[Welcome To Weekly Catch With Osiris! A weekly series brought to you from the team at Osiris. Each Wednesday we're going to bring you a historic Phish show from that week with some commentary. Our goal is to go beyond official releases and well-known shows to bring you some of the overlooked gems throughout Phish history. If you like what you find, we'd encourage you to check out the assortment of podcasts at the Osiris! This week's catch comes from Brian Brinkman of Beyond The Pond.]
I'm not crazy to say Spring 1993 might be the most fun tour Phish has ever embarked on, am I? No, not the best - that would be Fall 1995 - nor the most transcendent - Fall 1997 - nor even their most important - that would be Spring/Summer 1994.
But think about Spring 1993: The band crosses the country once in an epic two-month trek before looping back around over five weeks which sees them playing some of the best shows they'd ever played to that point, on their home turf no less. They still played in theatres and small gyms, performing in front of die-hard, in-the-know fans, all of whom believed in everything Phish. And they approached each show with a growing sense of understanding of what they could become, while still retaining the air of collegiate pranksterdom that had defined them to that point. They were still writing classic Phish songs, and hadn't yet made that leap to national stardom. It was a halcyon time to be in Phish, and a show like March 14, 1993, from Gunnison, CO, is a perfect exmple of this tour's brilliance and joy.
The show opens with what has to be regarded as the song of the early part of tour: "Loving Cup". The song not only opened the tour, but it defined a shift in Phish's sonic quality, and overall investment in their project. Showcasing the Baby Grand Page had picked up over the winter, it was a nod to the lengths the band would go to consistently tinker with, and hone, their overall sound so they could fully explore their musical ideas with the highest quality. From here, we get some standard-great Spring '93 cuts in "Foam," "Guelah," "Sparkle" and "Stash." The "Stash" pops, though not in the way it will in the coming weeks, but is filled with the kind of cacaphonous tension & release that makes it one of the capstone tunes of the era.
At this point, Phish had been playing regularly in Colorado since the Summer of 1988. It was as close to a second home as they had. Since 1990, they'd played extended runs throughout the state, granting it 5-8 shows, something they didn't do in any other state aside from Vermont & New York. Anyone who has seen Phish at Dick's in 3.0 knows just why they love Colorful Colorado so much. So just imagine what it was like for these four buddies in their late-20s, arriving in the state in early Spring, finding themselves amongst friends, and responding by playing some of the best music of their career.
Every single Colorado Run delivered. Following this tour, however, and really until 2011, Colorado was relegated to just another state on their massive itinerary. Some tours - Fall 1994-1996 in particular - they'd skip it altogether. These early runs there see a band responding to the energy in this state, and matching it each night.
Nowhere in this first set is this better exemplified than in the "Reba." A soaring version that touches on very little that's unique about the song - and doesn't need to - but hears Trey flying across his fretboard, it's a perfect example of the communicative complexities of early Phish.
In the second set we hear what may very well be the first bustout set of the band's career. "Halley's" opens things up, played for the first time since August 17, 1989 (474 Shows), before "The Ballad of Curtis Loew" is played for the first time since October 30, 1990 (302 Shows). Neither version is perfect, but the fact that they're played at all tells us three things: Phish is having a ton of fun, they've reached a point where their catalogue is ready to be turned over, and the era of song chasing is upon us.
The highlight of the set & show respectively, is in the massive "You Enjoy Myself -> Spooky -> You Enjoy Myself" jam. A year earlier "YEM" would be a notable oddity. The classic Phish song for sure, but one they simply couldn't fully push to the levels it was on the precepice of reaching. It closed essentially every other second set and that was it. Think of it as every 2009/2010 version, just without the Baby Grand.
By 1993, however, the band was funkier, more dexterous, and more willing to allow a single idea to stretch and weave until it became "Spooky" or "We Will Rock You" or "Welcome To The Machine," or just about anything. This is a must-hear, early, "YEM." A version that essential sums up this show, the week in Colorado, and the entire 1993 Spring Tour. The band was growing, they were sometimes reaching beyond their means, but when they hit it right, you could see two-to-three years into their future when they'd rightly hold the claim as the best damn band on the planet.
Thanks for reading and hopefully you're enjoying this series. Another Weekly Catch with Osiris will be up next week!
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March 27, 1993
25 years ago
Set 2: Buried Alive > Halley's Comet > It's Ice > Bouncing Around the Room, Chalk Dust Torture, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu > The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Mike's Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Hold Your Head Up > Cracklin' Rosie > Hold Your Head Up, Poor Heart > Golgi Apparatus
 Beginning featured Trey on acoustic guitar.
 Fish on trombone.
 All Fall Down signal in intro.
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