This show included the first known performances of The Practical Song and the old version of Esther (with different lyrics). 'A' Train contained London Bridge Is Falling Down teases. The listing for the first set is probably incomplete.
Jam Chart Versions
London Bridge Is Falling Down tease in Take the 'A' Train
Debut Years (Average: 1986)

This show was part of the "1988 Tour"

Show Reviews

, attached to 1988-09-12

Review by TheEmu


On a hot summer night in a small western town
At a carnival down by the water
A young woman walked through the fairgrounds alone,
Esther, the Arch Bishop's daughter.
She walked past the carousel down to the lake
Where she spotted a wrinkled old man
Who stood by the side of a broken down hut
With a bucket held firm in his hand.
The old man approached her and whispered his plea,
"Won't you please take this gift that I offer?"
A beautiful puppet of violet and gold,
Of velvet and satin and lace.
And he looked at the girl with a powerful gaze
And she stared at the bucket bewildered
'Til he lifted the doll for the young girl to see
And a giant smile grew on his face.
The doll was as pretty as any she'd seen,
And she thanked the man quickly and ran to the church...

[the lyrics at this point are pretty much the same, although mixed around a bit in spots. Then, at the end...]

As Esther stood and shook her head, the joggers were approaching
And she knew she had no choice left but to swim.
As she dove into the water she saw a flicker in the distance,
It was the place she got the puppet that had made her life so grim.
When she reached the shore she pulled her icy body from the water,
Saw the carnival and then she saw the shack,
And she ran across the fairgrounds to the old man with the bucket
And she took the puppet out and gave it back.
Up from the water came thousands of souls,
Joggers and muggers and church-going folk,
And they all ran past Esther towards the old man,
Like a raging stampede, they dissolved in a huge cloud of dust.
, attached to 1988-09-12

Review by careful_w_that_axe_Miller

careful_w_that_axe_Miller Should note Mike’s rosh Hashanah wishes but did not note where.
Cant believe they played this show in a bar, can only imagine the crowd and if they even realized what they were witnessing, you can only hear a few claps and hoots throughout. Awesome that we get to hear this, if you haven’t listened the entire show is short and worth every minute. There are a lot of things going on in this show that I cant describe, BOLD AS LOVE is a must hear, the end of BAL is incredibly trippy, just out there. slightly different HOOD and ESTHER are also must hear songs. Really amazing jamming throughout the show they sound jovial, a bit less refined maybe? I don’t know perhaps still mastering the craft? I loved it. Id give it a 802,000/1,000,000
, attached to 1988-09-12

Review by westbrook

westbrook I think this is a very enjoyable show. The first set is well-played and it's fun to hear Shaggy Dog. In the second set, Timber has a really good jam. I was surprised to hear how good it is actually. The Lizards sounds pretty good, but the recording is cut before the end of the song. TMWSIY> Avenu Malkenu-> Bundle of Joy-> Camel Walk works. At the end of Bundle of joy, I was all ready for "FLUFFHEAD!" but got a pretty good Camel Walk, instead. The Practical Song isn't much of a song; it just sounds like Trey singing about a shortage of peanut butter, which is pretty funny. The intro to Hood is a little unusual, but the jam is quite good. This show has the first Esther played and it includes some alternate lyrics. There is also a random note signal in the beginning of Esther that I think should be noted.

4 stars.
, attached to 1988-09-12

Review by thelot

thelot The sound quality on this one is pretty bad. It’s a shame too because what’s available is great! Of course when the sound quality is this bad it really takes away from the performance.

The recording starts out midway through set 1. The Axis closer is the highlight from the first set. Be sure to check out the ending on this version! Set 2 is where things pick up. Timber opens up set 2 for the second time since 11/19/87. TMWSIY through Esther is great! The debut of Esther with the original lyrics is a must here. I wonder if Kevin is sitting on the masters of this one? I’d love to hear a clean copy, if not for the Esther alone.
, attached to 1988-09-12

Review by mancubism

mancubism Sound quality’s not too good, but Shaggy Dog is such a great tune. It gets my vote for the next big bust out of 2021 - throw it in the first set Nellie Kane slot.

A Train & Satin Doll - lots more jazz in 88, Page reigns supreme.

Bold as Love - Trey is playing a musical saw with a lightsaber theremin by the end of the song, I am pretty sure.

Timber SHREDS to start the 2nd set - bonus verse in there too!

TMWSIY>Avenu>Bundle>Camel Walk is an interesting idea, but clunky. Your ears want Arrival but you Walk instead - at least the walk is funky.

The Practical Song - a prescient little ditty about toilet paper shortage 32 years before covid - these guys were way ahead of their time.

A Hood that is both spacey & spirited and an uplifting Esther (though isn’t Esther always up-lifting?) end our night at Sam’s. I always knew she was a good swimmer.
, attached to 1988-09-12

Review by Fluffhead

Fluffhead I think I remember having a TERRIBLE copy of this show back in the early 90's. So bad that I rarely listened to it. So, although the source that I listened isn't fantastic, it is way better than what I remember, and thus makes for a much more enjoyable listen. There seems to be a lot cut out of the show. But, off the bat, Phish is clearly having fun. I love the stage antics of the early days.

Show starts with Shaggy Dog, and develops a fun, infectious jam. Take the 'A' Train is pretty standard, with a huge London Bridge / Yankee Doodle tease. Fee is par for the course. The Bold As Love SHINES! The ending is a must hear. The Bold As Love from 10/29/88 (which I used to have labeled as 10/31/88, but I now see was a mashup of 10/29/88 and 11/5/88, my 15th birthday!) was my favorite for early effects, but I think 9/12/88 takes the cake.

The second set has a stand out Timber, followed by a mellow Satin Doll. The Lizards is as always fantastic. The song that got me into Phish. TMWSIY > Avenu Malkenu > TMWSIY contained a "happy new year" wish from Mike. It was Rosh Hashanah that night I believe. Strangest of coincidences, I listened to this show again on 9/16/2012, the first night of Rosh Hashanah. Bundle of Joy is great to hear outside of Fluffhead, and the Camel Walk is hilarious. They each shout their part, "STRUT," "YOUR," "STUFF!" The Practical Song is more Phish antics. The Hood is a bit different. Give it a listen, you'll like it. The Esther, if no other reason, is why you should hear this show. It is the first known performance, has completely different lyrics, and ends much differently. I much prefer their reworked version. Much, much darker.

Fun early Phish show. I miss listening to 80's Phish!
, attached to 1988-09-12

Review by TheEmu

TheEmu On the downside, the sound for this recording is pretty atrocious, and there's some rough spots (A Train, beginning of Timber, TMWSIY and Bundle of Joy). Also, some of these early versions of Bold As Love go WAAAY overboard on the waa-waa effect at the end, making the ending jam completely about the effect instead of the music. On the plus side, Timber ends rippingly (after Trey begins the song by saying "A funny thing happened to me on the way to the gig tonight) and...I dunno, the > into Camel Walk is kinda different. The most interesting things, though, are the extra verse in Timber!, and especially the almost completely different lyrics to Esther, which include a description of the doll, the revelation that Esther is the Arch Bishop's daughter, and a Hollywood-friendly ending where Esther makes it out of the lake and the Armenian man gets run-over by a crowd (which the n dissolves). I'll actually transcribe the alternate lyrics below, I had never heard them, and found it fascinating! 2 stars for the show, though.
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