Municipal Auditorium, Charleston, WV
I still have four write-ups in the bag that I need to post, but with two days off from tour tomorrow and Saturday, I figure I’ve got time. I really wanted to post about the Gamehoist show TODAY. It happened 20 years again today, after all, and this is one of my longest and most inspired posts yet. So, here it is:
Today’s show is another “infamous before most have even heard it” show. Much like the OJ show, the fire alarm show, and the Bomb Factory show, people were abuzz about this one almost immediately after it let out.
Of course, this show turned out to be pivotal in the band’s history. Out of this show is born the Halloween tradition of playing whole albums… and the what-if questions around playing the new album live before releasing it. I know they revisited this thought when they returned with Round Room at the end of 2002, but Electra wasn’t having it. Phish wanted to play the new material live as Set 2 on NYE. Electra wanted a studio album to sell. Electra won.
Then in 2013, freed from contracts of any sort other than tour management from Red Light, Phish was finally able to see this concept through to where it all began: They played their new album live before releasing it physically. Fitting, then, that Fuego was released 20 years almost to the day after this pivotal show. #20YearsLater, you know what I mean?
But before playing the new album for the second set, they played Gamehendge…
Gamehendge is a special thing for all of us. I, personally, have never seen a Gamehendge set. I’m not hopeful that I ever will. It seems very unlikely that they’ll ever play one again. In 1994, however, I feel like the band really wanted to do something with Gamehendge and this was the first shot at it. I have no insight into the inner-band discussions beyond what I have read, but I have a theory…
It’s clear the band wanted to release Gamehendge in some format in the mid-90’s. It was such a big part of who they were and represented some major tunes in their repertoire. There was even an announcement in the Summer 95 Döniac Schvice that Gamehendge would be released in both CD and CD-ROM sometime in the fall of 1996. Before this, though, I think they were toying with releasing a live Gamehendge set around the time they release A Live One. I believe this is why they recorded the Great Woods Gamehendge show to multi-track. I don’t think they recorded anything else from the Spring or Summer to multi-track. It was the fall tour when they invested in multi-tracking each night for A Live One.
My theory, then, is that the “live album” they were going to release was intended to be the Great Woods show with the full Gamehendge. However, I think they weren’t that thrilled with the recording and scrapped the idea in favor of releasing A Live One instead. Then there were rumors of them recording an acoustic Gamehendge album followed by the announcement of the CD and CD-ROM. Eventually they decided to let Gamehendge be. I think Trey was even quoted at one time saying they decided to never make Gamehendge a commercial release to keep it pure… whatever that means.
Thankfully, they had a sweet multi-track recording of the Great Woods Stash to use! Notice Stash is the only non-fall tune on A Live One. It was also added thanks to fan requests solicited on rec.music.phish. More on that when we get to the Great Woods shows, though.
Enough theorizing… I am listening to this show today! We have a great AUD of it, don’t we? Sounds fantastic. Mike’s bass on Tela is just so clear. I’ve never heard him sound quite like this anywhere else. His tone here is reminiscent of Jack Cassidy. I love it! Plus this is a great Gamehendge narration. It’s perfect, really.
Then there’s the Hoist portion of the show. I wonder how long it took folks in the crowd to realize what they were doing. Was it a similar buzz to the “S” show or the “Fuck Your Face” show? I wasn’t there, so I have no idea. I know nobody was following along at home and tweeting about it like they would the Dick’s shows.
It’s worth noting that they didn’t just play Hoist… they crushed it. Every track is played with fire and beauty. The If I Could and Lifeboy may be one of the best versions of either song they ever played. The “Shine that thing in my face” segment of Axilla goes on as long as the song itself. The Wolfman’s is unique with it’s vocal jam outtro. The Melt jam is sick. Everything is just perfect, really!
Finally, there’s the encore.. Debuting new bluegrass cover tune in the Encore? Sure, why not. It’s already a crazy show! Dig it!
All I can say is, if you haven’t heard this show, you should. NOW!
Thanks for reading.
Municipal Auditorium, Charleston, WV
Set 1: Kung, Llama > The Lizards > Tela > Wilson > AC/DC Bag > Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird > The Sloth > McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters > Divided Sky
Set 2: Julius > Down with Disease > If I Could > Axilla (Part II), Lifeboy > Sample in a Jar, Wolfman’s Brother > Scent of a Mule, Dog Faced Boy > Demand > Split Open and Melt Jam, Yerushalayim Shel Zahav
Encore: The Old Home Place, Amazing Grace, Tube, Fire
Notes: This show is commonly referred to as “GameHoist.” The first set was the Gamehendge saga, including narration in between songs from Llama through Divided Sky. The second set was the entire Hoist album, save Riker’s Mailbox. This show marked the Phish debut of The Old Home Place, the first complete Gamehendge since March 22, 1993 (106 shows), and the first Tube since April 12, 1993 (119 shows). Divided Sky included Wipe Out teases. Old Home Place was performed acoustic and both Old Home Place and Amazing Grace were performed without microphones.
Setlist courtesy of Phish.net.
All of ‘em, but if you want one interesting highlight, check this out: