Category: .

The thing that sucks about the Phoenix airport is that the rental car facility is like 400 miles from the airport so unless you leave an extra 3 hours to return your car you will miss your flight.  If you leave your wallet in the rental car and have to take the shuttle twice, like I did, you might need 5 hours.  The good news about missing my flight is I finally have time to do a blog post.  The Front is one of the most storied venues in Phish’s history.  After graduating from Hunt’s and Nectar’s, The Front became the band’s home away from home in Burlington.  According to, the band played The Front a total of 53 times with Nectar’s and MSG coming in second and third with 43 and 31 times respectively.  I was only able to see the last two shows ever played at The Front, May 11 and 12, 1991, but very grateful that I at least saw those.

The venue itself was fairly non descript.  It was right up the street from the Flynn (if I remember correctly).  Walking in, there was a small area where they would check IDs and take money (no advance tickets), and then you would go to the left and enter the actual performance space.  The room where the band played was a dark rectangular room, maybe 100′ long by 50′ wide?  When you entered from the front area, you entered the back of the room on the side, the stage was to your right.  Stage was only about 2 or 3 feet high (knee height) and the ceiling was fairly low too. Definitely one of the smaller rooms I have ever seen Phish in, but not quite as small as Nietzches or The Haunt.  If you went toward the stage there was an exit to a connected (and related?) place called (I think) the Outback, and it was a small bar that also had an outdoor patio.

The first show of the weekend, 5/11, was a 21 and over show so a lot of people couldn’t get in, including The Duck.   There were a bunch of people hanging out on the curb outside that couldn’t get in.   As a result, it’s the only Phish show I ever actually taped as Duck asked me to bring his equipment in since he was only 20 (even back then I was old).  It’s a good thing as I was the only taper in there that night, and in talking with Shaps a few years later, it appears there wasn’t a board tape in the archives either.

I got in there early to set up the gear in the back behind the soundboard and the place was empty.  It stayed empty for most of the first set.  I would guess there were maybe 50 people tops which surprised me as I figured the hometown folks would fill up the venue.  My first Burlington show a couple of weeks earlier (UVM 4/22/91) was jam packed.  I finally got the tape rig going and this is how it went:

Set 1The LandladyLlamaThe Squirming Coil > Cavern > Divided SkyGuelah PapyrusMy Sweet OneFoamTweezerGolgi Apparatus

Set 2Chalk Dust TortureYou Enjoy MyselfPoor Heart > Reba > The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg > Tweezer Reprise

EncoreTerrapinBig Black Furry Creature from Mars

A pretty standard Spring ’91 show, and nothing too much sticks out for me.  YEM features Tom Baggot on harmonica and the first set Tweezer is pretty good too.  The highlight for me was the encore, which I have featured below.  The show ended up getting more crowded  by the end, but I would still be surprised if 125 people were there.  I’m pretty sure this is the least attended Phish show I ever attended, even smaller than Sessions at West 54th, which isn’t even really a show so I’ll just shut up.

The encore was my favorite part of this show.  Check out the BBFCFM with “Eddie Van Anastasio”: 

After the show it seems like all 125 people ended up back at Fishman’s house that I think he was sharing with Kuroda.  It was a fun party and I got to sit down on the couch with Trey and make a fool of myself while we listened to the Ninja Custodian demo tape.  Later on when I was in the kitchen, somebody came up to Page and handed him a cheap ass Casio keyboard which he proceeded to goof around on and subsequently brought on stage the following night.  I also smoked hash in Fish’s bedroom which smelled really bad (the room, not the hash).  Good times.

The people I was traveling with were more psyched for the next night, because they could actually get in (this night was All Ages).  This proved to be a way more crowded  show even though it was a Sunday.

Set 1Chalk Dust TortureBouncing Around the RoomDinner and a Movie >StashThe LizardsThe Landlady > Destiny UnboundLlamaFee > Foam,Runaway Jim

Set 2David BowieBathtub GinPoor Heart > The Curtain > Golgi Apparatus,MagillaMike’s Song > I Am HydrogenWeekapaug GrooveThe Squirming Coil > The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > AC/DC Bag > Rocky Top

EncoreRun Like an Antelope

I really like this show.  For one, it features Dave Grippo throughout and it’s well played with some funny moments. Landlady>Destiny is  one of my favorite combos and every time the played Landlady in ’91 I was pulling for the Destiny.  Add a horn to Destiny and I’m a happy boy.  Llama also featured the Truth and it too is a barn burner. I’ve featured both of those below.  Second set also had some great stuff.  The Dude of Life came out during Mike’s Song to sing some alternate lyrics which just served to confuse me, but I was super psyched to see Page bust out the Casio from the previous night’s party.  Good stuff for sure.  This would be one of the last shows I would see before the just announced Horn Tour so I made sure to live it up during the final 5 tracks (saw The Marquee and Salisbury the next weekend).  Probably why I don’t remember too much from this show.  I do remember we had to drive back to NYC right after the show to get the Duck to work on Monday morning.  That part kind of sucked but I am pretty sure Duck did all the driving.

Destiny Unbound is one of my favorite tracks.  Add Dave Grippo and you’ve got one of my all-time favorite versions.  

Llama with the brass is great too: 

Lastly,  here is the Mike’s Groove with DOL on vocals and Page on the aformentioned Casio during H2.  Grippo kills it on the Mike’s too: 

As mentioned earlier in this blog, the summer of ’92 was a little bit of an exercise in patience as the majority of shows played that summer were short (45 minute) sets opening up for Santana (besides HORDE and 3 or 4 headlining shows).  While I saw just a handful of these Santana shows, there were only a few standout moments for me as the short Phish sets didn’t allow for a lot of improv or stretching out beyond an 8-10 minute Tweezer or YEM set closer.  Stowe is obviously a highlight with Carlos sitting in and there is that cool Oye Como Va with Fish on vacuum (Hoffman Estates?), but I didn’t attend either of those.  There might be other cool stuff but since most of the Santana sets don’t circulate (they were strictly anti-taping), I’m not familiar with everything that went down on the tour.  So for me, easily the two highlights of the 7 or 8 Santana shows I saw were my first birthday show (8/15/92, Greek LA) and the Finger Lakes show which was a hometown show for me.

I don’t remember a lot about the Finger Lakes show, probably because I drank two 40’s of Crazy Horse malt liquor before the show (remember that stuff?!)  In fact, I remember almost nothing of the Phish set besides the idiot rednecks sitting behind us who kept telling me to “make my ‘girlfriend’ sit down and stop dancing” in reference to my friend Dave (The Duck) who had a pony tail.  Anyway, what I do remember was an unforgettable sequence of the Santana set where Trey, Fish and Page came out for a killer sequence of “Exodus”>”Elmore’s Boogie”(Elmore James)>”The Healer” (John Lee Hooker).  By that point we had moved up 10 rows from the ass hats and were now dead center on the floor.  The whole place came alive during Exodus and both the crowd and the band(s) on stage were just feeling it.  I looked and looked for a copy of this show for over 20 years without luck until about 6 months ago I found a source (two actually!) on dimeadozen.  I was almost in shock when I came across it as I had given up searching so long ago.  Does the tape live up to my memory?  Well, it’s obviously not as sick as watching Trey and Carlos trade licks on a Bob Marley track right in front of you (on Crazy Horse), but it is still super solid and worth a listen in my opinion.  Check it out:

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I couldn’t let the the 20th Anniversary of the first Red Rocks show go by without a quick post.  Spring of ’93 had some great shows,  but when we saw Red Rocks on the docket for the summer, we were overjoyed.  As most are aware, Summer ’93 was a breakthrough tour and the Red Rocks show is one of many highlights from what still proves to be one of the high marks of the band’s career.  I was able to catch the first three shows of the tour, plus Stowe, Jones Beach, Darien Lake, Wolf Trap, Chicago and my birthday show (Kentucky) but due to moving out to California at the exact same time, I wasn’t able to see as many of the shows as I would have liked.  In hindsight, missing the Murat is the one I regret most.  Every show from this tour has something killer to offer, but everyone was looking forward to Red Rocks as the show of the summer, and it didn’t disappoint.

We got to Denver a day or two before and set up camp at my friend Randy’s house in Boulder.  This house had been our home base for all the Colorado shows since ’91.  I had never been to Red Rocks before and so we went mountain  biking around there the day before the show.  Riding around the surrounding area got us even more stoked!  We woke up on show day and it was pouring.  Ugh.  We kept listening to the radio as the show was rumored to be moved over to McNichols Arena due to the rain.  Fuck.  Still, with no word from the radio or otherwise, we made our way over to the venue around 2PM.  It was still gray skies and off and on rain.  We pulled in and parked and even though this was the show of the summer, there was a little ticket shack in the parking lot still selling tickets 3 hours before showtime.  That’s probably the last time there were tickets available at Red Rocks on the day of.  We walked all around meeting up with folks and trying to stay dry and got to hear the soundcheck which was cool.  I don’t remember any songs being played but I remember Page trying out all these really cool synth sounds, some that I still have not heard again to this day.

Finally it was time to head in.  We had a group of about 10 of us and we walked in with a giant tarp.  We were in pretty early (there was no “mad dash” back then) and we walked to just behind the soundboard and claimed our space.  At this point it was POURING and windy so we made a shelter with the tarp and we all sat underneath it and hot boxed for like an hour.  It was all we could do.  Finally we got word that the show was indeed going on as planned:

 Set 1: Divided Sky, Harpua, Poor Heart > Maze, Bouncing Around the Room > It’s Ice > The Wedge, Ginseng Sullivan, Rift, Run Like an Antelope

Set 2: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Slave to the Traffic Light > Split Open and Melt, The Squirming Coil, My Friend, My Friend > Chalk Dust Torture, You Enjoy Myself > Purple Rain > Hold Your Head Up, Cavern

Encore: The Mango Song, Free Bird

As the opening notes of Divided Sky rang out, the skies parted and there was not single drop of rain for the rest of the show.  It’s an amazing version and everyone was in a state disbelief at the beauty of the venue.  The always welcome Harpua was trotted out in a rare second song slot and when they got to the “Look!  The storms gone!” line, the crowd gave a collective cheer.  This show was full of energy from start to finish.  I am not sure how much of it translates to tape but the place was just going off.  I felt like I was hanging on to the back of a rocket ship for the whole show.  There is great playing throughout.  The Wedge is one of my all time favorite versions and was fairly rare at the time having not been played at all on this tour (and not again for another 2 years).  The 4th ever version of Ginseng Sullivan was also great, once Trey got his guitar in tune!  The Rift and Antelope (listen below) was a solid way to close the set to say the least.  The band was obviously loving the venue as much as we were.

The mood during set break was festive and everyone was soaking up the atmosphere and tripping out on the lightning storms we could see over Denver– still, the weather was holding out for us.  The band came back on to open the set with 2001 which had debuted earlier in the tour and was already a crowd favorite.  This is a short and funky version that leads into my personal highlight of the show, the Slave.  An all-time version, this track had eluded almost everyone and was recently brought back the previous week at the Cincinnati Zoo.  I had seen almost 125 shows up to this point and had only seen one Slave so I was DYING for it.  When they dropped into it from the 2001, I was as happy as I have ever been at any show.  It was  true moment of bliss.  They nail the version too.  The rest of the show is great and has some amazing moments but the Slave was really where it peaked for me personally.  The YEM>Purple Rain is very, very good and I even liked Cavern on this night.  It was one of those shows that they could have come out and played only Cavern and it still would have been amazing (in my opinion).  Free Bird sent everyone into the night, giggling down the stairs in amazement of what we had all just experience.  This first visit to Red Rocks is a true highlight of all the Phish shows I have seen and I would easily put it anywhere in my Top 10.

Not too long after the shows, maybe in the Fall, a very low gen soundboard popped up.  The board is a little sterile in my opinion and does not convey spaciousness of the venue but it was still pretty crisp and we were happy to have it.  An MP3 download of that can be found here:  Lossless here:

For years and years I tried to track down an audience version of this show without success and I always attributed it to all the rain and wind and figure nobody got a good pull.  Well, one B&K source did finally pop up in the last few years and it is surprisingly good.  I think a matrix of the two sources might be a winner if someone took the time to do it.  The audience source is my personal choice, and it can be found here, in lossless:  Sorry, no MP3 link for that one.

Even the flatness of the soundboard can’t tame this Antelope: 

And the Slave deserves a listen any time this show is discussed: 

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OK…contrary to popular belief, I have not been abducted by aliens. While I thought I was for a second during 11/24/90 and I def was during 12/31/95,   this time I don’t have that good of an excuse for my lack of posts (unless kids and a job are what constitutes alien abduction these days).  Also contrary to popular belief, I have not run out of olden times shows to write about- in fact, I have been having a hard time deciding what show to feature next.  I figured I would ease back into it with a short post about the first show of  1995, Lowell Memorial Auditorium.  While I like to generally focus on earlier shows than ’95, this show was attended by so few people (compared to other ’95 shows) that I think it qualifies.

This was kind of unique show for a couple of reasons .  Number one, it was a Pro-Choice benefit and number two, it included some opening acts which is/was pretty rare.  Due to the fact that this was a pro-choice benefit, there was pretty major security.  It is the only show I have ever been to with a picket line and metal detectors.  Because of all of the nutty pro-lifers, you had to show up with ID and your ticket and get a bracelet at the box office.  There were no ticket transfers so you could not get a ticket outside the show, even if you wanted to.  Luckily, we went to the super secret NYC Ticketmaster (Rite-Aid on Delancey) and scored first row tickets (peep the stub above) when they went on sale.  The drive up to Lowell from NYC seemed to take forever. The Duck and I got there and met up with our friend Brooke (RIP) to all go in together.  The scene outside was crazy with the picket line, but we got our bracelets and made it through the metal detectors and into the show. We made it down to our seats on the right hand aisle of the first row in time for EBN (Emergency Broadcast Network).  EBN was actually kind of cool.  They were from Rhode Island and came put with a whole multimedia thing, big screen behind them and stuff.  I remember thinking it was pretty cool and interesting.  Kind of political if I recall.  Jennifer Trynin, I don’t remember too much of.  I think she came out and did a pretty benign acoustic set, but I could be wrong.  After that, it was time for the Phish, and in line with the day up until then, the set unfolded unpredictably:

Soundcheck: Tweezer -> I’ll Come Running -> Tweezer Reprise

Set 1Don’t You Want To Go?Ha Ha Ha > Spock’s BrainStrange Design,RebaTheme From the BottomHold Your Head Up > Lonesome Cowboy BillHold Your Head UpFreeGlide IIYou Enjoy MyselfSweet AdelineSample in a Jar

EncoreI’ll Come Running -> Gloria

It was kinda weird in the first row and nobody was dancing at first, plus we didn’t know any of the songs.  I might be remembering it incorrectly, but the security guards might have been asking us to sit.  Still, Ha Ha Ha was cool and it was great to help pick the name for Spock’s Brain. When they started Reba, people finally got up and started moving.  Recognized as one of the top Rebas ever played, this version is note perfect.  You can listen to it over and over and still be amazed by it.  The first ever Theme From the Bottom kept it going, and it’s a great version.  Lonesome Cowboy Bill was a welcome surprise in the Fish slot and more debuts followed in the form of Free (which I loved instantly) and Glide II (so killer).  A sweet trifecta of  YEM, Adeline and Sample brought the show to a neat close.  I wish I could say that I knew I’ll Come Running when they started it, but it was my two friends, Vinnie and the Duck that went nuts.  They were/are huge Eno fans and they called it in about 3 or 4 seconds.  I’ve really like it and wonder why they only played it this one time.   And Gloria Steinem came out on stage and they played Gloria for her which was obv sick too. People were digging it. All in all a very fun and memorable show.  This show was the launching pad for the next month’s Summer Tour and it got everyone primed for that and the monstrous Fall tour to follow. Back with some more posts soon!

Glide II might be my favorite track from this show: 

I love this debut version of Theme:  

And here is the encore, worth a listen if only for the rarity of these tracks:

MP3 Link to the whole show here:

10/7/89 Bates College, Lewiston, ME.

Happy New Year everyone!  Hope everybody had a great one.  I did for sure (and was paying the price for it the last few days…).  Had a blast at MSG and just landed back home after a 6 hour cross country flight (ugh).  Anyhoo, this was not a show I went to so I don’t have a lot (anything) to say about it but I have been wanting to throw this track up on the blog since the second Phish dropped this bomb on NYE.  Without further ado, have a listen to the Fly Like An Eagle Bowie.  Not as earth shattering as the 2012 full version, but still pretty cool.


9/28/91 The Rink, Buffalo, NY

Seems like a zillion years since my last post.  Not to worry, I’ve got some good stuff on deck coming soon.  Been a crazy busy summer, so the blog was left twisting in the wind a bit.  Just figured out Twitter too (thanks LawnMemo), so you can follow me now at @backinmydaynet and be alerted when I get a new post up.  Just a super quick one today to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the Rink show in Buffalo (and get some new blood up on the blog):

Set 1The Landlady > Bouncing Around the Room > Chalk Dust TortureThe Squirming Coil > My Sweet OneStashEliza > Foam > BrotherGolgi Apparatus,Memories

Set 2LlamaGuelah PapyrusSparkleCavern > Run Like an AntelopeLawn BoyThe LizardsPoor HeartMagillaMike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove

EncoreContact > Big Black Furry Creature from Mars

A pretty classic show, this one is most well known for being the show where Trey rollerbladed through the audience  during Weekapaug Groove. I couldn’t find any pictures of The Rink and don’t have a stub for this one because we helped carry equipment in to get on the list.  However, through the miracle of the interwebz, you can peep the venue here. We had hit Ithaca on the 26th and the Warehouse the night before (with Glide debut) and this was third show we had seen before I turned around.  The Duck continued on to Cleveland.  We got to The Rink around 11AM so we could help the band load in the equipment in exchange for a spot on the guest list.  In fact, I almost took Page’s finger off trying to push the load ramp into the back of the JEMP truck.  Glad that didn’t happen!  We were there so early, there wasn’t much to do.  I went across the street to a bowling alley to play some pinball and Gordo came in to use the pay phone.  I remember staring at him like a mental patient, he probably thought I was maniac.  Anyway, we got back into the venue for soundcheck somehow and sat on the floor in front of the stage playing Pocket Boggle while the band soundchecked.  Sometime during that afternoon, Trey had borrowed some Rollerblades from a fan at the show and was trying them out in the rink and outside in the parking lot.  I forgot about it until later in the show.

The Rink was exactly that:  A classic olden times roller rink.  Pretty nondescript (inside and out) with your basic snackbar and maybe a few games.  That was it.  No bleachers or anything.  You walked in, and the stage was right on one end of the rink (by the entrance) and the whole floor was the rest of the rink.  It was a pretty big rink and the whole back half of the floor was pretty empty.  It was kind of run down, but it was actually a pretty awesome venue.  I don’t remember a ton from this show and need to give it a good listen (shoulda listened to whole thing but wanted to get this post up).  They gave Henry from Palo Alto an award for traveling from California to Amy’s Farm the month before (longest distance traveled to a show).  Funny thing, is after that show, I never saw him at any others except NYE 91, I think.

What I do remember (and maybe it just overshadows everything else) is the Weekapaug.  I was in the back and there was a ton of space, literally half the rink was empty and we were rocking out to Mike’s Song.  After Hydrogen, they went into Mike’s bass intro to Weekapaug and it just kept going on and on.  I wasn’t really thinking about it, just enjoying it, but came to realize that Trey was lacing up his Rollerblades.  All of a sudden, as soon as Weekapaug started, there was a handheld spotlight going through the crowd.  The next thing I knew, Trey was whizzing by me, like 2 feet away!  It was sick!  He was going in and around all the people while wailing on the Weekapaug.  We couldn’t believe it, it was so surreal.  At one point he bashed into a girl right next to me and you can hear it on the tape, but for the most part, he just kept skating around and around everyone while the rest of the band was laying it down from the stage.  It was almost like a dream, you could have literally reached out and touched (or tripped) him.  It was so cool.  They also did an awesome thing during Big Black Furry Creature where either Mike or Trey had their legs hanging down from the rafters while the other person was on the ground with their legs in the air going the opposite way.  That was very cool looking as well.  All in all, it was a really fun show.  I am going to spin the whole thing during my road trip tomorrow, and maybe I will report back with other highlights.

Until then, here is the Rollerblade Weekapaug Groove:

The whole show can be downloaded here (MP3):

While we were leaving town we stopped a gas station and the girl at the register asked if we were in town to see Jesus Jones.  I still get a laugh out of that…..

To wrap up their mammoth Spring ’91 tour, Phish played one final show on the UVM campus at Billings Student Center in the tiny Cooks Commons cafeteria.  This was billed as an Earth Day show (as was the previous day’s show at Potsdam).  My friend Brooke was organizing the show so we arrived in Burlington early in the afternoon and started helping her set up.  My job was to go get the hummus and bagels for the band room.  This was possibly the smallest show I have ever seen.  The place was PACKED but there could not have been more than 200 people there.  The place was a tiny cafeteria.  It was surrounded by windows but they had covered them all up so people couldn’t see in, I guess.  We set up our taping gear in front of the soundboard which was about 25′ back from the stage.  I think there was only one other tape rig there. As with the previous nights at the end of this tour, the band was primed from two and a half months on the road.  That said, I think everyone was a little tired from the long tour.  Still, you could tell the band was stoked to be home and the show was a good one:

Set 1The Curtain > Runaway JimThe SlothRebaPoor HeartLlamaGuelah PapyrusThe Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg,  TweezerTweezer Reprise

Set 2Chalk Dust TortureBathtub GinUncle PenThe Landlady > Destiny Unbound,The Squirming CoilStashMy Sweet One > The LizardsHighway to Hell

EncoreLawn Boy > Rocky Top

Phish.Net lists Tweezer and Tweezer Reprise as Encore 2’s, but that’s incorrect.  Tweezer was played after Suzy and then they brought the whole crew up to the stage and presented them with personalized bowling balls to thank them for a successfully completed tour.  Apparently, there were some heated bowling matches that occurred throughout the tour.  It was a pretty sweet gesture and once the crew had left the stage, the band closed the first set with a very early version of Tweezer Reprise.  This was a really fun show to attend and a great way to cap off a monster tour.  Of note is the first ever Poor Heart and a great Gin.  After the show, I went back to the band room to clean up the hummus and Mike was there macking on it.  There was pair of Fish’s drum sticks on the table but Mike seemed to be the last guy there.  I asked him if I could grab the sticks since everyone else had cleared out and he just kind of shrugged, so I have the sticks used to play this show in my closet.  The sources of this show that circulate leave a bit to be desired.  The source in the link below has a slightly too slow first set and a slightly sped up second set….I’ll have to grab the masters AUD’s from the Duck and transfer them.  I could not find a lossless source online.

Even with the lacking sources, this Chalkdust sounds good and was a hot way to open the second set:

And this Lizards remains in top 3 of versions I have seen.  It was amazing on this night and possibly the set highlight (which is rare for Lizards!):

Here’s a link to the MP3 source but it’s got some pitch issues.  Still, it’s worth a listen until the better source gets posted:

**Edit to Add:  See the comments  from a reader, the first track may not be from Wendell session.  I am looking into it.  Anyway, I’ll leave the post up so the tracks can be heard, but I might be fully wrong on the source.  Stay tuned!**

**Edit to Add Part Deux:  Please disregard original post.  The first track, now amended to read 1995, was recorded sometime in early 1995, not 1990 as originally posted below.  Thanks to Kevin Hollo for bringing my lack of fact checking to the forefront!  Either way, I think both versions are worth a listen or two.**

Here’s another quickie post from the Wendell Studios session….This is the Strange Design from that session, 5 years before it made it’s debut on stage.  I never realized it was such an old song.  While we’re on it, I’ve included the studio version of Strange Design that was recorded for the Billy Breathes album but was cut from the LP and only made it onto the “Free” CD single… This song really hit home for me on New Years ’95…Other times, not so much, but depending on your mood it can be great (kinda like Waste)…I think the studio versions are pretty interesting (I especially like the ’96 version) and it’s cool to hear the progression…

Studio Version 1995:

Studio Version 1996:

2/14/91 The State Theatre, Ithaca, NY

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Phish in Ithaca.  At the State Theatre.  On Valentine’s Day.  It almost sounded too good to be true.  Those of us who had caught the last show at Smith College knew the band was en fuego.  For the rest of the folks in town, the chance to see a local favorite go from playing our little town bar to our local movie theatre was a no-brainer.  We were stoked.  The State Theatre was a run down little movie theatre right downtown, and most of us had only been there for movies.  I don’t remember any gigs there before this one, but there were some good ones after this (Taj Mahal comes to mind.)  Phish played the State a second and final time on 9/26/91.   Ithaca’s State Theatre first opened its doors on the evening of December 6, 1928 . Originally not a theatre, the building had started out as a security garage and automobile showroom in 1915, but this business moved out in 1927.  You can find out more than you ever wanted to know about the State Theatre here: 

The show itself is pretty solid, check the setlist:

Set 1My Sweet OneMcGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters > Buried Alive >RebaDestiny UnboundCavernThe Mango SongStashLawn BoyThe Oh Kee Pa CeremonyGolgi Apparatus

Set 2Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug GrooveFoamThe Squirming CoilRunaway JimEstherAlumni BluesBouncing Around the RoomI Didn’t Know,The LandladyPossum

EncoreUncle PenLa Grange

The song selection definitely delivers.  Opening up with the obligatory My Sweet One, McGrupp was an unexpected surprise in the two slot.  The show was packed (even the balcony was pretty full) and most people seemed to be digging it.  I did hear some grumbles from old school fans that were not happy with the move from frat parties and bars to a theatre, but you can never please everyone (nor can you stop progress).  We had met up with the band before the show and my friend Vinnie had given Mike one of those electric plants that dances to the music, except for he had put a fish on top of it.  Mike put it on top of his amp and we could see it jamming the whole show, it was funny as hell. This was the “original” Couch Tour show.  My friend Ben Weinstein, who was at Cornell, directed (live!) the show for Ithaca Public Access so the whole show was simulcast on regular TV for those that did not make it.  The video circulates widely now, but in pretty poor quality.  Even my low gen copies have degraded over time (VHS sucks it).  It’s still cool to have a multi-cam shoot available from this era and considering it was directed live and not edited in post, it came out pretty good.  While the show was not mind blowing, it was still a great time and a good launching pad for the nationwide tour.  After Destiny Unbound (which was a first for many of us), Trey announced that they would be giving away their old tour van to someone in the crowd as they had purchased a new one and had both vehicles at the show.  I, for one, had forgotten about the  giveaway, until during I Didn’t Know when they brought out Fish in a blindfold, turned him around a bunch of times and had him throw the keys into the audience.  I was way in the back, but I will never forget hearing my good friend Toast yell “Yes!” as the keys hit his hands.  You can even hear it on the tapes.  I reached out to  Toast (now a dad named “Eric”) last week and asked him to share his recollections of this all-time classic moment:

“I went to the show with Kellaine and my buddy Sean. I think I had eaten shrooms before the show, my recollection of the show is hazy. I was on the floor with Kellaine when Trey announced they were giving away their touring van. Fish turned his back to the stage and threw the keys in the crowd. I didn’t see them, I just put my hand up and the key fell right into my palm. It took a second to realize what happened, when I did I shoved the keys into my pocket. Then the spotlight found me, they pulled me up on stage, congratulated me, and told me to come see them after the show. The rest of the show is a haze, I was so freaking psyched! I pictured this school bus parked out front of the State that me and my friends could tour around in.

After the show I went backstage with the band. My buddy Adam Fells was working security at the show. Adam, Kellaine and I ended hanging out with the band for a while after the show. The band was really into the novelty of the giveaway or maybe they were just psyched to get rid of the van. They  told me it was the first vehicle they had and it had taken them to every show up until then. They gave me the other keys to the van. No paperwork, just the keys. They joked about returning anything that they left in the van, I promised I would. I had no idea what the van was.

About an hour after the show Kellaine, Sean and I walked out of the State Theater to see an old Dodge minivan parked right in front. The band took one more look through the van for anything they may have forgot, took the license plate off the van and walked off.

I didn’t try to start it, we all went to Micawbers Bar and celebrated with some beers.

After Micawbers we went back to the State to look over the van and get it home. The van had over 170K miles on it (the odometer stopped working at 170K), there were no seats in the back, just a queen mattress. It smelled really bad!

The van had no plates, and I had no papers saying it was mine. It took a jump-start but the engine turned over and started. Driving from theater back to our house was a long winding uphill drive, almost immediately I knew there were major issues. The van wouldn’t shift out of first gear. Turning was as bad, and the van swayed back and forth as we climbed up Hudson St. I later found out both sway bars were broken, the transmission was shot and the engine was running on two cylinders.

Here’s a partial list of the items I found in the van:

Several books – Sean has them all, don’t remember what they were
half oz of leaf shake
lots of clothes
picture of Fish from Senior Prom w/ date

The van sat for weeks at our house on Kendall. I couldn’t register it, it could barely drive and I wasn’t about to pay for insurance. Summer was coming, we would be moving out of the house and I need to find something to do with the van. If I had I the foresight to put the van in a storage unit, I would have done it. I’ve been told I should have done that a thousand times. But I didn’t. I sold the van to a farmer who was going to use it to carry hay on his farm so it didn’t need to be registered (yeah, kills me), but he had the cash, I needed to move the van, and I sold it. I got $600 and was happy. I could buy some weed, pay some bills and start packing up for summer tour with the Dead.

A few weeks later I received a hand-delivered summons to our house on Kendall Ave. I was being sued. I guess the farmer didn’t think the van was worth $600 and wanted his money back. The problem was, I had spent the money. I tried explaining to the farmer what had happened but he was pissed and wanted his money (understandably). The funny thing is I actually drew up a contract when I sold the van stating the van was of unknown origin and included a bunch of other declarations, and it held up in court!

For a while I had copy of the show from later that tour where my buddy Al told Trey I was being sued and he announced it at the show.  Trey said something to the extent, “remember that guy that won our van, he sold it, spent the money on weed and is being sued.” Pretty accurate.

For the next few years I would go to shows and tell the crew I had stuff from the van I needed to return to the band (like they said!) and I got in (and backstage) to many shows.

It’s been twenty years and I still regularly have people ask about the van. I guess it’s my 15 minutes of phame which I have always been grateful for having.”

I remember being out in front of the State when the band was getting the rest of their stuff out of the van and we were all out there congratulating Toast.  I remember them walking away and then Trey coming back and saying he forgot something and going under the dash and getting a bag of brown stems and seeds.  We were all like “homey, we’ll hook you with the good” but he just laughed and left with his schwag.  While the show is not one I go back to listen to, it conjures up a ton of great memories.  We skipped the next night in Keene (mistake) and headed straight to NYC for the 2/16 show which is deserving of it’s own post in the future….

I couldn’t find a copy of the audio being seeded on etree and there is not one on the google mp3 spreadsheet either sooooo……I am going to post a video.  Below is the Destiny Unbound, after which, Trey talks about the van giveaway:

The video of the whole show (at least what circulates) can be found here:

1/28/90 The Front, Burlington, VT.

This isn’t a show I attended, but it was one of the earliest tapes I had.  This was one of the very first shows that both sets circulated widely as a soundboard.  Usually we had one set or the other, so it was great when the soundboard of the complete show came around shortly after the show.  Unfortunately, the analog tapes we got back then sounded better than the multi-gen source that ended up getting digitized years later.  Since it is coming up on the 22 year anniversary, I wanted to do a short post to highlight a track I wish they would bring back.  I will do a complete review of the Front when I showcase a show that I attended there, but here is the setlist from this night:

Set 1Suzy GreenbergSplit Open and MeltTela > FluffheadLa GrangeCarolina,Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird > Communication Breakdown

Set 2Wilson[1]Run Like an AntelopeBouncing Around the RoomCaravanThe Squirming Coil > You Enjoy Myself > Bathtub GinMike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen >Weekapaug Groove

EncoreLawn Boy > Big Black Furry Creature from Mars[2]

Obviously a hot setlist and this show is worth seeking out.  It was one of my favorites back in the day and showcases a band in transition (tons of youthful energy, not too much polish). Some good olden times banter too. Of note is the first ever “heavy metal” Wilson to open the second set and a very early (3rd ever version) of Bouncing Around the Room.  It is the first set closer that got me to put this show up, Communication Breakdown.  Only played four times (three of them in a row from this week) they tear through it.  While it is definitely a little sloptastic, they make up for it with raw energy.  You know the pit at The Front was popping off when they dropped into this one.  Check it out:

MP3 of the whole show can be found here:


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