Mesa Amphitheatre, Mesa, AZ
Soundcheck: Higher Ground, Frankenstein, The Old Home Place, Funky Bitch
Set 2: Wilson > Poor Heart > Tweezer, McGruppMcGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters > Julius > BBJBig Ball Jam, HYHUHold Your Head Up > Cracklin' Rosie > HYHUHold Your Head Up, YEMYou Enjoy Myself, SuzySuzy Greenberg
Average Song Gap: 5.64
Notes: Antelope contained a tease by Trey of May The Force Be With You (The Force Theme from Star Wars). Tweezer included a Slave-based jam. I’m Blue I’m Lonesome and Foreplay/Long Time were performed acoustic.
Songs by Debut Year:
This show was part of the "1994 Fall Tour."
Set 1 is pretty standard stuff until It's Ice brings a Page showcase (with some weird noises from Trey and Mike for added zest) and then Antelope absolutely gouges a hole into the atmosphere with a *vicious* jam, ferocious and churning as it slides into dissonant Type II territory, Fish (?) yelping along as the band spirals down a rabbit hole. They eventually do make their way back to the usual Antelope jam (and Trey gets his showoff trills), but this is otherwise pure uncut insanity, almost akin to BBFCM, with Fish and Mike not so much driving the jam as grabbing it by the scruff of its neck and heaving it forward. They don't really transition into Rye Rye Rocco - the jam sorta stops and they all go "oh, right, Rye Rye Rocco" - but it's made up for by Trey's improvised "suck the -"...well, you're better off hearing for yourself. Antelope was something else in the mid-90s, and this is a fine example of the form.
Set 2 is not particularly noteworthy, with the obvious exception of the Tweezer. Things get weird right out of the gates, as Trey goes to that gun-the-engines riffing he liked so much during this period and the tempo just goes all over the place like the jam is wet paint bleeding out. They never really go into a proper Tweezer jam, instead moving into a clanging mid-tempo jam (and chanting something I can't really make out), Page's piano playing making me uncomfortable as I listen along. The jam falls apart and we enter Bowie-like space, feedback wailing as Fish thwacks the toms and Mike inserts random notes. This fog builds as we get band members just howling into their mics, and Trey's guitar comes charging out of the mist as he starts riffing away, but this doesn't last long as he switches to fast chords and Fish picks up on it and things speed up again. To be honest, this rock section sounds a good deal like the first rock section, and my patience is slightly tried, but Page goes to the organ and starts spitting out jazzy notes, leading to a slower, atonal jam, the band trying to mash free jazz and blues (via Fish's beat) together. The jam dies away again (I mean, they just bounce from idea to idea like a demented game of hopscotch) and we get a more contemplative (and, again, feedback-drenched) space, until they head into the Slave jam. And calling it a Slave jam is no lie whatsoever - I mean, Fish adjusts his beat to what he usually does in Slave, and it builds exactly the same way. This is certainly cool to hear (and it's arrived upon relatively organically), but...I mean, I *know* what a Slave jam sounds like, y'know? It doesn't last too long, though, as the Tweezer theme slides back into the picture and the band winds down the jam into nothingness. This is (like the other big Tweezers) anywhere between exhilarating and *exhausting* music, but the good stuff is damned good (like the other big Tweezers!).
Final thoughts - a two-song show, but two songs that really paint a picture of what 1994 was all about. Phish in 1994/95 were all about pushing the envelope to their absolute limits, and like any artists that attempt to do this, you're going to get greatness and you're going to get sub-greatness. But the greatness here really shines, and both Antelope and Tweezer deserve their reputations.