Show #75: 10/29/88

The interior of the Sculpture Room at Goddard College. (Credit: Fleming Museum at UVM)
The interior of the Sculpture Room at Goddard College. (Credit: Fleming Museum at UVM)

Saturday, 10/29/1988
Sculpture Room, Goddard College, Plainfield, VT

Set 1: Suzy Greenberg >  The Lizards,  Time Loves a Hero[1],  Golgi Apparatus,  Bold As Love,  La Grange,  Contact,  Costume Contest ->  Harry Hood

Set 2: Halley’s Comet[2] ->  Whipping Post,  Fee >  Alumni Blues >  Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues,  Walk Away >  Divided Sky,  The Ballad of Curtis Loew[3],  Mike’s Song,  Take the ‘A’ Train >  Fire

Set 3: Fluffhead >  AC/DC Bag,  Foam[4],  Terrapin[5],  Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, Timber (Jerry)[6],  Slave to the Traffic Light[6],  Donna Lee[7],  Run Like an Antelope[6],  I Didn’t Know[8],  Wilson[9],  Peaches en Regalia[6],  Funky Bitch[6]

[1] First known Phish performance.
[2] Richard Wright on vocals.
[3] Bobby Brown on harmonica.
[4] First known performance.
[5] Fish on trombone.
[6] Russ Remington on saxophone.
[7] Russ Remington on saxophone. First known Phish performance.
[8] Russ Remington on saxophone, Fish on trombone.
[9] Russ Remington on saxophone. Unfinished.

Even if you’re making leaps and bounds in your professional career, you’ll probably always have a soft spot for home. So, with this newly gained experience, Phish still came home to Goddard College for their Halloween bash entitled “Resurrection of the Sculpture Room”. The band, clearly excited to play a relaxed gig, perhaps got a little too relaxed for this show. The band’s sounds just a little bit slower and just a hair out of sync. I don’t find it to be that amazing a show (at least compared to 9/24/88) but there are some fun highlights to be found within. We get the first version of Little Feat’s “Time Loves a Hero”. Again it’s little slower than I’m used to and I would find a bigger connection with the song much later in the band’s career but always a treat to hear it. “Bold as Love” continues to be well played but Trey layers on this very odd sliding effect towards the end that just grates on me by the end. “Contact” is played very slowly in order to get as much audience participation as possible it seems. This leads to a very fun moment with a loud crowd singing the song’s chorus. Following “Contact” is the costume contest where “Colonel Forbin” and “Tela” both win dates with Fishman and “Harry Hood” is the contest winner, prompting the band to play the song. No such luck for “Makisupa Policeman” or “The Tire”. “The Serial Friends of Jesus” are disqualified before the contest even begins. “Hood” is another strong version.

Set 2 brings out the first guest of the evening, Richard Wright sings the vocals to his original tune “Halley’s Comet”. “Divided Sky” gets its second run-through but first for the “home” crowd”. It’s not as tight as the first but still is received warmly. “Curtis Lowe” has Bobby Brown on harmonica again and is a nice moment. But Set 2 closes horrible. “Mike’s Song” is WAY OFF and out of sync. The band had no right playing hat tune right then and then they fallout up with a mellow “A Train” that isn’t exciting at all. They then close with a version of “Fire” that sounds straight out of 1986 and not in a good way. It’s just Trey wanking at its worst, no thought to his notes and just a lot of them over the rest of the band. It’s almost like they took two steps back on that song.

Set 3 is know for a few things. It has the debut of “Foam”, formerly known as “Marijuana Hot Chocolate” from 4/22/88. The complex tune was once considered the band’s biggest work as the interlocking lines are difficult to maintain. They pull it off here albeit a little slower than the tune would come to be known for. Impressive for a band only celebrating their 5 year anniversary. Fish comes onto ask what Syd Barrett song he’d like the crowd to hear. They go nuts for “Terrapin” over “Love You and “Bike”. After the enthusiasm for “Terrapin”, Page jokingly plays the riff from the Grateful Dead’s “Terrapin Station” instead and Fish sings the guitar part along before dismissing the notion. It’s a funny moment when you consider Phish would actually play “Terrapin Station” nearly 10 years later. During “Terrapin”, Fish sticks with the trombone as he also does on “I Didn’t Know”. Why no vacuum tonight is a curious thing. The end of the set features saxophone player Russell Remington. This is interesting because it’s the second appearance with horns the band had this year so far. I don’t know how Russell hooked up with the band, none of that is documented anywhere but Remington would be an important figure as a solid member of the Giant Country Horns, which we’ll learn more about in 1991 and a member of Trey Anastasio’s solo band starting in 2001. The addition of horns here is a little hard to discern as Remington did not seem to be mic’d up and so we only get the pickups from the other microphones. We do get the premiere of the Charlie Parker classic “Donna Lee”, a tune that would become a seminal part of Phish’s repertoire. The rest is well-played but not noteworthy. Of note though, the GCH tour would feature horn charts, while these parts all purely improvisation, giving a different feel. Wow, 75 shows down, far too many to go. Onward to Boston…

Show #32: 10/31/1987

Saturday, 10/31/1987
Sculpture Room, Goddard College, Plainfield, VT

Set 1: Jam -> Whipping Post[1], Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley -> Back Porch Boogie Blues > Halley’s Comet > Light Up Or Leave Me Alone, Love You[2], AC/DC Bag, Possum,You Enjoy Myself > Big Black Furry Creature from Mars

Set 2: The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu > The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Peaches en Regalia, Take the ‘A’ Train > Timber (Jerry), The Chase > I Am Hydrogen > Who Do? We Do!, Fee > Divided Sky > McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters > Who Do? We Do! > Clod, Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues > Fluffhead, David Bowie

[1] “Slice my nipple” lyric.
[2] First known Phish performance.

Another year, another Halloween at Goddard. Once again, this show is a split bill with the Joneses. It was billed as the fanciful title “Your Local Underground Movement presents Sir Phillip S. Dark’s Supernatural Circus, featuring: the Joneses and Phish” and it would get a little supernatural for Phish in the second set. I’d like to think that somewhere in the multi-verse, there’s an alternate reality where the Joneses became the biggest band out of Burlington and Phish went nowhere. That’d be an interesting thought. Alas, it was not meant to be though they really seemed to enjoy playing with each other. This is evidently shown in the opening jam which features Most of Phish and half of the Joneses. Apparently Fishman and John Carlin of the Joneses were missing during this part of the show. The jam plays a lot off the “Low Rider” by War chord changes but is fun to hear such a huge force just having fun. The jam goes into “Whipping Post”. If you want to hear Trey play some scalding, soaring lead, this is your jam. He’s furious, almost angry while playing it. It sounds gorgeous. Introducing “the band” as “half of Phish and half of the Joneses”, Trey says Mr. Mike Gordon is on keys, Moses DeWitt on bass, Moses Heaps on drums, and Moses Brown on sound, a fun nod to the evening.

It is unclear if the next three songs also have the mixed lineup but I would think so given what happens later. “Sneakin’ Sally” is a great version with a fun vocal jam, which Mike cuts short by firing up the bass line to “Back Porch Boogie Blues”. “Back Porch” is standard and Mike again controls the show by launching into his vocal part of “Halley’s Comet”. “Halley’s” again features Nancy on vocals but also has Trey singing the falsetto part instead of Fish, who is till missing at this point. It’s interesting to hear for something else but not earth shattering. A nice tear through “Light Up or Leave Me Alone” leads to the main event which is heralded by cheering. Fishman finally appears, apparently shaved head to toe and covered in paint. On his head is a bra turned inside out to make “elephant ears” and his penis painted gray to match. He sings Syd Barrett’s “Love You” after his entrance. Fish must have been getting into Syd a lot in these few months as it’s the second debut of the fall. Fishman’s beginning to relish being the funny one at this point.

Laughs aside it’s back to business as usual as we get a cool “AC/DC Bag>Possum”. It almost feels like it’s going to segue but does not. The end of “Bag” though has a cool Page-led jam that feels like if it were 10 years later, would segue into an “Odd Couple Jam”. More on that in a few years. “Possum” has a quickened pace but other than that is standard. “You Enjoy Myself” is tight. Mike kicks off Page’s jam with a Parliament “Flashlight” bass line tease which is cool. No drum and bass but a wild reverb fueled vocal jam that goes into “Big Black Furry Creature from Mars”, which again is moving away from the original punk rock sound and more metal ending set 1.

“TMWSIY>Malkenu>TMWSIY” opens set 2. “Malkenu” has an interesting bass solo in the middle that’s cool to hear. Trey’s humor comes out again when he says “This one’s by request. We wrote this one back in the 20s.” The band rips into “Take The A Train”. It’s a great take with another great bass solo from Mike. Mike really was hitting a groove this evening. Keeping with the old school vibe, the band goes into “Timber (Jerry)”. This “Timber” goes out there. At about the 2 minute mark, the groove breaks down and the band gets very exploratory lead by Trey’s wandering lead. It’s not just Trey though, all 4 members are working on their own but together to create a psychedelic vibe. It almost has an Anthem of the Sun-era Grateful Dead vibe. Simply incredible. The real meat of set 2 follows though as the different parts of “Fluff’s Travels”, still not united, intertwine the middle of the set almost in the order they eventually will lock into place. “The Chase” kicks things off, fast and furious before ripchording into “I am Hydrogen”. This “Hydrogen” has a jazzy cymbal part by Fish that doesn’t quite fit but I can sense his wanting to keep the tempo from “The Chase” going as the transition was hard. “Hydrogen” also dumps into “Who Do? We Do!”, the section that eventually would follow “The Chase”. You can hear the same cymbal line meaning that potentially the band had practiced this but not yet but it in action yet. Now, granted this “Who Do? We Do!” is a little jazzier than the finished product but the basic idea is there, with the familiar chord progression. “Fee” follows the jazz feeling of this 2nd set, still no megaphone in sight but solid. “Divided Sky>McGrupp>Clod” is a nice one-two-three combo late in the set. The segue from McGrupp into Clod is solid and caps off the “Fluff’s Travels through Gamehendge” section.  A nice standard “Alumni>Letter>Alumni” follows and then we get actual “Fluffhead”, which is played well. A standard “Bowie” closes. Two shows left in 1987 and they will be combined into one review. A typical midweek at Hunt’s coming next.