Phish Kicks Off Fall Tour 1995 On This Date

By Scott Bernstein Sep 27, 2020 7:03 am PDT

Phish embarked on a historic 54-concert fall tour on this date in 1995 at Cal Expo Amphitheater in Sacramento, California. JamBase will honor the 25th anniversary of the historic run and help to ease the blues of a year without a fall tour by sharing 25 Years Of Phish Fall Tour. Each article in the series will present a look back at a noteworthy moment from a Phish fall tour concert that took place over the past 25 years timed to coincide with the show’s anniversary (read a note on Fall 1997 here). 25 Years Of Phish Fall Tour concludes on December 17, the same day the quartet ended their fall tour in 1995.

The tour opener at Cal Expo is one of two Phish shows held on September 27 in the past 25 years, as the band played Fiddler’s Green in Englewood, Colorado on this date in 2000. However, it’s only fitting 25 Years Of Phish Fall Tour starts with a highlight from the 1995 concert — the debut of “Keyboard Army.”

“Keyboard Army” was one of five songs premiered by Phish at their lone headlining appearance at Cal Expo. The group also unveiled a reworked version of “Taste” dubbed “The Fog That Surrounds” featuring vocals from drummer Jon Fishman, an instrumental penned by keyboardist Page McConnell entitled “Cars Trucks Buses,” the tender ballad “Billy Breathes” and an a capella rendition of “Hello My Baby.”

Each performance of the instrumental “Keyboard Army,” which fans have also referred to as “Keyboard Cavalry,” features the four members of Phish playing a different keyboard in Page’s rig. Read a description of the tune via’s song history:

At the tour’s opener on 9/27/95, after “Billy Breathes,” Page started repeating a pleasant piano riff over and over, while the rest of the band abandoned their instruments one by one. Fish, Mike, and Trey marched, slowly and single file across the stage, each of them stopping in front of one of Page’s other keyboards. The three of them then joined Page’s simple riff on their respective keyboards, each playing a distinct riff of their own. The short, four-voice song repeated many times, until a melodic ascent came out of nowhere and the music stopped. Then it began again. After the second stop, Fish, Mike, and Trey retreated back to their own instruments much in the way they had left them, with Page still repeating his initial riff as accompaniment.

The debut of “Keyboard Army” came after a summer tour featuring performances of “Acoustic Army” at nearly every stop. “Acoustic Army” saw the members of Phish assemble with acoustic guitars in hand on stools set up mid-stage for a pretty instrumental. “Keyboard Army” followed a similar pattern with keyboards used instead of guitars.

Phish performed “Keyboard Army” at seven of the tour’s first 12 shows, including a pair of versions that bookended the second set on October 8, 1995 in Missoula, Montana. It then became a bit more rare with only six more appearances over the remainder of the tour. “Keyboard Army” disappeared seemingly forever after Phish Fall Tour 1995. Yet, always expect the unexpected when it comes to this band as Phish revived the instrumental 20 years later for a one-off performance at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado on September 6, 2015 as part of their “THANK YOU” encore.

Stream an audience recording of Phish’s concert from 25 years ago today transferred by Brandon Johnston and shared by fromtheaquarium queued up to the start of “Keyboard Army” below:

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