On this day in 1992, Phish took the stage at The Music Hall for the second night of a two-show run in Portsmouth, NH. While the band had played a private show earlier in the year to tune up the new Rift material, these Portsmouth shows were the first proper gigs of 1992.

This was an exciting time for the band, as Phish was starting to expand its touring on a national scale. A Picture of Nectar (1992) was flying off the shelves, “Chalk Dust Torture” was getting some significant radio airtime (in Phish terms, anyway), and the band was hitting its stride in the live setting, beginning to incorporate more of the “Phish-y” elements of performances for which the group has become well-known.

Before the March 7th, 1992 show, bassist Mike Gordon sat down for an extended interview about the band members’ writing process, their new material, their complex secret musical language, and much more. The interview served as an insightful appetizer for the evening’s performance, as Gordon spoke about several of the songs that the band would premiere that evening.

Listen to the full 70+ minute interview below:

Mike Gordon Pre-Show Interview – 3/6/92

[Audio: ParkerHJ]

The concert kicked off with “Brother”, preceded by a pronounced tease of the Star Trek theme by Trey Anastasio. Next, the band brought out the first of the evening’s multiple debuts, bluegrass ditty “My Mind’s Got A Mind Of Its Own”, originally performed by Jimmy Dale Gilmore. An unusually-ordered pairing of “Foam” > “Runaway Jim” followed and included a Simpsons signal, after having introduced several of the “Secret Language” signals the previous evening.

Mike explained the “Secret Language” in his pre-show interview, including both its audience-focused and musician-focused facets: “We’re gonna have to do something about that on the Phish Net about [the language], I think. I have this sheet that says ‘The Language’ and has a list of all of our signals. We decided to teach everyone. It looks so cool when everyone turns around or falls over. The secret language of musical signals. I was a communications major, so the concept always interested me. There are 20 of them. We even have signals for us that tell us to suddenly switch to a new song, and there’s a language that tells us to go back to the original song. And it twists your mind, it’s really so funny.” (Not fluent in the Secret Language? Brush up here).

The show continued with the first new original music of the night, the maiden voyage of “The Horse” > “Silent In The Morning.” Said Mike of the new tune, “‘Silent in the Morning’–I think it’s gonna be called ‘Matilda’s Morning,’ actually [Note: It wasn’t]. That one’s sort of different from the others [that we plan to play tonight]. It’s simple and catchy–kind of like ‘Bouncin’ Around The Room.’ But it builds up, like layering. There’s not much in the chord progression, but it builds to a nice place.” Next came “Maze”, a complex new Rift song that debuted the night before, followed by “The Mango Song”, “The Landlady”, “Rift”, and a wild “Run Like An Antelope” containing a slew of Secret Language signals.

The second set began with “My Sweet One”, which segued into “Tweezer”, a song that Gordon mentioned pre-show was written by the four members of the band as a unit. “Tweezer is a song we all wrote together. No one wrote it, we just kind of played it. It was the most even division of songwriting we’ve ever had.”

The “Squirming Coil” came next, followed by another Rift debut: Mike Gordon original “Weigh”. Gordon also spoke about “Weigh” pre-show, explaining his mindset while composing it: “‘Weigh’ is very silly, it’s a very silly song. I wrote it after seeing the movie After Hours. It has nothing to do with the movie, but I was in a very funny mood after seeing it. The riff for the song was already written, but the words and the silliness came from that mindset.”

“Chalk Dust Torture”, “Horn”, and an old-school “Mike’s Song” > “I Am Hydrogen” > “Weekapaug Groove” brought the band into the final stretch of set two. Next, the band made good on a promise Mike made in the interview: “We’ve got a couple surprises [tonight] from Fish. He’s gonna sing some Neil Diamond, it’ll be a silly thing. Don’t tell anyone.” Foreigner‘s “Cold As Ice” made its first of several appearances on the spring 1992 tour as a substitute for “Hold Your Head Up”, filling the role of instrumental intro/outro to some Jon Fishman antics. As Trey mused, “I’m sure you’ve noticed we changed the Henrietta theme song. ‘Cause Fish just used to hate ‘Hold Your Head Up,’ so we decided to pick a song that he really likes” [Spoiler alert: He doesn’t].

The band finished the set with a ripping “Tweezer Reprise” before a “Sweet Adeline” and “Golgi Apparatus” encore brought the show to a close. From there, Phish set off on an extensive 1992 tour, armed with a new stock of new originals, fun covers, and a complex musical language, taboot.

Relisten to a full audio recording of the band’s 3/7/92 show below.

Phish – The Music Hall – 3/7/92 [Full-Show Audio]

[Audio: fromtheaquarium]

Other Assorted Snippets From Mike Gordon’s Pre-Show Interview:

“I was working on Mound for 12 hours a day every day for two weeks. Not that it’s a great piece of music or anything, since it’s my first of its kind. But it took a lot of thought, a lot of decision making.”

“It’s funny the things that people talk about on Phish Net that we don’t realize that we’re doing.”

“Fishman has been taking bagpipe lessons, but he’s really struggling. He can’t even get a sound. He said he’d give any one of us 500 bucks if we could keep a sound going on it for 30 seconds.”

“Even for the vacuum cleaner, we met with the Electrolux people–and they have our Lawn Boy album cover on their office wall with the vacuum on it. They gave Fish a new tube for his.”

“We do things to tease Fish, when we know he’s gonna be bummed out.”

Setlist: Phish | The Music Hall | Portsmouth, NH | 3/7/92 

Set 1: Brother, My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own[1], Foam, Runaway Jim[2], The Horse[3] > Silent in the Morning[3], Maze, The Mango Song, The Landlady, Rift, Run Like an Antelope[4]

Set 2: My Sweet One > Tweezer, The Squirming Coil, Weigh[3] > Chalk Dust Torture, Horn, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove > Cold as Ice[1] > Cracklin’ Rosie[1] > Cold as Ice, Tweezer Reprise

Encore: Sweet Adeline[5], Golgi Apparatus[2]

[1] Phish debut.
[2] Simpsons signal.
[3] Debut.
[4] Two Will the Circle Be Unbroken? signals and All Fall Down, Random Note, Aw Fuck!, Oom Pa Pa, Turn Turn Turn, Get Back, and Simpsons signals.
[5] Without microphones.

This show included the debuts of The Horse, Silent in the Morning, and Weigh, as well as the Phish debuts of My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own and Cracklin’ Rosie. Cold As Ice also made its Phish debut as the new “Henrietta” theme. Listen for the Star Trek theme tease from Trey before Brother, a Simpsons signal in Runaway Jim, two Will the Circle Be Unbroken? signals and All Fall Down, Random Note, Aw Fuck!, Oom Pa Pa, and Turn Turn Turn, Get Back, and Simpsons signals in Antelope, a final Simpsons signal at the end of Golgi, and a HYHU tease from Page after the second Cold As Ice. Sweet Adeline was performed without microphones.