, attached to 1994-10-21

Review by life_boy

life_boy Weird story. This show was the first set of Phish tapes I ever got and I sought it out very intentionally. It had no sentimental value to me and no one had recommended it to me. Most normal people would seek out a Halloween or NYE show, maybe Clifford Ball or Lemonwheel or something. But when I first learned of Phish tapes from a friend-of-a-friend, I didn’t have any guidance to just “get a great show” and figure it out from there. I sought out this obscure and unacclaimed show from 1994 because it had the perfect setlist according to my very specific parameters.

What on earth…why 10/21/94??
I had just gotten back from my first show (9/29/99 Memphis) and learned about the whole tape trading scene shortly thereafter. I spent hours combing through websites where traders posted their collections and sought out a couple of online traders who said they were willing to do B+P (blanks + postage). I took their list of shows and compared it with the setlists, looking specifically for the “perfect” setlist that combined some songs I loved from the 9/29/99 show (“Down with Disease,” “Mike’s Song,” “2001,” and “Stash”) with some songs I had never heard before (“Old Home Place,” “The Lizards,” “I am Hydrogen,” “Sleeping Monkey,” “The Curtain,” “Foreplay/Long Time”). By that logic (and based on whatever the trader I found had in his collection), I settled on 10/21/94 Sunrise, FL. I copied those tapes a lot, as I recall, I guess because few other people had the show in their collection. That was part of the weird beauty of tape trading. Sometimes you just wanted to hear a certain song and so you went to the trouble of tracking down the tapes. Sometimes you based your choice on acclaim, sometimes the setlist, sometimes a guy’s recommendation. I’ve come to kinda of love that this was my first show on tape. It’s odd and idiosyncratic and totally part of that whole tape trading era, long gone now that everything is easily available digitally.

The show itself is fine. I just listened again today and had a great time. Though there’s nothing to write home about, there’s nothing really off about it either. It’s a fine show, front-to-back. “Run Like an Antelope” has an insane build that just goes nuts at one point, and that’s probably the best single moment in the show. The “Mike’s Groove” is a well-contained suite of music that introduced me to “I Am Hydrogen,” which I immediately loved. A nice “Slave” closes out set II. The playing is fine throughout, the setlist is well-constructed. But it will always have that little edge to it for me because of the tapes. And its weird little connections like that that make me love Phish and their music all the more.
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