Slave to the Traffic Light is my favorite Phish song. Why? Because they don't play it too often, and when they do, it's special. I'm the only one I know who fuckin' loves it. Phish has played over 1500 concerts, but Slave has only been played 104 times. And I've seen the boys perform Slave... 14 times. And each one was pretty darn special. Since the hiatus, Phish has played Slave 6 times... and I saw 4 versions. In fact, I've seen 11 of tea last 17 versions. Pretty lucky, huh? Like I said, it's not like Harry Hood or YEM is my favorite song and they play it once every three shows. I've chased those fuckers around the world to hear Slave. Maybe that's why I go see so many shows. Because I never know when they might break out Slave!
Here are the shows I've seen Slave to the Traffic Light performed by Phish:
6.25.95 PhillyThe first was amazing. I'll never forget how I was blown away by Trey's guitar on that version.
8.3.97 The Gorge
7.16.98 The Gorge
12.30.98 MSG, NYC
6.16.00 Osaka, Japan
7.4.00 Camden, NJ
6.23.04 Deer Creek
The sweetest had to be at the Gorge in 1997. It was my first time at the Gorge, and I was there with Senor and Jay, about fifteen rows in front of the stage. I forgot I was outdoors and looked up and saw a million stars. They played it again the next year.
I got to hear Slave in my hometown at MSG and my other home... in Atlanta on the hottest July 4th I can ever remember.
Nothing is better than hearing your favorite song played during an amazing show... like Albany in 1999, when they nailed every single song. To this day, it's one of the best shows I've seen. And why? Because they shut the door with a killer Slave emcore. That's how you cap a hot, smokin' show... not with Waste or Vevlet Sea.
And then in Cincy, it was a pretty subpar show... but Slave pretty much saved it! Big Cypress was unreal. Of course they had to play Slave since they played everything else.
Then the one that gives me chills is the version from Osaka, Japan. I was completely wasted, half way around the world, and in tears because I finally got to hear my song after traveling around Japan touring with Phish for a week of madness.
I saw a rare first set Slave with Molly at the Spectrum. The boys made my Vegas and Miami trips with a nice, mellow version of Slave. The Miami one was odd, sandwiched in between Chalkdust Torture (Chalkdust > Slave > Chalkdust).
And in Deer Creek... well, fuck, it was the third leg of an insane second set opener (Halley's Comet > Crosseyed & Painless > Slave). Do you know what it's like to hear three of your all time favorite Phish songs (songs they don't play too often)? I was happy to catch it one last time, although I'm confident they will play it in either Camden or at Coventry.
So that's the brief history of why I love Slave so much. Here's a version (mp3) of the Deer Creek Slave from this June, courtesy of Momadance.com. Just click on the link on that page.