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Link Friday, 03/11/1988
The Base Lodge, Stearns Hall, Johnson State College, Johnson, VT

Set 1: The Chicken[1], Funky Bitch, Sneakin' SallySneakin' Sally Through the Alley[2], 'A' TrainTake the 'A' Train, YEMYou Enjoy Myself[3] -> Wilson, GolgiGolgi Apparatus > SlaveSlave to the Traffic Light, Flat Fee, Corinna, LizardsThe Lizards, BowieDavid Bowie

Set 2: Fluffhead, Dinner and a Movie, HoodHarry Hood, Curtis LoewThe Ballad of Curtis Loew[2], Harpua, BagAC/DC Bag > AlumniAlumni Blues > AntelopeRun Like an Antelope[4]

[1] First known Phish performance.
[2] Bobby Brown on harmonica.
[3] No vocal jam.
[4] Trey spoke the names "Marco Esquandolas... Poster Nutbag... Moses Heaps... Moses DeWitt."

Teases:
· Theme from I Dream of Jeannie tease in The Lizards
· Timber (Jerry), Alumni Blues, Smoke on the Water, Sunshine of Your Love, Money, and Whipping Post teases in David Bowie
· Entrance of the Gladiators tease in Run Like an Antelope

Average Song Gap: 3.63

Performers: Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon, Bobby Brown (Guest)

Notes: This show featured the only known Phish performance of The Chicken. Sneakin’ Sally and Curtis Loew featured Bobby Brown on harmonica. Bowie began with a tease medley that included Timber, Alumni Blues, Smoke on the Water, Sunshine of Your Love, Money, Whipping Post, and several others. YEM did not contain a vocal jam. Trey teased Entrance of the Gladiators and spat out the names “Marco Esquandolas... Poster Nutbag... Moses Heaps... Moses DeWitt” during Antelope. Dinner and a Movie was dedicated to “our good friend Susannah.” Lizards was delayed, as Trey cut on Fishman for losing his drumsticks during the gig; Lizards subsequently included a theme from I Dream of Jeanie tease. Some recordings that circulate are mislabeled “The Base Lounge.”

Song Distribution:
5 Junta
5 The White Tape
3 The Man Who Stepped into Yesterday
1 Stash
1 Lawn Boy

Songs by Debut Year:

This show was part of the "1988 Tour."

, attached to 1988-03-11 Permalink
(Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

I have to preface this by saying this is less of a show review than a tale of my experience. More than twelve years have passed and not once have I owned a tape of this show.
As a freshman at Johnson State I spent most of the year partying in my dorm. This is because at the very first party I went to, they carded people to weed out us freshman losers. So after that I just never left campus. This was fine and dandy as political correctness hadn't yet taken over alcohol policies on campus, and the sky was the limit. My point is that not having anything else to do in a small town in Vermont forced me to head down to the Base Lodge for each and every show that happened. It was my money going into these shows and I wanted my money's worth from college!
Most of what I saw was a disappointment. I came from the classic rock school of thought. My favorite bands at the time were Yes and Genesis, and no one could touch them as far as I was concerned. This was mainly because they were so different from everything else out there. But I kept an open mind. The ‘80s were bereft of quality music and I had had about enough of it, but that quickly changed one night at the Slodge. (We called it that as a term of endearment. Also the Moose Lodge, Space Garage…the names go on and on.)
Anyway, there was a bit more of a stink made about this one show than the typical night at the Base Lodge. But that wasn't saying much; all it warranted was a slightly larger party than normal. Phish still wasn't that well known , even in Stearns, only thirty-five miles from Burlington. There were a few folks who made trips to Burlington to see them, but those travelers were few and far between. As for myself, it took this visit to my usual hangout to facilitate my first Phish show.
After some typical college pre-show preparations, I went down to the Lodge, which was part of the student center. Strange that they didn't bring in enough of a crowd to play at Dibden (the auditorium) which isn't that big, but much bigger than the Lodge. The room couldn't hold much more than maybe a couple hundred, and on this night there was less than that. I kind of recall it feeling roomy. It didn't even take rubbing elbows to get to where I stood up front. I noticed that there were a few hippie-looking outsiders who had made the trip for the show. This in itself was pretty new to me. JSC had a large Dead following, but I hadn't been part of that so this Philly boy was in a new world.
Once I got in place, I spent most of the night standing literally three inches away from Page's Hammond organ; in fact, I may even have been leaning on it. I watched the Leslie speaker spin round and round the whole time, and thought that was the coolest thing I had ever seen! I thought, "Man, what a cool band to have this neat thing." I was just smiling away and I caught Page laughing at my obvious amazement with the Leslie.
They opened with “The Chicken”, followed by “Funky Bitch”, both songs I had never heard before. The performance didn't impress too much upon me, but it was rocking, garage band-type entertainment so I wasn't ready to leave just yet. Next came “Sneakin’ Sally”. I was a huge fan of this song at the time and they didn't disappoint me by playing it. That sealed the fact that I wouldn't be wandering back to my dorm room anytime soon. Following this they played “Take the A Train”. I didn't know jazz from a hole in the ground, but I did understand enough to know that this was not your ordinary band. It was the next tune that changed my life forever.
When I first heard “YEM”, I knew that it was the end of an era. The lack of originality that marked the ‘80s had come to a screeching halt. This was the first Phish original I ever heard, and I was dumbfounded! This is the Phish sound. It's what differentiates them from other bands. It was incredibly refreshing to hear something so different. Yes, in progressive rock I had heard things like it, but this was different. And (for me) new. The way it kept intricately building into near noise until it exploded into a tight groove wasn't necessarily new to music, but the way this band did it was new to me. And such a distinct overall sound. Somehow it came from a band that came from the ‘80s. I sincerely thought I would forever be stuck in the world of classic rock from the ‘60s and ‘70s; yet here was a song that obviously was influenced by that music, but so different at the same time.
They had opened up with covers and I thought they were just going to be a cover band with a few originals thrown in for good measure. But song after song of composition and improvisation with sick jamming continually bombarded me. I'll be honest that the only other thing I really recall after twelve years is “Lizards”. For some reason this song truly struck a chord in me. I left that night singing, "But I'm never ever going back there / and I couldn't if I tried / cause I come from the land of the Lizards / and the Lizards they have died / the Lizards they have died / the Lizards they have died!"
After this, I wanted nothing but Phish in my ears. I knew there was finally hope in the world…musically, anyway. I saw them again in two months; if not for lack of a car, the return would have been even sooner. In retrospect, this unsuspecting night at the Lodge changed my life.
Score: 3
fluffhead09250 , attached to 1988-03-11 Permalink
fluffhead09250 Thats an amazing story, I am currently a student at Johnson State and i am a huge phish head. I cant even imagine seeing them in sterns, which is now completely different.
Score: 0
SlavePhan , attached to 1988-03-11 Permalink
SlavePhan Johnson State college, just about an hour from Burlington, was played only 3 times despite how close it was to the band's starting point. Of the three shows (2/13/87, this show, and 4/14/89), this one is likely the best. What seems to be just another date in the middle of the spring of 1988, is a very strong early Phish show.

Opening up with the Chicken, a James Brown song played to absolute perfection by jazz folk since (check out the Scofield/Jaco combo on youtube), the band was ready to hit this show in full force. While Mike's equipment hadn't gotten to the point where he could shake rooms, at this period in the band's history, he used a jazzier bass (as he hadn't switched over to a Languedoc yet). This sound goes well with some of the band's earlier jazz tunes as Fish holds the bottom. They do a good job covering the song, nice solo with Mike in there too.

The then-standard 'first set with many covers' contained Bitch, but things were really interesting when 'Bobby Brown' came out to play harmonica on an energized Sneakin Sally. He would come to play harmonica with the band a few times in '88 and I think he adds a nice element to the band. Note that this is not a psuedonym for Tim "Timber Hole" Rogers, the band's first lighting director before CK. Rather, Bobby Brown played with the band and was just a friend - kind of a Nancy Taube figure, but without writing skills.

I don't like the flubs in YEM's composed section, but I do like the lack of a vocal jam and a great segue into Wilson. While the -> is pushing it, this is a decent segue, especially for the early days. The band heats up during this Slave. Being a bit of a connoisseur, I tend to find early Slaves too short, without the proper build, and really suffering from a lack of pedal work. This version is beautiful. A wonderful build, nice things from Page, an abrupt start to the solo from Trey, but he phases into everything quite well and then just explodes for a good 20 seconds.

Flat Fee and Corinna serve to slow things down next, and this gives the audience a nice breather. Lizards picks things back up again. This is the first known recorded version that fits the same song structure that the band plays today. After the first “woah woah woah” part, Page is featured in more of a solo with Trey just playing ascending chords, culminating in a series of arpeggios. Although this is the version that everyone knows, and that most people prefer, I like the funky earlier version at times. This version soars to a close and brings down the house.

Here begins the first version of Bowie with a zillion teases in the introduction. Trey teases a whole bunch of originals and then the band plays chords from a handful of covers too. In order, they are Timber Ho, Alumni Blues, Smoke on the Water, Sunshine of Your Love (which has a tease by the whole band), Money, Whipping Post, a finally, a precursory glimpse at the chords to Weekapaug (!!!). Although the band rips through this version, the source from the spreadsheet cuts out here.

Set 2 opens up with a very strong Fluffhead with an absolutely mesmerizing Arrival section. It’s often hard to believe that Trey was so talented at such a young age, and this version of Fluffhead shows off his early skills. He is off in many directions here and is very refreshing. A surging Dinner follows, and this version features the first time the band is able to pull off the difficult composed section after the first verse (the one with the descending Page riff). Dedicated to the band’s friend Susannah (likely Susannah Goodman, the lyricist for Bathtub Gin), this version is strong and showcases the song as a driving energy-build rather than a novelty like it is today.

Trey plays well in this show, so this version of Hood is nice. While not as notable or solid as the conclusion of Fluff or Slave, it is pleasing. After another harmonica-laden cover (Curtis Lowe), the band debuts the first FULL version of Harpua, featuring a test to the audience from Trey. He asks everyone if they know what Harpua is. Of course, no one knows, and so he thanks the audience for ‘paying attention’. This is an extremely basic narration here, but it is essentially the same as other early versions.

A spirited Bag and Alumni follow into, likely, the highlight of the show - the set-closing Antelope. This version is all over the place for an early take, evolving into what seems like a Bowie-like jam, then into pure machine-gun Trey for a solid few minutes. This is probably the loudest and screamingly loud Antelope the band had played by this point. Of course, feeling funny, Trey adds some extra names to Marco and also, interestingly, the ‘sing a random note’ signal is thrown in the intro here, 4 years before the band would develop the language.

I like this show for an early 88 choice. Trey plays very well, as does Page, who shines in Slave. The Chicken is a unique opener, there’s a guest who actually rounds out a few covers, and the Fluffhead and Antelope are extremely powerful. The first version of Harpua and a complete Dinner make this one worth a once-over. You might keep the Antelope and Fluffhead around for a few repeat listens.
Score: 0
BBrods , attached to 1988-03-11 Permalink
3.6/5

I love this early '88 show. I think it's a Top 5 1988 show, and there are some really great performances on it. Nothing out of the ordinary setlist wise, but just over the top playing, and great flow. You can hear that the band practiced a lot in those couple weeks off between 2/26 and this show.

Set I opens with a great rendition (and only time ever) version of The Chicken. Really nice choice for an opener and played great. Funky Bitch and Sneakin' really well played and keep the energy going including a cool harmonica solo as well. A Train, YEM > Wilson was nice. I liked that the YEM was cut early and it segued really well into the dark '88 versions of Wilson. Bowie smokes too, and is a set highlight.

Set II brings out some longer songs--fluffhead, hood and antelope, all pretty standard but not below average. A great Curtis Loew with Bobby Brown on harmonica and some great humor in Antelope substituting lyrics for Moses Dewitt.

If you want a show to listen to from 1988, this should be on the list.
Score: 0

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