November 08, 2013

Phish: Niagara Falls


The latest archival release by jam band Phish was recorded on December 7, 1995 at Niagara Falls Convention Center in Niagara Falls, NY. Fall 1995 is a much loved tour among fans of the band, culminating in a classic NYE show at Madison Square Garden in New York. When try to categorize Niagara Falls one word comes to mind: energy. They played fast that night, really fast. The composed section of Reba is delivered at breakneck speed and Mike's Song > Weekapaug Groove skips the usual breather linking track I Am Hydrogen. Possum is kickstarted by keyboard player Page McConnell at first before guitarist Trey Anastasio lets rip.

Speed isn't everything. A lengthy Slave To The Traffic Light is followed by a monster Guyute, a proggy suite with four sections about a pig. This is the kind of weirdness that is classic Phish - expert musicianship and goofy lyrics. It was the highlight of the first set.

Reba wins the prize for the second set. It seems like the band run out of steam after that, settling for pretty straightforward versions of Julius and Sleeping Monkey. With their batteries recharged they do a jubilant Sparkle. The aforementioned coupling of Mike's > Weekapaug wanders into ambient territory, foreshadowing the cow funk of later years. Bass player Mike Gordon and drummer Jon Fishman at totally at ease here, locking into a groove allowing the songs to explore uncharted waters, while they supply a rock solid undertow.

This is 1995, when the band was still an underground phenomenon (albeit one that could draw huge crowds in selected States). They played chess with the audience (both sides one game). Barbershop had secured a firm spot in their repertoire - on this night they choose Hello My Baby and Amazing Grace as set closers. And, after the bluegrass encore Uncle Pen they took their bows. There would be eleven more shows before they would hit New York for NYE.

Niagara Falls is released on JEMP Records. Available for pre-order from Phish Dry Goods. Release date: November 12th. All CD sets (whether purchased in stores or at Dry Goods) come with download card for a free complete set of MP3s of the entire show, as well as a unique code to access exclusive Phish video content from this show.

Niagara at Nectar's
Phish learned a lot about stage craft at Nectar's in Burlington, VT. As a kind of thank you to their roots Nectar's and The Waterwheel Foundation (the band's charity foundation) host an exclusive archival video viewing of Phish's Niagara Falls 95 show on November 9.
The viewing serves as a benefit for the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf.
Suggested donation of $5, or 10 non perishables
A raffle with plenty of prizes is part of the procedings.

  1. Old Home Place
  2. Audience Chess Move
  3. The Curtain
  4. AC/DC Bag
  5. Demand
  6. Rift
  7. Slave To The Traffic Light
  8. Guyute
  9. Bouncing Around The Room
  10. Possum
  11. Hello My Baby
  1. Audience Chess Move
  2. Split Open And Melt
  3. Strange Design
  4. Taste
  5. Reba
  6. Julius
  1. Sleeping Monkey
  2. Sparkle
  3. Mike's Song
  4. Weekapaug Groove
  5. Amazing Grace
  6. Uncle Pen
  7. Filler from soundcheck: Poor Heart


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