, attached to 1994-11-26

Review by Laudanum

Laudanum "That was when Phish became a good band, right before the Bangor Tweezer." - Trey, Relix 11/16/2020

Fall '94. The difference in the band since Summer was palpable. We were fresh off of the classic 11/23 show, having been blown away by the whole experience, and rolling into Minnesota a day early. We skipped Chicago. Maybe a mistake, but a high school buddy was playing running back for little St. John's University outside Minneapolis and let us crash at his pad on some lake. I remember evergreens laden with snow and drunk Catholic girls and not much else.

The day of the show was frigid. Cold in Colorado ain't like cold in Minnesota. And the wind was blowing. And it was snowing, light at first, then picking up near show time.

No lot scene due to weather and limited parking, so we went inside as soon as we could and gawked at the place. Not as much eye candy as the Fox in St. Louis, but more elegant somehow. Dylan had owned the place until '88 when he sold it to the city. 10 million in renovations later, and it was damned impressive, especially the giant chandelier.

Seeing Phish west of the Mississippi but not in Colorado was a different sort of experience pre-'96. It was always the first Phish show for large swathes of the crowd, and this night was no different. We brought a friend to his first show, and every damn person surrounding us were n00bs, so we got to play like jaded vets and answer questions about the band.

Fungus fully kicked in right as the lights went down, maybe the best I've ever timed that, making first set an extended psychedelic roar. The opening MFMF > Possum was twisted enough to lead to some uncertain looks among the n00bs. Better buckle up, kids.

Trey blew a verse in Guyute, but it was new enough no one cared, and the fugue-ish section raged. Foam's dynamics always work best in small theaters, and the sound in this one was spectacular. The quiet parts were really quiet, but still crystal clear.

The last four songs of the first set are...not my my cup of tea, but they were playing so well I didn't give a damn. If I have a fave Poor Heart, this is it. Setbreak came and went in a haze. I remember little but staring at the deep blue lights Kuroda had bathing the stage.

Second set, magic set. Best set of Phish I ever witnessed.

I had literally one tape with Halley's on it at that point, and had nearly worn it out in a mere couple months. So when Mike launched into the opening vocal line, I started jumping up and down like mad, startling the n00bs. From that moment, it was on, like Donkey Kong.

How to describe the following Bowie? I've started to write posts on just it, but words always fail. It is ineffable, at least when considered in the primacy of felt experience. It defies descriptions of type I or II; it's somehow both at once. Here's this 37 minute kaiju of a jam, experimental to all hell, yet by the last five minutes every n00b around us--hell, the entire theatre--was standing up, spines channeling electricity, arms raised in triumph. Art, true art, always f***ing wins.

The rest of the set is roller coaster Phish at its best. It is in every sense dramatic, cinematic. The range of emotions covered in this set is extreme, and the closing Slave (the ALO version) remains the best I've seen. The Rocky Top encore had the damn security guards dancing in the aisles, and I remember spilling out of that place into the zero degree air laughing and shouting, full of f***ing life like some character at the end of a Hallmark movie.

I'm likely known around here as a 3.0 apologist, but that's a feeling nothing other than 1.0 has ever given me, that feeling of being so damn alive and in touch with the world at that moment. God f***ing damn, I'm getting chills merely recalling it.

The next day, of course, we nearly died driving through the Blizzard to Bozeman, but that story can wait.


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