Following the release of Hoist on Elektra records in March, Phish undertook an ambitious tour across the country, which lasted most of spring and summer. The tour featured mail order tickets for tapers at a number of venues (see TMIPH April 1994) and the formation of the concert site cleanup group Green Crew or G-crew for short. The band played twenty-two dates in May1994 alone making it one of the busiest months in Phish history.
The first show that month took place May 2nd at Five Points South Music Hall in Birmingham, AL, where Phish opened the show with Great Gig in the Sky into Split Open and Melt. They welcomed friends and bassists Oteil Burbridge and Stacy Starkweather onstage during set two for Mike’s Song into an extended jam with Mike, Oteil and Stacy sharing licks. The next night found the band performing at Starwood Amphitheater in Antioch, TN, where the show was moved from that venue’s Veranda into the main amphitheatre due to rain. The May 3rd Antioch show featured Allison Krauss on guest vocals for If I Could, which she sang with Phish on Hoist. The band also performed the tour’s first Harpua that night.
On May 4th, Phish played at State Palace Theater in New Orleans. It was their sixth visit to The Big Easy and their first show outside a club setting there. Trey dedicated the second set Run Like an Antelope opener to a Burlington friend’s child who was being born that night, hoping aloud that it would live its life “like that last jam” and suggested the baby be named Marco Esquandolas. During set two the band was joined by the Cosmic Country Horns (see TMIPH July 1991 and TMIPH April 1994). The horn section that night consisted of Michael Ray and Carl “Gears” Gerhard on trumpets, Dave “The Truth” Grippo on alto sax, as well as Tony Tate on tenor sax, Rick Trolsen on trombone and Jerome Therlot on baritone sax. The band plus horns completed set two with You Enjoy Myself, Buried Alive into The Landlady, Julius, Wolfman’s Brother, Magilla, and Suzy Greenberg with a jazzy jam in which Trey picked up his megaphone and Mike played his bass with an electric screwdriver (see TMIPH October 1996). The horns remained on stage for a Caravan encore.
The band and crew took a day off as they traveled West. Road Manager Brad Sands recalls a rigger from Boston named Steve who referred to the Western swing of shows as “unchahted territory”. They hit that territory May 6th when Phish performed at the Tower Theater in Houston, Texas and May 7th at The Bomb Factory in Dallas. The Bomb factory concert became an instant favorite due to a second set that consisted of Loving Cup followed by the so-called “Tweezerfest” during which the band interspersed Tweezer with Sparks, Makisupa Policeman, Walk Away, Purple Rain and other songs for a cohesive jam that lasted over an hour. Phish played the next night in Austin at The Backyard Bee Cave, where they opened set two with 2001 into Run Like an Antelope and finished the set with You Enjoy Myself into Halley’s Comet, followed by Good Times Bad Times. The band played May 10th at Paolo Soleri Amphitheater in Santa Fe, New Mexico and May 12th at Buena Vista Theater in Tucson, Arizona. The Tucson show was started by Mike singing Catapult. He was joined by the band for the segue into Rift. Later in the first set, the band took Bathtub Gin directly into Lizards, the first time they linked those two songs. The band performed May 13th at Hayden Square in Tempe, Arizona, where they put forth an exploratory rendition of It’s Ice and Suzy Greenberg with subtle teases of Layla by Page.
The first of eight California dates that month was also the band’s first San Diego appearance on May 14th at San Diego State University’s Montezuma Hall. The next night, they appeared at Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles where the second set showcased Big Black Furry Creature From Mars in three separate parts, bringing it out of Run Like an Antelope, back into Antelope and out of You Enjoy Myself later in the set. They finished Creature to end the set before ending the show with a Fee into Rockytop encore. After a night off, the band played on Page’s 31st Birthday in Santa Barbara at The Arlington Theater. Maze that night contained teases of Happy Birthday and during the end of Squirming Coil, Trey carried out a birthday cake for Page, singing Happy Birthday.
The next show took place May 19th at Hult Center in Eugene, Oregon. The cassette single of Down With Disease was released that day. The band began set one at Eugene with Halley’s Comet into Llama. Later in the set, they played an interesting combination of Poor Heart into a soaring Stash before performing the new cassingle and closing the set with The Mango Song and Cavern. The band and crew then headed North to Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA where they played the first Weigh of the tour. On May 21st in Seattle, the band executed another great interpretation of Stash as well as Tela, Bike, and the first Dinner and a Movie in nearly a year. Though the band had played nearly 900 shows by that time, their gig on May 22nd at Vogue Theater in Vancouver, British Columbia was only their eleventh performance in Canada. They began set one with Demand into The Sloth, followed by Divided Sky. Peaches en Regalia, Split Open and Melt and Fluffhead rounded out the set. Set two featured the inspiring combination of McGrupp into Tweezer into Lifeboy. After returing to the U.S. May 23rd for a show at the Portland, Oregon Civic Auditorium, Phish settled down in San Francisco for their first three-night run at The Warfield Theatre and their last appearance at the 2,250 seat concert hall.
The Warfield run began May 25th and the show featured the venue’s first Colonel Forbin’s Ascent into Fly Famous Mockingbird. May 26th was another solid performance and the show on the 27th saw the unique pairing of Punch You in the Eye into Harry Hood. During set two, the band put forth an excellent Reba and acoustic renditions of Nellie Kane and My Mind’s Got a Mind of Its Own featuring special guest Morgan Fichter on fiddle. Then they launched into Mike’s Song which flowed into the debut of another song by Mike, Simple. Simple segued into Phish’s first aria, O Mio Babbino Caro with opera performer Andrea Baker of the San Francisco Opera Company singing without a microphone. The band then revived a decade-old tradition by passing out boxes of macaroni and cheese (in Flintstones shapes) to the audience who shook along during the set-closing Possum with Flintstones theme and the encore, Jimi Hendrix’s Fire.
The next two nights Phish headlined the Laguna Seca Daze (L.S.D. for short), a multiple act festival at Laguna Seca Raceway in scenic Monterey, California. The first show on May 28th found Phish in the company of Freddy Jones Band, Gin Blossoms and Sausage. Phish played two sets each night. Set two the first night wound up with an extended version of You Enjoy Myself during which Sausage’s bassist, Les Claypool joined Phish for a bass duel with Mike instead of the usual vocal jam. The band teased Dueling Banjos as the two bassists and band members played off each other.
For the second night at L.S.D., the other bands included the Meat Puppets, The Mother Hips, Big Head Todd and the Monsters and Four Non Blondes. When Phish took the stage, they began with Divided Sky. Halley’s Comet into Down With Disease also punctuated set one and the band closed the set with a classic David Bowie. The opened the set two with Nellie Kane and a loose performance of Split Open and Melt, including vocal accents and multiple stops during the jam. Phish closed the set with Freebird and came out twice for encores for a total of five songs including Wilson, Harry Hood and Good Times, Bad Times.
The band and crew enjoyed the first week or so of June off before continuing their tour through the Midwest, South and a run up the East Coast finishing the marathon tour with the end-of-summer blowout at Vermont’s Sugarbush North.