Watch Phish Perform 5 Standout Versions Of ‘Tweezer’ Pre-Hiatus

By Scott Bernstein Oct 14, 2020 11:32 am PDT

2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the Phish song “Tweezer,” one of the band’s most beloved jam vehicles. The quartet unveiled “Tweezer” on March 28, 1990 during a show at Denison University’s Beta Theta Pi Frat House in Granville, Ohio. In 1992, the band released their major label debut studio album, A Picture Of Nectar, which features “Tweezer.” Phish has played a total of 410 versions of the song over the past 30 years, which according to means “Tweezer” has been performed on average, once every 3.7 shows since that fateful night in Granville.

The JamBase Live Video Archive (JBLVA) currently features a collection of 125 “Tweezer” videos spanning the years 19942019. Included within are many memorable renditions of the song.

This JamBase List compiles five awe-inspiring versions of “Tweezer” via the JBLVA Phish performed during the pre-hiatus, or “1.0” era, which ended at Shoreline Amphitheatre on October 7, 2000. Watch and read about all five below:

June 14, 1995 | Memphis, Tennessee

The longest “Tweezer” in Phish history took place during the band’s lone performance at Mud Island Amphitheater in Memphis on June 14, 1995. Yet the Mud Island “Tweezer” isn’t just about its length as Phish explored a variety of intriguing jam spaces over the course of 50 adventurous minutes. An official recording of the full show was recently released and you’ll be excused for heading right for the “Tweezer,” just as the video above is queued up to the masterful version.

Read a description of the Mud Island “Tweezer” from a past JamBase article:

Phish quickly worked through the composed section of “Tweezer” before building the jam to a powerful peak complete with bits of “Gypsy Queen” (popularized by Santana) thrown in. However, once they reached the first peak the quartet dove back into outer space for explorations featuring wild psychedelia. Around the 20-minute mark the foursome reengaged the “Tweezer” theme, yet instead of ending the song they embark on another round of out-of-the-box jamming. Eventually the music faded to near silence and lost all structure. Guitarist Trey Anastasio started a delay loop that served as the base for a noise-rock excursion that would make Sonic Youth proud. The band then explored a beautiful, major-key chord structure not too far off from “Billy Breathes” for a few magical minutes. From there, they dove back into the rock and funk for one final time before finally ending the exceptional “Tweezer.”

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June 28, 1995 | Wantagh, New York

Summer Tour 1995 was quite a run for those who like their “Tweezer” long and exploratory. Not only did the quartet deliver what still stands as longest version ever in Mud Island, but they dropped the 45-minute “Fleezer” at Finger Lakes Performing Arts Center on June 22 and this monstruous 30-minute rendition at Jones Beach Amphitheatre in Wantagh, New York on June 28, 1995. Phish’s take at Jones Beach contains plenty of ethereal improvisation, along with a jam on “Cannonball” and their most recent performance of oft-teased instrumental “Dave’s Energy Guide,” a song played just this once since March 8, 1991.

Check out a description of the Jones Beach “DEGeezer” from a JamBase article celebrating its anniversary:

The Jones Beach ’95 “Tweezer” finds the band exploring a handful of disparate jam spaces. After working over the typical dark and dirty “Tweezer” groove, guitarist Trey Anastasio leads his mates in a turn towards major-key glory. Around the 15-minute mark Phish hits on a glorious climax that almost sounds like the end of “Theme From The Bottom.” Following the peak, drummer Jon Fishman picks up the beat and Anastasio focuses on rhythms while Page McConnell pounds away on the piano. Trey, Page and bassist Mike Gordon connect on a proggy pattern around the 19-minute mark and Anastasio leads them into the first “Dave’s Energy Guide” since March 8, 1991. The guitarist offers variations of the “Dave’s” theme before settling in on a more ominous riff the foursome builds to another frenzied peak. Unlike the more pretty climax found earlier, this one is of a more dark variety. Phish then breaks down the beat for a few minutes of spacey exploration. Once the band had its fill of free-form jamming, Trey dropped a powerful riff and his mates quickly followed his lead. Anastasio varied the riff and eventually landed on the theme from The Breeders’ “Cannonball” and even sang a few lyrics from the 1993 hit. Thirty minutes in the Vermonters finally brought the glorious “Tweezer” to its conclusion by starting up “Gumbo.”

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December 2, 1995 | New Haven, Connecticut

For Fall Tour 1995, Phish generally took “Tweezer” in a more rocking direction than the spacey, ambient and sometimes freeform versions the previous summer. An example can be found by watching the “Tweezer” Phish performed at the New Haven Coliseum in New Haven, Connecticut on December 2, 1995. This one was an all-killer, no-filler affair filled with action right from the jump. The New Haven version is the peak of the band’s more intense approach to their beloved jam song as all four members play with incredible ferociousness throughout all but the final minute of “Tweezer” in New Haven. While the video above features fan-shot video paired with an audience recording, the “Tweezer” portion of the footage has been synced with soundboard audio to give fans a document befitting a rendition for the ages.

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December 6, 1997 | Auburn Hills, Michigan

Phish’s Fall Tour 1997 featured a number of “Tweezers” that combine the best elements of the exploratory Summer 1995 versions and high-octane Fall 1995 versions. Any reputable list detailing top “Tweezers” must include the version from December 6, 1997 at The Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Lovingly dubbed “Tweezerbella,” the 20+ minute rendition ends with a jaw-dropping transition into a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Izabella.”

JamBase’s Andy Kahn described the “Tweezerbella” as part of a Remembering Phish Fall Tour 1997 article about the show:

An essay could be entirely devoted to the “Tweezer” that opened the second set. It’s among the most quintessential Fall ‘97 jams that truly destroyed this part of America. The improvisation finds the foursome in full a on James Brown band imitation mode, later shifting to more straight-ahead rock during the outstanding 20+ minute sequence. The band finally collectively lands on the Jimi Hendrix rocker “Izabella.” The unicorn cover rarity quickly shifts into the funkiest of the funk as Trey dances and struts along to Page’s chunky clavinet work while leading breakdowns and start-stop syncopations.

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June 24, 2000 | Atlanta, Georgia

All four versions of “Tweezer” described above took place during the second set, but great renditions of the tune aren’t limited to closing stanzas. On June 24, 2000, Phish dropped a masterful 26-minute “Tweezer” in the first set at Lakewood Amphitheatre in Atlanta. See a description of the Atlanta “Tweezer” via a JamBase article published on its anniversary:

The sun was still out as the quartet finished the structured part of “Tweezer” and embarked on the jam. Guitarist Trey Anastasio set a delay loop that added a spacey texture underneath the action. Anastasio and bassist Mike Gordon drove the improvisation, which saw the pair connect on a blissful repeating pattern that Phish used to blow past typical “Tweezer” territory. Drummer Jon Fishman held down the beat as keyboardist Page McConnell added counter melodies on piano.

Phish alternated between major and minor keys with ease all while keeping the theme of the pattern Gordon and Anastasio created. Eventually, around the 15-minute mark, the quartet settled in on an intense chord structure akin to “Free” and explored this new space for a few minutes. Again, the band would quickly move between the dark and light. Trey used rhythmic work to build the “Tweezer” to a frothy, crowd-pleasing peak and at times it was hard to tell if the four-piece was jamming in a major key or minor key — one of the hallmarks of the best Phish jams.

For the next movement, the band improvised on a soundscape that hinted at “Birds Of A Feather” as Trey continued to focus on rhythms instead of shredding. Gordon was on top of his game throughout the “Tweezer” and at times played lead bass. The last seven minutes of the jam contained more swift transitions between major and minor keys including a raging climax in which all four members of the band were going full blast in an egaliatarian way. Phish faded out the music following the final peak to end a “Tweezer” which stands among the best in the song’s history.

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