, attached to 1993-03-21

Review by Anonymous

(Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

By the spring of 1993, Phish had only played a handful of West Coast shows. So when in March of 1993 they came out west for their biggest tour up to that point in time, my friends and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to go on Phish tour! Ten consecutive shows in California alone, and then seven more in the Pacific Northwest. I would end up doing seven of the California shows, but unfortunately not any more than that. But considering that within a single week I was able to double the number of Phish shows I had seen to that point, I was pretty happy.
First stop: Ventura! Driving down from Santa Cruz, we got to Ventura shortly before the doors opened. The Ventura Theatre is rather small, probably holds less than 2,000. The floor in front of the stage was open for dancing, and the section behind that had table seating. But when the band started to play, nobody remained seated! My friends and I got ourselves a pretty good spot down in front, just a few rows back from the stage. We heard stories about the previous few shows, speculated about what they might play tonight, and waited for that moment when the lights go out and the band hits the stage.
Once the show started, it was off to the races! Looking back at the setlist, I recall some of the feelings we had that night. First of all, it was one of the harder-edged Phish shows I had ever seen. Not only songs like "The Sloth", "Maze", "Melt", "YEM", and "Tweezer", but even the so-called quieter songs, seemed to be played with more aggression than usual! Obviously the energy of the crowd can have a big impact on the energy of the band, and their performance, and that was evident in Ventura.
One factor was the aggressive venue security. First of all, just getting into the place included one of the more intense searches I had ever seen. Being from the Bay Area, I had never seen metal detectors used at a concert, especially at such a small venue! I saw lots of glass and other apparatus confiscated at the doors, and then during the show itself there was security at the edges of the stage just looking for violations (smoking, minors with drinks, etc). As I recall, at least a few people were tossed from the show. So I believe all the tension in the air really contributed to the overall atmosphere, and Phish incorporated some of that tension and aggression into their sets that night.
Another thing I remember was just how long the show seemed to go on! To this day (over ten years later), that must be one of the longest first sets ever! Eleven songs, and close to an hour and half. By the end of the night we had seen over three hours of live Phish! I will not go into the song by song details, but a few of the highlights were certainly the "Maze" opener, "The Sloth", "Divided Sky", "Split Open and Melt", "PYITE", "Lawn Boy", and "Possum". And that was just from the first set! Oh my!
The second set just got bigger. Nice "Loving Cup" opener, right into "My Friend" -> "Rift" -> "Tweezer"! The jams were getting very heavy in there. "YEM" in the middle of the set... this show seemed to just keep going on and on! We got some Fishman with "Cracklinsie", then "Hood" and "Cavern" closed out Set II. Wow!
Even the encore was relatively long; with three songs it was almost twenty minutes! "Sleeping Monkey", "Sweet Adeline", and of course a big "Tweezer Reprise" to send us all home.
Overall this show was mighty fine, with some of the heavier, edgier playing I have ever heard from Phish. Driving the five hours south to Ventura was well worth the trip, and it was a great way to start out my seven show West Coast tour. Little did I know how sick the rest of my week would be.
Next stop: Sacramento!


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