On Thursday, June 15th, 1995 Phish played at Lakewood Amphitheatre for the first time. Phish would play there seven more times after that, all of which are memorable. The venue, now officially called Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood, has held a number of different names over the years. The venue is in Atlanta and holds approximately 19,000 fans, a good sized venue for the band in 1995.
1994 and 1995 are pretty special; the band had grown out of the smaller places, though still almost totally underground. They had made their voice and endeavor solid in where they stand in American musical culture by this time–with an exploding fan base to watch their journey. During these two years, Phish had started really experimenting with songs in ways they had not in 1993 and earlier.
(from old OPT site. formatting was lost, article/paragraphs may appear smushed)
Known for extremely experimental and long Tweezers, there is little Phish was unwilling to try in ’94 and ’95. This concert is a perfect mix between the extreme improvisation, blazing rock and masterful composed arrangements Phish has to showcase–all performed with the surgical precision that 1994 and 1995 are know for in Phishtory.
Sparkle > AC/DC Bag was a great combo in the beginning of the first set. The intensity and playfulness of AC/DC Bag highlights what I said in my Bring Back the Jams post a few days ago about the song. The jam is naturally somewhat short (9 min minutes total) but has direction and doesn’t lack the fun that recent ones do. Nothing out of the ordinary for 1995, but thought I should mention it in contrast to my last post about the song. Then they play Old Home Place, the bluegrass cover I hope they play at Telluride this year (all I have to say on that song now).
Stash->I didn’t Know is very interesting. Stash clocks in at about 14 minutes and kind of goes into space for a while before Trey plants his feet and manages to come to somewhat of a climax before settling down to go into the end lyrics. However, Stash’s end lyrics never actually come and the words “I Didn’t Know” are slowly chanted. They go into the song, albeit quite a different style. It is a slow version with Fish on the trombone and Mike on the electric drill. Quite eerie, and obviously cool.
The first set closes with an excellent version of Run Like an Antelope. If someone asked me what the song sounded like live, this is what I would play for them. Fishman is masterful with the wood blocks in the intro, accenting all the notes with his splash cymbals and other quirky sounds–executed perfectly on his part (I know this sounds weird to mention, but give it a listen. He really does sound exceptional in this version). The jam segment is played with intense fervor on the whole band’s part. Fishman doesn’t know how high Trey is going to take it at the end and snaps into the end “reggae” segment prematurely, then has to pop his drums back into high gear to catch back up with the band. Just a wonderful version, the crowd is pumped at this point going into setbreak.
After an upbeat My Sweet One, Ha Ha Ha drops on the crowd–usually when Phish plays this the crowd knows Phish is having fun on stage. Out of the murky end to the song, Fish slowly closes his hi-hat for an eerie introduction to David Bowie. After the execution of the intricate composed section, the band sinks into improvisational bliss with this 20+ minute version. About seven minutes from the end the band starts building up to the thrilling finish. I don’t know if I can think of a version that soars higher than this one does going into the final end segment. The trilling section is executed with flawlessness and creativity that might be unmatched and after the second “lull” in the trilling segment, Trey comes back in almost peaking instead of the expected trilling, eventually getting back on track with the usually flurry of intense notes–the crowd exploding along with them the whole time. This David Bowie is a MUST HAVE in any Phishead’s collection.
The second set closes with a healthy sized Slave to the Traffic Light– Trey filling the crowd with bliss as he solos towards the end. A great version, although it lacked the soaring peak I expected after his playing in this version. My favorite version of the song is from this same venue four years later on Independence Day.
Get this show, it’s Phish at their best.
Set 1: My Friend, My Friend, Sparkle > AC/DC Bag, The Old Home Place, Taste, The Wedge, Stash -> I Didn’t Know, Fluffhead, Run Like an AntelopeSet 2: My Sweet One, Ha Ha Ha > David Bowie, Strange Design, Theme From the Bottom, Scent of a Mule, Acoustic Army, Slave to the Traffic LightEncore: Bouncing Around the Room, Frankenstein