorson’s was always known as a more upscale bar and restaurant in town with a more laid-back vibe. Maybe that’s why they weren’t booked there often. As for the show, we only have part of a recording. Also, according to the notes, most of it may not be from this show. I do believe at least the “Lizards” and “Possum” were recorded at Halvorson’s. “Blue Bossa” appears to be from a later gig but would make sense to be played at this venue. The short “Sneakin’ Sally” would also fit as it keep tighter than other versions around this time. Worth a quick listen to bridge the gap but not noteworthy musically.

Shows #53,54, and 55: 6/19-21/88

Sunday, 06/19/1988
Nectar’s, Burlington, VT

Set 1: The Curtain With,  Funky Bitch,  Possum,  Golgi Apparatus,  La Grange,  Suzy Greenberg,  Big Leg Emma,  You Enjoy Myself[1]

Set 2: Good Times Bad Times,  Cities,  Alumni Blues >  Letter to Jimmy Page >  Alumni Blues,  Big Black Furry Creature from Mars,  Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,  Contact,  Run Like an Antelope

Set 3: I Know a Little >  Mike’s Song,  Corinna,  Rocky Top,  McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters

Encore: Jesus Just Left Chicago

[1] Vocal jam based on the word “down.”

Teases:
· When the Levee Breaks tease in You Enjoy Myself
· Theme from The Flintstones and London Bridge Is Falling Down teases in Big Black Furry Creature from Mars
· Iron Man tease

Hello and welcome back,

I have been on a bit of hiatus. My wife and I moved coast to almost coast from Boston, MA to Ellensburg, WA, which has pretty much turned my life upside down. Combine that with some very boring shows and it makes this a little difficult. But here I am ready to lay it down. The summer of 1988 appears to be an odd time for Phish. You can feel how important is to the band but they just haven’t had the right move yet. They haven’t had the burst of new material that will come in the next two years and also they haven’t moved past being Burlington’s best bar band. Out of 66 known shows with setlists, 62 of them came in the state of Vermont with 3 in New York and 1 in Massachusetts. The average amount of times each song has been played at this point is 7.68. Meaning that, I’ve heard each song about 8 times by now if not more since some are more in rotation than others.(Stats from ihoz.com)No wonder I have a bit of fatigue from hearing 1980s Phish. We must plow on however. 6/19 is forgettable. There are no necessary highlights here. It’s just an average night.

Monday, 06/20/1988
Nectar’s, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Slave to the Traffic Light,  Peaches en Regalia,  You Enjoy Myself,  Fluffhead[1], AC/DC Bag >  The Lizards

Set 2: Halley’s Comet ->  Wilson,  Ya Mar ->  Jam[2],  I Didn’t Know[3]

Set 3: Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley,  Tela,  Fee,  Golgi Apparatus,  Satin Doll[4] >  Take the ‘A’ Train >  Possum,  The Ballad of Curtis Loew,  David Bowie

[1] Lyrics changed to “sure got some Betty Davis eyes.”
[2] Jah Roy on vocals.
[3] Fish on trombone.
[4] First known Phish performance.

Teases:
· One Love, Three Little Birds, and Stir It Up quotes in Jam
· Theme from The Flintstones tease in Take the ‘A’ Train

6/20 is a little bit better. The first set is stacked with heavy hitters, Slave, YEM, and Fluffhead all in one set would make anyone crazy but even though the beginning is cut, the AC/DC Bag into The Lizards is excellent. Set 2 is for the reggae fans as we get another Jah Roy guest spot. It might have been a fun party at the time but musically and on tape it’s stale. Set 3 is very good though, especially the “Jazz” sequence. The band’s jazz standards are the most overlooked influence the band has. Everyone knows Pink Floyd, The Dead, Frank Zappa but their willingness to bring jazz to the table and play it well gies them a skill set many other bands lack. These early shows are fantastic for putting those chops on display and you can really hear how it makes the band much better. Try the “Take the A Train” here which is almost 8 minutes long and has a killer bass solo from Mike. The extended “Tela” also makes an appearance and the fugue in the middle which would be dropped is sublime. Really you should just check out all of Set 3.

Tuesday, 06/21/1988
Nectar’s, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Fluffhead,  Rocky Top,  Mustang Sally,  Suzy Greenberg >  The Curtain >  The Lizards, Fly Famous Mockingbird[1],  Fire

Set 2: AC/DC Bag,  Flat Fee,  Alumni Blues >  Letter to Jimmy Page >  Alumni Blues,  Jesus Just Left Chicago,  Good Times Bad Times,  Contact,  Peaches en Regalia,  Golgi Apparatus

Set 3: Harpua,  I Didn’t Know[2] >  Whipping Post

[1] Aborted and had to be restarted.
[2] False start, “Daubs” and “Seth” lyrics, Fish on trombone.

Teases:
· Dave’s Energy Guide tease in Fire

A few highlights here but for the most part, a standard show. My favorite segment was “The Curtain” going into “Lizards”. Exactly where the “With” segment would begin, it just hits all the right notes as it flows. “Mustang Sally” rips again in its unique Phish arrangement. Some people ripped Trey for flubbing “Fly Famous Mockingbird” at NYE last year but you can see it’s been going on for 25 years as he botches it well enough to have to start over. “Fire” also is played intensely and has an interesting “Dave’s Energy Guide” breakdown to close Set 1. “Flat Fee” makes a nice appearance here. A fan yells loudly for “Peaches” and Fish gives it to him, ripping to the drum intro and the band joins right in. A rare request granted. That’s about all of my highlights. Some might like the “Jesus Just Left Chicago” but I think it’s not a top version. Fans might also like the 25-minute “Whipping Post” but it really goes nowhere. It’s all tension and no release. It just fuels why anyone would want the band to cover Eat A Peach for Halloween. The band did it’s Allmans/Dead era here in the 1980s and clearly it’s time to move on.