PHISH: 8/13/93 Murat Theatre, Indianapolis, IN essay by Phish Archivist Kevin Shapiro (6/11/07)

Phish 8/13/93

When reviewing shows for release, there are a number of approaches. One is to look for music never heard by the community – something that's basically new to everyone who hears it. A good recent example of this is the Headphones Jam recorded at a studio session in the barn. The relative privacy of that setting, while retained on the tapes, changes as it becomes engrained in the collective memory of more and more listeners. If the music and performance are special enough, it may eventually rise to legend. Other shows are chosen because they are known and loved. They have already been accepted as legendary and literally beg for release regardless of the sources that circulate. Without them, the catalog – some would even say the fan experience – is simply incomplete.

The August 13, 1993 Murat Theatre show is a perfect example of the latter. The venue was an Egyptian-themed Shrine Temple, palatial on the outside and dripping with red and gold trimmings inside. About 1700 attended Phish's first show here, which was typical for the time with just enough room for everyone who arrived to pay their $17 and enjoy the show. The performance was groundbreaking with whole styles of playing and interacting unfolding in real time. Adding to the backdrop of this surreal summer 1993 tour was the progressive rock, conceptual dream-space album Rift.

The added twist is that audience tapes circulated of the Murat thus far were made from the extreme back of the balcony, where the taper's section was located that night instead of its usual spot adjacent to the mix position. Phish implemented the official taper's section earlier that summer when the forest of microphone stands in front of the mix position grew too thick for the band and crew to see each other. That meant that circulating recordings of this classic show, instantly famous for its mind-melting (or is it mind-melding?) Bathtub Gin > Ya Mar and Mike's Song > Lifeboy have always been amiss. A soundboard cassette of the second set of the show was copied early on and has been among the most commonly traded tapes/CD's for years, but the first set has never been fully appreciated due to limitations of the audience source. This show is legendary among Phishheads based almost entirely on the second set! That's not to say set two is not worthy on its own, but the entire show is risky and magical in so many ways. Every note must be heard in the highest possible quality to fully appreciate what transpired amid the geometrically ornate background of that beautiful Masonic Temple.

Summer 1993 was a time when each show somehow surpassed the last. From the sunny innocence of the Cincinnati Zoo to the Roller Coaster of the Mind at Darien Lake to the first time at Nautica Stage, from the penultimate stage fog of Grand Rapids' Great Gig in the Sky to the blazing Split Open and Melt in Rochester, this tour was for the ages. The audience was spellbound every night sharing incredible discoveries with the band that kept unfolding with more clarity and purpose than previously imagined. Until now, the only show from this amazing tour released was LivePhish 07 from 8/14/93 Tinley Park. The Murat Theatre release continues the story of LP07, working backwards a day and whetting the appetite to hear more and more of this powerful era of Phish music.

It is true that the Murat show is capped by the pure unbridled majesty of Bathtub Gin and Mike's Song, but the whole show is worthy of strong recognition. Set one began with a unique opening combination of Lengthwise > Llama, a dub-wise Makisupa Policeman with an easy slide into Foam and an exploratory Stash (which entered hyper-space a couple nights later). After a special Friday the 13th interlude, Ginseng Sullivan featured "Mr. Butt with protruding arms and legs on Madonna washboard" followed by a formidable Fluffhead with an acoustic introduction by Trey. My Mind's Got a Mind of It's Own and Horn provided a bit of a head-rest, before they ended the set with a powerful and dark David Bowie sprinkled with licks from the likes of The Mango Song and Magilla.

While the Murat Gin > Ya Mar and Mike's Song > Lifeboy define the show – perhaps even the era, the band threw caution to the wind throughout this entire show resulting in transcendent musical and emotional heights. The power of the Buried Alive > Rift set two opening combination started things off solidly. The set continued with a masterpiece Bathtub Gin that featured a massive, historic jam rooted at times in Weekapaug Groove resolving into a spine-tingling segue to Ya Mar. At this point, the place nearly exploded with sheer energy, setting the stage for the evening's next improvisational experiment, a deep, dark Mike's Song. Interwoven with Stranglehold teases and other musical madness still sizzling with high voltage electricity after Bathtub Gin, Mike's Song begat another near perfect segue to the contemplative spaciousness of Lifeboy. As trusted guides have pointed out, this Lifeboy was truly "spiritual." In addition to a host of dark heavy jamming to the depths of consciousness, this show still maintains a playful vibe throughout. It ended that way with Oh Kee Pah Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg and the perfect yin-yang of an encore, Amazing Grace and Highway to Hell.

To celebrate the newfound availability on CD of more shows from the archives, filler from the Murat Theatre soundcheck was included. That provides a glimpse at what was almost an interesting development for Fishman material with Love Me Two Times, a cool little jam known as Page's Hand a/k/a Indianapolis Soundcheck Jam and finally Ginseng Sullivan which had been debuted August 11th and reveals the band working out the details of where to place Fish with his Madonna washboard for the best acoustics.

This must-hear show from a must-hear tour is as good as they get, and this is the first opportunity in nearly fourteen years to hear the whole show in crisp soundboard audio beautifully re-mastered by Fred Kevorkian. An added bonus is the fact that this landmark show along with 11/14/95 Orlando, 12/1/95 Hershey and 12/29/97 Madison Square Garden are now available on CD with filler from the soundchecks. It's been a long time coming and it's never been better.



Published 19 October 2010 08:05 PM by admin

Essays by Kevin Shapiro



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