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40 Essential Versions of “Tweezer”

by Dean Budnick on December 02, 2013

Phish’s epic Tahoe “Tweezer” - Dave Vann © Phish 2013

Back on Mother's Day weekend 1994, I made the decision to blow off mom for a few days—I did make it up to her—and fly down to Texas where Phish was performing in smaller venues, the likes of which the group had long since abandoned in my native Northeast. I was rewarded with a performance at Dallas, Texas’ The Bomb Factory that would resonate for years to come. If you listen back to the preceding “Tweezer”s from that spring (and I had attended my fair share of those shows) there was no precedent for what the band delivered on May 7, 1994. The second set, often described as “Tweezerfest,” saw the group segue in and out of songs and jams for what was basically a 70-minute version of the song. I have to believe that it was as liberating for the band as it was for many of us in attendance and for those who have heard it in subsequent years (the band later released 5/7/94 as Live Phish 18). In many respects, that Dallas “Tweezer” led me to write The Phishing Manual: A Compendium to the Music of Phish (1996), which set me down the path to where I sit today as an Editor-in-Chief of Relix.

As we celebrate 40 years of the magazine, we’ve compiled a variety of “Relix 40” lists that cover a range of topics from significant studio guitar solos to essential live improv albums to classic concert films. So, inspired by the epic version of the tune that the band performed in Lake Tahoe over the summer (7/31/13), this month we present a list of 40 versions of “Tweezer” well worth your attention. The first known performance of the song was on 3/28/90 at Granville, Ohio’s Beta Intramural Hockey Team Party at Denison University (a fun show in its own right). You can hear the origins of the song in the 12/31/89 and 3/3/90 soundchecks, as well as a taste before “David Bowie” on 2/25/90.

While that Bomb Factory “Tweezer” and the Tahoe version were somewhat unexpected, there have been stretches over the band’s career where they set “Tweezer” ablaze—particularly during November/December 1994, June 1995, and then again in the late fall of 1995 and 1997. (I even have my own moment in Phishtory in there, as I made the audience chess move just before the second set on 12/2/95. I like to tell myself that in moving the pawn one space ahead, I inspired the band to new heights that night—anyhow, you can hear my name on the recording of the show, which I return to on occasion not to hear my name but rather for the “Tweezer” that followed.)

So without further ado, here is the list of our 40 top “Tweezer”s.

4/27/91 The Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, N.Y.

7/12/91 The Colonial Theatre, Keene, N.H.

4/21/92 Redwood Acres Fairgrounds, Eureka, Calif.

11/22/92 Bailey Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

2/20/93 Roxy Theatre, Atlanta, Ga.

5/6/93 Palace Theatre, Albany, N.Y.

8/15/93 The Macauley Theater, Louisville, Ky.

5/7/94 The Bomb Factory, Dallas, Texas

6/18/94 UIC Pavilion, University of Illinois, Chicago, Ill.

7/6/94 Theatre St. Denis, Montréal, Québec

11/2/94 Bangor Auditorium, Bangor, Maine

11/23/94 The Fox Theatre, St. Louis, Mo.

11/28/94 Field House, Montana State University, Bozeman, Mont.

12/1/94 Salem Armory, Salem, Ore.

12/9/94 Mesa Amphitheatre, Mesa, Ariz.

6/14/95 Mud Island Amphitheater, Memphis, Tenn.

6/22/95 Finger Lakes Performing Arts Center, Canandaigua, N.Y.

6/28/95 Jones Beach Amphitheater, Wantagh, N.Y.

10/22/95 Assembly Hall, University of Illinois, Champaign, Ill.

11/30/95 Ervin J. Nutter Center, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio

12/2/95 New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum, New Haven, Conn.

12/14/95 Broome County Arena, Binghamton, N.Y.

11/3/96 O’Connell Center, University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.

11/17/97 McNichols Arena, Denver, Colo.

11/22/97 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, Va.

11/26/97 Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, Conn.

12/6/97 The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Mich.

4/4/98 Providence Civic Center, Providence, R.I.

8/1/98 Alpine Valley Music Theatre, East Troy, Wis.

9/9/99 GM Place, Vancouver, British Columbia

12/16/99 Reynolds Coliseum, Raleigh, N.C.

6/24/00 Lakewood Amphitheatre, Atlanta, Ga.

2/28/03 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y.

6/7/09 Susquehanna Bank Center, Camden, N.J.

12/29/09 American Airlines Arena, Miami, Fla.

10/30/10 Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, N.J.

12/30/10 Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.

9/3/11 Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colo.

12/28/12 Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.

7/31/13 Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harveys, Stateline, Nev.


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