Decided that I am going to start a little weekly review of sorts and Saturday seemed as good a day as any.
So in anticipation of the UIC Pavilion shows coming up next month I decided to go with this one this week. Saturday, June 18th 1994. 1994 is one of my favorite years is phishtory. An immense amount of extraordinary music came from this summer tour, along with plenty of the crazy antics we've all fallen in love with (the previous night's show at the Eagle's Ballroom was the famous O.J. Show) . They were producing some very high energy and precise music and really sinking their feet into musical ground at this point. The previous year they had started to headline major amphitheaters and had just released their 5th major album, Hoist. They had made a music video for MTV for "Down With Disease" to help promote the album.
This show would be very hard pressed to disappoint anyone I think. It is classic definitive early/mid 90s Phish. Trey even mentions this particular Divided Sky in that Charlie Rose interview he did back in 2004. Here is what he had to say about it.
"We were at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago. And we were playing “Divided Sky,” and we got down to this quiet part where it gets silent. And we were getting quieter and quieter, and then became silence. And I had my eyes closed, and I could feel the crowd, and I started to — because improvising is, you`re trying to translate the — what`s out there already, greater pattern of things. And sometimes it feels like it`s coming through the hole, and you couldn`t play a wrong note if you tried; you`re just floating. And at that moment, you are in the middle of it, and I started to see those colors, like I`m not kidding, floating around there, and I realized that I could almost — it was silent, but I could see what we were translating. And as soon as I could see them, I started improvising, but I didn`t play anything. I did everything in the sense of improvisation, except for the actual notes, and as soon as I did it, the whole place erupted. It was like, whoa, and just tears started rolling down my face, and it was at that moment that I knew that it was truly bigger than me. It. You know what I mean? "Most of the songs in this 1st set don't get stretched very far out into the improvisational abyss but they are all great versions in their own right. They kick things off with a Wilson, Rift, AC/DC Bag trio that lets everyone there know that they are ready drop into this one running. After the composed chaos of Maze they lighten the mood a bit with The Mango Song before kicking things back into gear with the fan favorite Down With Disease. This one doesn't go out there very far but like the rest of the show it is played really well. Fish really lets it out towards the end. Now into one of my personal favorite Phish songs, It's Ice. I can go as far to say that this is also one of my favorite versions of this song also. Right off the bat I like what they are doing here. Especially Mike and Fish. There is even a little early funkyness going on here towards the middle section and a great Page throw down. This, IMO, is how this song should be played... every time. They mellow things out with a sweet Dog Faced Boy before ending the set with a great Divided Sky and a short but to the point set closer Sample.
The 2nd set starts off perfect with Peaches en Regalia. Who doesn't love a good Peaches, and this one is good. After this they delve into the abyss... reaching in deep and pulling out a massive Bowie->Mind Left Body jam->Bowie. Trey displays some excellent guitar work early on in this before getting downright nasty. This also contains teases galore. Three Blind Mice, Dave's Energy Guide, Voodoo Child and Purple Haze to be exact. They slow things down a little bit after this, perhaps for a collective breather with a nice rendition of Horn and a fun McGrupp (another opportunity for Page to shine). Now they let everyone in the building know that the little mid 2nd set chill-out is done with a ripping Tweezer full of razor sharp guitar licks and bass bombs. After Tweezer they go into Lifeboy. I have always liked this combo. Apparently they did too around this time (94-95), doing it quite often. I'd like to see them bring this > back someday soon. This is a good Lifeboy too with a fine Page showcase. Of course it wouldn't be a classic Phish show without the staple You Enjoy Myself. Lets face it. Phish without YEM is like the food pyramid without fruit. And for good reason. The song just works. Intricate and bizarre at the same time. This one delivers everything. Melodic guitar riffs and soaring solos. Mike's funky bass lines with Fish laying down the beats. There is also Frankenstein and How Many More Times teases thrown in for good measure. To top it off the vocal jam had some Monty Python quirkiness . They close out the 2nd set with a balls to the wall Chalk Dust Torture. Not much to say here about this one except that it just rocks and is perfect to leave everyone in the crowd waiting on baited breath for more.
The encore of this show consisted of two tunes. Bouncing and Tweeprize. Now say what you want about Bouncing Around The Room. The song gets a lot of misguided hate I think. Personally I like it and is as quintessential Phish as YEM or Divided Sky. There isn't anything to write home about this one, as with almost any of them. It's just a nice song to squeeze into things before getting the rest of their led out in the Tweeprize.
This show is a fine example of a Phish that isn't afraid of taking risks. Knowing no limits and reaping the rewards or humbling in their failures. Taking that step off of that ledge, not knowing exactly how far of a drop was in store and finding out side-by-side with everyone in the audience.
I hope that everyone enjoys this pick as much as I've enjoyed listening and reviewing it.
I uploaded the show in its entirety (mp3) for your listening pleasure. You can download the .zip here. Information on the particular source that I used (I went with the SBD) can be found here at db.etree.org and even downloaded in it's lossless state here at bt.etree.org. I will continue to seed that torrent for a little while to make sure that anyone wanting to do so, can. There is also a decent sounding AKG sourced audience recording of this show that can be found, also at etree, here.
UIC Pavilion, Chicago IL
Soundcheck: All Things Reconsidered, How Many More Times
Set 1: Wilson, Rift, AC/DC Bag > Maze, The Mango Song > Down with Disease, It's Ice, Dog Faced Boy, The Divided Sky, Sample in a JarSet 2: Peaches en Regalia > David Bowie -> Mind Left Body Jam -> David Bowie,Horn > McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters > Tweezer > Lifeboy, You Enjoy Myself, Chalk Dust Torture
 Three Blind Mice, Dave's Energy Guide, Voodoo Child, and Purple Haze teases.
 Frankenstein and How Many More Times teases; Monty Python "Spam" vocal jam. Vocal jam also contained Point Me in the Direction of Albuquerque quote.
 Full band tease of How Many More Times.
Notes: Bowie (after the Mind Left Body Jam) included Three Blind Mice, Dave's Energy Guide, Voodoo Child, and Purple Haze teases. YEM included Frankenstein and How Many More Times teases, as well as a Monty Python “Spam” vocal jam. The vocal jam also contained a Point Me in the Direction of Albuquerque quote. Chalk Dust subsequently contained a full band tease of How Many More Times.
Setlist provided by phish.net