, attached to 1985-11-23

Review by SlavePhan

SlavePhan 11/23/1985 Goddard College

This is a very significant show for the effect that it had on Mike. As the liner notes mention, Mike had a 'realization' after the first set of this show and realized that he wanted to be a musician for the rest of his life. It is interesting to hear the band playing at the show that made such a large effect on him.

If you are familiar with shows at this time period, you'll notice how awkward the band sounded with both Page and Jeff in the band. Although the available recordings available yet are of a snippet of the second set, the band sounds much more in tune than in earlier shows from the year. They are more confident and definitely are capable of making significant improvisational changes throughout the course of several jams. In some ways, the band at this show indicates a sign of what is to come, ecspecially during the very long Whipping Post Jam, which lasts about 27 minutes!

Mike's Song starts off the second set for which there is available recording. The fast-tempo Mike's at this point is the same structure as later Mike's, but once the lyrics end, there is a 2 minute jam with a surging Trey-led jam. One can notice how Trey has begun to find his own voice in his solos, but still is heavily influenced by other guitarists (particularly Robert Fripp in this show). The Mike's is short, though, and all semblance of it moves into something that is known as the "Whipping Post Jam".

I'm not sure why this jam is entitled the "Whipping Post Jam". One could argue that it is a gigantic near half hour mish mash of 80's style noisy Phish that weaves through several early Phish themes. The first 7 minutes find the band in a nice rollicking groove, which gives way to the major "Whipping Post" jam. The next 8-10 minutes are consumed by a noisy cacophonous jam based on Whipping Post, but there is nothing of significant substance; the band seems to just be enjoying improvising.

After a while, Mike teases "Norweigan Wood" and this signifies a pretty jam with the whole band moving around the song's chords. The tempo slows down, though, and Trey moves into a series of chords that mimics today's "Mountains in the Mist." In fact, this particular part of the jam sounds almost identical to "Mist", except that with Jeff, Trey is able to solo above Jeff's rhythm section. After moving through a Prep-School Hippie-esque movement, the whole band clearly moves into the introductory part of "Hood". The reggae jam finally winds into "Antelope".

This Antelope essentially starts right after the current-day versions heavier jam section starts. Jeff holds down the rhythm and Trey is able to solo over the top. Trey does say the 'Marco Esquandolas' line, but there is no real conclusion to this version.

Finally, the band moves into 'Dave's Energy Guide'. While I won't dig too deeply into the debate about this song, I can say that this version is so similar to King Crimson's "Discipline" that it might as well be called a "Discipline-Jam" if we are considering the earlier jam to be a "Whipping Post-Jam". Unfortunately, the tapes fade after this jam, and there is no trace of the remaining setlist.

This show does mark a period when the band is playing particularly well. They are starting to be able to synch their grooves together and sound much more cohesive than in any of their previous shows. Perhaps this cohesion was the reason for Mike to feel so positive about his future with the band. There are parts in some of these jams where the band moves quite seamlessly. Granted, the audio quality of this show is very poor, and it would be interesting to hear it with more clarity, but for the time, the band was playing quite well. Perhaps the fact that only a few people were in the audience and the pressure was off the band that they played so significantly well (a theme that will resurface throughout the band's history).

Overall, worth a brief listen if only for the history to the band and if you have a tolerance for mid-80s raucous jams with lots of flexibility and don't mind poor audio quality. If you like to listen to tight shows, this one is not for you.


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