Thanks to my college cohort Jason, I now have a living breathing document of our early Phish experience. It was Halloween 1990. That night, Phish would play our college’s 740 seat theater, Armstrong Hall. Judging by my first Phish show in April of that year, I knew we were in for something special. Costumes were required for this performance. So I dug up a poncho, a cowboy hat and a water pistol and called myself Josey Wales. Jason got a little more creative, and dressed up like a droog from A Clockwork Orange.
That night, we filed into Armstrong Hall and had our minds blown by these four strange fellows from Vermont. Page seemed the most normal of the bunch, nestled behind his keyboard. Mike was a cartoonish figure with his moppy hair and deadpan expression as he laid down those great bass lines. Fishman was a fascinating sight on drums, dressed in his standard attire of goggles and a dress. I had never heard / seen such drumming live before. The rhythms he banged out had me wondering how one person could muster up all of those sounds.
And then there was Trey: red hair, red beard, and his perma-grin throughout the show. With his stack of amps and electronic equipment blipping and flickering behind him, Trey was a veritable guitar god that night (and every other time I saw him).
Phish obviously evolved into a phenomenon, selling out tours for years with minimal album sales & radio play. In 1997, when Phish was playing America West Arena here in Phoenix, I scored a backstage pass and got a chance to introduce myself to Trey. I reminded him of this night in 1990, when he and his buddies from Vermont took the stage at a small auditorium in Colorado Springs, and did proceed to tear the roof off the mother (not to mention my brain).
*Embellishment follows* As a distant neon sign flickered in Trey’s eyes, he began to nod emphatically and hoarsely whispered, “Hey! Weren’t you dressed like Josey Wales?” A tear fell from my eye, and we embraced like two long lost brothers, as we shared the common bong bond of a simpler time. A salivating silver and black dragon then burst through the ground beneath, swallowing us both whole. *End of embellishment*
October 31st, 1990
1: (Buried Alive -> Possum, The Squirming Coil, Lizards, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, You Enjoy Myself, The Asse Festival, My Sweet One, Cavern, Run Like an Antelope
2: The Landlady, Reba, Runaway Jim, Foam, Tweezer, Fee, Oh Kee Pa Ceremony -> Suzy Greenberg, HYHU -> Love You -> HYHU, Mike’s Song -> I Am Hydrogen -> Weekapaug Groove
E: Uncle Pen, Big Black Furry Creature From Mars
Set 2 preceded by costume contest. *Vocal jam included “A Night in Tunisia” (Dizzy Gillespie).