Garden State Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ
This was the first show by any band that I attended solo. I had a freakin’ blast, too! You’re never really alone at a Phish show, eh?
I was in Jersey just for a couple of days. I grew up there, but my folks had moved to Chicago in the spring so I had no home in Jersey anymore. I was just passing through and staying with a friend before taking off on a summer-long journey that would take me coast to coast visiting National Parks and camping all along the way. Unfortunately, my buddy had to work this night so the show was out of the question for him. He rolled up a joint and handed it to me saying, “Head down there solo… make friends with this.” And so I did.
When I left his house, the show was not sold out. By the time I got to the lot and walked up to the ticket window it was. So, with a finger in the air I began wandering the lot. An hour later I was starting to get a little concerned. Tickets were scarce! Finally, I ran into 3 kids from my high school who had just graduated… and they recognized me despite having not seen me in 2 years and 15 extra inches of hair… and they had an extra ticket!!! SCORE!!
It was a great feeling to walk into the Garden State Arts Center (as it will forever be named in my head). This was the place I first saw Phish two years earlier (HORDE Tour with ARU, WSP, Spin Doctors, and Blues Traveler). This place will forever be special to me.
Then Phish played an amazing show! There are literally no low-points. If I could complain about a single thing in this one it would be the Rift encore, but I think they were cutting it close on curfew and they had opened with Golgi, so that was out.
I have listened to this show many many times since. It holds up to almost any on this summer tour. Even Set 1 is chock full of highlights. I remember seeing groups of Jewish girls on the lawn dancing and laughing with surprise during the klezmer section of Mule. That gimmick works better in Jersey than, perhaps, anywhere else!
Set 1 also features a scorching Divided Sky and a gorgeous Fast Enough for You. The centerpiece, though, is the Tweezer, which builds to a Stash-like tension jam that must be heard and reckoned with. It’s a Tweezer worthy of mid-Set-2 glory. Even better, they close the set out with Tweeprise leaving Set 2 to stand on its own. Perfect.
If you’ve never heard Set 2 of this show, you really should. It’s no Bomb Factory, but the Mike’s—>Weekapaug segment is as loose and fun as any Phish you’ll likely hear. By the time they start up McGrupp, the rest of the set feels like a victory lap. Really, they could play anything after that Mike’s and I’d be happy. What they did play was a near-perfect McGrupp, a crazy-high-energy Maze, and a gorgeous Slave. Cap it all off with some AC/DC and I could not be happier!!
Seriously, one of my great Phish memories in life. Never be scared to go to a show solo. You’ll never regret it.
One last thing: this was the last time I heard I Am Hydrogen live until 12/30/99, a gap of five and a half years and 53 shows (shout out to zzyzx!).
Thanks for reading.
Garden State Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ
Set 1: Golgi Apparatus > Divided Sky, Guelah Papyrus, Fast Enough for You > Scent of a Mule, Tweezer > Lifeboy > Sparkle > Tweezer Reprise
Set 2: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Mike’s Song -> Simple -> Mike’s Song -> Yerushalayim Shel Zahav > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Maze, Sample in a Jar > Slave to the Traffic Light, Highway to Hell
Notes: Weekapaug included teases of Antelope (including lyrics) and 2001.
Setlist courtesy of Phish.net.
http://www.phishtracks.com/shows/1994-07-02/also-sprach-zarathustra (then just let Set 2 play through the end. Trust me!)