Show #85: 2/24/89 The Front Burlington, VT

Friday, 02/24/1989
The Front, Burlington, VT

Set 1: The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday >  Avenu Malkenu >  The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday,  The Curtain >  Foam,  Colonel Forbin’s Ascent >  Fly Famous Mockingbird > Run Like an Antelope >  Golgi Apparatus,  Possum

Set 2: On Your Way Down >  AC/DC Bag,  You Enjoy Myself ->  Camel Walk

Teases:
· Jean Pierre tease in You Enjoy Myself

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).

Are you starting to see the pattern of the Front being a home base for the band during their early touring years? They still had that weekly gig, 3 nights a week to ground the band as their world got crazier and crazier. This is the second of three nights, the other two do not have recordings, and what we get is just good solid Phish. The problem here is the quality of the recording. This is most likely a later generation tape and that’s why the dubbing is incorrect. Because of the poor dubbing, we get everything a half step higher then it originally was played. Historically, it’s great we have anything at all but it’s a little hard to judge the playing because everything’s sped up. Did Phish really have crazy chops like that earlier on? Most likely yes and we can tell from other tapes but here’s other factors that we’ll see in following Phish’s history that are impacted by the quality of tapes we have access to. One of the benefits of early Phish is tapers had access to patch directly in to the soundboard. That means they could take their rig and plug it in for a direct recording of the soundboard. Starting in the early 90s, we’ll see a transition as many of the shows reviewed will become audience recordings as Phish cut off access to the soundboard. For more on the history of tape trading, check out this article by David Steinberg aka zzyzx.

It’s also important to note that some of the recordings on PhishTracks or Phish.in are probably 3rd or 4th generation tapes. I’m still grateful for what we have though. There’s no way an undertaking like this could have been done until at least the mid-2000s and even then it would have been difficult due to space constraints. Everything, even the bad shows, would have had to been downloaded to a hard drive. Those hard drives still exist but streaming the show makes it easy to listen anywhere and that is a timesaver. As for the show itself, it’s a solid night. Excellent to see “The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday” back on a recording. The highlight is the “YEM->Camel Walk”. The “YEM” is the first time you really hear Phish’s signature tension and release jamming as the jam builds and builds until it hits that right moment to come down and then they effortlessly transition into “Camel Walk”. It’s really a great early highlight despite being presented a half-step up.

P.S. Happy 6th Anniversary 3.0! I’m so glad I’m writing about living history instead of just history! Thanks Phish!

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Show #60: 7/23/88

Saturday, 07/23/1988
Pete’s Phabulous Phish Phest, Underhill, VT

Set 1: Jam,  Colonel Forbin’s Ascent[1] >  Fly Famous Mockingbird[1],  Mike’s Song[1] >  I Am Hydrogen[1] >  Weekapaug Groove[2],  The Lizards[1],  On Your Way Down[1],  AC/DC Bag[1] >  Possum[1],  Walk Away[3],  Bold As Love[1],  No Dogs Allowed[4],  The Sloth,  Fire[5]

Set 2: The Curtain With[1] ->  Dave’s Energy Guide[1] ->  The Curtain With[1], Wilson[1],  Terrapin[6],  Run Like an Antelope[1],  Satin Doll[7],  Blue Bossa[8],  La Grange, Alumni Blues[1] >  Letter to Jimmy Page[1] >  Alumni Blues[1],  Peaches en Regalia

Set 3: You Enjoy Myself[1],  Contact[1],  Harry Hood,  Dinner and a Movie,  Slave to the Traffic Light[9],  The Ballad of Curtis Loew,  Good Times Bad Times

[1] Unknown additional percussionist.
[2] First known performance; Unknown additional percussionist.
[3] First known Phish performance; Unknown additional percussionist.
[4] First known performance.
[5] Peter Danforth and Dave Grippo on horns.; lyric changed to “Move over, Rover, and let Cameron take over.”
[6] Fish trombone solo.
[7] Peter Danforth and Dave Grippo on horns.
[8] Peter Danforth and Dave Grippo on horns, “Vincent” on trumpet.
[9] Peter Danforth on saxophone.

Teases:
· Fly Famous Mockingbird tease in The Lizards
· Peaches en Regalia tease

What a great show we have for #60. Pete’s Phabulous Phish Phest. So many firsts and great playing. Coming off the killer 7/12/88 show, you could tell that the laidback vibe of a friend’s house would just add fuel to the fire and everyone was in for treat. This show as played in the small town of Underhill, which is located midway between the backside of Mt. Mansfield and Essex Junction. So close to Burlington but far enough away. The show kicks off with a soundcheck jam, most likely due to soundcheck being played in front of attendees. The soundcheck jam is great 1988 Phish and sounds like it could have come out of a Possum or AC/DC Bag. They then go into a narration-less “Forbin’s>Mockingbird” that’s very tight for the lead-off spot. A little slow on the “Forbin’s” but still amazing. Then we get to a real first highlight: the birth of the “Mike’s>Hydrogen>Weekpaug” sandwich. We had heard Hydrogen a few times in 1987 after once in ’85 and ’86. It seemed like it just need to find its place after getting paired with “Fluff’s Travels” excess. Clearly, this is it. It’s almost as if the band had worked on this pairing for a LONG time before this magnificent debut. Hearing the first version, it’s like drinking your favorite beer the first time. You had no idea it was there but once you get a taste, you’ll never be without it again. It all just works. The “Mike’s” here is hard driving with gorgeous bass lines from Mike and when it hits the ending notes and segues into “Hydrogren,” it’s effortless and provides the perfect breather before the moment that is the first “Weekapaug”. Now at some point prior to this gig (Trey pinpoints it as some time in 1987), the band had to have been cruising through Rhode Island. We don’t have any shows there on record but in many interviews, the band recalls writing the lyrics on a road trip in Rhode Island with “December 1963 (Oh What A Night)” by The Four Seasons on the radio and riffing on that. The music apparently came later at a 11-hour jam session at Trey’s cabin in Plainfield by Goddard. It’s a bit slower than you’re used to here and Mike’s signature bass riff hasn’t quite formed yet but still it’s a super funky 6-and-a-half minutes and totally worth a listen if only to see where the funk began. So you have the first ever “Mike’s Groove” and we’ll get used to it as they are about to play it A LOT. Heck, they even play it the next two shows in a row but we’re not there yet. After a nice “Lizards” that unfortunately gets cut off, we have the first recorded “On Your Way Down”. An Allen Toussaint song by way of Little Feat, it’s nice showpiece for Page to get down and dirty with his voice, much more so than “Jesus Just Left Chicago”. It’s pretty much the same as the band does it now. It’s still a rarity but made its last appearance at the Gorge in 2011. “AC/DC Bag” gets it’s funky intro back, which I think the band should restore. It segues into its partner du jour “Possum” and it’s a fun danceable 1-2 punch still. Missing some banter according to Phish.com (in fact a lot of this recording is missing important banter, we get a new cover in the James Gang’s “Walk Away”, another Page song. Really it’s amazing how many of the covers are sung by Page. Clearly he was meant to be in the band. This is emphasized by the fact that “Bold as Love” follows with Trey nailing the tone of Hendrix once again. Someone shouts a request and Trey says that it’s one of his favorites and dedicates the song to Marley. it turns out to be “No Dogs Allowed” from the musical Gus The Christmas Dog, written by Trey and his mom. While this is the first known performance, I would think with how polished it sounds and that it’s a fan request, the song thad probably been performed by Phish before. Either way it’s a delight with excellent group vocals and very fun lyrics, much in the vain of “Contact”. I really would love a bustout sometime of this tune. It also has fun jazz bridge of course. The meat of “No Dogs Allowed” though is the outro, which would later be merged with “The Divided Sky” to form the piece we known today by that name. This version has a few more notes, less of the long sustains that would become a signature. The band sounds really dialed in here though and it’s a fantastic version, a must-listen. We get a nice tight “Sloth” to follow and the set closes with the first appearance of horns on Hendrix’s “Fire”, which also features Cameron McKinney on vocals.

Set 2 opens with “The Curtain With”. Unfortunately, we’re missing the banter that the ban announces their upcoming Colorado tour. I have a feeling this energy is what fueled the upswing from the Nectar’s run to Sam’s Tavern and this show. Knowing you have gigs in another part of the country will excite any band. This version wouldn’t be too noteworthy except it’s very tight until the jam which takes the “With” portion for a very nice walk. Then at about the 12:30 mark, Mike’s leads the band towards “Dave’s Energy Guide” and they all bite getting on the same groove to take it full and build up into it for about 8 minutes until they wind down back into the “With”. It’s a very early look at the band moving as whole, which is glorious for only 5 years into the band’s career. “Wilson” still has the original arrangement and doesn’t move closer to the tune we known now. Fish gets the spotlight on “Terrapin” and shows he’s making strides to being a performer with clearer pronunciation and confidence. It also is the first time “the dress” is mentioned as Trey asks Fish to show it off. Pictures make it unclear if this was the premiere of the dress but maybe. We also don’t know if it’s the donut dress or another dress but still having it’s very much another huge “first” for this show. “Antelope” makes a glorious return after the brief “Cantaloupe” appearance last show. Nothing outstanding but well-played. We get a nice jazz break with horns on the pairing of “Satin Doll” and “Blue Bossa”. Of note, most believe this is the first appearance of Dave “The Truth” Grippo, who would later be an important member of the Giant County Horns and played in the Sneakers Jazz Band, noted in the last blog post. IT’s always interesting to hear Phish with horns and this early version is a real treat. Phish gets back to rock with a fun “La Grange” and “Alumni>Letter>Alumni”. Set 2 here closes with “Peaches en Regalia” but Phish.com says this is not from this show and sounds like it may have been tacked on as filler.

Set 3 opens with “You Enjoy Myself”. It doesn’t seem like much but it really feels like the birth of the modern “YEM”. After the stepping stone of the “YEM” vocal jam becoming a jam and not just a screaming match, at Sam’s Tavern, this, running at about 20 minutes, hits the movements like any good “YEM” should. It’s well played and shows a glimpse at the band’s future of being such a finely tuned machine. A nice funky “Contact” follows giving way to “Harry Hood”. This “Hood” is great with a very nice buildup and fine interworking play from all 4 musicians. “Dinner and a Movie” returns and continues to get tighter. The final highlight of the night is “Slave to the Traffic Light”. Building off the success of the last version, Phish again takes it all the way down and builds. The band brings it all the way down almost ending the song and Trey and Mike also play off each other in the breakdown. It’s not as immaculate but they have Peter Danforth join on saxophone and it gives the tune a feel like Branford Marsalis on the Grateful Dead’s “Eyes of the World” from Without a Net. It’s a very unique treat and again the song continues to make strides as a heavy hitter in the Phish arsenal. The band ties things up much like a regular show. They cool it down with “The Ballad of Curtis Lowe” but then send them home on fire with “Good Times Bad Times”. Mike then thanks Peter for having his party. We thank Pete for the party as well so we could have this awesome night as Phish brought the house down and unveiled a lot of surprises. This was also the longest Phish show at 4 hours and 7 minutes until Big Cypress I believe. Really a historic night for Phish, I’d love for Kevin Shapiro to release the master tapes so we could get all the banter and an ideal copy of this show. Phish.com lists them as existing at least. This really is must-listen Phish up there with the Colorado ’88, which looms on the horizon…

No posts this weekend because it’s my birthday! Big week coming up though. I’ll see you back here on Monday. Thanks for reading!

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 #20: 3/23/87

Nectar’s at Night. Photo credit: Ken Burris. (Ken, let me know and I’ll take it down but it was too pretty to not use!)

http://www.phishtracks.com/shows/1987-03-23

Monday, 03/23/1987
Nectar’s, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Funky Bitch, Mike’s Song > Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues,You Enjoy Myself > Sparks[1]

Set 2: Fluffhead, Peaches en Regalia, Ride Captain Ride[1] -> Dave’s Energy Guide,Corinna, Why Don’t You Love Me? > Camel Walk, Golgi Apparatus, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

[1] First known Phish performance.

Finally back on back on Main Street in downtown Burlington, at least as far as the recorded tape goes. The band had, of course, been paying bar gigs the whole time but less of these from the early years survived. We do know that the band had been moved the lounge upstairs to the restaurant downstairs at this point in the band’s history. Most likely, to allow for the growing crowds that began to attend the shows. The show opens with a tight “Funky Bitch”, a good call to get the blood flowing. Trey dedicates the next song to The Residents, an experimental music group from San Francisco, whose trademark “Eyeball with Top Hat” logo t-shirt would be a wardrobe staple for Trey. The song dedicated turns out to be “Mike’s Song”. It’s a solid version which rolls into this show’s first highlight. “Alumni>Jimmy Page>Alumni” had been getting a little stale show after show but the version here is where the band finds a solid groove. There’s a nice blues jam between verses in the first half, “Jimmy Page” is tight”, and the ending jam is sublime. Quality early Phish. The energy continues as Phish rips into “You Enjoy Myself”. You can tell Trey really has been practicing this part intensely hitting the arpeggios with a fierce accuracy as Page dances around on keys. The “Boy Man God Shit” part also has very nice groove to i. The band just feels more rehearsed than before and it shows in the quality of this “YEM”. We even finally get the bass and drums jam! It’s short but closer to reaching the classic “YEM”. We don’t get a true vocal jam but we get Trey singing the children’s tune “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt” over the bass line, which sounds like if James Brown had hosted a children’s program in the 80s. Has to be heard to be believed. “YEM” dissolves and we get the night’s first new cover to close set one. The band rolls into “Sparks” from The Who’s Tommy. It’s short but shows the band’s ability to pick up many styles. We’ll see “Sparks” come out a few more times over the years including during a could of very important shows. The Who’s influence on the band will not be understated as influence their more rock-oriented tunes of course being important to the year 1995. More on that in a future post.

Set two opens with Trey introducing Paul, the sound man, who also hand building the guitars, the rack, the speaker cabinet, and “most of everything else that you see.” He also thanks Sid, who runs the lights (obviously before CK5 hit the scene), and Willis, their new roadie, who plays a mean guitar. The band then starts up “Fluffhead”. Unlike the previous “YEM”, “Fluffhead” does not show the same amount of tight playing. The recording also has a tape cut at 8 minutes in so I don’t believe we have the full song from that night. Next we get another “Peaches en Regalia” that Trey flubs a little bit. If this was 3.0, people would be all over him. The next song, Trey dedicate’s to Paul, another new cover, Blues Image’s “Ride Captain Ride”. A rare cover, it does however remain in the band’s rotation to this day, having last been played on 10/26/13 in Worcester, MA. It’s also fun to hear another early Page vocal. Page doesn’t have the strong voice we now known but he does a great job with this fun 70s cover. “Ride” devolves into a fast jazz jam which segues into “Dave’s Energy Guide”. The end of “DEG” gets super loopy as notes are bent and Page plays around while Trey keeps the pattern strong. “Corinna” pops up again to slow things down for a spell. This brings us to the 2nd set centerpiece, a funky version of “Why Don’t You Love Me?”, originally done by Hank Williams but done much more in the /Jim Hendrix/Red Hot Chili Peppers funk style. This surely would have gotten people up and dancing in the restaurant that night. It definitely fits perfectly in the 1980s and Trey’s voice has a bit of David Byrne style to it for the song. Luckily the band left the song in the 80s and never played it again but it’s a must-hear due to it being a very early example of Phish doing funk. It also has a decent segue into “Camel Walk”. Unfortunately, for some reason the band decides to slow the tempo for “Camel Walk” instead of just maintaining the speed and ti’s gets choppy but the intro is interesting. Mike keeps up the slap bass for “Camel Walk” and Trey gets loopy with the lyrics but it’s a solid “Camel Walk”. A decent “Golgi Apparatus” and the “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” jazz interlude close the set. Some believe a 3rd set may have been performed but the recording does not exist. Next show, we celebrate Earth Day at UVM! Thanks for reading.

Show #11: 4/1/86

Early Phish. Photo credit: Phish.com.

http://www.phishtracks.com/shows/1986-04-01/

Tuesday, 04/01/1986
Hunt’s, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Quinn the Eskimo > Have Mercy[1] > Harry Hood, The Pendulum[2] -> Dave’s Energy Guide, Icculus[3], You Enjoy Myself

Set 2: Help on the Way[1] > Slipknot![1] > AC/DC Bag[3], McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters[4] > Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues > Dear Mrs. Reagan

Encore: Not Fade Away[5]

[1] First known Phish performance.
[2] With Zenzilé Madikinea. Madikinea recited revolutionary poetry.
[3] First known performance.
[4] Spoken in Dylan-esque fashion.
[5] First known Phish performance; with The Joneses.

Another tape. Another night at Hunt’s. The booker must have seen something in this gang. Would love to know who that is and pick their brain. This show was Hunt’s Festival of Fools. It was a split bill between Phish and The Joneses. The band’s would switch of 45 minute sets for 4 total. They then encored together. The show here’s a typical bar show but at much better quality with some surefire highlights and debuts. But we also have two full sets! So exciting for more history on tape.

The show opens with Bob Dylan’s “Quinn the Eskimo”. For a long time, this was marked as the songs debut until it was discovered that they had played it at least once earlier on 4/6/85. The song does not differ much from the version the band plays now, except for the extra rhythm guitar of Jeff, having last performed it on 10/31/13 in Atlantic City. It’s a great-off lead-off tune, getting the crowd energy up. One drawback, however, is that the crowd jokes the Phish is now the “Bob Dylan Band” for the rest of the evening. This leads into another cover, the Mighty Diamonds’ “Have Mercy”. “Have Mercy” is an interesting tune because it’s only been performed 13 times in the band’s history, 3 of those coming since the band’s return in 2009. Trey dedicates the tune to Pam as it starts up. So, thank you Pam for all the glorious shows with “Have Mercy” in them. Have Mercy’s interesting because it’s the first time we hear the band working on harmony fully. The three-part harmony of “Have Mercy” is not very easy and they don’t perfectly execute it but for a band that’s become known for barbershop, it’s an interesting first step. The tune out of side of that is not very noteworthy and will appear in a few more upcoming sets. Interestingly enough the seque from an authentic reggae tune to their own reggae jam, the opening of “Harry Hood”. Also of note, “Hood”‘s starting to become the monster we all know and love. The tension and release and peaks of the end are starting to take shape. It’s beautiful to again hear how powerful the band is even in the early years.

The band brings back South African poet Zenzilé for another performance. The song is uneven as the band plays a dirty blues groove underneath his poem. You can tell how loud the crowd is that they early were not on board. I, personally, am not really on-board at all. The instrumental track sounds like a fun jam but the crazy yelling over the top just distracts from the song. The band kicks into “Dave’s Energy Guide” as he finishes adding to the craziness. Zenzilé yells “Which side are you on?” as the dissonance of the song plays up. “Dave’s” continues the energy and it really is a ripping version that moves hard and fast with Jon’s driving drums.

The band takes a breather as a short Jazz jam with Page, Mike, and Trey. Fish says “We thought we’d play some seining for you as Trey [takes] care of his guitar.” Trey retorts, “Bob Dylan performing for you here. The Bob Dylan Band, ladies and gentlemen!” The jazz jam is quite good and shows how tight they are as a trio. Trey again, “The Bob Dylan Band just blowing my mind here on a Tuesday night!” The jazz jam ends and then gives away to an important moment in Phishtory. “This next song is written by one of our favorite bands, Sneeze Blood Eyeball,” says Trey but by the opening chords it’s time for the people to read “Icculus”! The version actually sounds very similar to the one just performed at Madison Square Garden, especially since Phish used their old instruments for that set. It’s however much shorter with less buildup then future versions but still funny nonetheless with the jam fake out.

Trey then mentions the 45 minute set length and invites the Joneses to kick them off stage whenever they want to. Trey then dedicates the next song to Peter, who’s here “all the way from Washington”. At 3:35, Mike plays a bass riff that sounds like part of the future “Mango Song”. After a long pause, the band finally launches into “You Enjoy Myself” to close the first set. This version is much better than the 2/3/86 debut, tighter and with a better groove. We’ll be taking about “YEM” a lot over the next year or so as it was played a lot even night to night in the 80s. Written during the trip to Europe, the lyric “Wash Uffizi Drive Me to Firenze” was allegedly inspired by a wild cab ride in Florence. Also, a German named Jurgen, also commented tot hem that “When I’m with you, you enjoy myself!” Whatever sparked the tune, thankfully it happened. This version still omits the “Boy Man God Shit” lyrics BUT does have the birth of the “YEM” vocal jam. It’s short but marvelous that it’s there.

Set 2 kicks off with the Grateful Dead’s “Help on the Way>Slipknot!”. It’s the only known version by Phish and while it does reach glorious heights, it almost feels like a backward step for the band. I’m sure it helps keeps patrons in the bar but the band’s original material feels much more fun and fresh. Grateful Dead covers, at least to me, feel tired already and it’s only 1986. Luckily, a debut takes the “Slipknot!” segue from “Franklin’s Tower” and we get the first-ever “AC/DC Bag”. Trey’s trips to Gamehendge are now infiltrating their sets and man are they coming together well. The first “Bag” has a funky intro that gives the song a sinister overtone. Other than that, it’s pretty standard but again amazing to hear so complete so early. The band decides to stay in Gamehendge going into “McGrupp”. The tempo is a little faster than it has been in previous versions and it’s a welcome addition. Trey continues the spoken word version but this time giving the lines a Bob Dylan-esquire cadence and voice, fitting in the “Bob Dylan Band” theme.

The band then drops into “Alumni>Jimmy Page>Alumni” and it is a must listen not because of the jam or that it’s pristine. This a must listen because everyone except for Jeff misses the segue back into “Alumni”. The thing grinds to a halt except for Jeff’s rhythm guitar. The band tries to pick up the pieces but it’s too late and Trey just cues a big rock ending to just finish the song. I laughed so hard hearing this. To be fair, the “Letter to Jimmy Page” was pretty fiery and probably difficult to land. The band ends set two with the political tune “Dear Mrs. Reagan”. Phish has never been a fiercely political and so to hear such anti-Reagan lines is a little off-putting but it’s an interesting listen and quite the 80s time capsule. After “Reagan”, Jeff decides to tell people about International Lemming Day, while Trey gets the Joneses on stage to join them for the encore. Someone who sounds like Fishman points out they have 18 guitars and 3 drum sets on stage and then someone else yells “Guitar Army!”. Trey asks “What song is it you want to hear?” and of course some idiot yells “Freebird!”. Page then teases the chords to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird”. Begin that the Joneses and Phish both cover the Dead quite a bit, they end on Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away”, a popular Grateful Dead cover. Unfortunately, the recording fades out (IRONY) before the jam gets going. A successful Festival of Fools? Not quite sure but it at least sounded fun. Two interesting notes on this recording. The first is Jeff is buried in the mix for a lot of it, giving it more of the usual Phish feel. It’s an interesting twist. The second is Trey’s tone. He’s starting to move to his signature tone. I’m not sure what was happening with his rig but it begins moving in the right direction. Another great artifact in the Phish canon.

Show #10: 2/3/86

http://www.phishtracks.com/shows/1986-02-03/

Monday, 02/03/1986
Hunt’s, Burlington, VT

Set 1: Slave to the Traffic Light, Mike’s Song > Dave’s Energy Guide, You Enjoy Myself[1], Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page[2] > Alumni Blues, Prep School Hippie,Run Like an Antelope[3]

Set 2: Tonight[4], The Pendulum[4], Babylon is Burning[4], Dec 1661[4]
[1] First known version.
[2] “It’s alright” quotes from Trey.
[3] Jeff Holdsworth on slide guitar.
[4] First known Phish performance. With Zenzilé Madikinea.

In this long road ahead of myself, there will be shows that aren’t going to warrant a lot of words. Shows were you put it on and go “Why am I doing this again?” I’m sure the band felt that way about a few nights and certainly I’ll have shows where I won’t feel like writing about it. But you can’t say you’re going to review every show and skip one you’re jus tnot feeling. This is the case of 2/3/86. The tape quality is terrible. It might even be playing at the wrong pitch. It bends up and down. I was so lackadaisical that even when they kicked into the first recorded “You Enjoy Myself”, I wasn’t even paying attention on first listen. It’s at least interesting to hear the beginnings of the song. it’s missing several sections that would become staples over time but in its infancy, you can tell it’s going to be important. Eve more notable is hearing it in the 5-piece setting. Jeff can’t really keep up with Trey’s parts as far as rhythm go. It’s kind of the first time he’s struggling with the material, which will be important. Trey introduces South African dub poet Zenzile, which was the headliner on this bill. The show was a benefit for the African National Congress and apparently cost $4 for admission. Trey then asks for requests and gets someone to shout out “Alumni Blues”. After some tuning, the beginning of the “Mike Says No” saga happens as Trey says, “Mike says real bands don’t play requests. So we’re going to play a request” and they go into “Alumni>Jimmy Page>Alumni”. Outside of the banter and YEM, not a lot here to write about. If you’re looking for great early Phish, this is not it.

I wanna take a moment and thank everyone for the huge outpouring of support! Big thanks to Surrender to the Flow for posting about this. I mostly wanted to do it as a writing exercise and hoped some people would enjoy it. Apparently people do! So I hope I don’t let you down and thanks for reading.!