, attached to 1993-08-20

Review by SlavePhan

SlavePhan I'll vary from my usual reviewing style because this is one of my favorite 2-set Phish shows of all time. Although it now seems unlikely that the band will release the show because they released 8/13 and 8/14 (as well as some other jams as fillers from the month), this show goes down as my favorite of 1993, and in my top 10, ever. To me, it is the culmination of the tour and one of the most inspired shows the band has ever played. Although the tour had 5 more stops, this show really reads as the tour closer. Anyways, on to the music.

Enough has been said in the other reviews about the rainstorm and the band subsequently playing Divided Sky. But, if you listen carefully, you can hear Trey say "Cool!" as they take the stage. It must have been a sight to see. Despite the nerves giving Trey a hard time in the composed section of the song, this Divided Sky soars, and it is clear that the band is totally locked in with each other. Oh, it's also worth mentioning that there is a super-crisp SBD available for this show, so you can pretty much hear the show perfectly, including a near-perfect peak.

A second-slot Harpua follows, with the famous Iguana story (subsequently referenced in several future Red Rocks shows). To me, the best part of Harpua, though, is when Trey mentions "this is definitely the most incredible place I've ever played music". That's an amazing statement when you think about the fact that the band had played several hundred shows up to this point. There are lots of great little bits in there to listen to ("One of those jackalope things you've got around here"..."luckily I know all the ancient languages"). You won't be disappointed with the ending, either.

Poor Heart serves as a nice breather, but it's really the Maze that should pique your interest. It's safe to say that Maze really flourished in it's type-I form in this tour and Spring/Summer '94, and I particularly prefer this approach, mainly because Trey sticks the ending so magnificently. If type-I is your type of choice for Maze, look no further than this version. Page's section is fantastic and the ending really is just incredible. I'm surprised this hasn't become a must-listen version of the song.

A simple Bouncing follows, and then the band continues to make things interesting by playing a full It's Ice (complete with Fish dance and crowd cheering) which has a mellow segue into The Wedge. The Wedge had been common in the Spring, and lost favor with the band, but they dusted it off because of the lyrical references in the song to Red Rocks. I don't think this Wedge is particularly strong, mainly because the band hadn't quite figured out the ending jam (it's a piano jazz one at this point), but it's the last time they played it until 1995, so it was memorable at the time.

Following the Wedge, the band plays an acoustic version of Ginseng Sullivan. Clearly, Brad mis-tunes Trey's guitar, which he has to retune (listen to Page verbally cringe at the chord Trey plays). Trey then sarcastically thanks Brad for the tuning.

The closing pairing of Rift>Antelope is an absolute beast. Rift essentially is played at the fastest point in the history of the band. It's actually quite amazing to hear Fish keep up, with his ghost touches, and then even more impressive that Trey starts Antelope without a break, which is a full-tilt version. It's hard for me to believe that this one doesn't get 'key version' status, basically because of the insane early CYHMK-inspired jam which is totally chaotic, the wild minor tension jam in the middle of the jam, and the complete return to a blazing conclusion. It's absolutely mesmerizing and, in my opinion, much more scorching than the Tinley Park version. 5-stars.

One would think that this set 1 could stand alone, but set 2, amazingly, outdoes it by leaps and bounds. To start, this version of Slave is, without question, one of the top 5 versions of the song the band has ever played (behind 12/30/93, 8/17/96, Minneapolis 94, and maybe Niagara). Like those versions, the jam starts very subtly, delicately, and with a very steady build. But, the reason why this version stands out is just because of the magical Trey peaks (not one series, but 2!) interspersed with lyrical playing (and Fish growls). Another must-hear at all costs.

The SOAM, which, starts without the band even needing to catch their breath, is another scorcher. Although the band 'figured the song out' on 4/21 in Ohio, I still cite this version as being the first version where the band completely understands the ability of the song to arouse tension. They'd lean on this version for 2 stand-out versions in the next 5 shows (8/24, 8/26). But it's really this version that starts things out. It modulates as it builds, and Trey's little two-note combination is a precursor to some of his future pedal work using a repeater. Fish uses significant restraint to drive this version about 9 minutes without transitioning to the ride, but when he does, things break open. The conclusion is akin to Antelope with its intensity. Another must-hear.

The Coil, MFMF, and Chalkdust trio that comes next is also flawless. Page's Coil outro is longer than others in the tour and has a bit of a band-jam at the end which is very mellow and beautiful. I love this short punchy version of Chalkdust, too. Much like the Waterloo version, builds an incredible amount of tension with a Maze-like build up. This one is just fantastic, another keeper. It also has one of my favorite Fish fills of all time (at about 4:22).

In the meat of the second set, the band chooses YEM. Now, in most scenarios, YEM would be the song to bring it all home. However, given the pure insanity of this show, the YEM is not particularly special. There is a sweet B+D section, but for the most part, the vocal jam contrasts with the raw energy of the set. Mimi comes out for Purple Rain, and things peter out with Cavern. The Mango>Freebird closer is remarkable and would be coveted in any era of Phish, but it does no more than cap off the musical mastery of the middle half of the show (Antelope through Chakdust).

So, there you have it - one of the finest 2-set shows of the band's career, in my opinion. The Harpua, Maze, Antelope, Slave, SOAM, and Chalkdust are all must-hears, with an extremely above-average Divided Sky and fantastic Coil and Rift. One can only really hope that the band decides to release this as a LivePhish version so that we can hear a soundcheck, but honestly, the SBD that circulates won't disappoint you. It says something that zzyzx considers it his favorite show of '93 (he saw 24!), so do yourself a favor, pick it up, and give it a spin!


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