This show was an African Relief benefit for OXFAM. Fire Up the Ganja (which is the song Fire on the Mountain with different lyrics) featured Bobby Hackney and Jah Roy of the band Lambsbread on vocals. This setlist is incomplete and featured the first known version of Anarchy and first known Phish version of Fire Up the Ganja. This is the first known version of Skippy to have McGrupp lyrics. (This song was called Skippy by the band at this time, even though it eventually became McGrupp.)
Debut Years (Average: 1984)

This show was part of the "1985 Tour"

Show Reviews

, attached to 1985-03-04

Review by RunawayJim4180

RunawayJim4180 This is a great early show to listen to, mainly for the quality of the recording relative to the timeframe. Most other tapes of 1985 shows are of terrible quality, so the early music really shines through here. Onto the setlist:

Anarchy-Not much to say here, other than it got a few laughs from the crowd.

Camel Walk-Excellent early version! Although Jeff's vocals are somewhat lacking (to be kind) the playing here is tight and even a bit experimental for the last two minutes. I've downloaded this version for future listening. Trey's early tone is crunchy and dissonant, and I love it!

Fire up the Ganja-A fun take on Fire on the Mountain by the Dead, this one stretches out for 15 minutes, with 5 or 6 of those minutes occupied by Jah Roy dropping some reggae dub on the crowd to raucous applause. Not essentially listening, but cool nonetheless.

Skippy the Wondermouse- Another excellent early take on this "McGrupp" kernel. After Trey's "narration" portion, the band launches into a fantastic jam at about the 5 minute mark that really soars! After a quick peak, there's another build up at the 7 minute mark that features some great rolls by Fish and more shredding by Trey until the core notes return around 10:30. Brilliant work all around.

In the Midnight Hour-Decent enough take on this Pickett track, although Jeff fits the cover band singer cliche very well. Nice licks from 3 minutes on in any event.

In summary, the quality of the recording really makes this show a standout for its era. Excellent early versions of Camel Walk and Skippy (McGrupp) with 3 "take it or leave it" tunes that are fun listens if you have the time to spare.
, attached to 1985-03-04

Review by Dunwoody

Dunwoody This is a surprisingly good recording, albeit evidently an incomplete one. Anarchy is fun, but not much more to say than that. Camel Walk has Jeff on vocals, and is the same groovy tune we know and love today, except that it has additional lyrics, a slightly different "jam" section in the middle, the dual guitars allow for a bit more action from Trey during the verses, and there's a little break for a short Mike solo. It's also a bit funny to hear Jeff note that they've been playing the song for a while, but had never seen anyone dance to it before (hard to imagine today!). I've not heard other Camel Walks from before this show, but this one has a really nifty brief DEG-like quote (it's not DEG) that goes into a dual-guitar Zeppelin style build that drops back into the groove before the closing chorus. I'm not sure if that was typical for the era (it sounds rehearsed, so I think it probably was), but it's worth checking out.

It's hard to comment on Fire Up the Ganja. It starts out with a heavier reggae influence than would be suggested by saying it's FOTM with different lyrics, but by the time the lyrics begin, yeah, it's pretty much FOTM with different lyrics -- though in between and after the "verses," the heavy reggae picks up again. As far as the Phish part of this goes, if you've heard any of the Phish versions of FOTM, you're not going to find much here you didn't find there, and candidly probably a bit less. Rather than long instrumental passages, it's heavy on the vocals and a little crowd singalong.

"Skippy" is full-on McGrupp, though without Page it has a very different feel. For his part, Trey doesn't sing this at all -- he essentially makes it a poetry recital with musical background, and it's all presented as a single verse. That sounds worse than it is; it actually works well I think. After some harmonics work toward the conclusion of the composed section that mimics Page's lines today, the tune drops into a brief spacey jam segment that coalesces into a Pavement-y passage and peak that really, really works. From there, it drops down to a quiet passage that gives Mike an opportunity to shine a bit, and it's remarkable just how much like modern Mike he sounds there. The band builds it back up from there and doubles the pace for a completely new passage that features some ferocious guitar work. A return to the McGrupp chords brings the tune to a close. It's wonderful, and 100% worth checking out (and not just for novelty's sake).

We wrap up with Midnight Hour, which judging from Trey's statement following it closed the set, not the show. I can't tell who sings it (I thought Trey sang earlier versions, but this is making me question that), but I love Phish's take on this tune. This one is played a bit closer to vest than others, but it still shines.

All things considered, the only parts of this show that are really run-don't-walk quality are the Camel Walk and McGrupp. But, the sound quality is high enough that it's worth giving a listen to the whole thing if you have 40 minutes or so.
, attached to 1985-03-04

Review by Bob_Loblaw

Bob_Loblaw Yet another step for Phish.

Once again it should be known that these shows are harder to judge for a number of reasons. As is known the recordings of these shows are not what we would consider "Crisp" (although this recording is a significant jump from the previous ones). And also because we have to take a step back and realize these are 20 year old college kids having a fun time with friends.

However there is some very interesting stuff going on here. The whole Fire up the Ganja rave is very fun and although not on the level that the groove and reggae will be at in the future, it's still a fun snap shop of college life, music, and friends. Skippy is likely the highlight. It's very interesting to hear how Trey sings the McGrupp lyrics in these early versions. He sings it more in a matter of elaborating on the lyrics instead of singing them. The little jam after is a nice pretty one as well, and may I say the first "phishy" sounding jam I've heard. In the Midnight Hour has some huge progress since the super sloppy version played the their first show.

If anything these shows show significant progress and that is good in my book!
, attached to 1985-03-04

Review by aybesea

aybesea I really enjoyed listening to this show, both from the historical point of view as well as the musical one. The sound quality is very good and makes the actual listening part of this exercise a breeze. As for the musical part...

Anarchy is goofy. Fire Up The Ganja is a really reggae-fied version of FOTM, replete with a fake Jamaican accent. But even so, the underlying jams are interesting in that you can really hear Trey and Mike refining their chops. Midnight Hour is a competent, but less than memorable take on the classic Wilson Pickett song. Typical bar band stuff.

Bringing us to the two tracks of real interest. Camel Walk is really, really good. It is funked up, cranked up dance music. Not a whole lot different from what we hear today. And Skippy (McGruff) is pretty much fully formed. Trey has a beautiful, light touch as he picks out pretty much the entirety of what will become McGruff proper.

It is always fascinating to me to see how a song sounds in its really early phases. Have they worked it out yet, or is this a serious work in progress. These two are 80% fleshed out. This tape is well worth listening to.
, attached to 1985-03-04

Review by dr_strangelove

dr_strangelove Unless you are exploring Phish history, you can safely skip this one. A plus side to this show is that has a great sound quality version of it available.

Anarchy and Fire up the ganja are fun for their novelty.

Camel Walk is OK, but listening to this version made me appreciate how the band currently plays the song (I particularly missed the lack of the "strut your stuff" lines being swapped between the band members).

Also, Skippy (a.k.a. McGrupp) is being sung with the McGrupp lyrics now.

Highlights: None unless you are broadening your Phish historical perspective.
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