Suzy contained Heartbreaker teases from Trey and Page. Possum contained two Charlie Chan signals, and Oom Pa Pa and How High the Moon signals. Tweezer included two Charlie Chan signals as well as I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart and Random Note signals. Antelope contained three Charlie Chan signals and How High the Moon, Tritone Down, and Oom Pa Pa signals. Prior to Love You, Mike teased the theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Some recordings that circulate with this date are actually a compilation of performances from this show and the following night.
Debut Years (Average: 1988)

This show was part of the "1990 Tour"

Show Reviews

, attached to 1990-09-20

Review by Mattynabib

Mattynabib A lot about this show has been covered by @demandopener, so I'll just leave this here to commemorate my "Phisheversary" of 28 years ago today! I'd heard a fair bit of Phish before this, and I had ATTEMPTED to go see them at least three times, all foiled foiled: once through sheer apathy because I didn't get it yet, once by a car being stuck in ice, and another by my car being stolen (and thus missed the famous first Boston Paradise show)!

Finally, on Sept. 20, 1990, I made it to the Somerville Theater. I had expected to go, enjoy it, and be done. Needless to say, this did not happen: I was a convert. I ended up back the next night, early enough to be near the front of the line, and with my Tascam 4-track recorder and some cheap-ass mics. My career as a taper never really took, but my love of Phish led me to several tours and 100+ shows over the next three years, including all of the Somerville Phish shows over the next year or two.
, attached to 1990-09-20

Review by DemandOpener

DemandOpener Like much of 1990, I feel like much of this show can be sufficiently absorbed by simply taking any of the songs played during the year and listening to them in the evening's setlist's appropriate order. Phish was building a fanbase and as such, they rarely left the type-1 jamming box they so frequently occupied. A lot of fans (myself included for the most part) consider the early days of Phish mostly inessential for that exact reason, but there are still some interesting things going on here, and this is one of the top-tier shows of the year.

Exhibit A: Setlist flow. One common complaint of early Phish is that they had no concept of how to construct a setlist with proper song flow (occasionally complained about to this day!). This setlist is definitely out of the ordinary for the time because of how well the songs fit together. There is nothing jarring at all about song placement in the first set, and the Magilla through Possum to close the set is an excellent run of well-played tunes. In an era where type II jamming was still at a premium, setlist flow is markedly important, and they nailed it here.

Exhibit B: The Tweezer/Buried Alive sandwich. Um, what? This may be one of the first examples of Phish just ripping into a song right in the middle of another, and it must have been mind-blowing at the time. It works surprisingly well, although perhaps a bit jarring at first. The return to Tweezer is excellent, and Trey brings it to a satisfying conclusion with a fiery finish.

Exhibit C: The secret language has started to emerge by this point in 1990. After a lengthy break from playing shows, the band had written something like 15 new songs and developed a strange, new system of teasing whatever they wanted whenever they felt like it. Trey peppers many of the songs with Oom Pa Pas and countless Charlie Chans. The Tweezer and Antelope are definitely worth a listen for fans of the "ludicrously out of place" musicality.

Exhibit D: Check out this McGrupp!!!!! Unbelievable work from Page!

A soundboard quality recording from 1990 with a lot of well-played favorites with great setlist flow and a couple of bonafide highlights in Tweezer and McGrupp equals 4 stars from me. Give it a listen!
, attached to 1990-09-20

Review by thelot

thelot Beautiful audience recording available for this show!

Nice Landlady>Bag pairing to kick things off. Solid Sky. You could hear a pin drop during the ‘Gus the Christmas Dog’ section of Sky. You can hear the one chomper in the crowd clear as day! lol Inspired Possum set closer.

They get right into it with a Bitch Set 2 opener. Fun Tweezer sandwich with lots of Fish hoots. Cool secret language segue into Buried Alive and back into Tweezer. McGrupp offers a nice cool down following Tweezer. Out of the ashes of McGrupp comes the first HYHU of the tour. Fishman declares he is no longer Henrietta but now “Not the great” Zero Man. A fire Antelope closes out Set 2. Lizards wraps up the night in fine fashion. Nice quality recording and a quality performance overall. Thank you John Redmond! :)
, attached to 1990-09-20

Review by kipmat


"Within the band, there was a sense of 'Why would we want to compromise anything when we can make a good living doing exactly what we want to do?' Of course, that was the best decision they ever could've made, because people are attracted to something pure. I've always been a big believer that intent is so fundamental in the people's visceral response to any art form - particularly music, since it's just a direct experience. There's no mistaking [the band's] intent. There was joy and purity in what they were doing. You might not like it, but you certainly couldn't deny it." - John Paluska (band manager 1989-2004), Phish: The Biography, p. 86

The word "purity" signifies an aspect of Phish that I feel is widely appreciated but under-recognized. It is remarkable that the band has had such a successful career, but even more so considering how they had forged their own path. Phish didn't necessarily want to be loved by everybody everywhere; they believed that if they remained true to their artistic instincts, their audience would find them and enjoy what they do.

After consistently gigging throughout the first half of the year, Phish had taken the Summer of 1990 off, but they continued to write songs individually to bring back to the band in the Fall. Page presumably traveled back to South Carolina to stay with his parents and composed "Magilla"; Fishman likewise hiked back to Western New York to stay with his parents, writing the lyrics to "Tube" and "Gumbo" on the way; Mike joined Chris Kuroda and his friends on Grateful Dead tour, inspiring him to write "Destiny Unbound". Trey stayed back in Vermont with his housemate and band Road Manager Paul Languedoc, composing instrumental tunes inspired by his favorite jazz artists as well as his studies with composer Ernie Stires.

The band's two-man management company, Dionysian Productions, spent the Summer booking gigs for the band's Fall tour, and preparing press kits for the band's first release on a record label. When Phish appeared at the Somerville Theater for an all-ages two-night stand over the Autumnal Equinox of 1990, it was to celebrate the imminent (though ill-fated) release of their album "Lawn Boy" on Absolute-a-Go-Go Records. Although the album release party was on the second night (9/21/90), the first night is the better show; I'll even say that this is their best show of 1990, better than any from the Colorado run of 10/30-11/4. Every song is impeccably performed, and although Tweezer is the only song that can be considered "Type 2", the Buried Alive sandwich is a surprise that demonstrates how quickly the band could change course within one song during this era. McGrupp is also a noteworthy performance, presumable dedicated to "Looks Too Much Like" Dave Abrahams. Trey's guitar has the same tone as on Lawn Boy, and he is clearly excited to introduce songs from "our new album".
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