Phish Friday | Gotta Have ‘Your’ Epic Tweezer

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phish5.jpg
photo by sypsyn

Every dedicated Phish fan has a favorite “Tweezer.” Some like the older versions that are strange and quirky, some like their Tweezers as funky as possible, and others like them super spacey. Of course, because this song has long been considered one of the band’s biggest “jam vehicles,” there are many versions of “Tweezer” that feature any and all styles of Phish improvisation…


I don’t doubt that there might be better versions out there, but this one from 12-6-97 — right smack in the middle of the band’s fall ’97 funk phase — gets my top spot for ‘epic’ Tweezers:

I think my favorite aspect of this version is the way it progresses. The band creates these long jamming ‘movements,’ going from deep, dark funk to a spacey, major-chord jam (with Trey’s lead lines soaring), only to end up in some sort of post-rock, atmospheric breakdown of noise. And just as it begins to move into complete outer space, the band somehow locates a rock beat and Trey drops the opening chords of Jimi Hendrix’s “Izabella.”

Of course, in fine Phish fashion, the band brings back the funkiness in a sweet “Izabella” outro jam that features some great solo breakdowns by Mike, Page, and finally by Trey. With all the “Cow Funk” shenanigans of this second set, I had to at least offer these two tracks for good measure:

(Unfortunately, there’s just no good spot to break up any of these tracks. I highly recommend checking out the entire show, which you can grab here)

Those of you familiar with most of the gems from the Fall ‘97 tour probably already know these tracks well. But whether you’re new to this era of Phish or have been hearing these for years, it doesn’t matter….tracks like these just never really get old.

So what’s your favorite ‘epic Tweezer?’

  • Andrew

    I have to say I like the darker 97-98 versions best (especially with some loops and drones), but the one on 10.7.00 definitely was fun – great segue out of 2001, and a quasi-atonal ending…kind of bittersweet, like that night.

  • http://www.laneforce.com Lane

    11-23-1997–Hampton . . . this Tweezer was nestled in between a very thoughtful and long Halley’s Comet which set the stage for the funk they drop during Tweezer that continues into Black Eyed Katy (which of course later became Moma Dance). Friggin’ incredible. I gotta say–this set was the quintessential Phish moment of my life. I have very fond memories of being at this show. Check it out!

  • http://www.laneforce.com Lane

    11-23-1997–Hampton . . . this Tweezer was nestled in between a very thoughtful and long Halley’s Comet which set the stage for the funk they drop during Tweezer that continues into Black Eyed Katy (which of course later became Moma Dance). Friggin’ incredible. I gotta say–this set was the quintessential Phish moment of my life. I have very fond memories of being at this show. Check it out!

  • glenn

    11.17.97 has some of the most beautiful lines I’ve ever heard Trey play. Kind of an atypical Tweezer, but still brilliant. Bomb Factory 5.7.94 is always out of this world gooood.

  • glenn

    11.17.97 has some of the most beautiful lines I’ve ever heard Trey play. Kind of an atypical Tweezer, but still brilliant. Bomb Factory 5.7.94 is always out of this world gooood.

  • Ryan

    1997 was in my opinion the peak of Phish. That’s why I’m not surprised to see so many nominations for Tweezers from this era. Can’t say I have a “favorite”, but I do like it funky!

  • Ryan

    1997 was in my opinion the peak of Phish. That’s why I’m not surprised to see so many nominations for Tweezers from this era. Can’t say I have a “favorite”, but I do like it funky!

  • Ryan

    An interview with Trey. The beloved Bomb Factory show came up. Thought to be one of the best Tweezers?

    Q: Is the erratic nature of improvisation daunting for you and your band
    mates?

    A: It’s not as much of an on-off thing as it is with the Dead. [Meaning
    that the Dead could be really “on” one night and “off” another?] But it
    ensures that each night is different. We try to let the spontaneity take
    over. We just played Dallas [the Bomb Factory] the other night, and the last
    65 minutes of the show were completely improvised. It wasn’t planned, but it
    happened, and we just took off. [I remember back then reading this and
    thinking, “ooh, i’d like to hear that some day!” sure enough….] If it
    wasn’t for nights like that, I wouldn’t be doing this. I’m not traveling
    eight months out of the year just to sit in hotel rooms.

  • Ryan

    An interview with Trey. The beloved Bomb Factory show came up. Thought to be one of the best Tweezers?

    Q: Is the erratic nature of improvisation daunting for you and your band
    mates?

    A: It’s not as much of an on-off thing as it is with the Dead. [Meaning
    that the Dead could be really “on” one night and “off” another?] But it
    ensures that each night is different. We try to let the spontaneity take
    over. We just played Dallas [the Bomb Factory] the other night, and the last
    65 minutes of the show were completely improvised. It wasn’t planned, but it
    happened, and we just took off. [I remember back then reading this and
    thinking, “ooh, i’d like to hear that some day!” sure enough….] If it
    wasn’t for nights like that, I wouldn’t be doing this. I’m not traveling
    eight months out of the year just to sit in hotel rooms.

  • ryan

    Both 11.17.97 and 12.6.97 are up there as favorites. I love the 97 funk. I’ve always loved that funk jam after Isabella.. great stuff. I never got into the older versions that seem to have no central theme.

  • ryan

    Both 11.17.97 and 12.6.97 are up there as favorites. I love the 97 funk. I’ve always loved that funk jam after Isabella.. great stuff. I never got into the older versions that seem to have no central theme.

  • bravestranger

    Can we get a hi-rez download of that photo anywhere? It’s beautiful.

  • bravestranger

    Can we get a hi-rez download of that photo anywhere? It’s beautiful.

  • Bug

    ooh… that Izabella was pretty awesome. i was late to the show, so to speak, but they played (IMHO) a better Izabella at my first show on 7-31-98. pretty good show, if you ask me. grab it at bt.etree.org

    as for my favorite Tweezer, i only saw it once, at one of the Vegas shows towards the end, so that’s my fave by default… never did get to see a Divided Sky, though… bummer.

  • Bug

    ooh… that Izabella was pretty awesome. i was late to the show, so to speak, but they played (IMHO) a better Izabella at my first show on 7-31-98. pretty good show, if you ask me. grab it at bt.etree.org

    as for my favorite Tweezer, i only saw it once, at one of the Vegas shows towards the end, so that’s my fave by default… never did get to see a Divided Sky, though… bummer.

  • Homerpalooza

    Ah Tweezer. It’s hard to say Phish jams can be truly pedagogical in nature, but these Fall ’97 Tweezers are like the ultimate quintessentially evolved Phish peaking around 12/6. Arguably I could have just put a fork in it and been done. It can only go downhill from here I thought.

    Well until the next night’s quintessential Tube. Which aligns more within the song than Tweezer’s funk. I knew that after hearing some of these Fall ’97 Tweezers, the remaining ones could be tainted, and like drinking a fine glass of cabernet, you wonder how to get excited about the future, when you see that your previous knowledge and experience will hold you back from eliciting the same endorphinic response of emotions. You can only compare backwards. Of course the great part about Phish is it’s different for everyone, so they just kept on trying. Thank God.

    Yeah, those ’94 and ’95 Tweezers could be … schizophrenic and disjointed and surely massively improvisational, there was no coordination in the band to really say “Wow, they’re on lock on what and where they’re going 3 minutes from now, not just in this very moment. It was as if the band was smiling, with “And wait till they hear this 3 minutes from now…”

    Yeah, the McNichols Tweezer is great for just launching off right away. Exposing us early to their new skills and tricks. And mostly it’s consistency. A truly “to the point” Tweezer yet improvisational. Single style and movement. Setting the mood early in the set, and blowing everyone in the rooms hair back at the SERIOUSNESS (and Funkiness) of this upcoming endeavor. Like opening with Frankenstein 10-31-94. 12-6 though is 11-17, but with an evolved second movement with a strong change in vision, and force. The etherealness of the jam get’s confusing for my ear though and it’s easy to forget how fun and funky the first part of the jam was, when you’re awash in the thunderstorm and crashing waves of Fishman’s rolls on the toms, and Trey is like a captain holding the tiller and trying to drive right into the rain. Isabella let’s you know Trey’s intent of bringing the acid rock and rain on the crowd. But the post Isabella jam gets everyone right back on the horse and bobbing the collective heads again. Wondering what just happened, and will it happen again?

    Glad for bringing this back out for my ears hear it again.

  • Homerpalooza

    Ah Tweezer. It’s hard to say Phish jams can be truly pedagogical in nature, but these Fall ’97 Tweezers are like the ultimate quintessentially evolved Phish peaking around 12/6. Arguably I could have just put a fork in it and been done. It can only go downhill from here I thought.

    Well until the next night’s quintessential Tube. Which aligns more within the song than Tweezer’s funk. I knew that after hearing some of these Fall ’97 Tweezers, the remaining ones could be tainted, and like drinking a fine glass of cabernet, you wonder how to get excited about the future, when you see that your previous knowledge and experience will hold you back from eliciting the same endorphinic response of emotions. You can only compare backwards. Of course the great part about Phish is it’s different for everyone, so they just kept on trying. Thank God.

    Yeah, those ’94 and ’95 Tweezers could be … schizophrenic and disjointed and surely massively improvisational, there was no coordination in the band to really say “Wow, they’re on lock on what and where they’re going 3 minutes from now, not just in this very moment. It was as if the band was smiling, with “And wait till they hear this 3 minutes from now…”

    Yeah, the McNichols Tweezer is great for just launching off right away. Exposing us early to their new skills and tricks. And mostly it’s consistency. A truly “to the point” Tweezer yet improvisational. Single style and movement. Setting the mood early in the set, and blowing everyone in the rooms hair back at the SERIOUSNESS (and Funkiness) of this upcoming endeavor. Like opening with Frankenstein 10-31-94. 12-6 though is 11-17, but with an evolved second movement with a strong change in vision, and force. The etherealness of the jam get’s confusing for my ear though and it’s easy to forget how fun and funky the first part of the jam was, when you’re awash in the thunderstorm and crashing waves of Fishman’s rolls on the toms, and Trey is like a captain holding the tiller and trying to drive right into the rain. Isabella let’s you know Trey’s intent of bringing the acid rock and rain on the crowd. But the post Isabella jam gets everyone right back on the horse and bobbing the collective heads again. Wondering what just happened, and will it happen again?

    Glad for bringing this back out for my ears hear it again.

  • J

    I’m gonna throw the Miami Tweezer in the mix here. Soooooo good!

  • J

    I’m gonna throw the Miami Tweezer in the mix here. Soooooo good!

  • gibs

    ah, Detroit. best show of that run if you ask me (and there was plenty of gems)…

    i'm partial to 11.30.95 Tweezer myself. still don't “get” the 2.28.03 hype, the McNichols is no slouch either.