I drove with, Richard, my roommate at Virginia Tech, straight up 81 from Blacksburg to the beautiful setting of the Virginia Horse Center. Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this was a breathtaking place for a show. Rolling green hills in spring, and the prospect of the local favorites Dave Matthews Band opening sounded like a great treat. This was my first experience with a real lot before a Phish show, and I was really disappointed to see the Nitrous Mafia hard at work. I distinctly remember two huge lines, and lots of kids stumbling around clutching one and two balloons. Really disappointing. I had a lot of fun though. I ran into my younger sister, and several friends from high school before the show. My friend Peyton even had a little of the luck of the day, thanks to groundscore.
The actual venue is what it says it is, a horse center: dirt floors, a small raised stage, and limited seating. We made our way into the venue for the DMB, and they played really well. Because the floor was made of dirt, and primarily used for horses, a fine cloud of dust soon hung over the stage and crowd. The dust cloud was there for the whole show, which was too bad. But the crowd was really hungering for Phish, and the place erupted when they came on stage.
The first set was good, with some strong numbers. “Runaway Jim” and “It’s Ice” for openers. A strong “Stash” led right into “Suzy” before the break, and I was having a good show. The place never filled up, so there was a lot of room to dance. The second set was a lot of fun: “Poor Heart” opened things up, with a solid “Antelope” following. The smooth jazz of “Magilla” led into the bluegrass-streaked “Paul and Silas.’ I have always loved how quickly Phish has been able to switch from genre to genre. After “Sample,” I saw my first “Big Ball Jam,” which was immensely fun.
I am always up for “Hood,” and this was a typically good '94 “Hood.” Nothing crazy, but still very well played. “Fee” provided a bit of a breather, and Richard couldn’t believe Trey was singing through a bull horn. Now we get to the real treat of the show, the set closing “YEM" > "Somewhere over the Rainbow” jam. “YEM” opened up very quickly and developed into something fairly spectacular. This was the tour in which Trey sprained his ankle, and I was wondering what would happen during the section where he and Mike bounce on the tramps. The stagehand came out with two tramps, and Mike hopped on. Trey hobbled over to the trampoline, but then Dave Matthews came on stage with his guitar and proceeded to get on the tramp. Dave looked really nervous, but he and Mike bounced in time for a solid minute. By the time they dismounted, the rest of the Dave Matthew’s Band had come on stage. Everyone was on stage, loosely holding the jam together, but having a lot of fun.
I can’t remember if it was Trey or someone else, but somehow “Somewhere over the Rainbow” emerged. Fishman left Carter on the drums, and he took his vacuum to center stage. Fishman and LeRoi had a beautiful “horn” solo on the Rainbow theme. Just about when the jam was going to fall completely apart, they somehow pulled together a finish, and left the stage. A really rocking “Highway to Hell” as the encore put the lid on another great Phish show.