Phish played forty-four concerts in April and May 1994 and seventeen more dates across the West and Midwest during the month of June. In July, Phish settled into the last weeks of their seventy-three show tour supporting the Elektra album Hoist, which was released in March. This tour marked the debut of Phish’s Tickets-By-Mail which were set aside for tapers at select venues in this first installment of mail order ticketing (see TMIPH April 1994 and TMIPH May 1994). It also featured a number of multiple-night stands, myriad special guests and a host of song debuts.
After traveling from the previous night’s performance in Virginia, Phish kicked off the month performing on July 1st at Mann Music Center in Philadelphia. On the 2nd they returned to Holmdel, New Jersey’s Garden State Arts Center for their first headline appearance there. The second set at Holmdel featured a combination of Mike’s Song > Simple > Mike’s > Yershalayim Shel Zahav > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove. Weekapaug included a Run Like an Antelope Jam (complete with Trey’s line “set the gearshift for the high gear of your soul”) as well as teases of 2001 by Trey. The remainder of set two was punctuated by McGrupp, Slave to the Traffic Light and Highway to Hell and featured what is still the only Rift encore in Phish history.
On July 3rd, Phish played at The Ballpark at Old Orchard Beach, Maine. The first set, there featured Reba sandwiched around Somewhere Over the Rainbow as well as a David Bowie set closer. Set two began with a smoking Split Open and Melt with teases of Third Stone From the Sun by Trey. The set also featured The Lizards, Julius, Antelope and Suzy Greenberg. During the climax of the jam in Antelope, fireworks erupted, sending the band and crowd to a frenzy. The show ended with an appropriate Fire encore as the band and crew prepared to visit Canada for the third time during the tour. Ironically, Independence Day was a day off in celebrated in Ottawa, This was Phish’s third separate visit to Canada during the tour.
The Ottawa show took place in a room that was sort of a cross between a boardroom and a ballroom. It would have held a couple thousand fans with room to dance. A less-than-capacity crowd showed up on July 5th, leaving lots of room to dance. The band rose to the occasion by breaking out material not played live in many years (what Brad Sands would call “postable”). Near the start of set one, they segued The Curtain into Letter to Jimmy Page (which they hadn’t played since 1987). If I Could followed, along with Stash, Esther and Down With Disease. Set two at Ottawa began with Punch You in the Eye and Sparkle and continued with a glorious Bathtub Gin, which melted into Lifeboy. A supercharged rendition of Cities – a song Phish had not played live since 1988 – came next and segued into You Enjoy Myself which was followed by Great Gig in the Sky.
The next night, Phish performed at Theater St. Denis in Montreal, Quebec. The show opened with Llama followed by Fluffhead and Julius. Reba was next and the set finished with David Bowie. An extended Tweezer highlighted set two. The rest of the show flowed smoothly from Chalk Dust Torture into Big Black Furry Creature From Mars into Sample in a Jar back into Creature. Harry Hood and Tweezer Reprise completed the body of the set. After the show in Montreal, the band and crew returned home to Vermont for a couple days off before resuming the tour at Great Woods.
On July 8th and 9th Phish returned to Great Woods for their third and fourth appearances there and their first two-night stand at the large amphitheatre. It was clear from the beginning that the shows would be anything but average when Trey started whipping the megaphone in circles and Mike began chanting the lyrics to N2O. Trey explained during N2O that while the audience was inhaling gas in the dentist’s chair, they would all become sleepy and be transported to Gamehendge. The band slipped into The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday theme and proceeded to narrate and perform the entire Gamehendge saga in order, explaining each song as they went along and linking the tunes with The Man Who Stepped theme. They closed set I with The Divided Sky, leaving many jaws planted firmly on the ground. This was only the fifth time Phish ever performed Gamehendge (the others being 3/12/88, 10/13/91, 3/22/93, 6/26/94), the first time in front of a large East Coast audience and the last time to-date. The energy was indescribable. The band then tore through a great second set including an unfinished Reba that led into Yerushalayim Shel Zahav instead of the usual whistling ending. Set two continued with an epic Stash (that was used on A Live One) and a version of You Enjoy Myself, which segued smoothly into Frankenstein and back into YEM. Julius, Golgi Apparatus and Cavern ended this legendary evening and left everybody wondering what the next show held in store. The second Great Woods show was more standard, though still well played, with a notable Split Open and Melt which flowed out of the second set opener, 2001.
The next night was Phish’s first headline performance at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Saratoga’s first set featured Peaches en Regalia and My Friend, My Friend. The second set was more focused with David Bowie, a lilting YaMar and Mike’s Groove with a Low Rider jam among other themes. Many thought The Squriming Coil would end the set and were surprised when New York native the Dude of Life came onstage to close the set by singing Crimes of The Mind with Phish. After the Dude’s spirited addition, a double encore of Golgi Apparatus and Rocky Top ended the show. The next show took place July 13th at Big Birch Concert Pavilion. This show was notable for a number of reasons. First, the crowd was significantly smaller there than the previous few shows. Second, the venue consisted of a tent in a grassy field giving the place a festival-like feel. Finally, the band played one of the most experimental sets in Phish history there. The second set at Big Birch began with Possum which ascended to great musical heights despite a pretty serious trainwreck. Cavern > Wilson > Cavern was next, with the band singing Wilson over the music for Cavern. NICU segued out of Cavern and into what sounded like Creature but became Tweezer. This rendition of Tweezer segued smoothly into Julius, which the band jammed effortlessly back into Tweezer before beginning a unique, bluegrass-style Big Black Furry Creature >From Mars which sounded more like Scent of a Mule than Creature. The Scent-themed Creature was segued back into another short bit of Tweezer before morphing into Mound. Slave to the Traffic Light came next and segued into Suzy Greenberg, during which the band revisited Slave, jamming on it again before finally wrapping up Suzy and the hyper-segued set.
On the 14th Phish played at Finger Lakes Performing Arts Center in Canandaigua, New York. The FLPAC show’s main highlight was a centerpiece second-set You Enjoy Myself. The next night, Phish performed the first partially solar-powered Phish concert at Jones Beach Music Theater. Greenpeace provided a semi truck and equipment to collect, store and distribute solar power to supplement conventional power at the show. Set one at Jones Beach featured The Divided Sky, Gumbo and Split Open and Melt. Set two began with Letter to Jimmy Page into David Bowie, which contained a jam based on the Allman Brothers’ Jessica. Fish sang a rare Tom Marshall song called Setting Sail, singing the song proudly along the sea coast. The Jones Beach show ended with Sleeping Monkey and Rocky Top as the solar truck was unplugged and the tour continued to its last stop in Vermont.
The last show of the tour took place July 16th at Summer Stage at Sugarbush North ski area in Fayston, Vermont. Summer Stage consisted of an open stage at the base of Mount Ellen and the weather cooperated perfectly that day to make for a great summer atmostphere on the mountain. The band began the show by singing ‘Back in My Hometown” acapella before breaking right into Golgi Apparatus. The first set at Sugarbush also featured N2O, The Lizards, and Maze. Set two at Sugarbush opened with a Run Like an Antelope with Catapult inserted in the middle. During Catapult, Fish put forth some funny banter about Trey’s upcoming marriage. During Harpua, Trey began by explaining that Vermont is the greatest state in the Union, that “there is no place like Vermont” and that he feels sorry for everyone who doesn’t live there. He went on to set up the usual Harpua vs. Posternutbag battle but stopped short of the fight because a giant comet was crashing into Jupiter as he spoke. As Trey pointed toward the sky toward the comet the band broke right into 2001, playing it for a while until they returned to the story of Harpua. Then Mike and Page made up lyrics about Posternutbag being dead because he was “hit by a comet”. This unusual Harpua was followed by AC/DC Bag, Scent of a Mule, Harry Hood, Contact (with a nod to the band’s bus driver, Shooter) and finally Chalk Dust Torture. The encore and the last song Phish played that summer was Suzy Greenberg. The Sugarbush show was released in September 2001 in the LivePhish series as LivePhish02 – 7/16/94.
On July 26th, Trey and Fish sat in with Michael Ray and his Cosmic Krewe at Burlington’s Club Toast. Meanwhile, Phish and their crew enjoyed some time off before starting preparation for their Fall tour, which continued from October to December.