Recorded at two separate Chicago dates for a constantly touring Hoist
, Chicago '94
captures every song recorded at each of the two-set gigs, as well as soundcheck material, amounting to over six hours of music in total. These two-track soundboard recordings (remastered for this release) find Phish in one of their more playful and energetic times, rising to the height of their popularity and playing together with almost telepathic synchronicity. They were also at some of their most athletic levels of playing, with set lists full of their most frenetic tunes and most epic jams. Extended jams like "David Bowie" and a blistering 20-minute version of "You Enjoy Myself" find the band switching musical styles at an almost alarming pace, breaking down into a hallucinogenic four-part a cappella improvisation in the apex of the latter. Along with popular originals like "Bouncing Around the Room" and "Esther," the band pulls out a few select covers, including some Led Zeppelin
rockers and a passable but weak-voiced rendition of Prince
's calling card "Purple Rain." These shows are absolutely on fire, and a clear choice for the kind of expansive retroactive issue that warrants a six-disc box set. Some Phish-heads debate that these shows are the pinnacle of the band's live performance, and the best recorded evidence of what makes Phish such a force. While that's a matter of preference for the devotees, the level of energy put forth over the course of Chicago '94
is undeniable, and the high points are some of the most brilliant in the band's catalog.