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Phish: 6/17/94, Eagles Ballroom, Milwaukee, WI

by Mike Ayers on September 08, 2017

Phish had a banner year in 1994 for many reasons. They performed The Beatles’ “The White Album” as their first Halloween costume concert, offered two complete renditions of Gamehendge and made their first ever appearance at Madison Square Garden. But rarely does an event happening in the real world collide with a Phish show as much as it did on June 17, 1994, the day O.J. and his white Ford Bronco went on the run and captivated the world. This show, simply known to many as “The O.J. Show,” became an instant classic. As the second set started up with a punchy “2001,” the band made it clear that they’d been watching the news, referencing Simpson’s trek with lines such as “Whaddya say, O.J.?” and later “Run, OJ, run.” The show really kicked into high-gear jamming with the start of “Mike’s Song.” Trey Anastasio’s guitar is powerful and feisty, eventually leading the band into a very early version of “Simple.” The night was only the second performance of the now-classic tune, this time with an adlibbed line asking, “What is a band without OJ?” The events also inspired a Jimi Hendrix-lined version of “Harpua,” featuring Anastasio meandering through the “Jimmy” story for much longer than normal. Their first set is no slouch either. Excellent versions of a mid-set “Split Open and Melt,” “Bathtub Gin” and “Scent of a Mule”—a then-new song in the band’s rotation—set the stage for what would become a legendary performance. Now, of course, the OJ story has become about so much more than a car chase, but this slice of ‘94 Phish is a great reminder that the band can improvise with the world in real-time.
Authors: Mike Ayers
Artist: Phish
Album: 6/17/94, Eagles Ballroom, Milwaukee, WI
Label: LivePhish