, attached to 1987-08-21

Review by DemandOpener

DemandOpener There are already some excellent reviews of this show on the show page, which are undoubtedly written more succinctly and excellently than mine will be, so I’ll try to keep this short. I also wrote my own jam chart entries at the end, to prove that it is very hard to write blurbs for the jam charts, and the editors who do so deserve more respect.

This is kind of a surreal show to listen to, knowing what we know about the band today. Phish is at their absolute silliest on this night. Those of you who are fans of Trey singing about “doggy doo” should search no further, as the band not only opens the show with “Dog Log”, but also go as far as to create a reggae soundscape with stupid made-up dog poop lyrics in the third set. The show sounds like they are playing for about three people and thirty dogs.

The band is *very* loose, and as a result, certain moments come across as too strange and bizarre (Wilson) to be have any real listening value beyond mere, initial curiosity. Other low moments are straight-up flubs (several in Camel Walk and Harpua, and tons of lyrical flubs that might be on purpose) that just don’t sound good to the ear. By the mid-second set, though, most of that stuff has calmed down, and the show proceeds as “normal”, save for some cringe-worthy Page vocal-flubbery in McGrupp, and Trey in Sanity (again, maybe on purpose?). Phish is more exploratory in this show than I think I’ve ever heard them in a live setting, and this show would certainly qualify for a Top 100 Most Experimental Phish Show list, but I’m not sure the show as a whole truly deserved to make TPC3.0’s Top 100 list. At times, it seems that the band is almost humiliated by the ludicrousness of their own lyrics and lampooning their own material, something perfectly observed by @waxbanks in his review of this show.

Not to say this show doesn’t have it’s fair share of highlights. Oh yes, it certainly does! For starters, this Mike’s Song should be required listening for anybody who considers themselves a phan. The jam is so exploratory, it’s hard to even explain, so it might be best for you to just listen to it. Directly following the Mike’s, the last minute of Harpua -> Sneakin’ Sally tease -> Golgi is spectacular. I love a good Phish segue, and this is one of them. Closing out the set is an incredible thirty minute rolling jam, where the band seamlessly segues from one song to the next. This is reckless jamming of the highest order, and must be heard to be believed. The third set is chock full of funny banter (see: BBFCFM), and is satisfying musically as well. For those of you who are so inclined, please listen to the McGrupp and see if the jam doesn’t sound remarkably similar to Chalk Dust Torture, and maybe a skosh of Possum. Maybe I’m just insane, but that’s what I hear. Let me know.

There is a relaxed quality that pervades this entire show due probably entirely to its context. It makes for some incredibly high highs, and some head-scratching moments where the band is experimenting just a *little* too much. Overall, I’d say this show is absolutely worth a listen, and definitely belongs on a list of the most relevant and representative shows the band has ever played (in the context of their entire career), and certainly belongs near the top of a “most exploratory shows” list, but is it a top 100 show of Phish’s entire career?

...you decide. I give it a 4.5/5.

Listen to:

Mike’s Song- Clocking in at just over 14 minutes this early Mike’s (-> HYHU) is all over the map and contains exploratory, unique, indescribably incredible MUST HEAR PHISH.

Skin it Back through The Sloth- This spectacular thirty minute sequence begins with an excellent reading of the classic Little Feat tune “Skin it Back”. This one features sick machine gun Trey and heavy metal (bagel) death for about three minutes. By the time Trey is done ripping you a new asshole, the band drops into “Low Rider” (with hilarious La Bamba quotes). Suddenly, and without warning, the band stops on a dime and dives into a blues-rock jam that ->s into a ferocious Back Porch Boogie Blues. Anybody who underestimates 1987 Phish’s ability to jam and do interesting, amazing things should not miss this segment, which concludes with an ingenious -> The Sloth.

McGrupp- As I said, this playing of McGrupp is interesting mainly for the post-McGrupp jam, as Page/Trey seem to suggest Possum and Chalk Dust Torture at multiple points throughout the jam.

David Bowie- Remarkably exploratory early version with a weird Tom Sawyer tease from Mike and Trey. Bowie would remain one of the most consistently exploratory songs in the Phish canon from that point until about...oh, say, 2009.


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