1996 is probably the most important year in the development of “2001.” It is the year “2001” finally morphs from ass kicking set opener/filler, to full fledged jam vehicle. Specifically, Fall Tour 96 is where “2001” goes from Padawan to full fledged Jedi. Karl Perazzo’s sit in during the famed 10/31/96 show is incredibly instrumental. It adds another element and takes the song to new places.
Perhaps the most important thing to happen to “2001” in 1996 is the introduction of James Brown’s “Superbad.” If you are unfamiliar check out the original version below
The “Superbad” lick immediately injects “2001” with life and becomes a central jamming structure for “2001.” It turns “2001” into one of the funkiest tunes in the Phish repertoire. Let’s look at some of my favorite versions from 1996.
07/06/1996 Piazza del Duamo, Pistoria, Italy
A version I was less familiar with, yet one I have completely fallen in love with. Show opener and Page stays on the piano throughout the entire version. Very unique version, and I love unique. I seem to love this version more than most, but hot damn that first jam is funk meets jazz. It’s very short, but I dance my ass off.
10/31/1996 The Omni, Atlanta, GA
Game changer. Karl Perazzo doesn’t do anything crazy but is completely on point. He adds just enough to make this one of the most danceable early versions. Stellar work from Mike in the jam section between refrains. As one of my panel members stated, “He goes liquid.”
11/18/96 Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis, TN
In my opinion the most important version in the growth of “2001.” The first version to break the 10 minute mark. It almost feels like an entirely different song. The intro jam is one of the longest and features some great bluesy work from Trey. Patience all over this version and the move into “Simple” rocks.
11/24/1996 Memorial Colisuem, Portland, OR
Portland takes the giant leap made in Memphis and runs with it. The intro here is serious, lasting 5 minutes!! That is longer that most Pre-96 versions! Haunting voice calls, and serious space exploration. This version is out there, and Sigourney Weaver must be floating around here somewhere. “Also Sprach Zarathustra” has officially become “2001”
11/30/1996 ARCO Arena, Sacremento, CA
In from Contact, this is the James Brown “2001.” Fishman starts with “Get Up Offa That Thang” before Trey graces us with our first “Superbad” tease. Back under 10 minutes here, but the danceability of this off the charts. Clear some space and let the funk flow through you. Game changer!
12/06/1996 The Aladdin Theater, Las Vegas, NV
That’s correct. Four straight “2001” make my list. The Prefrain jam is awesome. “Superbad” is all over this one, and some great full band funk jamming. Some cool Trey scratching during the first jam. Killer version and the move to “Llama” is high octane crush.