Phish — 16 years ago today…
I can’t believe how the time has flown. Sixteen years ago tonight, on a whim, a friend and I decided to go check out this band from Vermont called Phish (funny spelling, right?) and hear for ourselves what all the fuss was about. We’d heard that they were kind of like Zappa meets the Dead (they covered Zeppelin too!?!?) and would play LONG. At that time, I had heard Junta and Picture Of Nectar, and kind of thought the lyrics were weird, but was intrigued by a band that would play epic songs in the first and second set, unlike the Dead that would play their shorter songs in the first set and stretch out the improv in the second set. At the time, Jerry reigned supreme in my musical universe with Widespread playing the role as my favorite up and comer. Let’s just say that things changed after this night in Buckhead (Atlanta), GA.
We get to The Roxy, dammit!, the band’s already playing! Oh well. Being all of 18 years old, we make our way to the front right quadrant of the stage and drank in this audio/visual treat that was on display. The music grabbed me instantly, it was rhythymic, hypnotic and the sound seemed to be perfectly balanced (ie. no ringing in the ears). Oh my gosh! Is the drummer wearing a muu-muu? The bassist was wearing a strange ensemble, that included oddly rolled up pants, but whatever…. this was about the music. I would recognize a random song here and there, but my gosh this music was intoxicating.
The first set came and went. I remember being passed a rubber chicken at set break. I thought, what am I supposed to do with this? So I passed it along to someone else. I heard chatter of how the last time the guys were in town, they played at The Variety Playhouse and the show had to be cancelled and that the band had promised to make it up to the crowd the next time they were in town. After what I’d seen in the first set, I thought that they had already treated us to well planned and executed show and thought, what else could they have in store? Not knowing the heights the band was capable of reaching.
The band took the stage for the second set. There seemed to be tension between the guitarist and bassist, as they kind of traded off looks/glares at each other. Maybe I was mis-reading their body language, but I definitely felt something… I look over and OH MY GOSH! There’s a dude that is made up to perfectly look like Gene Simmons! We all are aware of the mammoth second set that Phish played this night, displaying their tightness , chops and ability to play as a cohesive unit better than most bands of the past, present and future. The music seemed to be a blur and merging of several different styles, but it was continuous. All segues, no breaks. I danced harder and more furiously than I ever had before that night, because I was instantly smitten by the sounds these guys were making. Sure, I didn’t recognize every song, but a cosmic connection was made that night. Me and Phish.
We left the show that night completely shaken to our core, now cognizant of the power and majestic heights that this foursome could reach, musically and beyond. In my mind, I became married to Phish’s music that night and have been faithful since. Sure I’ve fallen in love with other bands, other styles and genres, but I always come back to Phish. To me they are as comforting as an old sweatshirt, calming and comfortable, but also remain fresh and exciting. I couldn’t be happier that they are returning to the stage in March and loved planning my summer vacation once again to coincide with Phish’s tour schedule.
02/20/93 Roxy Theatre, Atlanta, GA
Set I: Golgi Apparatus, Foam, Possum, Weigh, All Things Reconsidered, The Divided Sky, The Horse> Silent in the Morning, Fluffhead, Cavern
Set II: Wilson, Reba, Tweezer> Walk Away> Tweezer> Glide> Mike’s Song> My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own> Kung> I am Hydrogen> Weekapaug Groove> Have Mercy> Rock and Roll All Nite1> Weekapaug Groove> Fast Enough For You, Big Ball Jam, HYHU> Terrapin, Harry Hood, Tweezer Reprise
Encore: Sleeping Monkey
1 KISS cover