I submitted reviews to Phish.net over the years for many of my early shows attended. Not my first two though. This one due to the quality of show, I just didn't have a desire to write about it. Reviews were submitted and posted on the old Dan Schar reviews page of Phish.net. So this will be my first go at it, 20 Years Later.
I was beyond exited that the band was coming to town early on in the spring tour. I had been anticipating the show since it was announced. Think we got down to the lot around 11am, literally. LOVE 1994 lot scenes. Really small and quaint, but very much bustling and half the people were on tour, usually the other have were college kids, that's it. The sound of VW busses and happy people mingling about, skipping through the University at Buffalo lot outside of Alumni Arena and Center for the Arts made for the perfect scene for me. Super amped.
Went with a couple high school buddies on tickets scored through my buddies big sister who was a student. $10 (image on Twitter feed). Got in around doors and made our way down front for the first set. Maybe 4-5 people between me and the stage for the entire first set.
I distinctly remember lots of tour heads down front of the stage and Mingus being played on the PA. I also remember the nicest hippie women from New England asking if we would be going to New Hampshire after the show. I wish. Lots of time to talk and mingle as many were getting concerned with the very late start. If memory services, it was closer to 8:30 before the band hit the stage. Folks were concerned something was wrong.
While we didn't get the story till well afterwards, the lights finally dropped and the band makes the walk (or hobble) out. Trey, to the best of my memory came out on crutches to a stool waiting for him at center stage. A crew member (can't remember who) took the crutches in exchange for his guitar. Now many of the reports and reviews have stated that Trey played "on" a stool most of the night. The stool was definitely there. I just have no memory of him actually sitting on it. My memory is of him sometimes leaning on it but doing a good job otherwise keeping himself upright with whatever cast or wrap he had on his ankle. Oh, Trey stepped in a hole in the stage before soundcheck and busted up his ankle. They took him to nearby Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital where he got fixed up, thus causing the delay.
Either way, I will never forget the enormous big red shit eating grin on his face when he strapped on his guitar, looked out at us and said "oh well" as he proceeded to count off Runaway Jim. A moment I will NEVER forgot. The guy wanted to play.
Certainly glad they did as a postponement or cancellation would have been far worse. The show unfortunately really never got going though. Piercing intro to Runaway Jim, but an otherwise standard version did give way to a very uplifting It's Ice following right off the heels. Page's vocals are superb in this version. Really wanting to pick up the intensity for his ailing bandmate. Nothing really else noteworthy going on in this set.
Second set we decided to make our way up the bleachers eventually heading up to the top to close out the show Fish side. Being a huge Rift fan, the My Friend opener with Trey on acoustic was fantastic. A very sweet Yamar lead into the first real magic of the night. Trey definitely took a step on the wild side I think in effort to pick up the pace a little bit. Love the communication in the jamming and how the bandmembers are pushing one another. Never underestimate the amount of times Fish pushes Trey or the rest of the band. When I think of Phish I think of Jon Fishman and his influence, especially in 1994. While Trey is the music, Fish is all that surrounds it. His tempo setting playing is often what drove the direction of many jams. Like "hey let's f-ing do this". Then the rest of the band responds.
Nice 94 style Antelope goes into an average mid set Fluffhead. While not a perfect show, huge credit to Trey getting through with so few mix ups considering his physical state. An always tasty and early Ginseng complete with Greasy on the Madonna washboard takes us to the Jungle Books Song, or so we labeled our tapes all those years. Yes Fish, 2 vacuums. We understand.
At this point the show wasn't giving any signs of being pulled out. If you can imagine a big cavernous 7,000 capacity college basketball arena with bleachers all the way around. Not the best acoustics but the tapes sound nice. So we made our way all the way to the top where there was nobody within many rows of bleachers for the rest of the show. Little did we know what was to come. I think everyone in the room really wrote the show off at this point. Give the band a mulligan they pulled out the stops and delivered the best show they possibly could with their fearless band leader and conductor singing and playing lead guitar on one leg.
We always talk about that band/audience interaction. There was no doubt the boys knew and felt this vibe coming back at them and this would really be there last and only chance to salvage the show. What came next in my mind undoubtably caught everyone in the room off guard. The band collectively, but certainly driven by Trey threw down the gauntlet. One of the most awe inspiring Harry Hoods you will ever hear. In my records; a top 5 version. Maybe 4 or 5. Not the best version of 1994 (Sugarbush), but certainly one that deserves every bit of attention.
Phish goes as Trey goes, even in 1994. He knew he didn't have his best on this night. He worked his way through some staple songs, keep it tight to the vest and gave us what he had. When it came time to however, the band communicated with each other musically through their instruments, treated everyone to something really special that they tried really hard to pull off hoping to hell I'm sure they could pull it off.
Have you ever cooked dinner for your family or friends that didn't quite turn out as you hoped? Ever try saving it with dessert? It works every time.
This particular Hood is the soundtrack to my Phish life. Having been listening to it now for 20 years countless times, it really defines in every way how I feel about this band and the music. Unbelievable tender melody, perfectly composed sections, unique exploration, incredible build, all 4 band members contributing, and of course complete madness. Mike in the early parts of the improvisation really sends messages that we are going to push the envelope on this one, we need to, we have to!
Then of course Mr. 29 year old Anastasio takes over. I don't blame him at all for stepping in the hole. Stuff happens. I understand. But he definitely in some way felt the need to bring the house down. Fish stayed right on his back throughout the last few minutes leading up to the tension and release explosion. Just a stellar Hood, signature of the show and the year and the most absolute perfect dessert for the failed main course. 1994, the year of the Hood (as well).
All I remember about being on the top of those bleachers is WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED. The lights were wild and bright, the sound was ear piercing and Trey went absolutely haywire. Like the Barton Hall Dew, the Alumni Arena Hood has that signature style that is one that stands the test of time 20 Years Later. Trey's second thank you after he thanked the audience during the music was simply because the roar was that loud after that Hood. He had to say thanks again. What a guy. He made it up to us. Still blinded by lights from up top in the arena from that Hood, we took in the quick encores and walked out of the venue this night with that useless smile. Couldn't wipe it off my face for days.
Thanks to old school taper Tom McMinn for proving the long time AKG source of this show. I know other who taped it but have never shared. I think I'm in their will. That's for another blog.
stream 4/10/94 http://www.phishtracks.com/shows/1994-04-10
download 4/10/94 http://db.etree.org/lookup_show.php?shows_key=3041
setlist courtesy of Phish.net
Alumni Arena, SUNY Buffalo, Buffalo, NY
Set 1: Runaway Jim > It's Ice, Sparkle > Split Open and Melt, Esther > Chalk Dust Torture, I Didn't Know, Scent of a Mule, Down with Disease
Set 2: My Friend, My Friend > Ya Mar, Run Like an Antelope > Fluffhead, Ginseng Sullivan, I Wan'na Be Like You > Hold Your Head Up, Harry Hood
 Simpsons signal in intro.
 Beginning featured Trey on acoustic guitar. No "Myfe" lyric.
 Fishman on washboard.
 Beginning featured Trey on acoustic guitar. No "Myfe" lyric.
 Fishman on washboard.