The band began the show with an appropriate opener, as the storm that had lingered in the Morrison sky cleared just before the show began. The Harpua story told the history of Red Rocks and the fate of a giant iguana, who was referred to throughout the show. Harpua also included a Rock and Roll Part Two tease and a tease of Eye of the Tiger by Page during Trey's narration about Poster looking directly into the eyes of the iguana. Trey teased Nellie Kane in Maze. Ginseng was acoustic, was dedicated to Brad Sands, and was preceded by a "Charge!" tease from Page. Antelope included a Simpsons signal and a Can’t You Hear Me Knocking jam. Trey teased So What in Slave. The beginning of My Friend featured Trey on acoustic guitar. Purple Rain featured Mimi Fishman joining Fish on vacuum.

Rock and Roll Part Two and Eye of the Tiger teases in Harpua, Can't You Hear Me Knocking jam in Run Like an Antelope, Charge! tease, Nellie Kane tease in Maze, So What tease in Slave to the Traffic Light
Debut Years (Average: 1989)
Song Distribution

This show was part of the "1993 Summer Tour"

Show Reviews

, attached to 1993-08-20

Review by zzyzx

zzyzx (Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

For a while it was uncertain whether this show would happen. The tickets mentioned the chance of a rainout and the rain was coming down hard. The cancellation rumor was helped quite a bit when the backdrop was removed. However, Icculus was with us. At almost exactly 7:30 the rain stopped. Due to some good work by the crew, the show practically started on time.

The show started with an inspired choice, "The Divided Sky". This is a beautiful song anytime, but hearing it at Red Rocks with strong winds blowing around was just amazing. The only environment that was close to this one was Amy's Farm.

"Divided Sky" came to a full stop, and after a pause we got our first surprise of the evening, "Harpua". "Harpua" nowadays is usually reserved for the "show-stopper" slot of last or second-to-last song of the show. Getting it second showed that they had confidence that they could top it. The version itself was odd. The story was about "Harpua" the Giant Iguana being turned to stone by Poster Nutbag's (or Posterus Nutbagus as Trey referred to him) deadly gaze. Allegedly, one of the rocks looked like a giant iguana, but I could never find it. This became a bit of a running joke throughout the set. After an outstanding opening, things had to return to normal for a bit. An excellent "Maze" was sandwiched between "Poor Heart" and "Bouncing". Then things got unusual again. Rather than the boring jams they've been playing in "It's Ice" since they got the glider toy, they gave Page a solo. After "Ice", they started to play a jam that I didn't recognize at all. After sixty-nine shows, it was rare to have to write a "?" on a setlist, and I was enjoying it. The suspense was broken when they stepped to the microphones and sang "We're bobbing on the surface"...." My first "Wedge"! This version was much different from the studio, and much better. However, the highlight of the set was still to come. After two more songs, the set closed with "Run Like an Antelope". This was no ordinary version, mind you. Other than the 3/13/92 Providence "Run Like a Big Black Furry Antelope" jam, this was by far the best version that I've ever seen. The jam was both sick and long; it clocked in at over fifteen minutes, whereas the average "Antelope" is around ten. Get this tape and listen to it. You won't be sorry.

After a brief break, the second set opened to the familiar strains of "2001". Then came the best moment of the show"...and of my Phish career: "Slave to the Traffic Light". Not only was this my first version, not only did they play the best version I have ever heard, but they were playing it at Red Rocks. This meant that during the quiet jam I could look out to my right and see lightning strike over the lights of Denver. I can't really say any more about this; you just had to be there.

Now, while I would have been perfectly happy if the set had ended right there, the band felt like playing some more. In fact they played excellent versions of "Split Open and Melt" and "Chalk Dust", with a sweet "Coil" and a really fun "My Friend, My Friend" in between. However, I was still going "Slave, Slave, SLAVE!!" in my head and kind of let these songs slide by. The second set was to bring one more treat. During "Purple Rain", Mimi Fishman came out to do the vacuum solo. I heard her on tapes and was expecting her to do really well. Unfortunately she was having an off night and couldn't get any sound out of it. Fish took the vacuum back and redeemed his mother with a solid solo. The set came to a close with an excellent "Cavern". My guess for the encore was "Freebird" and something else. While I was right, I never expected to hear "The Mango Song" to open an encore. An excellent version, too.

This show was easily the best of the twenty I saw that year. It had everything: odd song selection ("Wedge", "Slave"), standard songs played well ("Antelope"!), and even a special guest. All I can say is get the tapes. Better yet, hope that the band videotaped it and get that! Better yet, invent a time machine and go see the show yourself. It'll be worth it.
, attached to 1993-08-20

Review by waxbanks

waxbanks The first set of this show was the first live Phish I ever heard - a friend printed a super-snazzy j-card and threw the show onto a cheapie tape, and I thought I'd traveled to another dimension. As it happens it's a classic show, just passionate creative music from start to stop. August '93 isn't really in the running for Best Phish Month anymore (though it has its diehard supporters like every other damn thing, right?). For a while there, though, this was the highwater mark - along with 11/94 and 12/95 (and later 11-12/97)...again, if you're assembling a pre-12/31/95 Phish mix for some reason, this should be one of your stops along the way.
, attached to 1993-08-20

Review by kipmat

kipmat Sometimes I am skeptical towards hype. I'll read some rave reviews on .net, and think to myself, "Yeah right, that show couldn't possibly be *that* good." Well, I listened this show for the first time a couple of weeks ago, after having listened or re-listened to several preceding shows from this tour. Folks, I was SO wrong to avoid this show. IMO, 8/20/93 Red Rocks is start-to-finish the best show of Summer '93. The rain let up just before showtime, but the boys don't let up for a single minute. There isn't a Murat Gin or Tinley Park Antelope all-time-greatest jam to be found here, just an incredible setlist and a flawless performance. What a fool I was for not finding this show sooner.
, attached to 1993-08-20

Review by SlavePhan

SlavePhan I'll vary from my usual reviewing style because this is one of my favorite 2-set Phish shows of all time. Although it now seems unlikely that the band will release the show because they released 8/13 and 8/14 (as well as some other jams as fillers from the month), this show goes down as my favorite of 1993, and in my top 10, ever. To me, it is the culmination of the tour and one of the most inspired shows the band has ever played. Although the tour had 5 more stops, this show really reads as the tour closer. Anyways, on to the music.

Enough has been said in the other reviews about the rainstorm and the band subsequently playing Divided Sky. But, if you listen carefully, you can hear Trey say "Cool!" as they take the stage. It must have been a sight to see. Despite the nerves giving Trey a hard time in the composed section of the song, this Divided Sky soars, and it is clear that the band is totally locked in with each other. Oh, it's also worth mentioning that there is a super-crisp SBD available for this show, so you can pretty much hear the show perfectly, including a near-perfect peak.

A second-slot Harpua follows, with the famous Iguana story (subsequently referenced in several future Red Rocks shows). To me, the best part of Harpua, though, is when Trey mentions "this is definitely the most incredible place I've ever played music". That's an amazing statement when you think about the fact that the band had played several hundred shows up to this point. There are lots of great little bits in there to listen to ("One of those jackalope things you've got around here"..."luckily I know all the ancient languages"). You won't be disappointed with the ending, either.

Poor Heart serves as a nice breather, but it's really the Maze that should pique your interest. It's safe to say that Maze really flourished in it's type-I form in this tour and Spring/Summer '94, and I particularly prefer this approach, mainly because Trey sticks the ending so magnificently. If type-I is your type of choice for Maze, look no further than this version. Page's section is fantastic and the ending really is just incredible. I'm surprised this hasn't become a must-listen version of the song.

A simple Bouncing follows, and then the band continues to make things interesting by playing a full It's Ice (complete with Fish dance and crowd cheering) which has a mellow segue into The Wedge. The Wedge had been common in the Spring, and lost favor with the band, but they dusted it off because of the lyrical references in the song to Red Rocks. I don't think this Wedge is particularly strong, mainly because the band hadn't quite figured out the ending jam (it's a piano jazz one at this point), but it's the last time they played it until 1995, so it was memorable at the time.

Following the Wedge, the band plays an acoustic version of Ginseng Sullivan. Clearly, Brad mis-tunes Trey's guitar, which he has to retune (listen to Page verbally cringe at the chord Trey plays). Trey then sarcastically thanks Brad for the tuning.

The closing pairing of Rift>Antelope is an absolute beast. Rift essentially is played at the fastest point in the history of the band. It's actually quite amazing to hear Fish keep up, with his ghost touches, and then even more impressive that Trey starts Antelope without a break, which is a full-tilt version. It's hard for me to believe that this one doesn't get 'key version' status, basically because of the insane early CYHMK-inspired jam which is totally chaotic, the wild minor tension jam in the middle of the jam, and the complete return to a blazing conclusion. It's absolutely mesmerizing and, in my opinion, much more scorching than the Tinley Park version. 5-stars.

One would think that this set 1 could stand alone, but set 2, amazingly, outdoes it by leaps and bounds. To start, this version of Slave is, without question, one of the top 5 versions of the song the band has ever played (behind 12/30/93, 8/17/96, Minneapolis 94, and maybe Niagara). Like those versions, the jam starts very subtly, delicately, and with a very steady build. But, the reason why this version stands out is just because of the magical Trey peaks (not one series, but 2!) interspersed with lyrical playing (and Fish growls). Another must-hear at all costs.

The SOAM, which, starts without the band even needing to catch their breath, is another scorcher. Although the band 'figured the song out' on 4/21 in Ohio, I still cite this version as being the first version where the band completely understands the ability of the song to arouse tension. They'd lean on this version for 2 stand-out versions in the next 5 shows (8/24, 8/26). But it's really this version that starts things out. It modulates as it builds, and Trey's little two-note combination is a precursor to some of his future pedal work using a repeater. Fish uses significant restraint to drive this version about 9 minutes without transitioning to the ride, but when he does, things break open. The conclusion is akin to Antelope with its intensity. Another must-hear.

The Coil, MFMF, and Chalkdust trio that comes next is also flawless. Page's Coil outro is longer than others in the tour and has a bit of a band-jam at the end which is very mellow and beautiful. I love this short punchy version of Chalkdust, too. Much like the Waterloo version, builds an incredible amount of tension with a Maze-like build up. This one is just fantastic, another keeper. It also has one of my favorite Fish fills of all time (at about 4:22).

In the meat of the second set, the band chooses YEM. Now, in most scenarios, YEM would be the song to bring it all home. However, given the pure insanity of this show, the YEM is not particularly special. There is a sweet B+D section, but for the most part, the vocal jam contrasts with the raw energy of the set. Mimi comes out for Purple Rain, and things peter out with Cavern. The Mango>Freebird closer is remarkable and would be coveted in any era of Phish, but it does no more than cap off the musical mastery of the middle half of the show (Antelope through Chakdust).

So, there you have it - one of the finest 2-set shows of the band's career, in my opinion. The Harpua, Maze, Antelope, Slave, SOAM, and Chalkdust are all must-hears, with an extremely above-average Divided Sky and fantastic Coil and Rift. One can only really hope that the band decides to release this as a LivePhish version so that we can hear a soundcheck, but honestly, the SBD that circulates won't disappoint you. It says something that zzyzx considers it his favorite show of '93 (he saw 24!), so do yourself a favor, pick it up, and give it a spin!
, attached to 1993-08-20

Review by Masses_Hardware

Masses_Hardware This was the first live Phish recording I ever heard in its entirety, given to me in the early 2000s by a HS buddy who thought I might like it. I was completely transfixed, start to finish, and it remains—musically and sentimentally—the most important show of their long and incredible career to me. Even years after I reset my standard for their early-mid 1.0 excellence with another legendary Red Rocks show on 6/11 the following summer, 8/20/93 will always live in my heart as the first and best.

I can't write as well as previous reviewers about how good this show is musically; it's been said, and I don't need to add more. However, I will simply say that the setlist, pacing, jamming, and overall 'mood' of the show is perfectly executed cover to cover... There are, additionally, two or three 'all-time' best tunes in this show, with the Slave>SOAM most notably occurring in succession. There aren't two consecutive songs in the Phish catalog that better sum up what they are capable of... And in that sense, this show is totally representative of who they are on their best days: Moments of pure, unadulterated bliss, dark and brooding tension, epic breakthroughs and high, soaring peaks, and more: Signaling, teasing, narration, humor, banter, covers, vacuum solos, acoustic guitar, and a capella. Incredible that it all fit into one show.
, attached to 1993-08-20

Review by MrFoot

MrFoot Yes, what ZZYX said.

This whole show was a real treat - my 13th show and 4th Harpua - flipping lovely. Also, down in the front row was a young Colorado woman at her 1st show that I would meet 21 days later at her birthday party starting our 30-year-long relationship. Huge thanks to that lovely lady for three decades, to Phish for winning her over with this show, as well as all the adventures and amazing soundtrack over the years. Looking forward to what the next decade holds. See you at Dick's!
, attached to 1993-08-20

Review by Bob_Loblaw

Bob_Loblaw This show is fantastic. I wouldn't call it legendary like Red Rocks the next year but it's definitely above average. One of the most beautiful venues in the world and they're loving it!

A couple notes.

Besides a few sour notes Divided Sky is pretty damn strong. Harpua has one of my all time favorite narrations. There's no real teases or silliness. Just a cool little story about Harpua turning into a giant Iguana that is still there at the venue. Antelope is just top notch a true showcase of what was brought to the table in August '93.

Slave is outstanding, the solo is an all timer. Melt is fantastic like every other one from this period, maybe not as deep but still excellent. YEM is slightly above average but very fun.

Mango song and Freebird for an encore? Cool!

Overall not the best August of this year had to offer. But an excellent show by any eras standards.
, attached to 1993-08-20

Review by MountainKung303

MountainKung303 The 2nd Phish show that I ever attended. This was my first Red Rocks show as well. WOW! If you like show going, go to Red Rocks! We had the typical Colorado summer afternoon deluge. It rained for a few hours right before the show. There was some lightning (the dreaded show killer), but fortunately it passed. Then there was the orange sunshine.

A Divided Sky opener was destined to be. The post storm sky demanded it! Every silver lining has it's cloud. Then some ancient cave man lore for Harpua, and the giant iguana was born, now in the form of rock. The iguana would either be "Creation Rock" or "Ship Rock", these are the two major rock formations which amp the theater. The land of the lizards. A great Poor Heart>Maze sounding better and then Bouncing Around the Room. I recall realizing that this whole Phish show going thing was for me. This realization solidified when they went into one of if not the best It's Ice I've ever heard! The Page solo for this one is awesome. Page stands out in this show. Heck they all just rip it up this show. I love '93! The Wedge starts with a unique intro that I've only heard in a few early versions. I usually don't care for Ginseng Sullivan so much, but this version I'll make an exception for. We then lift approaching a Rift. The set is closed with a top shelf Antelope. This is a song that I have gotten a bit gotten tired of thru the years. Which of course doesn't mean that I don't want to hear it again, but I do feel that the versions being played these days are not as heavily rehearsed as they once were. 8/20/93 is a great example of an Antelope that is a well oiled machine rather than an off the cuff improvisational piece. A superb, well presented first set.

2001 starts off the second set. Always a great way to start a second set. They go into Slave to the Traffic Light, which looking back on it is kind of early in the set for a Slave, in a way. I like it. Into SOAM, killer! At the time this might have been my favorite song of the show, I now understood. Squirming Coil was next; a little early in the set for Squirming Coil? I like it. The first part of the Page solo at the end is accompanied by the rest of the boys. Did I mention that Page McConnell is on fire this show? My Friend, My Friend is acoustic which always sounds good at Red Rocks. Into a summer tour Chalk Dust Torture. Old reliable, a great rendition. You Enjoy Myself. This is one of the songs I really wanted to hear (who doesn’t like a YEM?) and they did not disappoint. The jam at the end starts quiet and easy then begins to speed into a hard rockin’ jam. This is a very memorable YEM for me. Next was Purple Rain with Fishman’s Mom on the vacuum. I had no idea they even did this song before. This is tied with 12/30/93 for my favorite version. I would give birth to a massive stiffy if they ever bought this song back. They finish the set with Cavern. It just makes sense.

The encore starts with Mango Song. I really like this song, especially the studio version. It’s a song inspired by the glory that is the food service business. Still, nothing beats a really good cook. At this point I love to hear any song off the first four Electra studio albums. This song can be a little rocky. Sometime I think the vocal harmonization of the song can throw off the instrumentation. But this version is really good! The encore is finished with Free Bird. Ahhhhh.

This is a show I will never forget. Filled with some oldies but goodies that they don’t play these days. Get it, get it, get it!
, attached to 1993-08-20

Review by ob1trey

ob1trey What zzyzx said!
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