Phish first played at SPAC in ‘92 as part of Santana’s summer tour, but they finally got to headline there on July 10, 1994. This show would be only one of two played by the band at this venue in the 90’s. Despite only playing there as a headliner twice in the span of 16 years containing summer tours, they have returned to it five times in the span of three tour years (‘04, 09, 10).
The show comes just before the beginning of Phish’s transformation into the improvisational exploration era that spanned about two years, from the second-half of ‘94, through 1995. Each set is packed with shorter songs, all containing furious bouts with quick-handed improvisation and explosive rock.
Set 1: Chalk Dust Torture, Horn > Peaches en Regalia > Rift, Stash, If I Could, My Friend, My Friend > Julius, Cavern
Set 2: Sample in a Jar, David Bowie, Glide, Ya Mar, Mike’s Song -> Low Rider -> Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Bouncing Around the Room, The Squirming Coil, Crimes of the Mind
Take the CDT opener, Trey warps his sound into a machine gun to start the jam, before heading into an almost type II jam before resurfacing to the typical blazing before going into the end of the song.
The mid-set Peaches flows right into a perfectly played Rift. Trey’s frenzied notes got the crowd sweaty right before the super-tension Stash. The Stash reached dark places, full of tension. However, while the release of their tension was clean, it wasn’t matched by some of the explosiveness we’ve seen in other summer ‘94 shows. That being said, the plateau of guitar-rock that Trey reached in the last half of Julius made up for it.
The second set starts with the crowd-favorite, Sample–it provided us with a contrast to the off-the-wall improv that would follow.
David Bowie follows the blueprint from the first set’s Stash. It’s laced with tension, extreme tension (see 10:45). Trey’s peak right before they go into the song’s final section is one of the cleanest–and unfortunately quickest–peaks I’ve ever heard, Trey’s axe just screams. The entire end segment is high-octane and original too.
The stop/start intro to Mike’s Song got the crowd pumped from the get-go. After the evil drop into the jam, the band loosely follows a patter started by Trey before the jam sinks yet again and Trey’s guitar emerges with the Low Rider theme. This would be the third time out of six times ever that Low Rider would be played. Trey throws in some furious licks between the song’s composed sections before stepping on his wah for some summer ’94 funk. The song eventually loses its structure by Fish awkwardly changing the song’s tempo rapidly. It’s funny to try and hear Trey stay with him. When Fish opens his hi-hat back up, Trey crawls back up his fretboard and they launch back into Mike’s Song. Sick. After the sprint into the end of Mike’s Song, things settle down with I Am Hydrogen. Weekapaug Groove dropped into a quieter jam before Trey resurrects it in a screamin’ fashion.
The Dude of Life came out for the set-closing Crimes of the Mind. This would be the last time the song was played in 1.0 Phish, the next time coming nearly a decade later on 11/28/2003.