The Phish 52: 12/30/93 David Bowie

Oh dear.  I don’t like this new feature on the admin page here on WordPress.  It is a little calendar that shades the days that you posted.  Eek. I went 0 of February here at the Lazy blog.  Which puts me a bit behind on the 52 as well.  Jesus, how do people with a full-time job, family and other interests stay so consistent?  Just not my bag I suppose.  Even so, pressing on!

For this installment, I decided to go with a show that I did not attend and also an older show once again.  A pretty old show by my standards.  Basically I came to Phish in the fall of 1993, didn’t attend my first show until summer of 1994.  For the most part, I don’t really venture much further back than 1994 in my live recordings.  I know there is some great stuff back there, but it’s just not mine, you know what I mean.

So, I was working in a cafe and this guy brings Rift into the shop to listen to while we work.  It was such a great perk of working at an indie cafe, we could choose pretty much whatever we wanted to play.  Anyway, I’d never heard of Phish, but we were all pretty tolerant of each other’s music, so on it went.

I can’t say I was blown away, but I was definitely interested.  I particularly liked how the concept album and guitar style reminded me of Steve Hackett and Genesis.  The keyboards were a great touch too.  I was willing to check out more.

The same friend told me to really “get” Phish I needed to see them live, or at least listen to some live tapes.  I also started lurking on and realized that the band allowed taping at shows, so getting a live tape was pretty easy.  I was still pretty internet-shy, so I went to a local head shop that spun tapes for free and asked for the show I saw some buzz about, 12/30/93.  No, it wasn’t the New Year’s Show, but that seemed like a big commitment.  So a two set show seemed right.  It started with David Bowie.  I wasn’t quite hooked yet, but I was on the line.


I’m pretty sure that I hadn’t heard the Junta version of Bowie at this point, so everything was new.  As the intro played, I didn’t know what to expect, but after 1:33, the Bowie groove got started and I was immediately into it.

2:03 The lyrics kick in and I think with a song like Bowie and being new to Phish, things could break one of two ways.  The first way, our way, is to think, “this is weird. I like it.”  The second way, the way pretty much everyone I know in a professional/social way with the exception of fellow fans is, “David Bowie? This is stupid.” click.

I didn’t tune out and was awarded by the amazing composed section of the song that comes next. At 3:00 the spiraling down that then kicks back to the lyrical portion is still one of my favorite Phish composed bits.

After the second lyrical break (UB40? ok, 80s reference. I like these guys) The composition isn’t quite the same as last time and instead of coming back for more lyrics at 5:08 there is a great break in the song.

The song goes into a very subtle, mellow feel but at 5:20 a thirty second quote from a classic rock anthem, Dream On, gets tossed out.  It’s more than a tease, at least I would call it more than a tease.  Also as someone who by this point in my musical fandom was well versed in the classics, it made me feel intimately connected to the band. A shared musical history that we shared.  We were reading from the book, sharing the same experience.

At 5:53, they return the Bowie sound proper and by 6:33 they start to rev things up a bit.  It’s a great example of the tension and release that I think we all can appreciate.

7:09 The pace really gets going.  No one is particularly dominant at this point, a very strong group jam. It was a phenomena that I wasn’t quite used to at that point.

8:03 Trey starts to pull out in front a little more, making it a little more familiar to me.  The pace and speed of the playing isn’t quite as familiar to me though.  It seems to have a point, a destination.  Unlike the heavy metal of my youth, it isn’t speed for speed’s sake.  This guy Trey and the band have got more up their sleeves.

9:02 An explosion! The payoff.  I wouldn’t say Trey is shredding and eventually starts to play around with tone. A controlled style of chaos ensues.

10:37 The now familiar Bowie wind up starts. It isn’t exactly the same as the beginning of the song, but familiar enough to make one say, “oh yeah, we’re still in this space.” At 11:00 there is a final burst and then quick release back to “Dream On” also reminding us of the uniqueness of this song. We’re not going to hear another one like it. Because of that fact, and of course many others, I was happily being reeled in for the next 20+ years.

I finally got my podcast working the way I’d like, so if you’d like to hear some US History presented in a lively, fun way, check it out! (warning! the first two episodes audio is not good, but by episode three, I got it!) Episode 27 is up! Get Your History On! Oh and you can get it on iTunes too!

 Get Your History On


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