PHISH: 11/30/94 Olympia, WA & 12/1/94 Salem, OR essay by Phish Archivist Kevin Shapiro (2/8/05)

PHISH: 11/30/94 Olympia, WA & 12/1/94 Salem, OR

Phish began the touring year of 1994 with seventy-four shows from April through July following the release of their fifth album, "Hoist." Responding to an increasing number of tapers and core fans hitting the road for multiple shows, Phish mixed things up even more than usual. They added horns to shows in April, tore through full sets based on single songs and songs within songs and even spent one show egging on a fugitive celebrity. They capped the summer off with the first performances of the Gamehendge Saga (the second with all of "Hoist" as a second set!) and a blistering tour-closing show in Vermont, which was later released as LIVEPHISH 02.

Phish hit the road again in mid-October for another forty-six shows. This time they were armed with multi-track recording gear to capture the shows for their first live album "A Live One." Attendance grew larger and performances riskier with more exploratory jams and the debut of complex composition Guyute and several covers. As the band grew in stature, their shows were less often set at nightclubs and watering holes. The new venues (mostly colleges and theatres) allowed the audience to tune in at higher levels and appreciation for the band intensified accordingly. Amidst growing fan concern about the band's fast growth and wider discovery of the fans' secret, the band repaid the attention beyond expectations. At the twentieth show of fall tour, Phish donned the first of four legendary musical Halloween costumes they would perform in the coming five years. The middle of three sets in Glens Falls, New York on October 31st, 1994, consisted of Phish's complete rendering of The Beatles' "White Album" (released as LIVEPHISH 13) and set the standard for Halloween performances for years to come.

After Halloween, the tour proceeded through the northeast and into the midwest with celebrated shows and a new bag of tricks every night. Creativity swirled around the band, crew and fans as the tour increasingly became a place to stay for a few nights or more. Rev. Jeff Mosier was enlisted for acoustic bluegrass training (much of it onstage), which became a regular part of groundbreaking performances across the breadbasket (see TMIPH November 1994). After a scarcely documented show that yielded Montana on "A Live One" in the midst of an incredible Tweezer, Phish arrived at Olympia, Washington on November 30th. The locale was already famous in Phish circles for its 1991 narrated "Gamehendge" set. With the year's events being what they were, anticipation was high. Phish had played at Evergreen State College in Olympia for their second time in 1992 on Chariots of Fire and, as Trey pointed out during the 11/30/94 show, "three is a magic number." A smoking tour, rich history and the lush backdrop of the Olympic rainforest set the stage for what happened that cold, dank night at the Campus Recreation Center.

The band hit the stage with a rocking Frankenstein opener. The rollicking country of Poor Heart gave Mike and Page a chance to stretch out and Fish an excuse to let loose some screams before sliding into My Friend, My Friend. After a spooky, extended ending without the usual "mife," My Friend segued neatly into Reba, which soared through hills and valleys of extended dynamic exploration. Reba showcased Phish's growing ability to stretch themes acrobatically beyond genres, starting and stopping effortlessly and journeying through the sweet, the dissonant and everything in between in a single jam. When Reba touched back down amidst screaming guitar, it also ended unusually - without the whistling. The crowd erupted as the band broke into Colonel Forbin's Ascent and Fly Famous Mockingbird. The latter became a vehicle for Trey's introduction of the profound Vibration of Life. Building on a theme begun earlier on the tour, he explained how the Vibration synchronized with Chris's lights and swirled the audience around space so fast they drifted into Gamehendge. After Mockingbird, Mike led the spacey beginnings of a textbook multi-dimensional Down With Disease, for the set's last excursion into warp-driven cacophony. After an emotional Disease, they eased into Bouncing Around The Room. Set one ended with I'm Blue, I'm Lonesome and My Long Journey Home, a pair of bluegrass songs performed for the devoted audience on acoustic instruments.

Set two kicked off with Halley's Comet, a vehicle into one of the craziest, darkest and segue-filled sets in Phish history. The band scarcely paused during the entire set, segueing from Halley's into a blistering Run Like An Antelope and then into an extended improvisational My Sweet One, which made a rare second-set appearance. Sweet One slowed to silence fueled by the attentive crowd (at the time, some Phish audiences would even "shush" each other during a quiet moment). The pause in Sweet One was colored by uncanny grunting and snoring before it grew into a spellbinding jam amidst Antelope-esque jamming which yielded another great segue into Phish's first electric Fixin' To Die. A traditional song "popularized" at the time by Col. Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit, Fixin' was performed acoustic with Jeff Mosier weeks before. The band's only electric rendition of the song featured a spine-tingling jam punctuated, as was much of the show, by Fish's shouted testimony. Fixin' slowed near the end and the groove bent toward Latin and then calypso as it melted into Ya Mar. Trey turned his volume down to nearly inaudible and built it back up before they segued into Mike's Song. Fish's drums tore through the sparse, dark Mike's jam. As Mike's ended, Trey sang Catapult, which provided a perfect transition into an especially dynamic McGrupp And The Watchful Hosemasters. The ending decay of McGrupp formed the beginning of the set-closing Cavern, as Trey described the time and the mission to the keen audience. After the pyrotechnics of this incredibly-flowing second set, the band returned to the stage for a reassuring encore of The Horse > Silent In The Morning. The show ended with Amazing Grace performed acapella without microphones at the edge of the stage. After the show, the thunderstruck audience shuffled out of the Campus Recreation Center to prepare for the three-hour trek down to Salem knowing that with the band playing like this, if you snooze, you lose.

The following day, December, 1st 1994, United States Senator Patrick Leahy (of Vermont) recognized Phish on the Senate floor, stating proudly for the Congressional Record: "Their star is on the rise. Phish's music spans many genres - from classically inspired pieces - to hillbilly country - to slick jazz - to hard rock. Add two trampolines, a vacuum cleaner, a first rate light show and you have a live performance that is hard to forget. A lot of good things come out of Vermont - Phish is one that seems poised to play a prominent role in the American musical scene" (see TMIPH December 1994). Meanwhile, the band prepared for their show that rainy night at the Salem Armory with a sound check that produced this jam.

Phish kicked off the first set of the sold-out Salem show with the first single from "Hoist," Sample In A Jar, which focused the energy of the exuberant crowd. They followed Sample with Flatt and Scruggs' Uncle Pen. Next was Fast Enough For You, which featured an evocative solo by Trey before ending with the introduction to Maze. The chaotic energy of the previous night was recalled Trey and Page traded off the lead in Maze before launching into the orchestrated, progressive Guyute. Completing a two-night nod to Nancy, they followed with his swinging classic, I Didn't Know, with Mike's doo-wop vocals and trademark vacuum solo by Fish, introduced as "Greasy Fizeek." Next was a funky and adventurous Split Open and Melt, which turned dissonant, stretching from one theme to the next as band and audience held on for dear life. Sweet Adeline, performed acapella without microphones, settled things down for set break as debate began about the set two opener.

The band opened the second set with Peaches en Regalia by Frank Zappa followed by Mound. The remainder of set two recalled the previous night's adventures in connectedness as a formidable Tweezer began a non-stop adventure in musical madness. Heavy bass and Page's funky keyboard lines helped achieve liftoff, eventually blasting through the melodic horizon into a funky groove punctuated by Fish's testimony. Tweezer eventually became a start-stop groove, with Mike and Fish yelling and laughing over the demented waves of music. A frightening, dark segment ensued during Fish's vocalizations and eventually morphed into an instrumental Norwegian Wood jam recalling the roots of the region that inspired the risky jamming of these two nights. The jam flowed smoothly into a twisted rendition of Big Black Furry Creature From Mars, which the band used to rib their lone vegetarian, Mike. Creature grew syncopated, traveling outward as Trey scatted into a groove that eventually slowed into Makisupa Policeman. After a bizarre Makisupa, they locked into a new rhythm and completed a tremendous transition into a euphoric NICU, with more testimony by Fish and a brief encounter with Dance of The Sugar Plum Fairies. They returned briefly to Tweezer, which they segued into a standout reading of Jesus Just Left Chicago, showcasing Page's soulful vocals and poignant piano work. They slickly slid the blues ending of Jesus straight into Harry Hood, which signaled the approaching end of the show. Like the show itself, the jam in Harry went from understated, distorted to the soaring end before they ended the set ended with Golgi Apparatus. After leaving the stage momentarily they returned for an encore and Trey thanked the audience before launching into Sleeping Monkey followed by Tweezer Reprise. These incendiary shows left many mapping the mileage to Davis, California for the final leg of this inspirational tour.

Published 19 October 2010 08:06 PM by admin

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