The Old Home Place and Foreplay/Long Time were performed acoustic. While Mike tuned up for Foreplay/Long Time, Trey talked about the fact that the Bangor Auditorium and Nectar’s are both on Route 2, so the band had been playing on that road for eleven years. This version of Tweezer appears on A Live One. Trey teased Stairway to Heaven in Suzy Greenberg and Possum contained I'm a Man (Spencer Davis Group) teases. The second Old Home Place in the soundcheck was acoustic.
The Tweezer is the centerpiece of this infamous show, and was included on 'A Live One' as the big Disc Two F*CK YOU jam. Like most of Phish's long pre-1996 jams, the Bangor Tweezer contains a far amount of dicking around - to my ears they still had trouble going deep with their improvisations back then. The result is a jam that's intermittently thrilling and soporific. It ends spectacularly, with a quick hurdy-gurdy groove transforming into a bit of a Sparks jam and exploding back into the Tweezer theme, and there are plenty of entertaining micro-improvisations in the middle ten minutes. But it wasn't until late 1996 and (especially) early '97 that Phish developed the patience that characterized their great improvisations.
This, then, is ADHD rock - dazzling pyrotechnics, ostentatious chops, and lots of cerebral mini-jams that manage to be both (1) short in duration and (2) oddly trying to one's patience. Weird for a 2-minute improvisation to have outstayed its welcome, but...
That said, it's a monumental rendition of this mainstay tune, and every Phish fan should hear it - if for no other reason than to help make sense of the vastly more coherent, emotionally serious music that the band was making just three years later.
This version of Possum (with extensive chordal weirdness that's traditionally been labeled 'Mind Left Body' jamming) sort of has the same problem/virtue: Trey has all these neat ideas about bringing the music up and down and all around and goofily deconstructing the Very Idea of a Blues Solo, etc., etc., and what you get is a version of the tune that's viscerally exciting and impressive without revealing even a split second of emotional depth or honesty. The band's technique in those days was positively inhuman, and 'inhuman' isn't exactly the cardinal virtue for a blues performance. Right?
But you gotta admit this too: no other band does quite what Phish does, and that was true in 1994 too. This is astonishing music: giddy high-wire ensemble playing in some weird dialect of Rock, smarter and in some ways wilder than anything else going. When they locked into a song they could perform miracles, even then. And back then they very specifically wanted to do just that. They're into other stuff now - love, death, mere living - and so the music goes deeper than ever, but is less likely to impress the music school kids. If that's your standard than enjoy this marvelous exhibition.
If you think bitter truth and ecstatic melancholy are more important to music than the blinding wizardry on display in this show, go see Phish next time they're in your town.
Well, and keep this tape too. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all.
This was my first concert ever, and I was 16 years old. My best friend (RIP) and I went, and didn't know what we were in for. We are from a small town in Northern/Central Maine and made the one hour trip south in my old LTD station wagon. We brought one jay which we smoked in the car before we stood in line. It poured rain the entire time, but we were bewildered by the scene. People came up to us with all kinds of goodies that we of course had no money for. Ended up with some sweet spots on the lower bleachers which bounced the entire show. Everybody on the bleachers was super-friendly.
As far as the music goes the moments I remember most were the opener, which I had never heard before so I thought cheekily that they were saying "Suzy Greenbud." Axila and Sample stood out because at the time Hoist was one of my favorite albums. Tweezer struck a chord with me as well. Sorry I can't elaborate on the music more, but I was young and basically in awe at the whole experience.
This was more of a personal account rather than a concert review, but thanks for letting me share this experience.
It was a cold rainy scene in the lot. Tickets were very hard to find and the mood was very subdued...not much joy in the lot. At the gate, security was horribly slow, checking everyone meticulously even while the band had begun. Some people opened a door and a whole gate-crashing event ensued. And then, once through the gate, everyone entered the gym from the Page side of the stage. Everyone got about 20 feet into the gym and stopped to watch the band, creating another log jam.
Anyway, the vibe was cranky and agitated and the band responded with a pretty dark mean first set. The second set continued with more agitated playing during the famous Tweezer. Eventually the Tweezer got kind of silly and the ice began to thaw. By the time they got to Lizards everyone was happy and joyous again. For me, it was stunning example of the band manipulating the mood of the crowd... a large scale emotional tension and release.
Fishman never ceases to amaze me. Try to figure out how he keeps perfect time on the ride and squeaks in the little Cabasa sounds (chit chit) in between on If I Could. He always does this on this song, but, on this version it's over the top. A butt with arms and legs my ass!!!! An ass with 8 appendages flailing, with no rhyme or or reason, but still in time!!!!!
Well, well... it looks like this was a first show for a lot of us!
I'll recap my memories of the show, which are less of a review of the music (sorry, I just had no frame of reference at the time), and more a recap of the experience. I have never listened to a recording of the show (save for Tweezer, of course) since. I'm looking forward to listening to this show finally, after writing about it purely from memory...
I knew very little about Phish at the time, and only went because a friend gave me a free ticket, and I went with an open mind. It would be a long time after this show before I would open my mind again and finally start to like the band.
It was a very cold November night, as I vaguely remember walking to the venue and back with frosty trees and slick sidewalks. I also remember the long line and something about gate-crashing that TheGhost mentioned, so I probably didn't make it inside until well after the music had started.
The pre-renovation Bangor Auditorium was a horrible building acoustically, with a metal roof and long, sloping bleachers, designed more for State Championship Basketball than anything else. The stage was backed up against the wall at one end of the court. I remember black curtains surrounding the back of the stage area. Since the entrances into the auditorium were on either side of the stage, with a hallway behind, it's a puzzle to me how the band got on and off stage without going through that hallway and being swarmed by fans -- although maybe those were early enough days that it was no concern.
I remember the floor was arranged with folding chairs at the start of the concert, which the audience removed once the music started. (between this and the gate crashing, I imagine the venue staff were just grossly ill-informed about what to expect from a Phish show). I wonder if the clanking of metal chairs can be heard among the first few tunes? I remember being confused and thinking to myself 'we probably shouldn't be moving these chairs...', while the community effort moved all of those chairs up the bleachers on the sides and into the stands, freeing up the dance space for the floorward migration.
I remember being very confused as to why no songs were played, as the music seemed to just go on and on in no particular direction. 'Is this still the same song,' I vaguely recall asking my friend somewhere in the middle of the show. The response was something like 'you're a musician, you should appreciate this.' I remember trying, and failing, to appreciate it.
I do remember that Stash was played, because I remember trying to clap along with everyone else, and then clapping at the wrong time. It was like being an outside date at someone's inside joke party.
I also remember that Maze was played because that plinking intro was unlike anything else I had ever heard, and I was fascinated.
Into Set 2, it just seemed like things had devolved into noise (this was probably Tweezer). I remember that Trey had a rack of effects next to him on stage and just kept playing with the effects knobs, and he seemed to just really be experimenting with noise by himself.
I also have this vague recollection - and I hope someone can corroborate this - that Trey and Mike were ballet-style prancing across the stage, and pretending to 'shoot' their guitars at Page, who would pretend to be hit by their 'arrows' and slam on the piano. Anyone else remember this, or is this just my imagination?
At some point, I had had enough of the nonsense and decided to leave. It was likely during the Tweezer. Not being familiar with the music at all, I had nothing to latch on to, and was bored.
I remember waiting by the door at the side of the stage, looking to see if anything interesting would happen before I left. Nothing to me did, and that was that.
I do remember the next day people saying how amazing it was that they came out and played an acoustic Encore with Fishman on Madonna washboard and that I had missed something very special.
This show kicks off my favorite month of Phish and does not disappoint.
The Foam, Maze, Stash, Tweezer, and Possum from this show are all excellent versions of their respective songs. That slew of highlights and the generally strong playing throughout make this show remarkable even for the high-quality Fall 94 tour.
Truely my first PHISH show, after listening to Lawn Boy and enjoying the groove as well as a faster pace from the Grateful Dead I jumped into the car to drive to Bangor with 4 other friends to witness my first live PHISH show at the Bangor Auditorium...
Stories abound from this show and my Maxell 90 aud2 tape in the garage reminds me of the innocence we viewed PHISH back in those days... Geeze that was fun!
What a show on a cold night in Bangor Maine, we stumbled upon a glorious spot on the floor about 20 feet from Page and let the music cascade down on us as we bounced and grooved with Suzy, Stash and Scent of a Mule 1st set. Awesome I thought and this is WAY more fun than a Dead show!!
2nd set Tweezer knocked me into a new belief system!! Trey and Mike went back and forth for 20 minutes of Wickedness. The house came down during Lizards from what I recall and I could not believe these 4 musicians put together a wicked a capella encore..
The Mockingbird Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Phish fans in 1996 to generate charitable proceeds from the Phish community.
And since we're entirely volunteer – with no office, salaries, or paid staff – administrative costs are less than 2% of revenues! So far, we've distributed over $1,000,000 to support music education for children – hundreds of grants in all 50 states, with more on the way.