Subject: Phish Classics: Spartanburg 10/29/94!
Organization: University of California, Berkeley
Message-ID: <4al4gr$>

The first in a sequence of three consecutive remarkable Phish shows.  The 
show that followed this one, of course, was Halloween, and the show that 
followed *that* was Bangor, which featured the first experimental Tweezer 
on record.

Spartanburg may be, excluding Halloween, my vote for the best show of 94, 
simply because the whole show is so consistently good.  Every song is 
tight, every song is energetic, and the setlist is aboslutely fantastic.  
See for yourself:


My Friend My Friend
  This song never really moves me, but this is a tight, well-paced, well-
  played version.  You can see why the band likes this as an opener; it
  allows them to work on their dynamics from the opening bell, coasting
  through the slower part at the beginning before launching into the
  louder, crunchier lyrics segment.  Trey is a little more active than
  usual during the vocal outro.

Sparkle ->
  Was this a blatant rehearsal for Halloween?  Sparkle is standard, not
  quite as fast as the Halloween version, ending and blending into:

Simple ->
  This, for me, is the prototype of an average kickass Simple.  By
  "average" I don't mean to disparage it; it rocks.  Mightily.  The band
  is tight, the harmonies (at least in the early verses) are precise.
  I really enjoy Fall 94's Simples precisely because they rock so hard.
  Phish is a very dynamic-oriented band, and they're able to employ a lot
  of instrumental subtlety.  This is wonderful, of course, but I enjoy a
  good old-fashioned foot-stomping rock and roll song every once in a
  while.  Trey begins to wind this down in the manner of Halloween,
  almost as if he was seeing whether or not it could be done.  (Was he
  testing the viability of Halloween's "planned" Simple -> Divided
  "segue"?)  Halfway down, he seems to convince himself, and drops out,
  leaving Page and Fish to continue, until Trey starts in with:

Runaway Jim
  I don't really ever get tired of Jim, even though most Jims are fairly
  uninnovative.  (It'd be nice to get another experimental Jim one of
  these days.)  This version is a little longer than most; the middle
  section is particularly spacy, with Trey and Mike noodling around on
  the bass line for a minute or so until Trey kicks in the normal guitar
  melody.  The end jam stretches it out a little bit as well, mostly
  Trey, mostly loud, mostly excellent.

  Does anyone know if they've ever followed Runaway Jim with Foam, before
  or since?  It's such an *excellent* combination!  (Joke.)  In truth,
  you'll never catch me saying anything bad about Foam.  I *love* Foam.
  I always have.  I don't know why; I just have a visceral reaction to
  that beautiful tinking piano, to the guitar harmonies, to the shuffling
  rhythm.  I do wish they'd drop a jam in there, a la what they're doing
  recently with Ice, but a Foam will always make me feel good, just like
  the piano solo toward the beginning of YEM will always make me feel
  good: pastoral and peaceful and expecting good things.

Lawn Boy
  Page introduces, "Mr. Michael Gordon," and Mike lets loose with a
  somewhat eeeuuuuuh bass solo, mainly sticking to the melody, not
  entirely comfortable.  Lawn Boy is amusing as usual.

Split Open and Melt ->
  This is where the show really gets going, with a zany Split.  Small
  error: Trey comes in too soon on the "We breeeeeath deeeeep..." vocal
  segment.  The jam is pretty standard in the chaotic and modal Split
  stylee until the 8-minute mark or so, when Trey begins to let loose
  with a bizarre buzzsaw guitar lick, that absolutely slices through
  everything else being played.  Page, inspired, begins laying down some
  off-kilter jazz chords, and Fish gradually begins to pick up the beats-
  per-minute.  By ten minutes, we've got a very Coltranesque jazz groove,
  Fish absolutely slapping the ride cymbal, accenting off-beats, and
  Trey tossing around feedback qua feedback in the Bob Mould manner.
  Mike is playing a loopy descending ostinato over and over again, and
  the whole thing, like the best Split jams, seems about an inch from
  going completely over the edge into an abyss.  Around 11:30, the jam
  breaks down a little bit.  Page sags off the tempo, plunking down notes
  here and there.  Fishman thumps along on the ride and then switches to
  the snare, metronomically.  For a second, it sounds like a transition
  into BBFCFM, but it fades away.  Instead, at 12:15 or so, Page and Trey
  work the jam into:

Buffalo Bill ->
  One of two Bills in 94, I believe (the other being the New Year's Eve
  Mike's -> Bill -> Mike's).  This is a goofy little song, isn't it?
  The lyrics segment comes and goes, and is pretty normal, but the jam
  afterward is subtle and interesting.  At around 2:30, Page begins to
  play some NICU-like chords, but no one joins him.  Fish immediately
  suggests a Split-like beat, but Trey doesn't respond to that, either,
  mainly laying a spooky texture over the whole show.  Page keys into
  what Trey's doing by starting a textural organ fill himself, which
  eventually becomes more prominent, finally turning into the Makisupa
  countermelody.  At about 4:15 of Buffalo Bill, Mike hits the bassline

Makisupa Policeman ->
  "Woke up in the morning.  Smoke a little herb.  (Crowd goes apeshit.)
  Woke up in the afternoon."  Amusing.  (Not as amusing, mind you, as
  10/22/95's laid-back-to-the-point-of-torpor Makisupa, featuring
  immortal lines like "Qaddafi in my bed.  Paluska in my head.  Goldstein
  in my bed.  Let's hear one...for *Fred*," which of course segues out
  of an infinitely more immortal Tweezer; see generally Dirksen, Tweezer
  Files Pt. 28 at 3; but see contra. Dirksen, Tweezer Files Pt. 28
  *ERROR* at 1 (explaining the author's previous inability to distinguish
  a Montana-ESQUE jam from Montana itself).)  Anyway, to the meat of the
  issue: the harmonies are very prominent here.  The singing is generally
  very good at this show.  Trey teases a piercing tone, but moves back to
  triplet fills, and the end vocals come in very early, at about 1:50.
  Following the vocals, Trey moves back to texture, but Page takes a
  subtle solo.  It seems like Trey may want to end the jam, but Page
  doesn't want to let go, and Trey doesn't force the issue.  Page brings
  Mike back in, and surrenders prominence to Mike, who begins to thump
  along forcefully.  Trey's texture is very pretty.  At about 4 minutes
  *Fish* teases the NICU beat, but again no one follows.  Soon after, 
  Trey takes off with some choppy, staccato guitar, and Fish, then Page
  follow him, and the tempo explodes.  (This sort of sounds like the
  show-opening Makisupa -> Llama transition from 6/10/95.)  By the 5:30
  mark, we're in an up-tempo Antelopian jam.  Page is playing some potent
  bluesy chords.  At 6:20 Trey hints at BBFCFM again, and Fish picks up
  the tempo even more.  Finally, Fish drops out, causing a mometary
  void, which Trey fills with:

  I'm not about to say *anything* negative here.  It was, after all, my
  casual dismissal of Rift in my last Phish Classics post (saying
  something pathetically wiseass like, "Shoot me now," if memory serves)
  that helped to touch off the debate re the validity of "Songs That
  Charlie Hates."  So I won't go there again.  Suffice to say that this
  is a very well-played (flawless, even) Rift, and coming at the end of
  the 23-minute journey that was the previous jam sequence, I couldn't
  care less.


Down with Disease ->
  Begins, as always, with that loopy digital delay.  Trey noodles a
  little bit.  Fish screams something that I can't quite make out: "When
  in doubt," maybe?  Some atonal crashing sounds bring on the intro.
  This DwD is very tight, tighter than the infrequent 95 DwDs.  Fish,
  especially, is drumming like a man possessed.  Page is very prominent
  in the jam; it sounds like a Free jam, actually, with Trey taking a
  reserved role, mainly working with feedback on one chord, while Page
  takes the lead.  Trey dissolves finally into choppy scale-type licks
  around 6:30, but is still mainly in the background.  The typical DwD
  jam-theme comes back in on a dime at 7:10, and builds very nicely.
  The end vocals appear at 8:30, and the song proper ends shortly
  thereafter.  Out of the ending chord, though, comes a short but sweet
  space segment; Trey sustains with the delay pedal, and plays a very
  pretty melody in front of it, sounding a little like Elvis Costello's
  "Broken."  Mike burbles a little, Page accents.  Eventually Trey
  starts rising up the scale, and Fish crashes in with some Keith
  Moonish fills, leading into:

The Man Who Stepped into Yesterday ->
  Or "I'm Going to Have My Head Sharpened."  The beginning is held up for
  a minute or so as Trey plays with an odd combination of dissonant
  notes, savoring a slightly awkward-sounding combination between himself
  and Page.  Mike plays his usual gorgeous, low-register notes.  A long
  pause, then back into the TMWSIY theme.  Finally:

Avenu Malkenu ->
  Again, a lot of energy.  Mike's solo is more adventurous and spirited
  than usual.  Back into:

The Man Who Stepped into Yesterday ->
  Fades into a gorgeous, quiet space jam, out of which (after plenty of
  coaxing) finally erupts:

  A normal Sparks, but how often does Sparks get played?  Finally ends in
  a cloud of hum and buzz.

Uncle Pen
  My tape case says it segues out of Sparks, but it really doesn't.
  Basically, as feedback from Sparks ends, Trey counts it down, and off
  they go.  Nominally my favorite bluegrass song.

You Enjoy Myself
  CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS SETLIST?  (And, trust me, it's not over yet.)  As
  I've noted before, the lovely piano solo early on in YEM is my
  favorite standard Phish moment.  This is a tight and powerful YEM by
  any standard; it's just not very long.  (Parenthetically, how many out
  there think that Fall 95 has been to YEM what Summer 95 was to Tweezer?
  That is to say, a tour where that particular song took off in
  previously unrealized and undreamt-of directions?  Think about it: the
  spooky and marvelous Halloween YEM, the YEM -> Crossroads -> YEM from
  the first half of the tour, the YEM with the Brickhouse jam, the
  recent Silent Jam YEM from Albany, the MMW YEM from Austin...the list
  goes on and on.)  Anyway, this version is nice.  The fill between
  choruses is very upbeat, forceful, with a disco-feel.  After the second
  chorus they drop off a little, but build quickly to a jam, with Trey
  and Mike working in unison.  Page eventually takes over with some
  interesting and funky work on the electric piano; Trey finally fades
  out completely, letting Page solo.  Finally, Page moves to the organ,
  and Trey comes back in with more texture, using the digital delay and
  noodling over the feedback.  When Trey comes in with his solo, it's
  soaring, but it's SHORT.  Mike's solo at the end is cool as well, but
  short, too, though Mike and Fish contribute fills during the final
  chorus, which is unusual.  Probably a 15-minute version at the most.
  The vocal jam is only about four minutes long at most as well, and is
  a little muddled until about 2:45, when the boys lock into a very nice
  rhythmic groove.  They play around for awhile, and end it.

  Jon Fishman is a comic genius.  During the "I've got a cloak" verse he
  comments on the jacket he just bought, which has "a banana on the 
  front, it's blue and white, I've had it, I just bought it today!"  The
  vacuum solo is very loopy, soaring to hilarious peaks, making me wonder
  how Fishman can expend that kind of air and stay conscious.

Run Like an Antelope ->
  Have I mentioned this setlist?  More chordal action than noodling in
  the pre-takeoff segment from Trey, but nothing especially captivating.
  When the jam does get going, it reaches some nice heights, but nothing
  unusual for an Antelope, which is normally no worse than "excellent."
  Finally, in a move that works so smoothly it may well have been
  planned beforehand, Trey and Page switch out of soaring-Antelope mode
  into a little bass riff, and the beat instantly drops into a straight
  4/4.  Page dabbles a little, and then Trey comes in with the guitar
  chords to:

Sleeping Monkey ->
  This song is so effective, I think, because it's a very pretty melody
  attached to some, uh, cruder sentiments.  (Just what do you think the
  "sleeping monkey" Fishman's so concerned about *is*, anyhow?)  It's
  fine, and the minute it ends Fishman kicks in the Antelope beat again.

Run Like an Antelope
  They pick up astonishingly quickly, but they've done Antelope so many
  times I'd guess they could do it while asleep.  The remainder is an
  average kickass Antelope.


Harry Hood
  Setlist, anybody?  This is a solid, Trey-centric Hood.  The rest of the
  band seems content to let Trey carry the ball, which he does.  The
  beginning is a little quieter than normal, the processional (after the
  intro "Harry" vocals) is nice and crunchy, the Mr. Minor vocals are
  oddly subdued, and the jam quickly becomes slightly spacy.  Mike,
  normally concerned with staying close to the I-V-IV progression of the
  jam, strays.  Trey eventually picks it up, but it stays fairly quiet
  as he spews out lick after pretty, pastoral lick.  When it does get
  loud, it does so quickly, and this is where Trey really begins to go
  nuts.  Unfortunately, the jam's not really allowed to reach its full
  potential; Trey calls for the ending pretty quickly.  A good, but not a
  great Hood, but a great ending to a great show.

While I'm at it (and a dubious "present" indeed for anyone who's read 
this far), I'd love to get my hands on a copy of the recent Hershey or 
Portland shows.  I realize that Portland was just last night, of course.  
Anyhow, I'd love to trade for either of the above.

Thanks for reading,