Phish Charge up San Diego
September 28, 1995
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 1995, Volume 2, #10
Written by Mike Indgin
East Coasters, eat your heart out. Imagine an uncrowded Phish show in a small, wide-open outdoor venue with the sun setting over the water on one side and a sparkling skyline on the other. That was the scene at San Diego Embarcadero Park, where Phish explored their many musical moods to a kicked-back crowd of cloud watchers and Antelope prancers.
There was no vending in the parking lot, but we could hear every note of the soundcheck clearly from our car (Gumbo, All Things Reconsidered, Mound, Jam, Hello My Baby).
Inside, on the kind grass lawn, we set up to the left of the soundboard for a perky new instrumental opener. At the time of this writing, I don't know what it's called, but they played it at almost every show for the first half of Fall tour. This was followed by my first Runaway Jim. Tasty and not overplayed, this was a sweet way to start things off. Then Trey slowed things down with another new tune, Billy Breathes. While pretty, it's a little on the sappy side and reminded me of Summer Breeze by Seals and Crofts. This was followed by Scent of a Mule which featured the usual dueling solos bit by Trey Anastasio and Page McConnell. Even though Anastasio tried slapping his fretboard like a bongo, McConnell still won the battle, hands down.
The person I was there with took the opportunity to faint at this point of the show, so I caught Stash, Fee, and a rocking new Fishman tune (The Fog that Surrounds?) from the back of the venue on some folding chairs.
She revived in time for me to go up to the very front of the venue for Acoustic Army and a Slave to the Traffic Light first set closer! Slave, Runaway Jim, and the new Fishman tune were the highlights of a pretty tame first set.
The second set opened with the spacey Theme from the Bottom, one of the best and spaciest new tunes. It starts moody and just goes deeper from there. This went eventually into Poor Heart, which gave way to another new tune, Don't You Want to Go. I like this one a lot, mainly because it's FUN, and you can twist to it.
Then I got my long-awaited first Tweezer! This one was perfect and best of all, it wasn't too long (like the Mud Island and Finger Lake versions). They explored it nicely before the three non-keyboardists zombie-walked their way over to Page's area where they did a four-part keyboard jam. I think this shtick should be called Too Much Time on the Tour Bus because I think that's how this brainstorm came about.
Then came an a cappella Amazing Grace, a satisfying Snapple in a Jar, and then IT happened. For me, the entire show can be summed up in one word: ANTELOPE!!!! We had moved back to the dancing zone behind the soundboard during Tweezer, and we all let it rip as they played simply the best version of this song ever. How many climaxes can one song have? Get the tape and find out. The encore was Hendrix's Fire, but the only way they could have topped Antelope would have been with (maybe) Scarlet Begonias/Whipping Post/Whole Lotta Love. We can only dream...
We drove back to LA with the gearshifts of our souls set on high gear.
Billy Breathes is available from Barnes & Noble.
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Copyright © 1995 The Music Box