Phish fans love to argue about the music. With so many incredible performances to choose from in the band’s massive live catalog, every fan has a different opinion about what the best versions of a given song are, and most are not shy about telling you why they feel that way. There do exist, however, certain cases in which a jam is so unforgettable, so out-of-this-world, that the opinionated fan base reaches something resembling a consensus. On this day in 1994, at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, MN, Phish played a “David Bowie” that defied argument—there had never been one quite like this.
The jam goes way out there, cycling through layers of dark, brooding jazz, pointed funk, thickly textured blues, ripping rock guitar attacks, and even some top-notch Jon Fishman vacuum work. Take a listen to the nearly 40-minute beast of a “Bowie” below:
Phish – “David Bowie” – Minneapolis, MN – 11/26/94
While the Orpheum Bowie was the undisputed champ for a short time, it didn’t take long for Phish to rattle off another contender. A month later, on 12/29/94, Phish dropped the legendary “Providence Bowie”, which many fans consider to be not just the best “Bowie”, but the best Phish jam ever.
Phish – “David Bowie” – Providence, RI – 12/29/94
The Orpheum Bowie vs. Providence Bowie argument blazes on to this day, and neither camp shows any signs of backing down. But nobody can deny that these two pieces of music are among the brightest jewels in Phish’s jam crown.
Setlist: Phish | The Orpheum Theatre | Minneapolis, MN | 11/26/94
Set One: My Friend, My Friend > Possum, Guyute, If I Could, Foam, The Horse > Silent in the Morning > Poor Heart > Cavern
Set Two: Halley’s Comet > David Bowie , Sweet Adeline, The Lizards, Sample in a Jar > Slave to the Traffic Light
Encore: Rocky Top
 Missing second verse.
 Vacuum jam from Fish.
Guyute was incomplete, as it was missing the second verse. Bowie included a vacuum jam from Fish. This version of Slave appears on A Live One.
[Originally published 11/26/16]