Historian: David Steinberg (zzyzx)
"Wait" is less of a song than a joke on the fans. During 1991’s Halloween show Phish played the opening line of "It's Ice." Pretending as though they messed it up, Trey said that they'd "Just have to wait for a second,” and then repeated the riff, saying, "You're going to have to wait." By the third time through, the band started chanting, "Wait," after each repetition. This game went on for a couple minutes before segueing into “Llama.” Twice more during the set they did this. By the final rendition, the fans were so annoyed at this that they started chanting, “Fuck you!” in response to each “Wait.”
The second performance of this “song” occurred in the intro of “Possum” on 12/6/91. For nearly six minutes the same two-second riff (Not "It's Ice" this time, but something along the lines of, “Doot-do, do-doot-do-doot Wait”) was played over and over and over and over and over again. The rest of the band made a few attempts to try to start “Possum,” but Trey and Mike were on a mission. They wanted us to know – more than we had ever known before in our entire lives – that it was time for us to wait, and they didn’t care what they had to do to in order to bring this vital message to us. The crowd got a brief break from this via a Simpsons signal. Mike then took a solo – literally, no one else was playing at all – while Fishman somewhat successfully got the crowd to say, “Yeah,” “Yeah,” “Whoo,” and “Boner.” Finally though, Phish remembered what song they were playing. No, no, not “Possum.” “Doot-do, dodoot-do-doot Wait.” When they did get past that and into the “Possum,” Trey announced that they would perform “The Weight.” The opening two lines of The Band classic were sung over the same riff they had just played an excessive number of times.
The final entry on the “Wait” list happened on 5/14/92. Here they took a joke that was already hard for the audience to understand and made it completely incomprehensible. In this version the riff they were pretending to perfect wasn’t constant. Rather than a band messing with the audience’s head, this was something more along the lines of Trey singing “Jungle Boogie” in the 12/31/03 “Weekapaug Groove.” The only question the Port Chester crowd seemed to have was, “What the heck was Trey saying?”
While it might have fallen flat there, it must be said that this is pretty amusing. The willingness to play a practical joke on their fans is an example of the playfulness that drew many of us to the band in the first place. Those who treasure this sort of interaction might well wonder if they will ever play this prank again? We’ll just have to wait and see.