New To YouTube: Pro-Shot Phish From Ithaca 1991

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On Valentine’s Day 1991 Phish played their first of two shows at the State Theatre in Ithaca, New York. The concert was filmed by multiple cameras, though the master tapes never made it to the band’s archive. While most of the show surfaced on YouTube years back, this weekend a more complete (and seemingly higher quality) version was uploaded to the video site.

This Ithaca ’91 footage gives us a good look at the stage setup and production of the time. Each member of the band has little space next to each other thanks to the four-in-a-row formation they used from their early days until the late ’90s. It’s almost as if each guy is on top of the musicians next to him. We also get to see how lo-tech and small LD Chris Kuroda’s rig was the time.

Musically, Phish takes us on a tour of their rotation at the time which was heavy on songs they had just played one or two shows earlier. The quartet had last performed five days earlier and 11 tunes played in Ithaca made the cut at the previous concert. Phish focused heavily on originals over the course of the evening as the show’s two covers came within the encore. Guitarist Trey Anstasio was hitting one of the peaks of his artistry when it came to speed and accuracy. His solos in “Reba, “Stash,” “Weekpaug” and “Runaway Jim” saw him play hundreds of notes in a brief period of time.

One of the bigger surprises of the night came early, when Phish dusted off “McGrupp And The Watchful Hosemasters” for the first time 56 shows. At this point in their career, the foursome traveled together by van, rehearsed during most of their off-time and played over 100 shows a year. So it’s surprising to hear the struggles Trey had at various points of “McGrupp.” Even a 27-year-old Big Red was human.

Phish had been traveling in the Fishman family mini-van for the past three years and gave away their 1982 Plymouth Voyager to a show attendee. Drummer Jon Fishman was blindfolded and threw the keys into the crowd. The giveaway came in the middle of “I Didn’t Know” and can be viewed as the final moments of the footage below. All told we get to see two hours of the Phish show from February 14, 1991 in Ithaca, which includes the first set and all of the second set besides “The Landlady” and “Possum” as well as the encore.

It’s a fascinating watch for any Phish fans. Thanks to Sigmund Bops and all involved:

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