Perhaps most infamous for the creation of “Spock’s Brain”, today marks the 25th anniversary of a legendary concert in Phish history. On this day in 1995, the Burlington band performed for a Voters for Choice benefit concert at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium in Lowell, MA. The group was introduced by Gloria Steinem, who promised fans more new music than ever before. Then, the band delivered…
What followed was debut after debut — 10 new songs in total — including some beloved originals that have made it in rotation ever since. Songs like “Free” and “Theme From The Bottom”, which would later make it onto Billy Breathes, were featured in the performance. The show also featured the debut of “Strange Design” and a cover of Velvet Underground’s “Lonesome Cowboy Bill” that would foreshadow the band’s full-album performance of Loaded in 1998.
“Ha Ha Ha” got its start at this show, as did an unnamed original that would later be referred to as “Spock’s Brain”. After playing the song, drummer Jon Fishman polled the audience with some alternate title options, including “The Plane”, “The First Single”, “Israel”, and “Spock’s Brain”. We all know what the audience chose. The song was played throughout 1995 before becoming a rarity, making only three more appearances before disappearing from the Phish rotation after 7/30/03, only to be revived on 2/21/19 after a 429 show gap.
Other debuts included the traditional “Don’t You Want To Go?”, the original song “Glide II”, Brian Eno’s “I’ll Come Running”, and Van Morrison’s “Gloria” as the show finale. Ten debuts in a single show is almost unheard of — not counting the band’s 2013 Halloween performance of the album that would become Fuego. You can stream the landmark show in its entirety below:
[Video: fromtheaquarium; Taped by Mikey Perrott]
YouTube Audio Tracklist:
Don’t You Want To Go 0:08:24
Ha Ha Ha 0:14:05
Spock’s Brain 0:15:40
Strange Design 0:21:16
Theme From the Bottom 0:39:49
Hold Your Head Up 0:50:40
Lonesome Cowboy Bill 0:55:55
Hold Your Head Up 0:58:40
Glide II 1:08:15
You Enjoy Myself 1:12:30
Sweet Adeline 1:38:05
Sample in a Jar 1:40:10
I’ll Come Running 1:45:55
Setlist: Phish | Lowell Memorial Auditorium | Lowell, MA | 5/16/95
Set 1: Don’t You Want To Go?, Ha Ha Ha > Spock’s Brain, Strange Design, Reba, Theme From the Bottom, Hold Your Head Up > Lonesome Cowboy Bill > Hold Your Head Up, Free, Glide II > You Enjoy Myself, Sweet Adeline, Sample in a Jar
Encore: I’ll Come Running -> Gloria
 Phish debut.
 No whistling.
This was a Voters for Choice benefit concert that also featured Jennifer Trynin and Emergency Broadcast Network. During the pre-show introduction, host Gloria Steinem promised Phish fans more new music in one night than ever before. The band proceeded to deliver the first public performances of Ha Ha Ha, Spock’s Brain, Strange Design, Theme From the Bottom, Free, and Glide II. Don’t You Want To Go?, Lonesome Cowboy Bill, I’ll Come Running, and Gloria also made their first Phish public performances at this show. Reba did not have the whistling ending. Fish introduced the new songs that had been played before Lonesome Cowboy Bill. Fish explained that they didn’t really have a name for the song after Ha Ha Ha and Trey added that since it was a Voters For Choice Benefit, they’d give the crowd four choices and let it vote on the title: The Plane, The First Single, Israel, and Spock’s Brain. Page subsequently teased the theme from Star Trek as the crowd voted for Spock’s with Trey subsequently explaining the song’s origin. Prior to Adeline, the crowd sang Happy Birthday to Page.
[Originally published 5/16/17]