, attached to 1994-12-29

Review by Coolhand

Coolhand It seems inevitable that everyone cites their bonafides at the outset of a Phish review- often in order to describe an order of magnitude or just to ego stroke. In any case I was lucky that a kid named Bertuzzi (his dad was a big NHL lawyer) introduced a bunch of us at one high school in Toronto to Phish. I missed their first appearance their, a tiny gig at the Spectrum in '92 but caught their next two at the Masonic Temple in '93 and '94. This is all by way of saying that apart from the excitement and unexpected and grizzly looking chicks selling cases of Marlboro's in the ticket line we didn't quite know what to make of it all but we wanted more.

So by the summer of '94 we judiciously picked two nights at Great Woods then the last night of summer tour in Fayston, Vt as our first 3 American summer shows. Great Woods (now Tweeter) proved to be the last full Gamehendge for a long time. And Sugarbush I have often said felt like one of the last of the 'old school' Phish shows. The band looked way haggard and the setlist was strong but the most 'out' stuff they did (besides a really dark and Twin Peaksy N20) was basically Page rocking out on the clavinet. You know clean playing, triumphant but not monstrously psychedelic.

Then by the fall by virtue of going to school out east we took a run down to Bangor for the night after Halloween (Nov. 2). That night of course gave us the Bangor Tweezer from A Live One and the feeling on that storming night inside this tiny metallic barn.... well I don't know quite how to describe the feeling. This was something new. This was something else. So much time seemed to pass during the Tweezer and so much range was covered in terms of sound that I didn't know if the set was going to be over after the second song.

Fortuitously we got tickets for the Holiday Run and really sketchily by bus, hitched rides etc made our way from Toronto to Philly to Providence to NYC. We were also still high school kids and the scene was blowing up so the whole combination of being in a foreign country and a huge subculture within it made for heady stuff. Philly I don't remember as really standing out apart from the exultant expectation of the next few days. That and the Little Drummer Boy tease which really clinched the colliding spirits of the season.

Then Providence happened. Nobody mentions the weather in any reviews I've read but it was blisteringly cold out and even if you heard the hiss of a tank somewhere you weren't going to find it. You were going straight from your car right into the venue. This was a big part of the trip I think because suddenly everyone's inside that got in and this was the first time anyone was seeing the crowd- inside the venue.

Another detail that's always left out is that Mike was playing what I'd later learn was a Chapman Stick for I believe the Delay Jam/ Dave's? The visual effect of seeing Mike take the stage with this freaky bodyless electric upright bass was exciting maybe even unnerving. Again it was just another thing we'd never seen, a different thing, and not one I'm sure I've seen since.

The first show at MSG was historical. But there was something in the Bangor Tweezer and the Providence Bowie that boded of something else, something new, something coming- and we wanted to be there when it arrived.
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