Run Like an Antelope
Also Known As: Antelope
Lyrics: Marshall, The Dude of Life
Vocals: Trey (lead), Mike, Page (backing)
Albums: The White Tape, Lawn Boy, Colorado '88, At the Roxy, Live Phish 02, Live Phish 05, Live Phish 06, Live Phish 07, Live Phish 09, Live Phish 10, Live Phish 13, Live Phish 14, Live Phish 16, High Neighbors: Dub Tribute to Phish, The String Quartet Tribute to Phish, Coral Sky, Hampton/Winston-Salem '97, Live In Utica, Alpine Valley, The Clifford Ball, Chicago '94
Historian: Martin Acaster (Doctor_Smarty)
Last Update: 2016-02-27
“Run Like An Antelope” is one of a collection of songs written by Trey Anastasio that ostensibly predates (but may be roughly coeval with) the birth of Phish. Named after Space Antelope, one of the the two bands (Red Tide being the other) he formed while attending The Taft School; the song first appeared on a Bivouac Jaun demo tape Trey recorded in November/December 1983 with varying levels of assistance from Tom Marshall, Marc Daubert, Dave Abrahams, Peter Cottone, Roger Holloway, and The Dude of Life. Despite the broad array of talent on the Bivouac Jaun demo – this same version of “Antelope” is on the Phish White Tape – Trey is alleged to have recorded all of the instrumental portions of “Antelope” alone, while Tom and The Dude are credited with the lyrics.
Seems simple enough at first glance, but this canteloupe hole goes deeper – much deeper. You see, shortly before the Bivouac Jaun recording sessions, Trey attended his second Grateful Dead show (10/14/83 Hartford), ate some blotter, and unlike his first show (5/10/80 Hartford) which he described as “boring,” got blindsided with “IT” for the first time. What does this have to do with “Antelope,” you ask? Well, between that evening’s “They Love Each Other” and “Mama Tried,” Bob Weir had to check the tuning of his guitar and began strumming a largely innocuous phrase (listen to the Dick’s Picks Volume 6 version from the 8:36 mark of “TLEO” to the conclusion of the track) that ordinarily would have faded into the aether. You have to agree that little Bobby riff is kind of how “Run Like an Antelope” starts. Though nobody should speak to the condition of Trey’s LSD soaked brain at that moment, it was very likely to be wide open for mindworm, inception, internalization, and gestation of a truly life-altering adaptation. Thanks, Bobby!
“Antelope” is thus a great barometer for checking the condition of Trey’s soul and where his musical influences are leaning at a given moment. Early versions are loose (5/3/85 UVM) to fiery (11/23/85 Goddard College) twin guitar reggae-inflected amalgamations of the Dead and The Allman Brothers. The lone “Antelope” from the following year (2/3/86 Hunt’s) captures the emergence of Page and the impending departure of Jeff Holdsworth. Two vigorous 1987 versions (5/20/87 The Ranch and 9/21/87 Nectar’s) finally revealed the song’s true potential. By 1988, and the Phish studio version on Lawn Boy, the tension and release leading to climax pattern was well established – check out 5/24/88 at Nectar’s.
"Run Like An Antelope" – 8/17/96, Plattsburgh, NY
Since then, it has been a vehicle for ferocious jamming and hilarious stage antics. As suggested above, if Trey is having a good time, “Antelope” will let you know, and as such the “rye, rye, rocco” line has had many impromptu variations. The clear peaks of the first section became less distinct as the “Phish 1.0” era progresses, as Trey used more effects-laden builds to create thick textural soundscapes in the run to climax. There are almost too many great versions of “Antelope” for a short list to do justice to the range of what is available, but for a taste of strong live versions from this period check out 8/26/89 (on LivePhish 09); 3/22/91 Steamboat Springs, CO; 3/13/92 (the “Big Black Furry Antelope”); 4/1/93 (teases of “I Feel The Earth Move” and “Barracuda”); 8/14/93; 5/4/94 (“I hope you live your life like that last jam”); 6/11/94 Red Rocks (best ever?); 6/24/94 (Diseased); 7/16/94 (with “Catapult,” Simpsons signal, and Trey on megaphone); 10/31/95; 8/17/96 (Clifford Ball acrobat jam); 11/2/96 (the “cross-eyed antelope” with Karl Perazzo and “Norton Charlton Heston”); 6/25/97 (with crew introductions); 7/29/97, (transcendentally mystic); 8/6/97 (with “Makisupa,” Star Wars theme teases, Mike on mini-kit, and Page on theremin); 4/3/98 (“Carini’s gonna get ya”); 10/30/98 Vegas; and 12/30/99 Big Cypress.
The herd of “Antelope” that grazed on the blazing savanna of the post-hiatal Phish landscape was not particularly large – only 13 versions – with the majority appearing during 2003 characterized by a return to a clearer voicing on Trey’s part. However, as Trey got stuck in the mud during 2004 and downshifted into the low gear of his soul, the GMO grain-fed “Antelope” became noticeably scarce. Despite the relatively small sample size, the Pantholops oxy-dentalis specimen group included five fairly muscular free ranging bulls worthy of further inspection: 2/15/03 Las Vegas, 7/17/03 Bonner Springs, 7/23/03 Deer Creek, 8/11/04 Great Woods, and 8/14/04 Coventry.
"Run Like An Antelope" – 12/05/09, Charlottesville, VA
The healthy grass-fed "Antelope" that have prevailed since Phish returned are clear evidence that Trey’s soul is in a similar condition, and the tune remains a show staple that is greeted with frenzied enthusiasm every time that antelope’s hooves start their frantic dance. When Trey delivers the lyric, “Set the gearshift for the high gear of your soul,” there is a euphoria felt by all. It is this high gear residual and the prevalence of antics that makes it such a perfect set closer, the song’s most frequent role. For a great example of this, check out the 12/5/09 Charlottesville “Antelope,” wherein the lyrics of the chorus were modified to give tribute to the naked guy who had danced onto the stage and was subsequently chased off during the first set. Changes to the lyrics remain common. “GAKTOIDLER!” Other particularly powerful or comedically noteworthy examples from the modern era include 10/20/10 Utica, 7/3/12 Jones Beach, 7/3/13 Bangor, 7/15/14 Canandaigua (“Fuegolope”), and 8/22/15 Magnaball.
For a more classic take on the words, fellow Space Antelope Tom Marshall appeared with Phish to deliver the line he contributed (“rye, rye, rocco...”) to the tune at the New Year’s Eve shows in 1993 and 1994, as well as on 9/9/00 and 12/1/03 (both in Albany, NY), 8/14/04 Coventry, and 7/6/12 (accompanied by The Dude of Life). “Antelope” was also featured in the 4/7/02 “guest appearance” by Phish in the Simpsons episode, “Weekend at Burnsie’s,” complete with Simpsons secret language.