, attached to 1995-06-16

Review by CarrotEyes

CarrotEyes This was my first Phish show. Little did I know at the time that this was Phish’s twenty-first show in the Tar Heel State. Meanwhile, Phish had played their first show at Walnut Creek the previous June, but from what I heard a couple years later it was not very well-attended at all and was also perhaps not a top show of the 1994 Summer Tour. All of which is to say that the boys from VT were a well-kept secret in the Research Triangle Park area on that early summer evening back in 1995.

I had turned sixteen a little over a month before the show. I had also just finished my sophomore year at a new high school. Because of my father’s career, our family moved on a regular basis, and this was the sixth school I attended in as many years. Music had by then become my personal refuge, the space in my life where I was free to simply let myself be.

For all that, I honestly can’t remember how I first heard the music of Phish. I might have belatedly picked up on a mention of the band by a guy from ninth grade homeroom who, like me, was getting really into the Dead at that time. In any event, at some point during my sophomore year I ended up browsing at a record store that was near the public library where I sometimes went after school to read and otherwise procrastinate doing homework or studying. I remember that I only had enough money to buy a cheap tape. Somehow, I landed on Hoist. Tape purchased, the fifth studio album by the gentlemen from VT didn’t leave my Walkman for months.

By summertime, I was obsessed. A Picture of Nectar was the first Phish album I had on CD, followed quickly thereafter by Lawn Boy. And that was the full extent of my exposure by the time the band announced tour dates for Summer 1995. Then, one night while I was listening to the radio before falling asleep, I heard strange outer space alien sounds coming from the speakers. A voice spoke over the dissonant tones, saying something like “See Phish live in concert.” The voice was clearly speaking to me, or at least it felt that way. A Live One didn’t hit the streets until several weeks after the show at Walnut Creek, but in retrospect I think the audio for the summer tour advertisement was pulled from Tweezer.

Having decided that seeing Phish live in concert was nothing short of a divinely appointed mission, I set about putting a plan into action, despite having never attended anything close to a rock concert up to that point in time. Needless to say, and for too many reasons to list, this was to be a very sensitive and toppest-top-secret mission. Herculean labors followed, but I managed to find myself where I needed to be for one life-changing Friday night.

Nothing in my previous experience prepared me for the lot scene. For a kid from a very conservative Southern Christian home, it was a lot to take in all at once. I remember feeling good and relating to what I was encountering for the first time in a way that I would not have been able to articulate had I been asked, but for the most part I was overwhelmed.

I set up camp on the lawn by what I would eventually learn to call Page side. Walnut Creek is not nearly the size of, say, Alpine Valley, but the view from the lawn is still at a fair distance from the stage. I can only recall bits and pieces of the show itself. Most of all what I remember is the pure joy of being surrounded by sound, bathed in lights, outside looking up above the stage into the open sky beyond.

At the time of the show I knew very few other people who had even heard of Phish. By the time of senior year, that had changed. I began to slowly accumulate a small collection of tapes. Among the first batch were Amy’s Farm, 4/16/92, 8/20/93 (Red Rocks!), 5/27/94 (1st Simple!), 11/21/95, 12/11/95, and this show. Listening back over the years, I feel very fortunate to have had such an auspicious introduction to the live Phish experience.

Most folks will have probably sought out this show for the spaced-out exploratory Runaway Jim and the great YEM featuring Boyd Tinsley. Certainly, these are the historical high points of Set II. However, the Set I ending Dog Faced Boy into Catapult into SOAM should not be missed, either. I also recall being very moved by the instrumental section of Esther, as well as the jam out of Jim into Free. To this day, Free remains very dear to me. At the end of the day, does anything else need to be said about what it means to be a fan of this music?


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