Thursday, April 23, 2009

Today in Phishtory: 4/23/94 Fox Theatre, Atlanta, GA


1994 was a special year. I was a senior in college and I caught over 50 Phish and Dead shows combined in 1994. That's the equivalent of getting to see one Phish or Dead show once a week. I never knew how good I had it back then. If I knew Jerry would die in 1995 and that Phish would not play on forever... I would have seen more Dead and Phish shows during my last two years in college... and I probably would not have graduated college.

Anyway, I caught Phish a lot all over the South, but I was happy to hear them in my own backyard.
Phish 4.23.94 Fox Theater, Atlanta, GA

Set 1: Funky Bitch, Rift, Fee > Peaches en Regalia, Poor Heart, Stash, Esther, Down With Disease, Caravan**, High Heel Sneakers**

2: Wilson > Antelope, Mound, Sample in a Jar, Sparkle, Ginseng Sullivan*, Harry Hood, You Enjoy Myself > Keyboard Jam*** > Who by Fire, Golgi Apparatus

E: Freebird

* Acoustic and without mics
** With Merl Saunders on keyboards
*** With Colonel Bruce Hampton and all of Phish on keyboards

Download/listen link to 4.23.94 (courtesy of Phishows.com - please note the last six songs are missing!)

Yeah, I was at this show and didn't have to go to far to get to the Fox Theatre since I lived in Atlanta. Hard to think that show was 15 years ago... today.

Getting to this show was an adventure. Traffic was backed up because of Freaknik, a Mardi Gras and Spring Break type of festival for black college students, which hit its peak just around 94-95. Our buddy dropped us off fifteen blocks from the Fox and we had to walk through tons of people partying and hanging out and getting down. There were tons of cops around making sure nothing got out of hand and we had to walk past a bunch while we were tripping.

The Fox Theatre is one of the coolest venues to see a concert, not just in Atlanta but in the entire South. And that Phish show stood out as one of the best that I saw when I followed them around in 93-94.

The first set included several gems such as Fee, Peaches, and Esther. Those were three tunes that escaped the rotation of Phish in the late 1990s and post-hiatus. That Down with Disease was one of the first that melted my mind. The legendary Merl Saunders came out and closed out the first set with the boys. At the time, I had been emotionally attached to a CD of Merl Saunders and Jerry Garica.

The highlight of the show was the second set opener of Wilson > Antelope. That was the days before the crowd chanted "Wilson!" during the intro. Talk about high energy ass-shaking and bong-rattling music as Phish blew the roof off of the Fox Theatre. Mound is a song that also escaped heavy rotation in the late 90s ad post-hiatus.

During Ginsen Sullivan, the band performed the entire song acapella without mics. My buddy Smitty had yelled out, "Yeah Mike!" during one part and you can hear it on the recording. Second set also included heavy hitters... Harry Hood and YEM.

Col. Bruce Hampton from the ARU joined Phish during a keyboard jam where they all huddled around Page's station and jammed it out before breaking into a Who by Fire jam.

It was an insane show and tons of friends from school went and everyone was completely snookered when we met up during setbreak. After the show ended, as the crowd was filing out as the house lights came on, we saw a fat guy passed out a few rows in front of us with his shirt off. That summed up the night.

We had to take MARTA back to campus. That was another epic experience since we were still tripping relatively hard. My buddies had a big red balloon that they kept bouncin' like a basketball while they continuously sung the chorus to Sparkle for the entire trip home. If you have ever ridden MARTA around Midnight, you can only imagine how bizarre that scene might have been as a handful of long-haired freaks were blasted out of their minds on public transportation.

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