The Bomb Factory, Dallas, TX
Does this show loom large for you, too? For years the words “Bomb Factory” were a code for everything we love about Phish. It was the promise of the Roxy Tweezerfest realizing its full potential. It was the exact show we knew Phish was capable of long before it happened.
The crazy thing is that it wasn’t a show I had heard about at all. Perhaps because I was out of school for the summer so I wasn’t on rec.music.phish when people were raving about it. Perhaps nobody really raved about it until the SBD of the second set made the rounds over the summer. For whatever reason, I had no clue this crazy show had happened until I ran into my buddy Jay Rosenblum at a Medeski Martin & Wood show and he handed me a tape, saying “Here. You need this.”
A little background… If you were a Phish fan living in Nashville in the mid-90’s, you probably knew Jay Rosenblum. He was the hub of the tape-trading community in Nashville at the time. I’d venture to say 75% of the tapes in my collection at one point were dubbed by his rig. He’d have nearly every show from some source within a month or two of the end of any given tour, no small task back in those days.
So, when Jay handed me an unsolicited tape and said, “You need this” I was very curious! Once I slipped that tape into the deck of my car, I’m not sure it left that spot for a solid year. This tape consisted of Set 2 from the Bomb Factory minus the encore, which was replaced by the Murat Gin from the previous summer. I listened to it non-stop. I know that tape so well that when I listen to the LivePhish release of this show I’m always thrown for a loop when it doesn’t fade out for the tape flip after the Digital Delay Loop Jam section.
Listening to the complete show today, in the context of this insane project, I’m actually really blown away by how good the first set is. It’s never been talked about much. I don’t think the first set SBD circulated before the LivePhish release. But it’s really good – better than anything the night before, imo.
A beautiful Horn with this cool little outtro that surprises me every time I hear it leads into a raging Divided Sky. The FEFY and If I Could are both stellar. The SOAM and SOAM combo is a treat, with the Melt really heading off the cliff at one point. And the Suzy is a barnstormer to close out the set.
But we all know why the first set gets slighted… It’s the stellar Loving Cup > Sparkle!!
No, really… This Tweezer is the greatest thing ever. Really. It’s fun, dark, bluesy, scary, amazing, crazy… it’s everything you want from Phish. It NEVER gets old to me. I could listen to this every day of 2014 instead of listening to the 1994 show 20 years later and still feel like I spent the year doing something worthwhile. At an hour and nine minutes total running time, it is surprising that it never passes into a single boring segment.
The opening 26 minutes of Tweezer before they finally land in Sparks is some of my favorite Phish exploration ever. And Sparks is literally the only tune left that I’m still chasing live. The only one I care about that I haven’t seen.
And when Spark fades into Makisupa, we’re still only half-way through this brilliant non-stop onslaught of Phish music. This is a band possessed. You can sense the “don’t even come up for air at any time” mentality going on here. By the time they are jamming the shit out of HYHU and transitioning into Tweeprise I’m spent. Every time I listen, even in the background, I’m spent by the end.
This set is exhausting. It demands a lot from the listener. I’m having trouble writing about it, honestly. I don’t really know what more to say. It’s the soundtrack to a vast swath of my life.
In my mind, it’s up there with Live/Dead, Waiting For Columbus, Live at Leeds, Paul Simon’s Concert in the Park, Sunshine Daydream, Stop Making Sense, The Song Remains the Same, Roxy and Elsewhere, Bongo Fury, P-Funk Earth Tour, Exit Stage Left, Wattstax, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, The Last Waltz, Live at the Fillmore East (Allmans, Derek and Dominoes, and Zappa/Mothers), James Brown Live at the Apollo, The Meters Uptown Rulers Live on the Queen Mary, Cornell ‘77, A Live One, The Woodstock Soundtrack, Townes van Zandt at the Old Quarter, Willie and Family Live, and any other great live recording you know and love. It’s on that list.. and near the top. It’s that good.
I doubt anyone who has read this far has not heard this show. If not, WTF??!!?!? DO IT NOW!!
Thanks for reading.
The Bomb Factory, Dallas, TX
Soundcheck: Jazz Jam, Dog Log (slow reggae version), Blues Jam
Set 1: Llama, Horn > Divided Sky, Mound, Fast Enough for You > Scent of a Mule, Split Open and Melt, If I Could, Suzy Greenberg
Set 2: Loving Cup > Sparkle > Tweezer -> Sparks -> Makisupa Policeman -> Digital Delay Loop Jam -> Sweet Emotion Jam -> Walk Away -> Cannonball Jam -> Purple Rain > Hold Your Head Up Jam -> Tweezer Reprise
Encore: Amazing Grace, Sample in a Jar
Notes: Horn ended with a brief, atypical jam. The jam after Walk Away included a Page solo, teases of It’s Ice and McGrupp, and a Simpsons signal. Amazing Grace was performed without microphones. This show was officially released as Live Phish 18.
Setlist courtesy of Phish.net.