Phish

Live Phish, Vol. 10: 6/22/94 (Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Columbus, OH)

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By June of 1994, Phish had built up a good head of steam. They had been touring behind Hoist since early April to increasingly larger crowds and were on top of their game in every way. (In fact, it was only several days after this show that they made the infamous brag that they could tackle any album ever recorded, which resulted the band donning a "musical costume" and covering the Beatles' so-called The Beatles [White Album] in its entirety on Halloween 1994.) This young, ball-busting attitude is evident throughout these three exciting, vibrant discs. During the first set, the band burns with blazing speed (almost too fast, sometimes) and deadly accuracy, tearing off renditions of old favorites like "Guelah Papyrus" and "Stash," as well as (then) newer songs such as "Scent of a Mule." The second set has the band in full-on comic mode, beginning with a short reading of Deodato's "2001" (far more abbreviated than the funk-fests of years to come) that leads into a sequence that threads in and out of Mike Gordon's "Simple," as well as versions of a pair of the group's novelty tunes, "Catapult" and "Icculus" (which was being performed for the first time in over a year). The latter of these two songs has guitarist Trey Anastasio and drummer Jonathan Fishman jokingly yelling at the crowd, exhorting them to read The Helping Friendly Book, the holy document of Gamehendge, a mythical land created by Anastasio for his senior college project. Improvisationally, the band doesn't allow much to develop. They barely state one idea before another is chomping at the collective bit. (The second disc of the show contains a whopping 15 songs, a definite anomaly in the Phish catalog.) One notable exception is a jam based on a delay loop set by Anastasio that comes between the reprise of "The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday" and the beginning of "Fluffhead." It is a gorgeous theme that the band would explore sporadically over the next few years without ever officially giving it a name (indeed, it is unlabeled here). It is in this jam that the band's wild eclecticism subtly begins to show signs of finally coalescing into a mature voice.

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