a Project of the Mockingbird Foundation

Performances Song History Lyrics Jamming Chart


Music/Lyrics: Anastasio/Fishman/Gordon/McConnell

Vocals: Phish

Albums: A Picture of Nectar, A Live One, At the Roxy, Live Phish 01, Live Phish 05, Live Phish 08, Live Phish 11, Live Phish 16, Live Phish 17, Live Phish 18, Live Phish 19, Sharin' in the Groove, Gone Fishin', High Neighbors: Dub Tribute to Phish, Hampton/Winston-Salem '97, The Clifford Ball, Chicago '94, Live Phish Downloads 6-20-1995, Lullaby Versions of Phish V2

Debut: 1990-03-28

Historian: Charlie Dirksen (icculus), Saul Wertheimer

Last Update: 2016-01-13

"Tweezers" from each consecutive tour in the mid to late 1990s seemed to yield at least a slightly – if not wildly – different style of jamming. Although this is less true today, nevertheless, the song’s funky intro continues to serve as a launching pad for some of Phish’s most experimental playing. "Tweezer" has been jammed in excess of 50 minutes (6/14/95 Memphis), has been woven like a fine shirt (e.g., 5/7/94 Dallas, 12/1/94 Salem), and has yielded some fiery Hose-inducing jams (e.g., 11/30/95 Dayton and 12/2/95 New Haven).

Making its debut as “Tweezer So Cold” in March 1990, "Tweezer" allegedly grew out of a soundcheck jam that occurred before the 12/31/89 New Year’s show. It was toyed with a little bit before the “Bowie” on 2/25/90 in Baltimore, before being finalized during the 3/3/90 Wetlands soundcheck. Mike comments in The Phish Book that not only did he invent “Tweezer’s” bass line, but also that the “freezer” of the song’s lyrics is the state of Vermont. (He was kidding.) Apparently, upon hearing Mike’s bass line, Trey came up with the guitar part instantly.

"Tweezer" – 12/30/94, New York, NY (Part 1)

"Tweezer" – 12/30/94, New York, NY (Part 2)

"Tweezer" – 12/30/94, New York, NY (Part 3)

The earliest “Tweezers” featured a closing segment (a few measures of the opening theme) after the jam segment died out. Although shortened around April 1991 (compare 3/29/91 with 4/27/91), this slow, dying-out-of-the-main-melodic-theme ending appeared consistently in "Tweezer" throughout most of its history when the jam failed to segue or fade-out into another song. Early “Tweezers” of note include 4/27/91, which contains strong “Sweet Emotion” jamming and “Dr. Q on bass." Another excellent version was played on 4/21/92, featuring a charming, melodious jam segment. Many fans also love the Roxy version on 2/20/93. While Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” appeared on occasion in early “Tweezers,” most early versions were dark and dissonant, and not particularly melodious.

The first “Tweezer” that strayed unusually far from home (but which was not a monster of epic proportions, like 11/2/94) is 5/6/93 Albany. After a somewhat traditional groove for the first few minutes, including some intense “Sweet Emotion” quoting, particularly from Mike, the jam takes on a frighteningly aimless and peculiar mood for several minutes. It returns to a powerful rock theme, however, just before a spine-tingling, mellifluous improvisation develops. “Tweezer” would be forever changed, and the August 1993 versions bear this out (e.g., behold the unusually inventive 8/15/93 version).

One of the most popular “Tweezers” was performed on 5/7/94 at the Bomb Factory. Jammed off and on for almost an entire set, the "Bomb Factory Tweezer” is immersed in several other great tunes and jams (“Sparks,” “Sweet Emotion,” “Walk Away” and “Cannonball”), which weave in and out of a “Tweezer” jam. The set concludes with a magnificent jam based on the “Hold Your Head Up” theme, and a strong “Tweezer Reprise”. It is a fan favorite to this day.

Summer 1994 yielded some strong “Tweezers,” such as 6/10/94 (unusually powerful jam), 7/6/94 (jams on “2001” and “HYHU” and "Who Knows" teasing) and, of course, 7/13/94 (“Tweezer” > “Julius” > “Tweezer” -> “BBFCFM” -> “Tweezer”). But the real excitement came on 11/2/94 in Bangor, Maine. Featured on A Live One, the 11/2/94 “Tweezer” is spectacularly playful and just over 30 minutes long. “Tweezer” had never before been jammed out in such a loose, experimental manner.  Shortly thereafter, Phish performed another highly improvisational "Tweezer" on 11/23/94. A two minute, four second portion of Fall 1994’s other experimental “Tweezer,” 11/28/94 Bozeman (approximately 45 minutes long), also appears on A Live One as “Montana.” Another strong Fall 1994 version, the 12/1/94 “Tweezer” sandwiches “BBFCFM,” “Makisupa Policeman,” and “NICU.” The 12/9/94 “Tweezer” is also noteworthy because it switches back and forth from intense space to typical rock jamming numerous times, and also features a full-blown jam on “Slave to the Traffic Light.”

The Experimental “Tweezer” also showed up several times in Summer 1995. The momentous 6/14/95 Memphis “Tweezer” is around 50 minutes long, and is more a symphony with movements – a masterpiece of improvisational artistry – than simply a rock song. It contains some great space, and Mike lays down a captivating bass line. The 6/17/95 version contains the first-ever Phish performance of “Johnny B. Goode,” even though it is not as experimental the other versions of the tour. At the Finger Lakes Performing Arts Center on 6/22/95, “Tweezer” was jammed for almost the entire set. The "FLeezer," as it came to be called, featured some “My Generation” (The Who) vocals, heavy exploration, and a nice segue into “Tweeprise.” If you want to hear Phish take a lot of risks, check it out!  The “Tweezer” on 6/28/95, which (like 11/2/94) is around a half-hour long, featured the most serious “Dave’s Energy Guide” jam of the decade about 19-20 minutes into it, as well as a “Cannonball” jam (see also 5/7/94). The final “Tweezer” of the tour, which segued smoothly into “Ha Ha Ha,” was brilliantly performed at Sugarbush on 7/2/95.

"Tweezer" – 7/31/09, Morrison, CO (Part 1)

"Tweezer" – 7/31/09, Morrison, CO (Part 2)

Considered by many to be the most inspired tour that Phish has ever performed, Fall 1995 contained astounding musical explorations in “Tweezer” and numerous other songs. You will likely revisit the 10/22, 11/19, 11/3012/212/8, and 12/14 versions to hear them again. Their intense jams are often more reminiscent of “Antelope,” “Bowie” and “Possum” than “Tweezer’s” typically discordant jams. 

“Tweezer” was relatively calm in 1996 and most of 1997. A “Norwegian Wood” jam graced the Red Rocks 8/6/96 “Tweezer.” In Gainesville on 11/3/96Karl Perazzo from Santana wailed away on percussion in what was arguably the finest version of that year. While still riding the Tsunami caused by Halloween, this version portended the Funk Renaissance that took full effect in 1997. Its jamming is dense and heavy with a textured feel, much like the Remain in Light 10/31/96 set, and the “Crosseyed” -> ”Antelope” from 11/2/96. The 11/27/96 “Tweezer” harkened back to the “Old Days” with a brief “Sweet Emotion” quote. And the summer 1997 Gorge and Great Went “Tweezers” signaled the song’s rescue from a brief retirement.

Fall 1997 “Tweezers” raged with a funk so deep that many fans became stuck in its licentious depths, able only to mutter “Step into the Freezer,” while grinning in wild-eyed wonder. Traditionally a second set jamming tune, “Tweezer” began appearing in the first set of Fall ‘97 shows, even opening the show on two occasions (11/17 and 11/26) much to the surprise and excitement of fans. The 11/22 Hampton “Tweezer” is a part of one of the most thrilling sets in Phishtory, and its segue into “Black-Eyed Katy” is ferociously funkalicious. The 12/6 version is not only the longest “Tweezer” of ‘97, but also probably the most popular ‘97 version. It is essentially a hybrid of the 11/30/95 Dayton “Tweezer” and James Brown’s “The Payback.”

"Tweezer" through "Stairway to Heaven" – 10/30/10, Atlantic City, NJ

Though it appeared less frequently in 1998 than in most previous years, “Tweezer” nevertheless continued to serve as an exciting opportunity for the band to jam (see, for example, 8/110/3011/24).“Tweezer” in 1999 was no slouch, either (check out 12/16), and in 2000, visit the 6/9/006/24/00 and 10/07/00 versions.

During Phish’s “2.0” period (2003-2004), "Tweezer" was never as magnificent as the finest versions from the 1990s, with one notable exception. At Nassau Coliseum on 2/28/03, the band proved that they could still take "Tweezer" to spectacularly beautiful places. And since then, "Tweezer" has been consistently great. For example, be sure to check out the versions performed on 6/7/09, 7/31/09, 11/25/09, 12/29/09, and, of course, the "Zeppeleezer" on 10/30/10, when "Tweezer" included various (incomplete versions of) Led Zeppelin tunes, specifically, "Heartbreaker," "Ramble On," and "Thank You," before closing with "Stairway to Heaven." For the cream of the 2011 crop, look to the outstanding version from 9/3/11 that even a JadedVet™ could love.

”Tweezer” – 9/3/11, Commerce City, CO

More recently, Phish performed transcendent, must-hear versions at MSG (12/28/12), Jones Beach (7/12/13) and, of course, Lake Tahoe (7/31/13), where “Tweezer” soared through a host of improvisational landscapes for 36 minutes. For more information on the development of "Tweezer," including ratings and reviews of numerous Phish songs, please visit the Phish.Net legacy reviews site. And for a chart-based listing of excellent versions, please visit the “Tweezer” Jamming Chart.

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