November 20, 2008

Phish to Release Epic Roxy Theatre Run

Phish released all three nights of the famous Atlanta Roxy Theatre run from February 19 - 21, 1993.

The Roxy Theatre CDs will be the third complete run of shows released by the band into stores, the other two being Hampton Comes Alive, from the 1998 run, which got us all dancing blissfully in our living rooms back in 1999, and The Island Tour, also from 1998, which came out in 2005.

The 1993 Roxy Theatre shows will contain eight CDs and almost nine hours of music. So, if you plan to take a road trip 500 miles or more to visit relatives this Thanksgiving you're in luck -- this new Phish CD set will take you all the way there.

This show contains what many people have long considered to be the mother of all Rebas, dropping out of Wilson to kick off set two of the Saturday night show. This particular Reba has been discussed and debated over the years quite possibly more than any other version of any other Phish tune, and for good reason -- the jam reaches truly evangelical heights. It is everything you could possibly want to hear out of Phish, and even though I've had a copy of this show for about 13 years now I always manage to hear something new in this Reba on each listen.

These are the show notes as published in The Phish Companion (they are extensive from all three nights) for just the second set of Saturday's night show:

This show is noted for its legendary setlist, fun performances, and ridiculous musical teasing. This long version of Wilson included a Simpsons Signal and, towards the end, a freakish jam that included an Iron Man tease from Mike. Reba included a tease of the theme from Woody Woodpecker. Tweezer had a Low Rider jam and a "Straight from the Sewer" rap. Glide subsequently included Tweezer teases. This insane, loose Mike's Song featured minor lyric changes, three different Tweezer teases, two different Wilson teases, and other teases of Reba, Lizards and Stash. Mike teased the Esther "circus" theme in Hydrogen, which was bookended by The Vibration of Life. The Rock and Roll All Nite jam was for a fan dressed as Kiss' Gene Simmons, who the band brought on stage to sing the song's chorus. Terrapin featured band intros and lots of chatter from Fish, prompting a "hurry up" HYHU tease from Page. Fish also performed a lengthy vacuum solo during his tune. The HYHU outro segued nicely into Hood as Fish and Trey switched places. Neither Have Mercy (first since Halloween 1986, or 479 shows) nor My Mind's Got a Mind of its Own were played in their entirety. Walk Away was played for the first time since November 2, 1991 (157 shows).

Here are the complete setlists from all three nights. As was generally true back in these days, the setlists are epic, but really that was so common in the early 1990s because those were the only songs they had to play back then; all the songs from Rift were "new" at the time, and Down with Disease and Wolfman's Brother weren't even a gleam in Trey's eye yet:

Friday, Feb. 19
Set One: Loving Cup, Rift, Split Open and Melt, Fee -> Maze, Col. Forbin's Ascent -> Famous Mockingbird, Sparkle, My Friend My Friend, Poor Heart -> David Bowie
Set Two: Runaway Jim, It's Ice, Paul and Silas, You Enjoy Myself -> Ya Mar, Big Ball Jam, Lawn Boy, Funky Bitch, My Sweet One, HYHU -> Love You -> HYHU, Llama, Amazing Grace
Encore: AC/DC Bag

Saturday, Feb. 20
Set One: Golgi Apparatus, Foam, The Sloth, Possum -> Weigh, All Things Reconsidered, The Divided Sky, The Horse -> Silent in the Morning, Fluffhead, Cavern
Set Two: Wilson -> Reba, Tweezer -> Walk Away -> Tweezer -> Glide -> Mike's Song -> My Mind's got a Mind of its Own -> Mike's Song -> I Am Hydrogen -> Weekapaug Groove -> Have Mercy -> Weekapaug Groove -> Rock and Roll All Nite Jam -> Weekapaug Groove, Fast Enough for You -> Big Ball Jam -> HYHU -> Terrapin -> HYHU -> Harry Hood, Twee-prise
Encore: Sleeping Monkey

Sunday, Feb. 21
Set One: Suzy Greenberg, Buried Alive, Punch You in the Eye, Uncle Pen, Horn -> Chalkdust Torture, Esther -> Dinner and a Movie -> Bouncing Around the Room -> Run Like an Antelope
Set Two: Axilla, The Curtain -> Stash -> Manteca -> Stash -> The Lizards. Bathtub Gin -> HYHU -> Cracklin' Rosie -> HYHU, The Squirming Coil, Big Black Furry Creature from Mars
Encore: Sweet Adeline, *Good Times Bad Times -> Paul and Silas -> Pig in a Pen
*bluegrass style

Notice there was a Henrietta appearance all three nights and, oddly enough, the only song repeated all three nights was Paul and Silas, a particular favorite of The Wagger that, after being one of the most frequently-played songs from its introduction on September 13, 1990 through December 30, 1993, inexplicably dropped from the song rotation forever on November 29, 1998 (the band's 1,003rd show). In fact, after that Dec. 30, 1993 appearance, Phish only performed the song (which Trey used to sing incorrectly as Hall and Halice until some Phish-head pointed out the correct lyrics to him one day) eight more times.

As was often the case in my touring career, I tended to miss an epic show by a night or two, and I missed this Reba by a couple of days. Well, I couldn't help it really. I had yet to move away for good from West Palm Beach, Florida at the time, save for the year I spent living in Hollywood, California studying music at the Musician's Institute, otherwise known as GIT. It was difficult at best to travel outside Florida to catch the Dead in Atlanta, let alone trying to catch Phish in the northeast, where they played more than anywhere back then.

My first Phish show would come four days after the Roxy Theatre run, when I saw the boys, front row center I might add (not a bad angle for my first Phishing excursion), at the Cameo Theatre on Miami Beach, which is now, unfortunately, The Crobar Nightclub.

Funny story about the Cameo show. As I said it was my first show. I'd been listening to Phish since first hearing them while pumping gas outside the Pine Knob Amphitheater near Detroit (now the DTE Energy Music Theater, I believe) while on Grateful Dead tour. The date was June 19, 1991, but it seems like it happened just last year.

I'd been seeing Phish bumper stickers with ever-increasing frequency since 1989, and finally asked the guy in the Volkswagon Bus next to me, who was proudly sporting the classic Phish rainbow logo on his back window, if he could play some while we filled our tanks. He agreed and although I had no idea what the name of the song was, it had an unforgettable introduction, which I would recall almost nine months later when I heard You Enjoy Myself again while camping, again on Dead tour, at Stone Mountain, Georgia for Spring Tour in Atlanta, March 1, March 2 and March 3, 1992.

I digress. Anyway, back at the Cameo Theatre show, we arrived early thinking there would be a parking lot scene, as I had been told by a friend who saw Phish a few times in upstate New York. ("They jump around on trampolines, man. It's crazy," I remember him telling me.) But this was Miami Beach; Phish's first time there, and still to this day the furthest point south they ever reached (the 2003 New Year's run was about a half-mile to the north, and maybe five or six miles to the west of the Cameo Theatre, which was at the southern tip of South Beach). My car was the only one in the parking lot, except for the band's bus and a white truck they carried their gear in. It was about 5pm or 5:30pm on a Thursday (people were just getting off work and had yet to arrive), and none of the four of us had eaten yet that day, so we decided to go across the street to the pizza place we always hit before Cameo shows. (I saw dozens of speed metal bands there in the late 1980s, including one stretch where I saw Megadeth, Anthrax, Overkill, Motorhead and Slayer -- the last three on one night -- over an 18-day stretch.)

So, we're standing in line and a couple of minutes later these two guys walk in behind us. They looked like hippies, so we struck up a conversation with them. When our slices were up, we grabbed them and made our way toward a seat at the window. The two guys who came in behind us sat down nearby, but kept to themselves. As we were leaving, I turned to them and asked if they were going to see Phish tonight. They looked at each other and the red-head smiled and said, "Yeah, we'll be there." Of course, a few hours later when they took the stage we felt like idiots when we realized we'd been talking to Trey and Fishman. In fact, when Trey took his position between Mike and Page and looked down into the crowd he spotted our group, pointed and laughed.

It would be 13 years before I would once again find myself talking to Trey with nobody else around to interrupt our conversation or shuffle him away. But that's another story for another Blog entry ... On that particular day at the Cameo Theatre, which was well before you could easily get your hands on Phish shows (on tape no less), I had no idea what had just transpired a couple of days earlier at The Roxy Theatre in Atlanta.

November 3, 2008

The Worst Phish Video Ever Made, The Bluegrass Sessions & Phish at the Salem Armory

Phish only made one video in their career, Down with Disease, directed by Mike Gordon. Trey Anastasio said that while they were making it he hated it.

Well, it doesn't really elicit hate, but it is pretty bad made by the one band we all love, which of course makes it all the more endearing.

From what I remember it only played on MTV a dozen or so times, maybe less, before it got yanked. This is discussed in one of the Phish books, but I can't remember which one.

The Bluegrass Sessions - a Phish Home Movie

Speaking of Phish videos, earlier this year I came across a home movie filmed by the Rev. Jeff Mosier, an original member of the Aquarium Rescue Unit and founder of Blueground Undergrass, when Phish brought him along on Fall Tour 1994 to coach them on playing bluegrass, and to help them learn a bunch of bluegrass songs.

This is old news to some of you, but worth pointing out to those who aren't familiar with the Bluegrass Sessions.

It's a documentary of sorts -- really a home movie in nine acts -- that begins with Phish's soundcheck on November 14 at Devos Hall in Grand Rapids, Michigan and ends a week later on November 20 at the Dane County Exposition Center in Madison, Wisconsin with a killer version of If I Could.

The 1994 Fall Tour was a monster, and offers two shows for download from later on in the tour -- Nov. 30 in Olympia, Washington, and Dec. 1 in Salem, Oregon.

I was at that Salem show. It was during my second quarter of classes at at the University of Oregon.

Reflections on Phish at the Salem Armory, December 1994

About 10 friends from college all piled into my Honda Civic hatchback and my roommate's Volvo, which was about to become the touring vehicle of our college days but we didn't know that yet, and drove up to Salem from Eugene through a constant drizzle of rain.

We were running late and arrived at the Salem Armory, a tiny, tiny place, right at 7 p.m. The stated showtime on the ticket was 7 p.m., so we knew we had little time to spare. (Phish used to start pretty close to on time back then; at least the shows I attended until they came back from Europe during Summer 1997).

We quickly found a couple bags of shrooms and some nugs -- we ran out on the hour drive up with 10 people puffing. Rob and I split an eighth of shrooms on two slices of pizza, wolfed down the slices, walked inside and walked right down to the front of the stage. That's how it was on those days. There was always enough room on the floor in the Pacific Northwest, not back East at this point in Phish's career, to dance the night away wherever you wanted to stand.

I remember for some reason all of us were really into NICU at the time, and Phish broke it out during the mind-blowing second set, bringing big smiles all around. Making things even better, this was the only show any of us were able to catch thay fall because finals were just a couple of days away. My soon-to-be touring partner, Rob, was ecstatic to hear Peaches en Regalia to open set two. I was blown out by the whole Tweezer segment, which included Norwegian Wood and NICU, and a little while later they did a Harry Hood, one of the first times I'd ever heard it (this was before A Live One came out), and little did I know that version would stick with me for the rest of my life. And then Phish topped it off with a Sleeping Monkey > Tweeprise encore, and I know of more than one person in our group who walked away from that show hooked on Phish for life.

It really was that kind of show.

Anyway, here are the links to the Bluegrass Sessions with the Rev. Jeff Mosier. It's in nine parts, and each video is parked over at You Tube. You can always right click and "save as" on a PC to download it to your desktop and watch it later without having to use the You Tube inerface.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight
Part Nine