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February 1993

On Groundhog Day (February 2nd) 1993, Phish’s fourth studio album, Rift, was released, and on the following day Phish launched a massive North American tour (including three stops in Canada) that lasted through early May. The tour began in Portland, Maine with the premieres of Loving Cup, The Wedge and Lifeboy. These new additions to Phish’s repertoire, especially Loving Cup, featured Page on grand piano, replacing the Yamaha CP-70 he played on previous tours. On February 5th and 6th the band played at New York City’s Roseland Ballroom; especially noted on the first night was the return of Punch You in the Eye, which had been shelved by the band back in 1989. The second night’s show in New York featured special guests John Popper on harmonica for Buried Alive and Possum, and Noel Redding (of the Jimi Hendrix Experience) on bass for the Fire encore. Later that night, Trey and Mike went over to The Ritz for a "Power Jam" with Redding, Popper, Paul Schaefer, Anton Fig, Will Smith, Warren Haynes, Dave Matthews and others; Trey recalls that the highlight of the event for him was spending an hour playing keyboards with Bernie Worrell.

When asked about the crowd in a college radio interview before the University of Delaware show on the 13th, Trey replied: "I have nothing but good feelings about our audience because they know all the songs. I was thinking about it; this tour we started playing and we just released this brand new album…this happens every time. Brand new album, and we go out the first night and play four new songs, newer than the album. Brand new songs. And everybody’s really receptive, and I just can’t imagine going out the day the album was released — you know, that new — and just going out and playing stuff newer than the album and having people react to it. It’s just the people that come to see us are so clued in on what’s going on. I really give a lot of credit to the people. It’s just a lucky thing. It’s cool because it keeps you on your toes. You don’t want to do the same thing twice. We’re always looking forward and that has a lot to do with the crowd."

After stops in Washington DC, Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania, the tour headed south. On the 18th the band finished the second set at the Electric Ballroom show in Knoxville, Tennessee with no amplification — condensation dripping from the ceiling damaged the soundboard, making this one of the few headline shows in recent Phish history to end without an encore. A three night stand at the Roxy Theatre in Atlanta, GA took place on the 19th, 20th and 21st. On the first night Fish was presented with a Flavor Flav clock and the opportunity to cover Led Zeppelin’s Moby Dick as a birthday gift. Also that night, the band was joined by Aquarium Rescue Unit guitarist Jimmy Herring (on Trey’s backup guitar) for Funky Bitch, My Sweet One, Hold Your Head Up, and Llama. This show also featured an uncommon AC/DC Bag encore. The second set of the second night incorporated a Tweezer sandwich including Walk Away, Mike’s Song, Kung and Have Mercy as well as a spirited rendition of Kiss’s Rock and Roll All Night featuring Jay von Lehe taking the stage dressed very convincingly as Gene Simmons. The final night at the Roxy proffered a version of Stash that included the Dizzy Gillespie standard Manteca (a/k/a Crab in My Shoemouth). That evening also showcased Aquarium Rescue Unit founding member the Reverend Jeff Mosier on banjo for a bluegrass encore set featuring Good Times Bad Times, Paul and Silas, and the band’s debut of Pig in a Pen. Mosier would later become a bluegrass mentor to the band, joining them for a week of shows in November, 1994. Following the epic stand at the Roxy, Phish headed farther South to Florida to finish the month with five shows in the sunshine state.