In honor of the 30th anniversary of Phish‘s legendary Summer ’93 Tour, today we look back at one of the most pivotal moments in Phish history, August 1993.
Standing as a seminal period in the band’s 40-year career, August 1993 marked a transformative phase that saw Phish embrace new musical horizons and redefine its improvisational style, helping to shape the band’s approach to live performance for decades to come. Perhaps the most significant point of the tour, as far as the band’s history is concerned, came on August 13th, 1993, nearly ten years to the day after guitarist Trey Anastasio and drummer Jon Fishman first met at UVM.
On that fateful night, Phish played at the Murat Theater in Indianapolis and unleashed the famous “Murat Gin“, which is widely cited as the band’s first Type II jam (meaning the band completely departed from the structure of the song during the improvisational segment). Whether or not it was actually the first is a matter of debate—other likely candidates include the 11/23/85 “Whipping Post Jam”, 12/28/90 “Squirming Coil”, 11/24/91 “You Enjoy Myself”, and 5/6/93 “Tweezer”, just to name a few—but the 15-minute free-form exploration epitomized a new approach to group improvisation that would define the band moving forward and profoundly influence the jam band genre.
The idea of leaving the song’s main form to explore new sonic territory did not start with Phish, of course. In fact, the band’s willingness to take increased musical risks may have been influenced by advice the group got from Carlos Santana. The guitar guru hipped Phish to the concept of “the hose,” which refers to that specific moment in a jam when a musician or band completely lets go of any inhibitions and allows their creativity and musical expression to flow freely and unimpeded. It’s the point where the musician becomes wholly immersed in the music, often resulting in a highly energetic and emotionally charged musical segment. It represents the essence of unrestrained musical expression, where the musicians tap into their innermost creativity, connect with the audience on a profound level, and produce singular, transcendent moments of musical alchemy.
Santana introduced this concept to Phish during a conversation they had when the still fledgling jammers opened for him in the summer of 1992, and it resonated deeply with the band. Phish embraced “the hose” as a guiding principle in the band’s own improvisational performances, which encouraged the band to explore its musical boundaries and take greater risks.
The “Murat Gin” is just one example of Phish’s increased willingness to delve deep into the unknown. The band would continue developing its new approach throughout the summer of 1993 and beyond. Thirty years later, it remains one of the features of Phish’s live shows that fans appreciate most, and, along with the band’s vast repertoire of songs, it has allowed the group to ensure that every show is a completely new and unique experience, which has kept fans coming back show after show, year after year.
Check out a fan-made compilation of highlights from Phish’s Summer ’93 Tour (plus New Year’s Eve), with the “Murat Gin” starting at 5:34, courtesy of Brendan McBride below.
Phish – A Tribute to August 1993 (+NYE)
[Video: Brendan McBride]