Set 1: You Enjoy Myself, Lushington -> Possum, Slave to the Traffic Light, Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, Clod, Peaches en Regalia > The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu > The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, Makisupa Policeman, Ya Mar
Encore: Golgi Apparatus, Corinna, Letter to Jimmy Page
 No lyrics.
 First known performance.
 First known Phish performance.
 Keyword referenced dioxin and Gaddafi.
Low points in a tour or series of shows are always bound to happen with a band like Phish. For 10/20/13 in Hampton, there’s 10/22 in Rochester. For every peak, there must be a valley. This is a very early example of that. I mean it was a Monday night in Burlington and Dollar Drafts at What Ales You was not a thing yet I would think. Also, theo recording quality is NOT GOOD. Only listen to for historical purposes. Right from the get-go, we get a less than cohesive “You Enjoy Myself”. The band doesn’t sound as with it as they did on 4/29. There’s no sense of moving as unit. The vocal jam is screechy and harsh. My mom quipped “They sound like a bunch of cats!”. After that we get a brief glimpse of “The Chase” segment that would become part of the “Fluff’s Travels” suite before rolling into the chords of “Lushington”. No lyrics on this one however. The fumbling continues until we finally land into “Possum”, which they plod through nobly. “Slave to the Traffic Light” gets the show in the right direction, sounding a little better. “Sneakin’ Sally” comes next, an attempt to revive the vibe. It may have worked form a crowd perspective but on tape it does not work. “Clod” turns out to be the highlight of the set with some tight playing from the band at long last. After a long pause, “Peaches en Regalia” finally comes out and it’s a fine version. Following that is the debut of “The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday>Avenu Malkenu>TMWSIY”. This is important because it further signals that Gamehendge is coming. It’s still odd that this effectively background music is played as an instrumental during a set. It’s also interesting hearing a bar band bust out a funky Hebrew prayer mid-set. “Avenu Malkenu” translates into “Our Father, Our King”. Little is known about why Phish chose to do a version of the prayer but it’s a welcome moment. Trey lets the crowd know “That was called The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday and I’m going to get my head sharpened.” A standard “Makisupa” comes next. Introduced as going “from Jamaica directly to the Bahamas” and quick tease of ZZ Top’s “Tush”, the band lights into “Ya Mar”. It almost feels like an attempt to save face for a poor set by ending with a danceable favorite. Nothing too exciting here except to hear Page say “Be sure to top your bartenders and waitresses.” Hopefully, moving to the Ranch next will liven things up.
Set 1: Funky Bitch, Possum, Peaches en Regalia, Makisupa Policeman -> Fluffhead
Set 2: I Know a Little, Golgi Apparatus > Slave to the Traffic Light, Shaggy Dog > Light Up Or Leave Me Alone -> Camel Walk, Jam > Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Back Porch Boogie Blues, Icculus, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Good Times Bad Times -> Skin It Back -> Cities
Set 3: Mike’s Song -> The Little Drummer Boy > Whipping Post, She Caught the Katy and Left Me a Mule to Ride > AC/DC Bag, David Bowie -> Clod > David Bowie, You Enjoy Myself, Dog Log, Tush > Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, Prep School Hippie/
 First known Phish performance.
 Steve Drebber on vocals.
Ah, we’ve come so far in just 3 years. The final lineup is formed. Gamehendge is creeping its way into sets. Covers are become more unique and crafted for the band. The band has a dedicated sound man on their crew. To quote Penny Lane and the Band-Aids, “it’s all happening”. This final recording of 1986 brings us to the Ranch. The Ranch, also referred to as Mead Ranch or Mood Ranch, was a house inhabited by Eric Larsen, Kent Moore, and Wayne Stout. It was located (and still may be) on East Dorset Street out in the wilds of Shelburne. Most people hear Dorset Street in Burlington and think of the South Burlington shopping district but if you keep going, it becomes quite rural. This would set the tone as a house party is a different animal then a bar or university gig. The band could get weird and the folks in attendance would most likely go along. Also a great place to test some new tunes and in this show we get a lot of new covers, some of which the band would craft for many years.
Phish opens with a new cover, Son Seals’ “Funky Bitch”. While today this probably one of the most loved covers of the band, it’s an interesting choice because it’s the first straight ahead blues song that we’ve heard so far. On Seals also marks the eclectic musical leanings of Phish. Another band would go Muddy Waters or BB King but Phish picks out the obscure 70s blues man. I saw Son Seals play the Discover Jazz festival in Burlington on June 6, 2002. Full disclosure was I went in hopes of a Phish sit-in, but was pleasantly surprised to see authentic Chicago blues. Son Seals had serious chops. This version is not terribly notable other than it is first. The band fires up “Possum” but they’re not clicking too well early on which continues into a slow, static “Peaches en Regalia”. Mike again teases Rufus’ “Tell Me Something Good” going into “Makisupa”. “Makisupa” has a very half-baked reggae jam that goes nowhere fast. The mellowness continues as the band plays one of the slowest “Fluffheads” I’ve ever heard. I almost would think the tape was dubbed but they sound in the right key. It almost painful how slow it is. It’s a must listen if only to hear how weird it is.
Set 2 opens with another new cover, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “I Know A Little”. The tape quality certain picks up with clearer vocals. It’s a pretty smoking cover and one I’d like to hear then bring back. I also like how the song again reflects the jazz influences that are creeping in. It doesn’t differ much from Skynyrd’s version but it’s a delight to hear. Following up is “Golgi” and the band returns to a slower than normal tempo. This time however, they nail a standard version. “Slave” comes next and it’s well done. The peak is still not finished yet but it’s inching closer. It definitely has more of that feel as Trey lays back at the end instead of playing wildly.
We get another fun rendition of “Shaggy Dog” which segues into yet another new cover, Traffic’s “Light Up or Leave Me Alone”. “Light Up” is significant because we finally hear Page on vocals. He’s not quite the powerhouse he will come to be in Phish’s arsenal but it’s still interesting to hear such a Phish staple in it’s early form. It’s also the first good jam of the show. They take the song out for a walk and all members are on fire. Mike’s bass intertwines with Trey’s guitar and Page’s keys set the tone while Fish keeps it steady. It’s a great early jam. The jam however doesn’t stick the landing and we get a rough transition into “Camel Walk”. However, once in “Camel Walk”, it has a very nice little jam at the 3-minute mark that’s worth the time. After a brief pause, the recording goes into a jam in progress. The poor sound quality returns making it a little difficult to hear. The jam is quite nice. Trey mostly shows off but Page finds a really nice groove on the keys that Mike locks into for a very nice layer. For a band only 3 years in the making, it’s pretty impressive. Definitely worth the listen even if the quality’s not fantastic. The jam kicks into “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” but it’s not the usual version we’ve been hearing, the band actually plays a Allman Brothers “Ramblin’ Man” jam before hitting the main tune. It’s fun to hear. The southern rock vibes continues as “Back Porch Boogie Blues” gets another go round, the end of which is pretty smoking. “Icculus” gets cut off before the ending and is rather worthless here. Another new cover follows it up as we get to hear Phish do Led Zeppelin with “Good Times Bad Times”. It’s a great early version, if only to hear Trey go off, but it also has a very clean segue into “Skin It Back”, which in turn segues into the set-closing “Cities”.
“Mike’s Song” opens set 3 and it’s interesting because Mike plays with the phrasing of the verses, giving it a jerky, David Byrne but stranger feeling. The band also starts the song of really slow and picks up tempo as it goes along. It also as a nice jam which goes into “The Little Drummer Boy”. Well, I’ll give them it’s the holidays and they have a little drummer boy in the band technically. Not like other times as we’ll see in the future. The Allmans’ “Whipping Post” comes next and while very good, it’s not the most barn-burning edition. Another cover and another blues standard, busting out Taj Mahal’s “She Caught The Katy”. Prominently known for it’s opening the Blues Brothers movie, this is more of the blues standard I was talking about earlier as an alternative to “Funky Bitch”. It’s a respectable copy. “AC/DC Bag” follows and is fodder leading to a real highlight. “David Bowie>Clod>Bowie” is pure dynamite. It leads off with some cowbell and fun riffs from Trey before hitting the main groove. At about 1:05, Trey hits a cool speed jazz riff that’s unlike any other “Bowie” I’ve heard going into the UB40 verse. The seque into “Clod” feels little bit like Pink Floyd or Yes’ “Heart of the Sunrise” which is cool. It’s also interesting to hear music associated with “Fluffhead” sitting in the middle of “Bowie”. Apparently the end of this “Bowie” must be heard. The problem is that on PhishTracks.com and Phish.in only repeat the first part of “Bowie”. Luckily there’s a great new sounding transfer of this third set on Etree. So, I downloaded it and it’s pretty amazing. It does have the described Allmans vibe but to also, just sounds like really great Phish.
Trey noodles a bit with a song about a camera but how do you follow a smoking “Bowie”? With a tight “You Enjoy Myself” obviously. It’s a pretty legit follow up. “Dog Log” is next with its alternate title “Doggone Dog”. It’s a hot version and probably the best so far in the band’s career. I recommend a listen. Someone asks for Barry Manilow and Trey introduces the night’s final new cover as such. The joke being the song is actually ZZ Top’s “Tush”. It’s pretty faithful but cooking nonetheless. A funky “Sneakin’ Sally” follows and then “Prep School Hippie” closes the set. “Hippie” has a nice soaring jam in the middle and increases in tempo as it builds to the finish. Thus ends 1986 on record. Onto the bigger and better (and more work) of 1987!
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.