The Phish that we know and love today got its start in 1985, when Page McConnell joined members Trey Anastasio, Mike Gordon, Jon Fishman, and guitarist Jeff Holdsworth. From their earliest days at the University of Vermont, the group embraced the psychedelic improvisational culture that had been spawned by the Grateful Dead, taking that mentality in their own direction with elements of jazz, funk, and more.
Compared to shows throughout the ’90s and beyond, the early days of Phish are poorly documented. None of the band’s followers in Burlington suspected their meteoric rise in the jam subculture, which makes this 1987 video footage all the more impressive. Filmed at what is believed to be a graduation party for Mike Gordon, the show performed on May 20th, 1987 was shot in the backyard of friend Eric Larson‘s house, capturing the group with long hair and tie-dyed backdrops.
The show itself is most likely incomplete, but features some tunes that are still in the band’s rotation: “Wilson”, “Run Like An Antelope”, “Golgi Apparatus”, “Possum”, “Harry Hood”, “You Enjoy Myself”, and “Alumni Blues”, the latter of which featured members of The Joneses and Mental Floss—two bands that most likely performed at the party ahead of Phish. The video was widely circulated during the band’s formative years, introducing new fans to some setlist staples.
So sit back and enjoy watching this very early Phish show, courtesy of YouTube user telekinetic:
Phish – The Ranch – South Burlington, VT – 5/20/87
Setlist: Phish | The Ranch | South Burlington, VT | 5/20/1987
Set 1: Wilson > Run Like an Antelope, Golgi Apparatus > Back Porch Boogie Blues > Lushington  -> Possum, Harry Hood, You Enjoy Myself, Alumni Blues 
 No lyrics.
 Guests from The Joneses and Mental Floss on rhythm guitar and saxophone.
[Originally published 5/20/17]