Vocals: Trey (lead), Mike, Page (backing)
Historian: Martin Acaster (Doctor_Smarty)
Last Update: 2012-12-14
If a revolution is to succeed certain sacrifices must be made. Often in times of desperation, even life itself must be given up for the cause. From high atop a turquoise mountain above the war torn forests of Gamehendge comes “Llama,” a song that documents the last selfless moments of a brave rebel’s life. Equipped with a pair of bazookas mounted on the back of his trusty llama, the rebel detonates a cache of blastoplast, driving the loyalists back to their lakeside encampment, unfortunately taking his own life in the process. Knowing he has done all he could, the martyr’s last vision is of his own Taboot. A Taboot of course being a wooden, brick, or stone monument placed above the coffin of the deceased in Mohammedan burial ceremonies. Icculus akbar!
"Llama" – 3/24/92 Richmond, VA
Trey wrote “Llama,” (which debuted on 10/30/90 in Crested Butte, CO) during a stay at Page’s parents house. Phish was on tour with Aquarium Rescue Unit at the time and the blistering pace of the song was apparently influenced directly by the tempo of ARU’s performances. Perhaps as a tribute to the origins of “Llama,” it was one of the tunes played during a guest appearance by Jimmy Herring (ARU guitarist) and dedicated to the McConnell family at the 2/19/93 Roxy show in Atlanta. Other notable guest appearances for “Llama” have included Carlos Santana, Karl Perazzo, and Raul Rekow of Santana (7/25/92 Stowe,VT), John Popper of Blues Traveler (6/23/95 Stanhope, NJ), and Bob Gullotti of Cosmic Krewe (10/23/96 Hartford, CT).
The live version of “Llama” is typically a little wilder and woollier than the studio release, which can be found on A Picture of Nectar. As such, “Llama” is usually a great opportunity to catch a glimpse of machine-gun Trey. Particularly explosive versions include the following: 7/10/92 Syracuse; 3/19/93 Redlands, CA; 4/1/93 Portland, OR; 5/7/94 Dallas; 5/21/94 Seattle; 12/6/96 Las Vegas; 2/17/97 Amsterdam; 8/16/97 The Great Went; 11/19/97 Champaign, IL; 12/13/97 Albany, NY; 7/19/98 Shoreline; 12/31/98 MSG; 7/18/99 Oswego; 6/14/00 Fukuoka, Japan; and of course 12/31/99 Big Cypress. Fans of the odd should also check out the 12/11/95 Portland, ME, “Llama” which was sandwiched among several versions of “Dog Log” or the 7/2/97 version which gave way to a demented “Wormtown.” Throughout its history (see 1994 setlists in particular), “Llama” has been a common show opener. This trend continued when Phish returned from hiatus in 2003 with three of the year’s six performances of the song appearing as liftoff experiences: 1/04/03 Hampton; 2/15/03 Las Vegas; and 7/31/03 Camden, NJ. This show opening trend continued on 6/23/04 Deer Creek, 8/16/09 SPAC, and 7/1/10 Raleigh, with the aberration from the trend on 10/26/10 Manchester, a smoking hot show that saw "Llama" on double-duty with a mid-first set appearance, followed by a second-set closing reprise.
"Llama" – 10/26/10 Manchester, NH
Adding to the mystique of “Llama” is the nearly unintelligible (and absent from the liner notes of APON) lyric sung before “Llama, Taboot, Taboot” in the chorus. Much fan debate has surrounded the deciphering of this all important line, with interpretations ranging from the mechanics of blastoplast detonation “Leave it on press, depress, depress!” to the recreational chemistry habits of the martyred rebel soldier “Living on Pez, Mesc, and Reds!” This “What are they saying in Llama?” powder keg might only be defused by repeated listens to the song. Sometimes sacrifices are easy. Taboot!
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