04-12-92 University of Arizona Ballroom, Tucson, AZ

review submisions to dan schar at [email protected] or [email protected]

Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 16:59:46 -0500
From: Dan McMichael [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: 4-12-92 Tuscon, AZ

I can't believe I get a chance to retell this story and possibly to a mass
audience.  The time I had in Tuscon that April was amazing.  This was my
first show, my second coming the next night in Tempe, and I think I got
pretty lucky.

First off, up to this time I had heard one tape, 10-6-90.  We had listened
to this tape a bunch for probably 2 months before finding out 2 days
before the shows in southern AZ that I had a chance to go.  The one thing
I remember about those times of listening is how much we laughed!  
Besides enjoying the melodies I found the music to be so humorous.  Not
just the lyrics, but the way that they played.  The way they interacted.  
This was totally new to me.  Later, I would "discover" Zappa and learn one
of Phish's influences.  (BTW- The many listenings of 10-6 explain why I
love The Landlady so much, please pull it out of PYITE!)

Anyway, on to the show.  We got tickets late and, if I recall, they were
10 bucks or less.  I had already seen the Dead 5 or 6 times, so I thought
I knew what to expect.  First of all, the "scene" was a bunch of college
kids hanging outside on the quad of the U of Arizona.  Throwing the
frisbee, smoking a little, meeting people, just having a good time.  A
friend had acquired some little pieces of paper and we were all too happy
to try them out.  Turns out we were sitting out on the grass when someone
said "That's Suzy playing!"  We ran inside.

I couldn't believe what I saw.  At the peak there must have been 200-250
people at this show.  Phish was up on a tiny stage, akin to what I did
drama on in highschool, but smaller.  Trey was wearing those funky shades
one wears over prescription glasses, big black things.  He was singing and
moving his head back and forth, but keeping his lips on the mic.  Mike was
wearing the most incredible lime green suit I had ever seen.  Under the
lights it glowed.  Heck, it glowed under sunlight and possibly in the
 Fishman was wearing his doughnut dress and Page was dressed in his
typical "casual Friday" attire.  In the background was what I thought at
the time was a shower curtain.  It turned out to be a piece of art done by
Trey's mom.

I clearly recall standing in the back of the room, which couldn't have
been 50 feet from the stage, for the first 3 or 4 songs and just watching.  
I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  The music was confusing and
beautiful all at the same time.  Now, the paper was not particularly
strong, but it was having it's effects.  However, I know that I was
actually in awe. Genuine awe of what I was seeing.  I had never seen a
band play like they played.

I think it was during Divided Sky that I decided I'd better start moving
my body.  The power of Divided Sky in that small room was incredible.  I
remember quite clearly wondering how they could stay together during what
seemed like totally spontaneous changes.  I know now, of course, what's
planned and what isn't, but at the time I was amazed.  I remember telling
a friend afterward that I likened it to a juggling act.  I couldn't figure
out how they kept all the balls up in the air.

Looking over the setlist later I can understand why certain songs have
held a special place in my heart for so long.  I actually owned a tape of
the first set of this night (it was released by Page without the second
set, as was the next night in its entirety, write me) but a friend
promptly lost it.  So, after looking over the setlist recently I see some
of my current "old" favorites in there and realize that I have loved these
songs so much more than others, but never knew why.  Divided Sky, Split
Open and Melt, NICU, Guelah.  (As a note: saw my first and only Reba and
wish it would come back to me, I don't remember it!)

During the second set they opened the doors and let anyone who wanted to
come in to do so.  The campus was not exactly busy and the room was kind
of out of the way, but we did get a few passers-by.  I got a lot braver
during the second set and took the opportunity I had to move around.  I
first spent some time by Page, watching him work, standing right at the
stage. I moved down to Mike, then to Trey, then finally to Fish.  I
couldn't belive I was watching people with this much talent standing 5
feet away.  I was so used to the Dead mindset of "huge music" in large
venues.  I'm not positive what I mean by "huge music," but it's the best
term I can come up with to describe intricate, complicated, beautiful, at
times whimsical, passages and phrases made by people who are obviously
well above any band out there.

So, here I had just seen an amazing show, had my mind blown in so many
ways, had one of the best times of my life and truly let myself go for the
first time and danced my ass off.  I was sure I was going to like this
band for a while.  But, the clincher came about 10 minutes after the show.  
My friends and I were sitting just outside the room on some couches,
smiling and laughing, talking about what had just happened.

Everyone was gone for the most part and it was just the 5 of us hanging
out with no real hurry to get any where.  I don't know who noticed first,
but as far as I knew Mike just appeared next to us.  He was smiling and
asked us how we liked the show.  We, of course, told him how great a time
we had and generally thanked him for the show.  He gave us a smile and
asked if we were hungry.  Having just lost about 5 pounds in sweat each we
told him yes.  He said they had tons of extra food in back and asked us to
wait where we were for a second.  A few minutes later he came out with a
HUGE bowl of chips and a bowl of guacamole and a bowl of salsa.  He set
them down on the short table we were sitting around and took a seat.  He
spent the next 10-15 minutes chatting with us.  Asking where we were from,
what we did, what we were studying, asked each if we had seen them before
and each what we thought.  He took time to get to know us as well as he
could. We all told him how much we were looking forward to the next night.

After he spent the time that he could he said he had to go and asked us to
leave what ever was left on the table as someone would get them later.  So
now, if I thought I liked these guys before Mike just convinced me that I
LOVED them.


Footnote: The next night we were in the parking lot waiting for show time
and Trey was walking Marley.  He stopped by and chatted briefly, wishing
us a good show.  This one had twice the people of the previous night and
was incredibly fun.  Love the Smells Like Teen Spirit tease.  Again, write
me, I have it. 


Dan McMichael
Virginia Tech
201 Southgate Center HRIS-0312
Blacksburg, VA 24061

click here to return to the 1992 reviews page
hits (many)