Phish released their latest box set, Chicago ’94, on July 31st with fans excited to hear two shows from the same venue played over the course of the 1994 tour. The two shows at UIC Pavilion at University of Illinois, Chicago, 6/18/94 and 11/25/94, are both notable for their growing sound as they ventured into larger venues before they took on new life as the band grew. The songs of the Hoist era such as ‘Sample in a Jar’, ‘Julius’, and ‘Down with Disease’ are featured across both shows as are the thorough jams of vehicles such as ‘David Bowie’, ‘Reba’ and ‘You Enjoy Myself’.
The June show features a solid first set, with ‘The Mango Song’ > ‘Down with Disease’ packing a one two punch midway through. The second set enters the realm of new territory, an era that fans today clamor for and led to the positive reaction given upon the announcement of the box set. Starting with ‘Peaches en Regalia’, the set launches as ‘David Bowie’ swings low into a ‘Mind Left Body Jam’ with multiple teases in this rich, 18+ minute version. The set has a masterful centerpiece in ‘McGrupp’ > ‘Tweezer’ > ‘Lifeboy’ > ‘You Enjoy Myself’, the last of which contains incredible and frequent teases amid the jam and numerous calls and wordplay in the vocal jam of ‘YEM’. Led Zeppelin fans will be pleased to hear ‘How Many More Times’ teased during this show as well as in the soundcheck at the end of the sixth disk of the box set.
The Thanksgiving show has as terrific version of ‘Reba’ and second set storytime sandwich of ‘Simple’ > ‘Harpua’ > ‘Weekapaug Groove’. Phish takes every opportunity to exit the song structure and delve into improvisation, while ‘Harpua’ told the story of the green love beams and red hate beams, the crowd cheering along with Trey’s ongoing tale of Jimmy. Both shows were recorded by Paul Languedoc and remastered by Fred Kevorkian to create a crisp and stellar recording, perfect for fans of the era and provides evidence of Phish delivering the heat at UIC since 1994.