Show # 93: 4/15/1989 Billings Student Center The University of Vermont Burlington, VT

Saturday, 04/15/1989
Billings Lounge, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

Soundcheck: Time Loves a Hero

Set 1: Mike’s Song >  I Am Hydrogen >  Weekapaug Groove,  Esther >  You Enjoy Myself > Wilson,  Peaches en Regalia,  On Your Way Down >  Alumni Blues[1] >  Letter to Jimmy Page>  Alumni Blues,  I Didn’t Know[2],  McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters[3] >  Foam, David Bowie

Set 2: Funky Bitch,  Golgi Apparatus >  Slave to the Traffic Light,  The Mango Song,  Divided Sky,  Split Open and Melt[4],  Suzy Greenberg >  Fluffhead >  Good Times Bad Times

[1] Additional lyrics.
[2] Fish on trombone; with sound effects from an electronic drum machine.
[3] With sound effects from an electronic drum machine.
[4] With drum solo.

Billings Library (formerly Billings Student Center)
Billings Library (formerly Billings Student Center)

Unlike the gig at Johnson State, this surprisingly would not be the band’s last gig at the University of Vermont. There are a few more left to document. It’s more interesting that the band wasn’t playing a larger space at UVM yet. Back in the cozy confines of the Billings Student Center, the band turns in a fine performance all for the benefit of VPIRG, the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. Set 1 is excellent audio quality. It’s interesting that we have the soundcheck in tact, more than likely the student center was just open and people could come in during the soundcheck. “Time Loves a Hero” continued to get better and better and it’s interesting it wasn’t played again until 1998 when it would have been a great cover staple. The opening “Mike’s Groove” is very tasty with Mike finally not straining on his vocal on “Mike’s” and “Weekapaug” played at the regular faster pace. It sounds gorgeous. The band welcomes the crowd to the VPIRG benefit and then Trey informs that someone lost their birth control pills at Johnson State and then band brought them to the next gig. A hilarious banter moment. “Esther” gets a much needed redemption after the previous night’s closer and here we get a near-perfect version. “You Enjoy Myself” is quite nice with Trey bringing the jam to a blistering peak before the bass and drums section. The “Wilson->Peaches” blat-boom transition returns nicely. After “Peaches”, we get some very nice banter from Page, again reinforcing why probably Page delivers so much of the banter now. He advises people to buy some cider and lemonade in the back and then plug their upcoming Pearl Street gig on May 1st. He says that if they sell enough tickets, they’ll move from the basement space to the main hall. We’ll see soon if that happened! They play “On Your Way Down” but I really think “Times Loves a Hero” is the better Little Feat cover for the band. Page does a nice job though. The song’s just too heavy for my taste I guess. We get a lightning fast “Alumni>Letter>Alumni” triplet. “I Didn’t Know” has the really odd mixture of Fish playing trombone and a new electronic drum machine on the tune, adding weird sound effects to the acapella lines. I hope the drum machine is NOT a permanent fixture. Yikes. Fish does add some nice woodblock textures to the opening of “McGrupp”. “Foam” is interesting because Trey tries to segue directly in it and you hear him picking out the notes solo and it takes a good couple of rounds before the rest of the band catches up. I like it because it shows there’s more work to do on some of these tunes and room for improvement; taking risks. The “Foam” itself is starting move at its signature tempo and meshing nicely. We get part of “David Bowie” but nothing noteworthy.

Set 2’s tape is less clean than set 1. It’s very rough in places so proceed at your own risk. The set kicks off with a dirty “Funky Bitch” though, setting the tone. “Golgi” and “Slave” offer some varied playing by Trey but otherwise have nothing outstanding. After “Slave”, there’s a fun bit of banter with Trey saying they’l play their newest number next. Trey then says Page will use a new synthesizer on the song but the synthesizer is broken already on its first time out. Trey then says Fish will use his new woodblocks and advises Fish to play the song he just learned. This pans into a “Name That Tune” bit where Fish plays the “Charge” riff on them and an audience member wins a date with Fish. Trey also says there’s a special way to dance to the next song with only your hips and body, keeping your head still. Trey also says that Paul puts feedback pack in the monitors and takes it out to trick the band in thinking he’s a great soundman. The band then busts into “The Mango Song”, playing a much-more polished version and follows it up with a strong “Divided Sky”. Then, we get our first recorded “Split Open and Melt” and I’m excited for this only to be let down. The song is played a little slower than most fans are used to, probably because of its infant stage, the band is not up to speed on the intricacy of its dissonance. In the middle before the “Steam Dream” breakdown, there’s a long drum solo by Fishman at just feels wrong. The jam also isn’t much but Trey wailing on sustain. There’s potential but I don’t see it yet here. The show ends in typical 1989 fashion with “Suzy”, “Fluffhead”, and “Good Times Bad Times”. All fun show for the UVM kids overall. At the end of “Fluffhead”, Trey plugs a couple of gigs, the all-ages gig in Northampton again (but with the wrong date of 4/15), Johnny B. Fishman Jazz Ensemble with Russell Remington at Noonie’s Deli on Mondays, and the Rock Rumble at the Front this weekend! Will Phish win the Rock Rumble? Find out on future installments of the Phishsonian.

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Show #41: 2/26/88

UVM’s Living and Learning Center.

Friday, 02/26/1988
Living and Learning Center, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

Set 1: The Curtain > Suzy Greenberg, You Enjoy Myself, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu > The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > AC/DC Bag >Possum, Phase Dance, Good Times Bad Times

Set 2: Fluffhead, I Didn’t Know[1], Golgi Apparatus > The Lizards, David Bowie, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Fee > McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters > Dear Mrs. Reagan, Makisupa Policeman, Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues, Whipping Post

[1] Fishman on trombone.

In a previous post, I talked about the band having off-nights. When you’ve played 1,630 shows, they’re bound to occur in your history. This is yet another example of an off-night (or day since I’m unsure when this show was played). There’s nothing here you have to listen to. The only cool thing I thought was you can hear the crowd clapping during “I Didn’t Know” showing how embraced the band was by UVM. Also, we have the entire “The Curtain” without here. The recording however fades out of “The Lizards” missing the “If I Were a Dog” outro. We’re missing a lot of the 2nd set. Unsure if anything of note happened in those tracks but overall, a show most people can skip.

Show #21: 4/24/87

Billings Library (formerly Student Center)

http://www.phishtracks.com/shows/1987-04-24

 Friday, 04/24/1987
Billings Lounge, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Golgi Apparatus, AC/DC Bag -> Possum, Fluffhead, You Enjoy Myself -> Dave’s Energy Guide, Punch Me in the Eye[1] > Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues, I Am Hydrogen -> Who Do? We Do![1], David Bowie, Dear Mrs. Reagan > Slave to the Traffic Light

[1] First known performance.

This show celebrated the end of Earth Week at UVM as pointed out in the introduction at the beginning of the recording. Phish playing Earth Week had started to become almost tradition at this point. The building above is Billings Library, one of the signature buildings on UVM’s campus. It was the school’s original library until the construction of Bailey-Howe Library. Upon that, it became the student center until 2007 when the new Davis Center was completed. It will now house special collections. The show took place in the lounge, which makes up the round part shown above. I guess this makes this the first “Round Room” show.

The show opens with “Golgi Apparatus”. While late this song has been pushed aside, this sis a strong version. The key to this show is you can hear Phish moving towards their own sound and sound less and less like their influences. Trey asks Paul how it sounds but there’s no further banter. “AC/DC Bag” launches with it’s unique intro still in tact. I really dig Mike’s bass line at about 3:40 in. It has a neat little jam at the end that teases something but I can’t put my finger on it but it rolls so nicely into “Possum”, which also boogies hard. I’d consider this pairing a must-listen. A fun, tight “Fluffhead” follows but nothing extraordinary. “You Enjoy Myself” is not as well-played as 3/23/87 but it does have an interesting segue into “Dave’s Energy Guide”, with the ending vocals being repeated over the “DEG” pattern.

We then get the only ever performance of “Punch Me in the Eye”. Not to be confused with the popular “Punch You in the Eye”, it does have some similar lyrics but the music structure is completely different. Trey asks everybody to sing along with the falsetto vocals. The band giggles through, indicating the silliness of it all to start. However, the jam in the middle is quite intense and worth a listen. It’s a very interesting lost composed piece. Apparently, parts of it ended up in “Divided Sky” but I don’t hear the similarity. “Alumni>Jimmy Page>Alumni” comes up next. The only highlight being some “Possum” teases right before it goes into “Jimmy Page”. “I Am Hydrogen” comes back which is nice to give the crowd a little break. It’s also interesting because it segues into “Who Do? We Do!” “Who Do? We Do!” eventually becomes part of “Fluffhead” but in this setting it’s a gorgeous companion piece with some start/stop jamming. When the start/stop begins is when you’ll hear the part thats most recognizable. It’s typically played when Mike and Trey jump during “Fluffhead”. Trey introduces “David Bowie” next. This “Bowie”‘s a decent early Bowie. It didn’t blow my hair back but I was engaged. Snoozer “Dear Mrs. Reagan” comes out next. If I was at a show in the 80s, probably would have been my piss break song for real. The fans dig it though. The set closes with “Slave to the Traffic Light”. It’s pretty but still lacks the right peak. They’ll nail it one of these days. Next, one of my favorite early shows and probably the oldest show I had for a while until I discovered 12/1/84. You don’t want to miss this.

Show #18: 2/21/87

Slade Hall, 2007. Photo Credit: UVM.edu

http://www.phishtracks.com/shows/1987-02-21/

Saturday, 02/21/1987
Slade Hall, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Why Don’t You Love Me?[1]

Set 2: Fluffhead, Fire, Suzy Greenberg, Dear Mrs. Reagan, Camel Walk, Back Porch Boogie Blues, Blue Monk[1], Clod, Lushington, Peaches en Regalia, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,Boogie On Reggae Woman[1], Ya Mar[1], Corinna[1], Dog Log, Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues 

[1] First known Phish performance.

Trey once famously said “Put all your money on 17.” I wouldn’t necessarily throw it all at this show but it’s a fun night nonetheless. Set 1 has the note but was not recorded or lost So, the recording starts with a fair version of early “Fluffhead”. Next, we have “Fire”, which hasn’t been on record since 12/1/84. The cover has developed nicely with Fishman driving the band hard and fast through the tune, as if to say to Trey, “Keep up with this!” We then get “Suzy Greenberg” without the Dude and immediately the musicality of the song shines through. Trey even tries to make re lines more sing-songy and almost pushes a 60s vibe on it. At about 4 minutes in, there’s a very nice Page solo. The band follows that up with “Dear Mrs. Reagan”. It’s unclear why the band keeps playing it although it seems very popular with the crowd, who sings along loudly to the chorus.

“Camel Walk” follows but it’s a very interesting version. It starts off with some interesting percussion from Fishman and odd start/stop jamming from each member that slowly builds into the “Camel Walk” chords. Still not a regular “Camel” though. Trey whispers and half sings, half talks the lyrics and it moves at a super slow pace. Probably the slowest “Camel Walk” ever. “Back Porch Boogie Blues” goes the other way. The band starts at normal tempo, which is already pretty fast and just gets faster and faster until it ends in a crescendo of noise. It’s a must hear. We get a call back to 4/15/86 as Trey introduces “Three quarters of the Bob Dylan Band” and Page, Mike, and Jon jam on “Blue Monk”. It’s interesting that even this early on the inside jokes are happening. It’s still cool to hear them as a trio. A groovy, loose “Clod” follows. The rarity “Lushington” follows. The bouncy tune just keeps getting better. Don’t get too attached though because it’s end is perilously near. “Peaches en Regalia” comes up next and it starts with a good laugh. The band is ready to go. Fish nails the into and everything’s moving and then it grinds to a halt on Page’s opening chord. One of my favorite things is when Phish screws up, they usually do it all out and this is no exception. I’m picturing Page making the face Trey makes in the beginning of Bittersweet Motel when Page misses his cue during rehearsal and it’s cracking me up. The band gets it together and plays a rousing rendition.

“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” is a great breather for this show’s main event. Here we get three new cover debuts in Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie On Reggae Woman”, Cyril Ferguson’s “Ya Mar”, and Taj Mahal’s “Corinna”.  “Boogie On Reggae Woman” comes from Stevie Wonder’s 1974 Album of the Year Fulfillingness’ First Finale. While not as funktastic as later versions, this early version still has Mike playing the bouncing bass line with force and it’s enough to get anyone up and moving. Trey also does not try to imitate Stevie’s harmonic line with a solo in this version. The soloing is left to Page here. It’s good for a first time. Mike had come back from the Caribbean at some point in his childhood with a tape of the Mustangs doing Ferguson’s “Ya Mar” and much later decided it’d be a great cover for the band with it’s fun calypso feel. He was right and it remains a staple to this day. This first version is fairly straight forward and does not include that “Play It, Leo” line that Trey would life from the original recording to give Page his nickname and institute the Leo Trio of songs. “Corinna” comes from the same album “She Caught The Katy” was pulled from, The Natch’l Blues. Differing here is Trey sings the lead part instead of Mike. Of the three, Corinna would become the rarest. The song also features some early band harmonies, which is always interesting to hear as they hadn’t yet become the vocal powerhouse they would in time. Again, Page leads the solo, which seems odd as he’s the newest member but I think the band was still figuring out his place. It’s a beautiful moment, really showing the band’s ability to have an emotional pause in the craziness of their sets. During the pause, we get to hear Marley the dog bark, which is a cool addition. In honor of Marley, the band busts out “Dog Log” again and then closes the recording with the ever popular “Alumni Blues>Letter to Jimmy Page>Alumni”. Interesting to note, the crowd there to hear Phish seems louder on this recording and reflects their growing fan base at home. Still some chatter but more applause and audience interaction, which is super cool. From Mike’s school to home base at Goddard on tomorrow’s review.

Show #12: 4/15/86

The scene on April 15. Photo credit: Glide Magazine.

http://www.phishtracks.com/shows/1986-04-15

Tuesday, 04/15/1986
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[1] > Dog Log > Possum, You Enjoy Myself, Anarchy, Camel Walk -> Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues

[1] 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.

Show #5: 5/3/85

http://www.phishtracks.com/shows/1985-05-03

Friday, 05/03/1985
University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Slave to the Traffic Light, Mike’s Song > Dave’s Energy Guide, Big Leg Emma

Set 2: Alumni Blues, Wild Child, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, Jam -> Cities, Bring It On Home[1]

Set 3: Scarlet Begonias > Eyes of the World -> Whipping Post[2] -> McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters > Makisupa Policeman[3] > Run Like an Antelope -> The Other One[4]

Encore: Anarchy

[1] First known Phish performance; Bobby Brown on harmonica.
[2] Jeff on vocals.
[3] Reggae jam.
[4] First known Phish performance.

  
First off, the McGrupp quandary has been solved. The 3/4/85 version is most likely from 4/6/85 instead, the actual debut of the song. It’s interesting because the setlist definitely has the similar tune “Skippy the Wondermouse”, which was probably played but not recorded. That note is missing on 3/4/85’s setlist page but seen on 4/6/85’s page. So that solves that mystery…for now!

On to today’s show, which is yet another important milestone in Phishtory. This show took place on the Redstone campus as part of the Last Day celebrations. The only known recordings of this show feature two songs of the first set and the entire third set and encore of the show. From the first set, we get, not the first ever, but the first recording of “Mike’s Song”, introduced directly by Trey as such. “Mike’s Song” is a long time staple of the band but interesting to hear without many of its usual pairings. It also has an odd outro that has it’s own lyrics but are mostly inaudible on this recording before going into “Dave’s Energy Guide”. “DEG” is an instrumental that focuses on trying to sound like King Crimson and the picking style of Robert Fripp. It may not reach that heights but it’s certainly and interesting pattern and this is a VERY good clear example of the song. This would be key because while the song does not live on, it is a common tease in many shows even up to present day. “DEG” ends and then the band chats for a moment before the big news.

“We’re gonna do one. Then we’re gonna take a very short break and then come back. We’ve got a very special guest with us today. From Goddard College, we have Page on keyboards and it’s gonna be a treat, so. And then the recording cuts out but we have the introduction on tape! So, how did Page from Goddard arrive to play with Phish. Well, Page was faced with the task of booking bands for Goddard’s SpringFest earlier in April. He booked Phish and shared the bill with them in his own band named Love Goat. Clearly, Page liked Phish’s work and asked to join them. Trey still felt Phish was a two-guitar band at the time but allowed Page to sit-in at this show. The difference is immediate from the start as we drop into “Scarlet Begonias”. Now, everyone wants to hear Phish cover the Dead these days. Having heard Phish cover “Scarlet” a bunch now and this being the final time, I really hope they don’t. I love both bands but Phish’s originals sound so much better. Anyway, in this version, Page’s keys really round out the version and add a layer of depth missing earlier. He’s a much more complimentary player to Trey than Jeff. The band has also been working on segues and the segue into “Eyes of the World” is perfect. It’s very ambient but it drops in nicely. It would not feel out of place at a show today in fact. This “Eyes” is definitely the best by the band in the 3 versions. They feel more relaxed and hitting the song’s groove better. It shows a maturity for the material not seen until this point. While I am glad they began to move on from Dead covers, a few more versions would have been interesting to see. The last 4 minutes are particularly interesting as they leave the structure of “Eyes” for a moment and jam. Mike fires up the bass line to Allmans’ “Whipping Post” and it’s off to the races. The jam actually backs off the intensity and goes out there. It’s gets very spacey which is an interesting choice. Some hot keys from Page hit the fills between Jeff’s driving rhythm guitar. Trey then uses his effects to throw huge waves of chords over the top, giving it the aforementioned feeling. It’s an interesting peak into the future of Phish jams. “Whipping Post” segues into “McGrupp” but is cut off.

The band then goes into “Makisupa Policeman”. It’s an interesting version in that it features the same lyrics as the last version to begin, something modern “Makisupas” do not do. Page also features on this with some great organ fills. The song then becomes a vehicle to introduce the band, which was a very cool idea. It then takes a serious turn with lyrics, “All you have to do to free the nation is free weed, free the rastaman, free reggae music! And the nations will be free.” It’s a fun jam that makes a silly song serious for a moment. The tape then goes to the first recorded performance of “Run Like An Antelope”. Now, this is only the jam section but it’s an early look at the bliss that the song would become. Page adds complimentary Rhodes parts underneath Trey’s solo. The tension and release that would become the band’s signature, really has its recorded origins in this delightful 6 minute romp. The band then closes the set with a ripping rendition of the Dead’s “The Other One”. One of my favorite tracks from the revolutionary 1967 album Anthem of the Sun, this rendition finds the band hitting in full stride. Around 7:40, Mike hits the bass line to “My Soul” and fits it nicely with Trey’s solo. The band then destroys all the beauty of the day in typical Phish fashion by encoring with the short thrash number “Anarchy” and Trey saying “See you next year!” Way to go guys.

Coming up, Fall 1985! Back from Europe with ideas! Hope you’ll join me again and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for all your Phishy updates @harryphood!

Show #2: 11/3/84

http://www.phishtracks.com/shows/1984-11-03/

Saturday, 11/03/1984
Slade Hall, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

Set 1: In the Midnight Hour, Wild Child[1], Jam -> Bertha[1], St. Stephen Jam, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking[1], Camel Walk[2], Eyes of the World[1] -> Whipping Post[3] ->Drums[4]

[1] First known Phish performance.
[2] First known performance.
[3] First known Phish performance; Jeff on vocals.
[4] Marc Daubert on percussion.

Teases:
· St. Stephen tease in Can’t You Hear Me Knocking

After a long hiatus, due to Trey’s suspension during the Spring 1984 semester, the band returned to gigs that fall. Missing from being recorded is a show on October 23rd at a house party at 69 Grant Street, which was the first show billed as Phish and had the debut of the Anastasio/Marshall original “Makisupa Policeman”. The time off would provide fruitful as Mike and Jon would work on their rhythm section chemistry in a band called Dangerous Grapes. Dangerous Grapes, with a large repertoire of Dead and Allman Brothers covers, quickly gained a following. When Trey came back, both Mike and Fish had to make a decision to soldier on with the Grapes or go in the new direction of Phish. Luckily for us, they both decided to rejoin with Trey. Mike Gordon: “I had a choice whether to play with Phish, or with the people from the Dangerous Grapes. I felt like I was clicking better with the Dangerous Grapes people, but it seemed like, in terms of being experimental and thinking of the future, that the Phish people were like that.”

Trey had also found new collaborators during the break. Going back to his home state of New Jersey, he took classes at Mercer County Community College and rekindled an old friend with Tom Marshall. This friendship would soon be the bedrock of Phish’s music as many of the band’s biggest compositions are Anastasio/Marshall songs. Trey also was jamming with Marc Daubert, another childhood friend and percussionist. Daubert would also make the trek to Burlington that fall and being playing gigs with the band. Daubert’s lasting impression would be a songwriting credit on “I Am Hydrogen” and “The Curtain”.

Getting into 11/3/84 from Slade Hall at UVM, the quality is not that great. It gets better as the show progresses but still it’s pretty rough. The whole time I’m listening to it, I’m thinking about Dick’s Picks Volume 22. Every Dick’s Picks had a warning from Dick Latvala warning the listener about imperfections. But with Volume 22, Dick really wanted you to know about it, writing “Warning: This is not an audiophile recording! Many of you may have read the numerous Dick’s Picks Caveat Emptors over the years and thought “Oh yeah… sure… whatever.” Well, this old analog recording source exhibits many audio flaws including high distortion, low vocals, tape hiss, and missing pieces. No fair calling Customer Support and complaining! However, let it be known that this CD also includes some pretty damn exciting and historical music, and for that reason is brought to you with pride.” And because of the rough quality, it’s something that stuck with my mind. This is one of those Phish shows you listen to for its historical quality not the clarity.

The version on Phish.in does not include the interesting “Ignition Sequence” as a rocket launch announces the band ripping into Wilson Pickett’s “In The Midnight Hour”. It’s an interesting choice and speaks to the band’s humor from an early point in their career. It also reminded me of the introduction to “Hey Sandy” by Polaris from the TV show The Adventures of Pete & Pete. “Midnight Hour” is a fairly standard version of the song with Jeff on lead vocals. The song does go into a pretty good “double time” jam but doesn’t break out. But this early in the band’s career, who would expect that? You can hear Trey call out “Wild Child”, while clock chimes ring out for some reason. A cover from Lou Reed’s first solo album, the song is interesting because it shows how Lou’s influence on Phish was from way before 10/31/98 and the song fits the band’s then-incarnation well.  The song is well-played and tight.

From this, we get the band’s first “Jam”. A nice minor key jam that sounds based on Dire Straits, the band finally gets to stretch out. Trey gets some good leads over Jeff’s rhythm and Mike gets loose on the low end for a very nice boogie. The segue into the Dead’s “Bertha” is heavenly and again showcases what might have been if Phish had not been a success. It also shows why Trey wanted to play it so badly with Furthur at Lock’n last year I believe. The setlist says St. Stephen but both recordings have no trace of St. Stephen in any part of the Bertha Jam. After an odd “knocking” interlude, Trey launches into an odd intro riff to the Rolling Stones’ “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”. As if he knows the song but doesn’t want to play just the original intro. It’s more off a vamp on the chords. The song may have only been partly practiced. I’d love to know the reason for the modified intro. Probably something we’ll never know. During the “Knocking” jam before the breakdown, there is a short “St. Stephen tease” at that point. The “Knocking” breakdown does get quit funky though. Probably would have been a great dance party. An unfortunate tape splice drops us into the ending first known “Camel Walk”, the first performance of a Phish original! A big deal for a local band to have some of their own tunes.

During the break banter, someone asks for “Makisupa Policeman” as it was not to be. The Dead covers continue as the band launches into “Eyes of the World”. We finally hear the band stretch their legs as the version is about 18 minutes along. Beautiful leads over Fish’s driving drums and Mike’s punching bass liens with Jeff’s tight rhythm punches accentuates this version. The beat drops and the recording goes into the last track, a cover of the Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post.” The pace quickens and the guitar leads is fast and fierce. Fishman pounds an almost tribal beat of the rising madness of the track. Mike stays right along with the guitars as they hammer out the tune. Jeff and Trey hit with a furious twin guitar attack through the entire tune. If this was left unlabeled, one might even think it was an unearthed bootleg from 1974. Unfortunately the recording quality buries a lot of Fish’s drums and Jeff’s vocals but this fiery Whipping Post gives a glimpse into the rise in the Burlington scene the band will soon experience.