, attached to 1989-05-28

Review by Wazoo

Wazoo This is the earliest show which I listen to in its entirety out of more than just “historical interest”. There are obviously wonderful shows earlier than this, but to my ears – and collection – this is the first one where the sound quality, professionalism, humor, musicianship really come together. There is also a lot of cool banter if you are into that sort of thing.

The show starts with Trey dedicating it to “the spirit of the pig” and announcing that the first song is called “Pig Head”, and then starts playing Divided Sky…which they nail right out of the gate…and jump into Antelope. Hard to even imagine playing these one-two to open a first set nowadays – a first of three sets nonetheless – at this point the songs are no longer new, but they are fresh enough that it all seems experimental as they stretch out the jams. The short Slave has a very interesting ambient-type section for a few minutes in the middle that I like, but I give the highlight of the set to the YEM. Early on, it has a nice little start-stop section, the lyrics are supplemented with numerous shit-synonyms, a “Heavy Metal-Type” Trey Solo, and a silly poop vocal jam. Plus they call for a Volunteer for a keg run at the end of my track. Silly, yes, but they are obviously having fun.

The second set kicks off with a nice Mike’s Groove – again punctuated with some banter, and proceeds to “Bathtub Gin – a new Phish number”. There is some really strange piano business (not bad, just different) going on, but as the third known version (and the first only two days earlier), they are obviously still working it out. The version of Sanity is different from any other that I have ever heard. Not only is the tempo double-time, there are a plethora of instrumental breaks that all seem to about to break into something else (I keep thinking Fluff’s Travels is about to arrive and there is a proto-chalk dust at the end) and some cool solos to go around – definitely a set highlight. Take the A Train is a nice cover – as a Jazz fan I wish they would do Jazz covers more often (some Coltrane explorations would be nice!) – and it is the most extended jazz cover that I have them doing. The Funky Breakdown > Price of Love business I would put in the “you had to be there”/Historical interest category. On the historical topic, Split Open and Melt actually had a full-on drum solo! Hood has an interesting piano flourish and while they don’t exactly burn it up, it is enough to bring the cops.

Set III starts with a slow dark jam – the kind you would typically find after 10 minutes or so into a set II song exploration. It is not too intense, but very weird to hear coming out of the gate – and it ends with a La Grange Jam/Tease and, of course, some more banter. A two-minute radio-friendly unfinished sloth – with banter – follows. Hard to tell if it is intentionally ended or not, but then they dig into a Sneaking Sally with a long vocal jam. Ya Mar is nice and chill and JJLC brings it home with the highlight of the short final set.

Overall a classic date which shows off the chops, humor, and songs of the band at the time – and which is an enjoyable listen at any time.


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