My first show, and I was smack dab in the front row right in front of Mike. He stared at me the whole time and freaked me out. I love the Fox, and I hope that Phish plays it again some day. Another three night stand would do it.
The Reprise opener kind of blew my mind and sent me tumbling out to that scene in 2001 where the guy is traveling through space and time and whatnot. I didn't know that deep space was actually a freezer, but it does make a lot of sense. I was thrilled when they snapped into Divided Sky, and it really soared in that room. In retrospect, Caspian was a straightforward version from that era, but I'd never heard the song, and I was oddly delighted that they were singing about a character that I hadn't thought about since I was a little kid. I didn't know PYITE either, so everyone yelling "Hey!" and the rapping was neato. Simple was rocking so hard that the floor was moving, and the feminine duo of Reba-Tela was sublime. I love Reba jams and this one is especially raucus, with on the spot, dynamic wind-ups. I only knew Teela from Masters of the Universe, but the song didn't seem to be exactly related to that world. It was during the second chorus of Sample that I finally turned around for the first time and surveyed the room, which was awash in white light brilliance, with every single guy and gal absolutely slamming. That image has been burned into my head ever since. Total Dionysian revelry.
I didn't make it back from my halftime adventures until Julius, but the Theme is solid. I like it as a set opener. Julius was rip-roaring. Lizards was another one that I didn't know, but I was loving the story-telling and was immediately hooked on the outro guitar-solo. It reminded me of a trumpet solo. I've always thought that Trey has a bit of horn player in him. The Bathtub Gin from this show unfolds in a manner that could be viewed as a pre-cursor to the famous Real Gin the following month. I love it when they are rolling along and the jam threatens to break out in who-knows-what direction. TMWSIY->Avenu through me for a loop, and when they got to life on Mars I was definitely convinced of the existence of extra-terrestrials. The barbershop quartet thing sealed the deal that this was my new favorite band, and a Squirming Coil closer was exactly what I had hoped for. I was in total agreement with the "beautiful buzz" sentiment in the encore, and I walked out with a huge smile on my face.
I remember standing around in a hotel lobby after the show, and some guy was telling me, "Whoa, Trey was ON tonight, right?" and I enthusiastically agreed, suddenly realizing that there were groups of folks that actually do this often, haha. And I totally understood why. I didn't know a whole lot about the band before that first show, and now I appreciate what an ecelectic and well-played show it was. For that kid 16 years ago, it was an Event that played a big role in catapulting me out on wide adventures. Yay Phish.
The first set is your typical late 95 stuff (Divided Sky has so much more snap in its '95 versions), anchored by a fiery Reba that very nicely builds and features some gnarled, knotty Trey soloing before he finally just lets go and trills like a maniac before hitting the climax. The second set gets off to a sharp start with a Theme/Julius/Lizards combo that doesn't feature any big jams but displays just how *on* the band was at this point in their career, everything so crisply played and powerful while never tipping over the edge. But fear not, lest you think all the improv is all contained in the first set, as Gin starts off with a very classic-rock 70s jam mixed in with the usual Gin theme before smoothing out into a more minimalist jam (well, as minimalist as 1995 ever got) that Page leads into a more upbeat jam, what I like to think of as the "Classic Gin" jam (see the Went or 6/28/00). They then pick up the pace, and all of a sudden Rift appears out of nowhere, but rather than go into the song proper Fish rolls into a hip-hop-esque beat, and they opt to return to the main Gin theme for a few measures, before a brief spacey jam that naturally leads into TMWSIY. The rest of the set is just fine.
Final thoughts: I'm not a fan of the term "average-great", but this is about as "average-great" as you can get from this time period. Not an all-time classic show, but both Gin and Reba are really good (as is Divided Sky, although I confess that Divided Sky's charms are occasionally lost on me). A good show to start a three-night run.
Great show with excellent versions of Divided Sky, Reba, and Bathtub Gin. This Fox Theatre run would be a great place to start if you're looking to grab some fall 95 shows.
Side note - If you're a fan of Trey using the Leslie, you'll like this show. He uses it all over the place.
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