|Originally Performed By||Phish|
|Vocals||Trey (lead), Page (backing)|
|Historian||Craig DeLucia (cdelucia); Isaac Cate (ImStillUpsideDown)|
"Axilla (Part II)" followed on the heels of the original “Axilla” and actually debuted on March 29, 1994, as track five on Phish's fifth studio recording, Hoist, one month before its first live performance on 4/16/94, featuring new lyrics but with the same music and “axilla” cry at the end as "Part I," along with the addition of a slow, trippy, guitar-lick-based coda featuring what sounds like Trey’s voice slowed and shifted lower, laughing and imploring someone “don’t shine that thing in my face, man. I’m serious, turn it off!”
It was the last of the Hoist songs to be played live (save “Riker’s Mailbox,” which still has not been performed and likely never will). Absent, though, is any specific axilla reference during the verses, except the narrator “[wishing] it was cool”– perhaps to avoid the stench referenced in the original.Phish - “Axilla, Part II” - 12/31/95, New York, NY. Video by steveofarrel.
“Axilla (Part II)” was played regularly throughout 1994 and 1995 and then, after New Year’s Eve 1995, went away in favor of the return of its older brother. When “Axilla (Part II)” was shelved in 1995, its coda was retained and tagged to the end of most future performances of the original “Axilla.” The music of this ending was heard as early as 1993 – listen to the little jam at the end of “It’s Ice” on 3/31/93.
Fast forward nearly 26 years to 8/31/21, and “Axilla (Part II)” has returned after 856 shows to somewhat regular rotation. The older brother “Axilla” has since become a once-a-year rarity, and commonly includes the “Axilla (Part II)” coda. With its re-emergence, the complete version of the song (as heard in the studio version on Hoist) has become more common, featuring the coda and even the “Don’t shine that thing in my face, man” plea.
For reference, the timeline for the song relative to the coda can be broken down like this. For two months after its debut in April 1994, the song was played with no coda.Then, in June and July, the band experimented with the outro, featuring four versions vastly different than the coda, awash in feedback. But, from the beginning of Fall Tour in October 1994 until NYE 1995, the song mostly featured the coda including some complete with “lyrics” similar to the album version. Since the song returned in August 2021, each version has been "complete" with the coda and lyrical plea similar to Hoist.
Some noteworthy versions include: 6/10/94 and 6/19/94, in back to back performances both end with a unique feedback outro, different from the coda heard on the album, that lead to a segue into “The Curtain;” 6/23/94 and 6/26/94, which are the first two live performances with the coda from Hoist; 10/22/94, the final live version without the coda; 10/25/94, which is the first live complete version with coda and “don’t shine that thing” plea; and 10/29/21 which is its first time as a 20+ minute jam, a massive version featuring the band powerfully using its arsenal of effects and folding in the playful questioning refrain from the early demo Bivouac Juan’s “Little Squirrel” (“Hi! Hello! How are you?”) that popped up numerous times during that tour.
During the coda of this version, Trey’s enthusiastic admonishment to “don’t shine that thing in my face, man” prompted Kuroda to extinguish the stage lights, leaving the fans inside the Vegas MGM Arena in darkness and general astonishment at what had just transpired.Phish “Axilla (Part II)” - 10/29/21, Las Vegas, NV. Video by Phish
Finally, don’t miss the version offered by Preston School of Industry on Mockingbird’s first CD, Sharin’ in the Groove.
Last significant update: 10/23/23
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