Phish Debuts Pavement Cover On This Date In 1999
Listen to the only time the band covered a song by one of guitarist Trey Anastasio's favorite bands.
Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio is a huge Pavement fan and once called the band’s music “the soundtrack to the second half of the ’90s for me.” However, Phish only covered Pavement once as the quartet’s lone attempt at a Pavement song took place on this date in 1999, when they performed “Gold Soundz” at the Star Lake Amphitheatre in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania.
“Gold Soundz” was originally released by Pavement as the second single from their 1994 studio album, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. Phish’s cover of the song came unceremoniously after the pairing of “AC/DC Bag” and “Cities” opened the band’s 16th of 20 concerts that formed their 1999 U.S. Summer Tour. Anastasio, who had some issues with the lyrics of “Gold Soundz,” did acknowledge the song following what still stands as the band’s only cover of the song. “That was a song by Pavement that I’ve been wanting to play and I’m kind of embarrassed because I feel like a skipped a verse but maybe I didn’t,” Trey said before introducing “Ginseng Sullivan.”
For what it’s worth, Trey did not skip a verse. He did, however, struggle with the second verse and ironically missed the line “And do you think that is a major flaw.” While the start of “Gold Soundz” was met by the sound of silence from the audience, “Ginseng Sullivan” received a huge cheer. Bassist Mike Gordon had a lyrical miscue of his own during the Norman Blake cover. “That song is by Norman Blake and I’m a little embarrassed because I feel like Mike missed a verse,” Trey quipped. “This next number is by Phish and we’ll make a very strong effort to get all the verses,” he added as the intro to “Limb By Limb.”
Anastasio discussed his love of Pavement in a 2012 interview with Relix’s Mike Greenhaus:
Pavement was the soundtrack to the second half of the ‘90s for me. We were playing in Portland, Ore., I think it was the spring of 1994. I was wandering around town and came across this cool little record store and went in to look around. I asked the woman behind the counter if she had anything new that she liked, and she handed me Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. I didn’t love it at first, but I remember thinking the first track sounded heartfelt. That was enough for me to want to play it again, after which I began to really hear the first track. I also began to notice the second track, and found myself gravitating to a couple others deeper in the record as well, like ‘Range Life’ probably, though at this point I didn’t even know what the songs were called. This process continued with each subsequent listen. The record just kept sounding better and better had a couple friends who felt the same way and we would quote lines to each other in the corner at parties. ‘him chim chim sing a song of praise, for your elders… They’re in the back. Pick out some Brazilian nuts, for your engagement… Check that expiration date man, it’s later than we think. Most of the people I hung out with didn’t really get what the big deal was, but to the friends I had who really liked Pavement at that point, it felt like we were in on a secret. What was I going to do, they were my favorite band.
The rest of the first set went along uneventfully and ended with one of just three versions of “Bittersweet Motel” played in the Pittsburgh area. Yinz went nuts when the band sang “halfway between Erie and Pittsburgh.” Phish’s second set at Star Lake on this date in 1999 is an extremely underrated affair featuring a stellar sequence of “Mike’s Song” into “Simple” into “My Left Toe” into “Prince Caspian” into “Weekapaug Groove.”
The four-piece showed off their late-tour form with impressive jamming around every corner of the 62-minute segment. “Simple” contained outstanding work from all four members of the band and led into one of just four versions of “My Left Toe,” an instrumental from The Siket Disc of studio jams debuted live by Phish three weeks prior. Anastasio played the song’s main theme over and over again before leading the band to a euphoric peak. Trey also starred in the “Prince Caspian” that followed. Yet, it was Gordon who shined on a “Weekapaug Groove” which recalled the “cow funk” jamming of 1997.
“Golgi Apparatus” ended the second set with “Brian & Robert” and Phish’s first cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Bold As Love” since the previous fall serving as the encore. Listen to an audience recording of the whole show transfered by Jason Sobel and shared by FromTheAquarium with “Gold Soundz” starting at 18:40:
[Originally Published: July 21, 2020]