08 May 2007

Nedstalgia: 15 Years Ago

Time to feel old again, this time with Phish show #3 in the old home place. 15 years ago, on Mother's Day of 1992, the fellas came to Syracuse and with Senioritis in full swing was there any doubt we'd be ditching our mums for some Sunday sweetness?

[Previously in Nedstalgia: Phish shows 1 & 2; Mule; Widespread Panic; The Duo; Robert Randolph]

Here's the 2nd set SBD of 5/9/92 for your listening pleasure and an audience copy of the 1st set for completeness...

Funny thinking back on this one since it was at the old Syracuse Armory which became the science museum a few years later and was the site of our night-before-the-wedding dinner. Good vibes in that place as we partied with Phish in 92 and then partied down 7 years later in pretty much the same exact spot.

The room was basically a gymnasium with the wooden floor and boxy decor with some folding chairs working hard to keep order to the crowd. This would be the first time I smelled the sweet scent of the front row, a treat I would certainly partake in many many more times before hanging up my Phishin' shoes. My memory is of a half-filled room, easy to move wherever you wanted which is how I found myself right under Fishman for much of the first set. Back then his drums were right flush with stage right so when I saw "under" I mean I could have spit on his feet. The speakers were right on the stage and therefore right next to my ear. For the geometrically inclined, the lowest speaker of the stack, Fishman's foot and my ear defined a plane which was parallel with the floor. There was enough room up there that there were hippie chicks literally twirling from one end of the stage to the other pretty much unimpeded. Ah, the good old days!!

Setlist can be seen here

The show was hot and LOUD. This is one of the few instances where Page sticks out a lot in my memories of the show. This was pre-grand-piano and his keyboards had an ersatz flavor to them that just didn't hold up under the heavy amplification. Those piano notes during the first set Foam seemed to just split in pieces as they came through the speakers. Or maybe I was just too close. It was also the first time I heard McConnell go off on an extended post-Squirming Coil solo -- the first and likely last time I was awed by such a feat. Seeing as it was Mother's Day and in Fishman's home town (ask Liffy to tell you about his preshow quizzing Jonny B about which high school teachers we all shared as he hung out on the lawn in front of the venue) , the first set also featured an early Mimi vacuum solo. Woohoo!

The real magic of this Sunday night show was the second set. I had decided that I would hang back mid-room for the second set and held true through the opening frenetic Suzie Greenberg but once they lit into Divided Sky that quickly changed. It probably wasn't two chords on the ole Languedoc that I raced from the back of the room to the stage -- I guess it's always been in the blood, no denying your nature. It'll be front row for me from now on, thank you!

Second set was just pure sweetness, almost all first times for me (not hard at your 3rd show). Page shines again during Tela and then a fat Tweezer. It was somewhere in that Tweezer insanity that I had the epiphany -- Phish shows are all well and good, but Phish shows from the front row are utterly transcendent. Up to that point, that Tweezer was about as otherworldly as I'd seen this band get.

We had just gotten a show or two on cassette with a narration-laden Harpua so we were a little bit prepared when they launched into it. Watching Trey get into it, using the Simpsons language to get the crowd to "D'oh!" every time Harpua got kicked was a kick from close proximity. When they busted into Nirvana vamps without batting an eye-- well, what more could a dorky high school kid ask for? There weren't other bands out there doing this, were there?

Probably the ultimate highlight of the night was the Tweezer Reprise in the encore. Weird, I know, but true nonetheless. First of all, download the set and listen to that version -- I don't know of a better one out there. Mike's bass is just incredibly bulbous during the intro -- I call it the Scooby Doo bass. He was just stretching out those strings with his fingers as far as he could pull and just letting 'em rip like a water balloon launcher. Only those deep, bassy 92 soundboards can do that shit justice. Once again, though, it was Page -- I can still see the look on his face as the smoke machine directly behind him started filling the stage with a heavy cloud of that cotton candy smoke. He straddled his seat and ruled the piano/organ twofer while throwing his head back rockstar style into the cloud forming around him. It was the mother of all Reprises, take my word for it.

God bless the hometown show... the next time they came through the Cuse would be the next time I saw them and I'll tell you all about it. Enjoy the tunes.

1 comment:

Liffy said...

My conversation with Fish actually happened post-show on the side of the stage as he, Mimi, and Trey were all hanging out there. Mimi was all giddy at us young high schoolers bringing up her son's high school past. The high school music teacher said that he couldn't keep a beat, and the art teacher just grinned and shook his head at the mere mention of him. My favorite high school history of Fish is his senior quote: No Comment. Pre-show it was hackey-sacking with Mike and Page out in front of the Armory. Mike signed my ticket, Mike "Snapple" Gordon (snapple ad on the ticket). I think he may have signed my Lot T too, but that thing is long gone.