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Plasma was played in the most recent Phish show.
It was last played: 2024-04-21.
It was played at 1.45% of live shows.
It has been performed live 29 time(s).

Music/Lyrics: Anastasio, Marshall, Herman

Original Artist: Trey Anastasio

Vocals: Trey (lead)

Debut: 2014-10-17

Historian: lumpblockclod

“Plasma” is apparently a conversation of sorts (perhaps between Tom Marshall and Scott Hermann) with one voice taking the view that people don’t change despite their best efforts, and the other expressing a belief in personal evolution. Maybe. Really, though, close examination of the lyrics is a secondary concern here. What “Plasma” is really about is an insanely catchy guitar lick (or horn line, depending on the era of TAB) that often serves as a starting point for some outstanding jams. Think of it as TAB’s “Seven Below” in that respect.

“Plasma” made its debut on 7/14/01 at Berkeley’s Greek Theater and – like many of the versions performed throughout 2001-02 – was played close to the vest, with this particular version clocking in at a bare bones three-plus minutes. Other versions from this era stretched out a bit more, allowing the horn players room offer solos on the “Plasma” theme. The first version to truly do service to its title, is the 10/22/02 Burlington performance that descended into deep space before smoothly returning to the “Plasma” theme. Also not to be missed are 5/27/03 and 4/11/04 from the Phish-infused Easter gig at Higher Ground (that segues into Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground”).

Watch Plasma on YouTube TAB, “Plasma” – 3/5/11, Oakland, CA 

“Plasma” had a few small performance gaps in 2005, though the lack of practice did not seem to affect the 11/18/05 Albany rendition. The under-appreciated year of 2006 features many strong versions of “Plasma” including 10/8/06 (a screaming, ascending peak reminiscent of “Tweezer Reprise”), 10/27/06 (laid back and, at times, almost Dead-like beginning with an intense finish), 10/31/06 (a spacey transition into an epic – really! – “Bar 17”) and 12/31/06 (slow, patient and must-hear). For representative recent versions, check out 2/19/10 Chicago or 3/5/11 Oakland. Outside of TAB, Trey has played “Plasma” at several G.R.A.B. gigs (see, e.g., 7/1/06) and twice with Phil Lesh: 10/28/06 in Vegas with “Phil & Trey,” and at the 10/20/07 Phil & Friends gig during his “silent” period.

Any discussion of “Plasma” would be incomplete without noting the double live album showcasing TAB’s 2001-02 material that takes its name. Presumably, Trey felt that the music produced by the dectet was as highly charged as its title track that was pulled from the 6/9/02 Cleveland show.

Albums: Original Boardwalk Style, Plasma, Burn It Down


(Anastasio, Marshall, Herman)
© Who Is She? Music, BMI

No matter how you slice your day
or dream of places far away
or try to set your world apart
You always end up where you start

A bunch of cells below the soil
Some plasma in a lake of oil
I don't think that when I depart
I'll be close to where I start

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