1983

October: 30
December: 02 | 03
This show, played by Trey, Mike, Fish, and Jeff, may have been billed as “Blackwood Convention.” This date is believed to be correct but, due to a lack of records, the exact date cannot be ascertained.    
Trey, Mike, Fish, and Jeff Holdsworth recall being billed as “Blackwood Convention” for this show (though no one is certain what band name was used), which is believed to be their first public gig together. The band was short on equipment, so a hockey stick was used as a microphone stand. Between sets, the DJ spun some Michael Jackson and Trey drummed along to the album. The house music (which included more Michael Jackson) was presumably turned up after Fire to drown out the band. The setlist may be incomplete, though, as the master recording contains nothing after Trey’s sarcastic comments about Michael Jackson following Fire. All songs were, of course, Phish debuts. Back in Black was teased before Scarlet Begonias. While this show is often billed as an ROTC Halloween Dance that took place on October 30, 1983, this is incorrect. The master copy of the recording of this show, as unearthed by Phish archivist Kevin Shapiro, contains a handwritten note that pegs the date as December 2, 1983. In discussions with Kevin, band members confirmed that they recall rehearsing for this show over the Thanksgiving Break, and that the show was a Christmas semi-formal. Also, it was not an ROTC-sponsored event; it was a dorm dance in a predominantly ROTC dorm (Mike’s dorm at the time).
Throughout most of Phish history this was understood to have been the date of the first Phish show. The band believed this to be true as late as 1998, when on October 30 they celebrated their “15th anniversary.” Later research, however, revealed this to be incorrect, and that the correct date of this first show – commonly referred to as the “Thriller” show or a “Halloween Dance” – is December 2, 1983.
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