|Although primal iterations of some of the constituent parts had been performed as early as 1984, this performance marks the first known recording of the full, seven-part modern "Fluffhead." Even from this early date, the joyous, trill-filled Arrival section suggests the band's satisfaction that it had safely and successfully navigated the trap-filled, harrowing musical obstacle course that is "Fluffhead."
|Only a few months after the emergence of the complete, modern song, even in that brief time, the quality and tightness of the performance here has already improved significantly. Sections like The Chase and Who Do? We Do!, which would give the band performance fits right up to the present day, are accomplished with great precision in this fine early version.
|Solid execution throughout, especially in the notoriously challenging section The Chase (4:14 - 5:19). During Page's solo in Clod, there is some great interplay with Trey, while the important role of Fish is accentuated in the industrious, non-linear Bundle of Joy. Humorous vocals and a ripping Arrival section will put a smile on your face.
|A strong, rocking Fluff's Travels sets the table, and while Trey gets slightly tripped up in The Chase, he makes a strong comeback. This recording is a good one if you want focus on Fish, who, more than anyone, is the key to holding this complex composition together. Awesome Mike bass action during Page's solo in Clod - Check It Out! Mike's pronouncement, "Come On Fluffy!" launches a full-power, Fish and Trey-driven Arrival.
|Page is steady, precise and confident throughout. From his excellent fills and soloing in Who Do? We Do! to subtle runs in Clod's early going, the Chairman is clearly in his element here. Meanwhile, Trey and Mike provide awesome support as the intensity and tension build towards the conclusion. Arrival is a great example of the entire band firing on all 12 cylinders, while Machine Gun Trey aptly demonstrates why he earned this nickname.
|Passing through the shoals of Fluff's Travels, The Chase and Who Do? We Do! relatively unscathed, Mike really steps it up in Clod, offering powerful counterpoint to Page and Trey, and rhythmic support of Fish. A groovy Page solo in Clod, replete with a schoolyard taunt, and a solid run through Bundle of Joy gives the band good reason to blow it out in a big way, once they arrive.
|Few versions of this incredibly challenging song approach perfection, but this is one of the few, and for that reason is must-hear. The early, technically challenging sections are nearly spotless. Then the entire band gets on a red-hot tear working through Who Do? We Do! In Clod, Page and Mike are fantastic. Trey's blistering solo in Arrival is top notch. And Fish, he just crushes all 14 minutes of this superb rendering.
|Holy smokes, another scorching "Fluffhead." But before you jump to the soaring and exuberant Arrival, pay close attention to this awesome Bundle of Joy (as well as everything preceding it). Only thanks to all the tension building and rhythmic push and pull in this penultimate section can the sweetness of the finale be fully appreciated. And a fun "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" tease at the very end is the icing on this triumphant cake.
|Some fun, "Makisupa"-like teasing in the lyrical section. Like many spring 1992 recordings, Mike is way up in the mix on this one, so it's a great version to listen along and follow Mike's parts throughout, paying special attention to the latter half of Who Do? We Do! and all throughout Clod. By this point in time, the band has this song really dialed in, and this Golden Age of "Fluffhead" would span roughly from this year through 1996.
|Port Chester, NY
|If there is any single section that has tripped up the band over the years, it is The Chase, and this version provides a nearly flawless example, proof that it can be done. Meanwhile, you may notice a bit of a wobble at the end of Who Do? We Do! This song is merciless on the performers. Some awesome and swinging Page and Mike are on display in Clod, and a top notch Arrival features some really sick trilling by Mr. Trey Anastasio. Great performance.
|With strong execution throughout, Page's shift to a baby grand is a big plus to the performance sound. The changes in dynamics, from the quiet sections of Clod, to the growing intensity approaching Arrival, demonstrates the band's confidence that they can not only survive, but even excel when performing this opus. Arrival is laid down with a paradigmatic 1993 sense of elan.
|After successfully navigating the treacherous early sections, there's a palpable sense of energy as the lyrical section of Clod ends, leading to a super Page solo complimented by great play from Trey. An excellent Bundle of Joy gives that momentary sense of an impending train wreck, before the band explodes into a powerful, notably strong Arrival, featuring pounding Fish and great licks from Trey.
|Little sprinkles of improvisational play throughout this great version, and Page is notably strong. Who Do? We Do! is dynamic and filled with great Fish, leading the team. Mike compliments Page's solo in Clod quite nicely, while Trey and Fish stretch the celebratory victory lap in Arrival out just a bit. There is a cool, gradual fade-out to this version, with Trey switching to acoustic guitar.
|The Chairman of the Boards shines once again. Trey's confident guitar work gets the ball rolling with a strong Fluff's Travels, and continues through the perilous Chase section. An intense, frenzied, Who Do? We Do! and crisp Clod evince a band performing at a mastery level, the stuff of August '93 lore. Arrival includes some great and iconic Trey licks, and rock solid Fish.
|Kansas City, KS
|Brushing past a wobble or two in The Chase, things really coalesce in Who Do? We Do! Being that it's August '93, you can expect flourishes of improvisation, even in a highly composed song like "Fluffhead." Clod has inventive playing by both Trey and Page. And this Arrival is not to be missed, as Trey and Fish together lead the band into some creatvie musical territory, a trilling, ripping peak, and great cool down, which then reverts to the formal "Fluffhead" ending.
|Celebrating the conclusion of an incredible and historic month, this "Fluffhead" bristles with energy and verve. Who Do? We Do! features some great interplay, and all four musicians are in sync throughout. Page's Clod solo is a classic, with Trey cooly strumming along in support. Close inspection will reveal subtle scat singing by Trey during Bundle of Joy, while the blow out Arrival is peppered with strong playing by all four.
|There's something special about the band from Vermont playing in the desert, and this "Fluffhead" is no exception. An extremely tight, well-executed version, this one is also a straight out rocker, without any sense of the late '90s more mellow approach to this song. Trey fires off a cool "Bring It On Home" tease and provides edgy contrast to Page in Clod, while Arrival is compact, but thanks to Fish et. al., IT will kick your ass.
|San Francisco, CA
|Although no perfect live performance may exist in this Universe, this superlative version is one of a very small handful that comes close. All the treacherous sections - The Chase, Who Do? We Do!, Bundle of Joy - these sections are nearly flawless. Like most '94 versions, this one is intense and hard rocking, yet performed with remarkable precision. Page's solo in Clod is super, while Mike's and Fish's dynamic play throughout is on full display in a high energy Arrival.
|Phish's primal, animal spirit is very present in this bad-ass version from Red Rocks. Like much of this well-regarded show, the performance is punctual, precise, and crackling with raw energy. Maybe there's a minor issue or two in The Chase, but beyond that, this one is tight. Check out Mike and Trey in Clod. Bundle of Joy is incredibly tense, and Trey and Fish's visceral screaming at the beginning of Arrival knocks this great version out of the park.
|Montréal, Québec, Canada
|Mike rules! Another super and dynamic '94, this one isn't blemish free, but also has so much to offer that to pass over it for a couple of rough spots seems unfair. Mike is so solid and present throughout, while cohort Fish fills the tail gunner slot with martial ferocity. The twisted gyrations of Bundle of Joy resolve into a spellbinding whallop of an Arrival.
|Right from the start, this excellent version is loaded with sprinkles of improvisation, well worth the visit despite minor flaws. Unlike most '94 performances, this one seems less intense and high power, and instead, adopts a more experimental approach. From Fluff's Travels to little spots in Clod, this "Fluffhead" is just a bit different than most. Page's piano solo in Clod is wild and crazy, while Trey's guitar efforts in Arrival seem to visit some slightly new territory.
|Evoking all the great sounds of 1995, from Trey's Leslie-infused watery guitar effects, to Fish's booming drums, this excellent version captures the timeless nature of "Fluffhead" at this important point in the band's history. No surprise that The Chase and Who Do? We Do! provide a few minor road bumps, but generally the playing is intense and focused. Clod features some great piano soloing, while all four coalesce to hammer home a powerful Arrival.
|Minor early issues aside, the playing in Who Do? We Do! is very sharp and powerful. In Clod, Trey seems to use a reverb-like effect, which pairs well with Page's soloing - a soundboard would be a huge plus. A full-throttle, slightly extended Arrival includes some sweet, Leslie-infused trilling by Trey near the conclusion. This is classic 1995 Phish.
|Fish is the superhero in this exceptional version. A great Fluff's Travels gets the ball rolling, while safe passage through the Siren-like perils of The Chase leads to a great Who Do? We Do! It's during this section that Fish really cranks up the intensity of his highly precise rhythmic base. From the swift, complimentary snare drums in Bundle of Joy, to the cannon-like power drumming in Arrival, this is a great example of the drummer's talent and importance in holding this complex composition together.
|A truly great performance, the Clifford Ball "Fluff" features tight, near-perfect playing, great Fish throughout, early funk from Page in Clod, crisp vocals, and swirly, funky Trey, providing backing for Page's superb piano solo, also in Clod. Working through the vocals in Bundle of Joy, you get the sense the band is going to explode into Arrival, and thanks especially to Jon Fishman, the Plattsburgh throngs are treated to a joyous capstone and exclamation point.
|A minor hiccup in Fluff's Travels is redeemed with a super tight The Chase, and Mike and Fish are especially strong. Page and Trey fire up the crowd with spirited playing in Who Do? We Do!, while funky keyboards, Fish, and a fantastic Page piano solo make for a great Clod. Serious tension building in Bundle of Joy resolves with sweet payoff - a glorious Arrival that delivers the goods in the appropriately celebratory manner, reflecting the satisfaction of a job well done.
|A few, very minor glitches in The Chase and elsewhere, but otherwise the playing is intense and tight. How about a little Moog action in Clod? Page's piano solo later in Clod benefits from great backing from Trey, Mike and Fish. Arrival is powerful, driven by Mike and Fish, and by Trey's confident, rocking soloing, including some sick trilling near the peak.
|A great version which bristles with energy. Despite some minor wobbles in The Chase and Who Do? We Do!, Page offers some great funky keyboard action in Clod, while Mike is noticeably strong. Rounding the final curve, Fish and Trey lead a rocking and powerful Arrival, underscoring a top notch performance.
|Beginning in 1997 and forever since, "Fluffhead" has suffered from some performance malaise. Whether due to lack of practice, fewer live performances, or other causes, the band's precision has declined. Yet this summer 1997 version is an anomaly, a nearly flawless rendering. Thank you Kevin Shapiro for releasing this version officially on Live Bait Vol. 17, because the audience recordings of this classic performance don't do justice to a truly exceptional, outlier version.
|East Troy, WI
|On the heels of a mellifluous "Tweezer," this crisp rendering, while not impeccable, is still unusually sharp for this period. Page is notably strong in Who Do? We Do! and Clod, while Fish underpins a rock solid Bundle of Joy. Arrival erupts with great spirit, welcoming the boys home, after 30 minutes of epic improv combined with successfully scaling Phish's Matterhorn of compositional masterworks.
|An all around strong performance is particularly notable for a cool and different Fender-Rhodes solo by Page in Clod, solid Mike throughout, and a riveting and wild Arrival. Machine Gun Trey leads the charge, but in the style of 1998 rather 1990. Check this one out if you want to hear Phish blow the lid off an arena with a blistering closing.
|Played at a slower tempo than earlier versions, the first several sections are far from spotless. The pace seems to normalize during Fluff's Travels, and then The Chase proves once again why it is perhaps the most difficult of all sections to perform cleanly. Despite some additional bobbles, all is forgiven, as this Arrival proves worth the wait. Whereas the typical Arrival lasts for roughly 2 minutes, this one basks in '99-style celebratory glory for over 4 minutes.
|East Troy, WI
|Like 7/10/99, this version is notable for its improvisational Arrival section, as the earlier sections experience execution issues in spots. These few blemishes are overshadowed by an unprecedented, extended jam that emerges from the traditional Arrival and continues for over 18 minutes, beginning at about 16:35. The jam begins with some raging Trey and Mike-led play, before settling into a quieter, snappy and percussive groove. Eventually building power, the jam seems poised to peak, but instead recedes into more exploratory grooving and > to "TMWSIY."
|Atlantic City, NJ
|Despite more frequent rotation from 2009 - 2012, this song continues to challenge the band from a precision perspective. In this strong modern version, Fluff's Travels and The Chase are largely free of mistakes, but then the band hits a few bumps in Who Do? We Do! Clod is solid, with call and response action between Page and Trey, followed by nice Fish and Mike support during Page's solo. Ending this second set with emphasis, Arrival is extended compared to most versions, showing a spirited, enthused band, with strong playing by Trey and Fish, taking a couple of extra victory laps.
|While Hampton will forever remain "The" comeback version, the band, more than a decade later, may have, after some close calls, "arrived." While "Fluff" is terrific live, and there have been powerful moments, one might have to revisit 10/29/10 to find, on tape, a version that rivals this beauty from note to note. Just another in a long list of examples demonstrating Phish's incredible 2021 full-band power.
|Chula Vista, CA
|"Fluff" is tough to play, and few versions approach Phish perfection. Here, however, the band delivers. The technically challenging sections are super clean; more interesting than this, however, is the tempo, with Trey and Page noticeably at ease. Plausibly because there is no deliberation, the band finds innovation, the jam not only "Arriving," but passing through an extended passage of really cool play to deliver a -> into "NICU."
|East Troy, WI
|Toss a dart at a summer show and you're bound to be delighted by any date's opening song sequence. It may not get better than this. If you don't know "Fluff's" Alpine travels, check the Jam Chart. Here, following a fan-favorite "1999," there arrives that once-in-a-tour rush where (at 14:00) you realize this time it's going to be different, and you're going to see "it" again. When Trey lays down his loop and then kicks his pedal to augment his tone? Well, you're better off listening than reading what we have to say. Awesome.
|New York, NY
|Clean, sprite, and powerful version, the band "arrives" only to depart, "Fluff" arguably breaking for "Jam" crossed with some feral amalgamation of "YPC." What is clear is that Page is terrific on his concert grand as the band patiently searches for a sort of space to deliver what comes by way of sound, a sort of unhurried, contemplative, improvisational ground.
|Arrives in fine fashion with an unusual modulation, giving the outro a "YEM"-like twist before returning home at 14:54 to close the show.
|Commerce City, CO
|Regardless of your preferred moniker for the current era of Phish, in 2023 one need look no further than these charts to find a handful of technically clean and improvisational modern versions of "Fluffhead". Here the post Arrival jam inaugurated by Mike forcing a modulation takes us to spaces that are in turn contemplative and celebratory. An excellent melodic back and forth between Page and Trey eventually leads to a return to "Fluff" and a show opening peak that set the tone for a special night at Dick's.
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