CSU Convocation Center, Cleveland, OH
Soundcheck: Poor Heart (slow)
 Phish debut.
· Theme from The Brady Bunch tease in Run Like an Antelope
Average Song Gap: 8.84
Notes: Good Times Bad Times was dedicated to “the man in the dragon pants,” a.k.a. Jimmy Page. Antelope included a Brady Bunch theme tease. The encore, which included the first ever Phish performance of Come Together, was played in remembrance of John Lennon’s death on December 8, 1980.
Songs by Debut Year:
This show was part of the "1995 Fall Tour."
This Tweezer rolls right into a deep groove from the start, Page really going at it with some sharp piano chords as the band just wails away behind him. Then things strip away, Trey playing some minimalist notes with the band coming in with thunderous accompaniment at the end of every bar (it's like the band is in a mansion just slamming every door in the house at odd intervals), and then Fish leads the band back into another powerful groove which gets all atonal soon enough. I often think about 1994, and how often the band would trip over the line between "experimental" and "unlistenable"; in jams like these, Phish would neatly skirt that line, and then start playing something even better than before. In this case, it's a thrilling, pure hose jam, with Trey in full 70s rock god mode, which is quickly discarded for another exploratory jam, both Trey and Page coaxing weird notes from their instruments, the rhythm section dissonant and off-kilter. And off-kilter is just the sort of environment for Kung to appear, and the band gets that out of their system, whipping up a real good horror show accompaniment, before slamming back into the main Tweezer theme and petering out to a deliberate close. This is about as weird as Tweezers get after 94, and it's another glorious version from maybe its greatest month ever.
Fish and his vacuum come next, then Coil and the seeming set end in Tweezer Reprise, but the band has one more surprise lined up - a fierce and powerful Antelope, played (like all 95 versions) like the stage is set to explode if the band don't keep playing at over 50 mph. The Beatles tributes in the encore slot are just icing on the cake. I love the heck out of this show - give it a listen, and you almost certainly will, too.
But the Tweezer is really where it's at. I love Mike's sustained high-pitched singing over the groove during the verses. This thing really feels too funky to be Dec '95. I know they really had the "permagroove" thing going on that Fall, but this is..well, just beyond good! They bring it way down during the middle of the jam, and the sound of Trey's unaccompanied soloing (or, punctuatedly accompanied soloing) echoing around the hall is pretty cool to hear on these FOBs. Then they really start to wail again. It takes the rest of the boys a minute or to to ratchet up their steam to Trey's level, but when they all reach the peak and then tear into the last 4 1/2 mins of this jam, there's no doubt that this Tweezer is a (typically awesome) true Dec '95 rager!!! There's a hint (not quite a tease) of "Sunshine of your Love" toward the end of this, too. It almost sounds like it could wind down into a YEM vocal jam...they toy with some of the sparse jamming that was maybe more prevalent on the Fall '94 tour, and then all merge into a nice ebb & flow jam...and Trey's leslie brings us back in for a landing. Great Tweezer overall, but my favorite parts were probably more toward the beginning.
But wait! It's Kung!
Yeah, I'm pretty sure this is the first time I'm hearing this. I can't believe I spoke to soon. This mysterious & almost creepy Kung is probably the most a-typical I've ever heard (now that's saying something). Mid-Eastern harmonies from Fishman, sounds like. Then the Tweezer just rages face for another 4 mins. Fishman is screaming (always a good sign) while Trey is wailing to conjure the demonic powers of Cleveland. Short jam after Kung, but firey & intense. And I, for one, have always appreciated the sloooow old school wind down like this one has. This is one of the longest. Nice.
Go listen to this show. Then all of Dec '95. Right now.
I really remember digging Fluffhead and Tweezer & 2001 the most this night but also thought Prince Caspian, Its Ice & Squirming Coil were very nice. Then the double Beatles encore on the anniversary of Lennon's death was quite emotional.
We drove a long way from Indiana from college near finals week, and when we drove home after the show it was a blizzard and long scary ride as the Ricker was amped up and hauling it.
A few things I can clearly remember:
1. before the show they were playing some acoustic music over the PA and I loved it. I later found out through phish rec site that it was Strength In Numbers "Telluride Sessions" which introduced me to Bela Fleck and those guys. I thank Phish for this.
2. I remember the arguments and intense discussion about the chess move during the intermission, that was fun.
3. I remember Tweezer and Reprise rocking out. I was not a huge follower at the time but I knew this song. I also knew that it rocked and was as good as any classic rock song on the radio in terms of riff power. I was glad they played it.
4. Acoustic Army was a beautiful and unexpected kind of music that I appreciated greatly. We were sitting close and it sounded great.
5. I remember coming out of the show thinking "that piano player is really talented, like a classical musician or something, what an asset to the band!"