Phish Performs ‘Rotation Jam’ In Philadelphia On Fall Tour 1995

By Andy Kahn Dec 15, 2020 6:24 am PST

This year marks 25 years since Phish’s historic Fall Tour 1995. In recognition of that noteworthy tour and to make up for the lack of shows this fall, JamBase presents a daily retrospective highlighting a noteworthy moment from a Phish fall tour concert that took place on that date over the past 25 years (read a note on Fall 1997 here). The 25 Years Of Phish Fall Tour series runs each day between the start of Phish Fall Tour 1995 on September 27 through that tour’s finale on December 17.

There are only three shows from December 15 in Phish’s performance history, the first in 1989 and the most recent in 1999. The band also held a show on December 15 at The Spectrum in Philadelphia as part of their Fall Tour 1995.

The Fall ‘95 concert at The Spectrum was the first of nine Phish shows held at the Philly arena that was demolished in 2011. It was the 52nd show of Phish’s ‘95 Fall Tour and the second-to-last stop ahead of a final pair of concerts the following nights in Lake Placid, New York.

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Back on opening night of Fall ‘95 at Cal Expo Amphitheater in Sacramento, California, Phish debuted “Keyboard Army” in which guitarist Trey Anastasio, bassist Mike Gordon and drummer Jon Fishman joined keyboardist Page McConnell for the instrument-switching, instrumental original. Phish debuted “Acoustic Army” during their Summer Tour 1995 featuring all four members on acoustic guitar, and performed the instrumental original in the fall of that year as well. Prior to the incorporation of those two songs, the quartet largely stuck to their primary instruments, except for Anastasio playing drums during Fish’s vacuum-solo songs.

Phish took instrument switching a step further when they made their debut at Hampton Coliseum on November 25, 1995, debuting a “Rotation Jam” as the band members swapped places on stage while improvising. Here’s the description of that sequence, “Trey diverged and headed towards Page’s keyboards, Page went to the drums, Fish walked over to Mike and took his bass, and Mike completed the loop and picked up Trey’s guitar.”

The “Rotation Jam” was reprised by Phish in the second set of their show at The Spectrum, adding another layer to an already abnormal show. Set one took an unexpected turn when “Maze” segued into the Fish-written rarity “Ha Ha Ha” that had debuted earlier in the year. Trey paused to note that he saw his first concert — Jethro Tull — at The Spectrum before launching into “Ha Ha Ha.” Trey then hopped on drums while Fish came to center stage to cover Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds” and the subsequent “Hold Your Head Up” outro. A few songs later, “Possum” closed the first set, embellished with “Oom Pa Pa,” The Simpsons and “All Fall Down” Secret Language cues in the intro and Trey teasing Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child.”

Set two began with “Tweezer Reprise” in a call back to the reprise-less “Tweezer” played by Phish the night before in Binghamton, New York. “Runway Jim” and “It’s Ice” teed up the “Bathtub Gin” that paved the way for the second “Rotation Jam” of Fall ‘95. About 10 minutes into “Gin” the jam transitioned after Trey picked up drums sticks, first to use on his guitar and then to start playing the mini-kit that was part of his setup for the tour. McConnell was then given a lengthy solo, literally getting the spotlight while the rest of the stage went dark. When the lights came back up, Trey and Mike were on stools and holding acoustic guitars, but rather than be joined by the other two for “Acoustic Army,” Fish started a vacuum solo. Page then picked up Mike’s bass, Mike picked up Trey’s guitar, Trey went back to the drum kit and Fish sat at Page’s piano.

It was then Fish’s turn in the spotlight and the debut of “Mallory,” a quiet piano tune sung by Fish and not ever played again. At its conclusion, the others returned to their usual instruments and Fish headed back to his kit before a launch into “2001.” The set ended with a blistering “David Bowie” and the foursome foregoing instruments for an a cappella “Sweet Adeline.” Phish had another curveball ready for the encore (it wasn’t Mike Tyson as Trey jokingly told the audience) when they followed “Good Times, Bad Times” with an instrumental “Tweezer Reprise” reprise, bringing it back for its second performance of the night.

Phish resurrected the “Rotation Jam” one year later when they returned to The Spectrum on December 29, 1996, leading to Mike performing a solo piano version of “Sixteen Candles,” marking its only time played. The most recent “Rotation Jam” occurred on August 10, 1997 at Deer Creek in Noblesville, Indiana that led into “Rock A William,” one of two songs — along with “Walfredo” — that is performed with the band switching instruments.

Watch most of the second set (click to start with the “Rotation Jam”) from Phish’s December 15, 1995 show in Philly below:

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