Phish Summer Tour 2000 Reviews
Summer Tour 2000 Setlists
7/15 - Polaris Amphitheatre, Columbus, OHThe last show of tour brings about dual emotional dynamics in both the band and the people who have been on tour, as a climax of all that has preceded it also means a time away from the magic of live Phish, and time back in the sometimes rocky waters of the rest of the world's reality. Phish provides a space for growth and time for thought and introspection and an emotional outlet for all involved. It is the cathartic experience of Phish's improvisational peaks and the collective motion and energies that surround it which continue to bring us back into the depths of Phish's music and our emotional selves A complete Phish show touches on all aspects of life's experience and paints a collage of moments, moods and memories that are sacred for the spiritual growth for those in tune. Bringing music to the edges of the vast darkness to the tip of the highest mountain, Phish creates a musical landscape that mirror's that of our own life, and allows us release and attatchment simultaneously; attatchment to powers far greater than any one of us and energies that run to the core of the human experience. Gathered to experience this collective journey one last time this summer, Polaris Amphitheatre was the site for the always bittersweet last show of tour.
The first set opened with the excitable combination of AC/DC Bag, First Tube. The Bag stayed well within the realms of a conventional Bag, as it was used as a short and spicy opener. A nicely improvised Limb came next, but next to the one in Deer Creek (Fee>What's the Use>Limb), wasn't nearly as climactic. The reggae ditty NICU and ballad Dirt continued the song focused first set. After a short silence, the beginning ticklings of Roses Are Free were heard as the crowd favorite Ween cover emerged for the first time in since it brought in the sunrise of the new millennium with an epic 40 plus minute majestic and sacred exploratory journey. The beginnings of this song is enough to make one's spine tingle with the possibilities as two of the best Phish jams in history have stemmed from this song (4/3/98 Roses>Piper (probably the best jam ever) and the aforementioned Big Cypress odyssey.) This one, however, was just the composed section of the song, as the band is most likely reluctant to touch these sacred grounds unless the time and situation permits. A Wolfman's came next, typifying the tighter first set styles of Wolfman's jams of this summer, which ever since Radio City, are directed at returning to the initial chord progression of the song, inherently limiting the scope of its improvisational possibilities. Used more recently as a vehicle for some tighter funk improvisation, this Wolfman's provided just that as it picked up the pace of the set a bit. The bluesy combo of My Soul and Julius finished the set. Not much else to say about those two though.
After the final set break of the summer, one which started in the dingy confines of the On Air East Club in Tokyo and finished in the spacious American mega-amphitheatres of Deer Creek and Polaris, fans awaited Phish's final offering of the summer with large expectations from the night before. Yet, Phish's last shows are often somewhat of a reflective anti-climax that suggest the bittersweet moods of the band and community as a whole. Usually leaving you wanting more and awaiting the next time you can sink your mind into the Phish, last shows are also sometimes one of the best of the entire tour (see Worcester 11.29.98.) Left to the dynamics surrounding the people and places at the time, these shows can span a gamut of emotions.
The second set opened with a huge Down With Disease, whose many sections of mostly straight ahead grooving resembled sections of the Big Cypress version. This multifaceted jam was the centerpiece of the tour's last show, and was composed of different fast rhythmic sections which created a textured dance music which took on many forms before hitting a melodic point that suggested a segue into While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Within a minute or so they were slowing down and switching gears into this Beatles classic. Trey's solo was simply wailing as this version really brought the head of steam of the super long tour-highlight jam that came right before it. DWD, often used as an emotional hello or good bye song for the beginning an end of tours, shied from the melodic themes used to draw emotive responses and stuck to the high-octane dance groove exploration, as the jam reached several different sections of disbelief before concluding. The highlight of this show for sure, this Disease concluded a summer of huge versions of this song which was consistently improvised hugely on all tour long (Radio City, Zepp Tokyo, Big Cat, Osaka, Lakewood night 1). This is the jam of this show and should carefully studied by all heads out there. After an awkwardly placed mid-set reggae slow down of Makisupa, the final edition of the greatly successful US summer second set Pipers. While this one remained a bit more contained then its Toronto, Alpine, and Deer Creek predecessors, this version was the first to return to the theme after the blown out jam that has been either segueing or simply ending without a return to the song. As this representative jam of the summer wound down, the band entered a slow ambient Siket-type jam that sounded like My Left Toe without Fishman's crash cymbal. Yet, before the jam had a chance to grow, Trey decided it was time to lighten the mood with the summery Mango Song. This Mango contributed to some lighter moments of the set as the course of the music seemed dictated by the current emotions of the band members on stage. This Mango slowed into a Have Mercy groove which the band decided to leave hanging instead of playing the song, tipping their hats at the possibility. With most of the crowd ready for the toyed with reggae cover, the band dropped into the summer ending version of one of the newest big Phish songs, Bug. Used almost exclusively in the second set this summer, Bug has become an improvisational vehicle for the entire band as opposed to the former versions focused solely on the guitar solo. This energetic version provided some reflective time for those about to rejoin the world's alternate reality, and some time to consider the epic times that were enjoyed all summer long. To bring everything back around to where it came from, the band ended the set, and essentially the tour, with a You Enjoy Myself, a song seen a bit less frequently this summer. This version features some DJ Trey scratching noises and distorted licks which he works into both the melodic and rhythmic scheme of the song as the funk rolls along with Page's Rhodes and Clavinet sounds. Trey begins to solo out of that tone, creating lines that Mike quickly picked upon and begins bobbin' and weaving his bass lines around them. This YEM remains pretty laid back for its entirely and it is never raised to a peak. This version was much more a groove session with some mini-climaxes and twists and turns as Trey follows his leads with some rhythm grooves as the band drifts off into vocal jam territory. This YEM remains pretty tame in the context of this song's history, but provided a Phishy end to the show and the tour, as the encore of Loving Cup was a feel good afterthought to the evening. This wasn't the most epic tour closing set to ever drop, but with that ridiculous Disease and a solid Piper, Mango, and YEM, this set was hardly a letdown as the tour was brought to a close with virtually no words from the sometimes nostalgic Trey. With the fall tour only 55 days away, I guess the band is only looking forward.
This has been a wonderful summer of Phish, and I have had a ball bringing it to you via the web. I hope my words have brought some light and good feeling to your days, and I have loved the opportunity to write about the powers and wonders of Phish music. I'm signing off for the summer, see you down the road!
7/14 - Polaris Amphitheatre, Columbus, OH
With spirits soaring and with things taking a turn for the homestead, Phish pulled into Columbus, Ohio after a memorable and highlight-strewn three nights at Deer Creek. The two-night stand at Polaris Amphitheatre is the first time that the band has played multiple nights at the Columbus venue, and the third consecutive year that Phish appeared there. The last two shows at this Ohio venue provided some amazing nuggets for the vault in the form of Curtain>Free and Twist>Isabella from '98 and epic Ghost>Free>Birds from last summer. This summer's 25 shows, spanning two hemispheres are winding up in this non-descript Midwestern city. Honoring the summer ending stand, Phish released the summer's second Pollack print, a psychedelic Indian-influenced image featuring a six arm goddess with fish and a starfish in hands. Needless to say, the last two shows of the summer would be true blowout stuff, and probably two of the best of the new year.
The first set opened with Sample In a Jar amidst torrential downpours and the high speed winds of a gnarly storm, as these conditions caused Phish to leave the stage for the first time since the PA debacle during the finale of the Europe tour in Barcelona 1998. Trey announced that they were going to wait out the storm, as well as the one that was expected in a few minutes, before returning to stage. These stormy conditions forced everyone from the lawn to squish into the covered pavilion causing some seriously crowded conditions in the upper pavilion! Almost all the people found their way inside, and were completely soaking wet from head to toe! The Sample provided what seemed at this point like an extended sound check, as everyone was soon building their juice up again for the second start of the first set! By the time the rain stopped and everyone had settled down, it was about fifteen to twenty minutes later, and the sun had somehow burst through the grayness as Trey led the band back out onto the stage to the opening scratches of Punch You In the Eye. The band returned a bit livelier than it did the first time, and all seemed ready for what was now sure to be a special show; it was only one more to go after this. The Punch, which often opens big sets, preceded the dark bust out of the always-longed-for Timber Ho!. Not seen since a summer ago in Oswego, this one built its dark ambience to a soaring melodic jam with Trey painting beautiful tones over the tightly locked groove. This jam is just amazing, and reaches points that you would not necessarily expect from a Timber jam. Not to slow down the pace, they started the islandy beginning of the US summer's second Boogie On Reggae Woman (Star Lake). Looming in the spunky rhythms for a short bit, this version was a first set rendition that served to loosen the vibe from the intense jam that came before. This set only began to pick up as the opening to the third Stash of the summer (Hibiya Outdoor, Tokyo ; Camden) came into play. This improvisation began with some very intricate and cool percussive rhythms by Fishman (somewhat like Murfreesboro, TN 11/15/98) as the band set out. This Stash was an amazing version which delved into the cavernous realms of the deep before climbing to monstrous heights, providing a dark beginning to the show coupled with the Timber, a fitting start for the weather conditions. This Stash was yet another huge version, as its rare appearances have made for bomb performances of the song each time it comes out. The amazing energy of the set continued with the community favorite Bouncin. Always appearing amidst the most serious and amazing Phish sets, this one followed some real heavy improvisation, and led into the second summer appearance of Foam. The band shredded this one apart as both Page and Trey's solos were immaculate and seemed perfect in the wet and cloudy grayness that surrounded us all as the sun still battled for its say. Always a treat, this Foam serves as yet another reason why this first set it the chronic stuff. The now-popular Dog Faced Boy came next before a reflective and searing version of Farmhouse was greeted with winds blowing in from both sides of the pavilion. An amazingly great Taste came next and served as the closing jam of the set, as the improvisation all seemed right in tune with the conditions at hand. This Taste was particularly huge as the each band member musically climbed around each other to the zenith of this piece which provided high emotion and energy for the end of the set which didn't end before the band popped in the Golgi at the end of the set to cap the special set with the old school ditty. This set was a good as any first set they have played this summer, and better than most. With the Timber, Stash, Foam, and Taste, Phish grouped together some lesser used jams to make the first set of this one super shiny and memorable from everyone's perspective!
The second set of the show opened amidst drier conditions as nightfall had brought relative calm from Mother Nature. Yet Phish decided to leave right where she left off, and embark on a series of dark heavy jams mimicking the weather of the evening. The band sat into a Mike's Song to open the second set tonight, and placed in this focal spot, blew the jam to bits with some aggressive and raucous improvisation that featured a quick tempo as well as some screeching and searing leads as Trey accents and leads the villainous music. Trey pops in and out of some staccato grooves before the Mike's begins to build viciously with Trey layering sheets of millennial sound, like a modern day Coltrane. As Mike continues to throw down some disgustingly sick bass lines behind the noise, the jam builds to some seriously dissonant climaxes featuring enough energy to explode five third world nations. This Mike's is the straight up evilness that defines dark Phish. Belligerent and violent to the core, this Mike's rocked the pavilion with the large organ, screaming guitar, deep drum and bass madness that is the fog-ridden blissful hell of Mike's Song. This version came complete with a seriously building theme that never slowed for a minute before dropping into the pre- Simple/Hydrogen jam which tonight turned from dark smoke filled regions to a slower melodic groove(a la 12/31/98, or Gorge 7/17/98) that served as a reflective cool down segment from the apocalyptic debauchery that had preceded it. Featuring some very cool bass and piano work with which Trey then merged some melodic offerings, this section created some truly sublime and heavily improvised music. These melodic ideas peaked and spilt into a more abstract texture which saw Fishman change from a groove-based beat to a more ambient beat as the music turned towards murkier waters. Quickly this slid into the opening rhythms of Relax or Frankie Sez (a la Vegas 10/31/98 Mike's>Relax). This syncopated, almost world-beatish Relax provided the middle connecting song of a three song package, and whose tightly played sections provided some intense cool down time. Often used in this vein in other sets such as the debut of the song Sally>Relax>Twist 4/2/98, or the recent Antelope, Relax, Carini 6/24/98, this Relax connected two larger dark pieces of improvisation.
This time, the Relax was followed by a David Bowie, making the opening of this set as dark and psychedelic as possible as Phish dove deep into the intricate classic. This version was an up tempo and tight weaving version from the onset, leaving the looser and swingier versions of the spring behind and creating a Bowie in an older format of a darting and climbing jam. Led by some amazing drum work by Fishman, the band chugged along his beat, each with their own faster lines, creating a matrix of rhythm and melody that was equal parts of all band members. This Bowie took no time to built intensity and tension as the band was so together that they sounded rehearsed or orchestrated. Continuing to gain pace as it grew in power, this dark and furious improvisation enveloped the minds of the audience. This jam is a huge highlight of the show and the summer alike, as the impeccable communication between all four band members led to one of the more climactic and amazing versions of this song in a while. Check this one out quickly as you will be shocked at the mastery displayed in this Bowie. Words, again, can not describe. An epic Bowie following an almost twenty minute Mike's exploration spells out great things for a set that still had much time remaining!
A cool down section in the form of Waste gave the crowd a chance to catch their breath before the band launched into a long and deep Sand that continued the dark and intense feel of this huge set. Trey immediately hopped on his keys and began to set some layers for the improvisational session. His textures set, he turned to playing some electronic sounding grooves as Page took over the job of creating the futuristic soundscape with his multi-layered playing. Trey got back on his guitar briefly, but in this guitar section, Trey wasn't playing traditional licks but rather creating dissonance and the millennial soundscapes that I so often refer to in his playing. Building the jam using these sheets of sound, Trey roared as Page served as his smoother compliment creating a dynamic balance of aggression and relaxation. Fishman then kicks into a cymbal an kick drum heavy swing beat that serves to change the rhythmic feel of the jam. This Sand begins as less of a directed jam to a peak, but an exploration in texture, sound, and layering which provided intensely danceable music with Trey on keys. Once the guitar is brought into the mix, the jam begins to gain another dynamic, building the intensity gradually over time using searing textures rather than notes or licks. This Sand is very different and original, and is really sick as hell and should be listened to carefully as opposed to in a room full of people talking (at least in my opinion.) This one goes very deep into realms uncharted, and represents the third piece in the dark trilogy of Phish excursions in this heavy hitting set of music. A need-to-hear version of this song, Sand continued the ominous feel of the set before a Lizards threw some water on the spreading fire of Phish, preventing the pavilion from burning due to the combustible heat of large Phish jams.
A high paced Weekapaug which was improvised within the musical structure of the song provided some high-spirited and lighter relief from all of the psychedelic mayhem that had been dropped throughout the extraordinary set. Trey led this jam with some big time guitar lines as the band plugged away the rhythm underneath his soloing as he built the jam to a peak which the band joined in on which then gave way to the ending of the song, finishing the climactic Mike's Groove that encompassed the entire second set. Slowing down between three separate twenty minute excursions into deep dark realms of Phish and ending with a triumphant Weekapaug, this set represents one of the best of the entire summer, hands down. It deserves listen, relisten, and relisten, as it contains some complex and serious explorations that are the substance of Phish's essence. Check it out and listen carefully, there is a lot here.
An acoustic Josie Wales provided a calm encore which served as a breath catcher after the huge set that had preceded it, and allowed everyone to soak in the atmosphere. The mood was so appealing, that the band decided to further the mellow introspection with Driver. After this piece wound down, Trey wound up the opening chords of the compositional masterpiece Guyute that served as a celebratory and happy encore to the show that left one to go in the long and winding road of Phish's summer tour. Regardless of tomorrow, this one was a keeper.
Legendary for purposes of Phish jams alone, this Midwestern venue stands amidst cornfields along state route 238 in Noblesville, IN. Surrounded by many walking-distance campgrounds, which can become tricky for befuddled late night trekkers, Deer Creek provides the opportunity for fans to park their car and not move it for three days, which most heads love.
The longest stand of this summer comes to us in this rather intimate Midwestern amphitheatre. Deer Creek is strewn with Phish history dating back to their first performance there in 1995, and its annual two-night stands each summer since. Deer Creek's 1996 shows proved to be two of the hottest shows of the abbreviated US summer tour, with an epic two-set performance on 8/13/96 that featuring a deep and deranged near 30 minute Mike's in the second set. The 8/10/97 show contained a ridiculously improvised, upper echelon version of Split Open and Melt in set one, and the summer tour highlight of the epic over half hour Cities>Good Times, Bad Times which proved the majority of the second set, as well as a phenomenal Timber>Piper>Vultures in set two of 8/11/97. The shows in 1998 churned out an arguably best-ever jam out of Gumbo to open the second set of the second night (8/3/98), as well as surprise Smashing Pumpkins cover of the beautiful song Rhinoceros to open the first show which was followed by a long and funked-out Halley's Comet and a large Bowie in the second set, as well as a Ride Captain Ride. The 1999 edition of Deer Creek was put into higher prominence as it concluded the summer tour. Highlighted on the first night (7/25/99) by a deep dark and tour ending Birds, (whose jam is hugely powerful as should be checked by all not familiar with it), which segued into Walk Away and was followed by a hot summery funk filled Antelope. The second show featured an amazing version of the classic combo Wolfman's>Piper, as well as a farewell-to-tour Bathtub Gin in the first set. The possibilities were limitless for this three-night run to take place amidst the corn-strewn highways of Noblesville.
July 10, 2000
Campgrounds and hotels began to fill as people filtered south in the Midwest after the Alpine show and into Indiana, many making the 6+ hour drive overnight and beating the crowds into the small town of Noblesville. The hot and humid and cloudy weather of summer in the Midwest prevailed, setting the tone for the first day. As the lot began to fill up early with both campers and day-show-goers, the Deer Creek experience slowly evolved into the familiar summer scene of the past 6 years. The clouds created a cooler cover for everyone to meander beneath as the day turned towards night on July the tenth.
A seven o'clock show time gave the show start a summer sunny feel as the playful funk of Cars, Trucks and Buses scurried through the crowd of kicking heels. Wilson brought the crowd to a more energetic point as some dark layers of sound emanated from Page and Trey as Gordon thumped out the evil groove. The old school energy continued with It's Ice, now featuring a page-led jam section. Good to see It's Ice returning to the rotation this summer after a long absence dating back to Cleveland 11/13/98. The first jam of the stand came in the form of Bathtub Gin. This Gin, a first set standard this summer, really got things underway, as its melodies set a mood for the weekend. The rare appearance of Buffalo Bill came next, and while this usually comes out of a jam, this one stood alone, and was relatively short. After My Mind's Got a Mind of Its Own, they ripped into a Split Open and Melt, which has been much more common this summer. This Split begins with some the band forming a steady groove as Trey plays some scales and solos over top, hitting a rhythm that is picked up by Fishman and they hook up into a stuttering Split groove. With some relatively common Split sounding type improv, this jam picks the pace up they band continued ripping. With a drone bass line by Mike and a repetitive drumbeat that Trey leads out of a mini climax. This Split is basically Trey led as he brings the band through this song with his directed leads, and winds up right back in the song's groove without notice. While not as huge as or as improvisationally great as say the Hartford Split from earlier this summer (which happens when they begin playing a jam more often), this sure helped get Deer Creek underway in a hurry, and served to show that the band was not messing around as they meant business in this first set of six. The upbeat Sparkle provided some fast and skipping fun before a bluesy and dancy Funky Bitch led to the onset of an ominous Bowie which served to bring us into darkness and close this fun first set of the creek.
The Bowie begins quietly, as Trey begins noodling and setting a fast pace for the jam. Page's piano lines completely complement the guitar work as the jam begins to build as layered solos over a soft groove. With Page and Trey's melodic work leading the way, this jam builds consistently and at a steady pace, never climbing too far off its seemingly directed course. In one particular section, Trey passes through the building melodic groove that ends the Nashville Sand so dramatically, all in the middle of a complex and intricate Bowie. A high powered build that seemed to last forever before rejoining the composed Bowie ending certainly served as the most interesting improvisation of the first set. The set, which began with some more obscure bust-outs of Ice, and Cars Trucks and Busses, concluded with the triumvirate of old-school jams in the form of Gin, Split and a Bowie. With things only getting revved up in Noblesville, this run looked quite promising form the vantage point of the first of three setbreaks.
The second set began with the summer's most common jam and one that has blown up all summer, Jiboo. The jam for this Jiboo starts out steadily as Trey's improvisational melodies come right out of the gate, flowing like water out of a brand new faucet. Fishman's beat, highlighted by his constant ride cymbal, provided a steady groove which Mike locked into providing the rhythmic glue for the song. This Jiboo can be best described as spunky, as the you could feel the energy coming from the stage as translating into the dancing bodies and moving feet of the adoring crowd. While not as thematic or climactic as some of the other summer Jiboos (Nashville, Camden) this Jiboo wraps up pretty quickly and provides a fast and light opening to the set without delving to deep beneath the surface grooves and melodies of this young Phish song.
Following the trend of the summer Farmhouse anthems, the band next took some time before fading up into the menacing Sand intro, a song that hasn't quite appeared quite as much as last fall. A slightly altered beat provided a shuffling type of feel to the intro groove, as the lyrics painted the apocalyptic picture we have come to enjoy sinking our minds and bodies into. The onset of the improvisational section saw Trey beginning to accent the band's groove with some carefully selected guitar licks. Before long, however, Trey hopped on his keyboard, a technique he has been loving during the majority of this summer's Sands, and began to shred some keyboard grooves, which obviously share the feel of his guitar grooves. These grooves that Trey began to build in conjunction with Page's work appeared in a very even and rhythmic form, giving the jam an almost electronic feel. Focused solely on texture and rhythm, the band collectively created a painting of grooves that most closely resembled a futuristic Talking Heads-type sound. The groove picked up a more human feel as Fishman switched into a swing beat, changing the backdrop of the music. Trey began to offer some more resonant keyboard lines, lending a more ambient feel coupled with Page's shorter organ chords. Following this section, Trey jumped back on the guitar, subtly playing some rhythm chords which furthered the melodic ideas that he had just gone through on his keys. Often when this happens, Trey is playing the same lines he had offered from the other instrument. This Sand became quite trance-like, as some repetitive phrases were locked into by all band members, creating an overall feel of a droning, hypnotic spell. The groove settled at this point before taking a turn for the end of the song, concluding a serious dance session that provided really sick Phish grooves, utilizing many of the techniques in their repertoire. The new-school feel of the summer continued with the next song, Twist. Following the largely exploratory Sand, this Twist remained pretty close to the normal course of the jam, which after many epic performances this summer, didn't stand out as particularly special or unique. Featuring a somewhat slower and loafier tempo, this jam remains within the confines of Twist's themes and rhythms, providing the audience with some mellow and almost Latin-ambient music (quite an interesting combo of terms there!). Without any real defining sections, this Twist was just a solid second set Twist that remains pretty much par for the course. Perfectly pleasing in its own right, the this Twist doesn't stand out among some of the heavier Twists of the summer and will not be one that is remembered in a couple of weeks. (Check 6/14/00 Fukuoka, Japan, and 7/4/00 Camden for some real original Twist exploration.)
Following the Farmhouse section of the set, the band set out on the far less common Fee, which provided some light-hearted story telling in the second set. As true for most recent day Fees, this one had a "thing on the end" (as Mike L. likes to describe the slower ambient jam out of the song), usually leading to some melodic and inspirational improvisation. This time Fee's tail became the melodic outro of the Junta favorite while morphing into the more dissonant intro to the Siket Disc's biggest anthem, What's the Use. This skyscraping snippet of improvisation from the Bearsville sessions, has become the one piece from the album that still remains in very loose rotation from last summer. As the band dropped into the heavy beginning of this inspiring piece, an ominous and threatening tone took over the music. This version, which moved along at a pace not always seen form this song, featured some heavy synth dissonance by Page as Trey's wailing melody seemed to tell tales of wars and battles past. As the band turned this powerful piece of music to its second more melodic half, the mood seemed to lighten a bit as Trey seemingly sat back in his rocking chair and explained the meaning off all this through his guitar's crying voice. Perfectly placed in the latter half of the set, What's the Use puts a serious edge on the moments during which it is being performed, and this version, which was tight and directed, eventually segued quietly and melodically out of the song's ambient themes and into the beginning of Limb by Limb.
This Limb, the final part in the Fee> What's the Use> Limb By Limb provided some extremely energetic and upbeat improvisation to bring some crashing and waterfall-esque improv to the end of the set. Trey's climbing melodies meshed flawlessly with the band's rolling and splashing grooves, and his notes and phrases seemed to speak volumes on the resolution of the set in this melodic arrival. This jam provided the certain peak of the set as Trey's screaming lines brought the music to its highest point of the evening. This odd combination of songs provided a special combination of themes that brought the set to a unique peak that provided some real Phish originality. A boisterous Loving Cup put a exclamation point on this set which opened the Deer Creek in style with a two clear sections of the set. The first being the more common high-powered summer Farmhouse songs of Jiboo, Sand, and Twist, while the latter half of the set being the combo of Fee>What's the Use>Limb, which made the set special, different and unique among the many sets containing the first three songs.
A encore of Antelope, which provided the second version of the song in as many shows, ended the show with a fiery jam that served to get people looking forward to the next two nights of the run. With an unprecedented amount of Antelopes this summer, they have lost a bit of their individuality and have blended into general Antelope territory that didn't necessarily provide anything more than a solid Antelope to end the show. Obviously more exiting than a potentially less significant encore, this jam remained pretty much within its predicted range, and put and end to this first night of Indiana Phish. As the adrenaline of the fans were released into the Midwestern night, the Noblesville campgrounds began to swell with the first late night of continued fun and debauchery.
July 11, 2000
After an amazingly fun first evening in Noblesville, the entire Phish community was geared up for the middle night of the three night stand, a night which for some reason was standing out in this Minor's mind as one that held huge potential for Phish improvisation as with one under the belt and one yet to play, this show stood as a pressureless excursion that seemingly could go anywhere.
The first set of this show opened with the summery melodies and calypso rhythms of The Mustangs' classic Yamar, a song that Phish has covered and made their own since their earliest days as a band. This Yamar jam featured some real percussion work by Fishman, as Page chimed in with staccato organ phrases while Trey's rolling guitar melodies provided a guide through the rhythmic jungle. Often used as a summertime opener, Yamar seems to set the mood perfectly on a steamy afternoon filled with waning sunshine and cooler temperatures than the previous hours. This Yamar remained within the preset themes of the song, and served as a place setter for the thick funk of the Moma Dance that followed. This Moma took on a slower incarnation as the well oiled musical machine of the Phish methodically moved through the intoxicating opening of the song. Following the summer trend, the rockier ending section of the song was improvised upon briefly, lending an extended groove element to the song.
A tight Uncle Pen followed, juxtaposing Phish's stylistic capabilities, and the Bill Monroe classic further loosened the legs of the kids to get their bluegrass groove on. What came next was a Drowned that was the clear highlight of the set as its jam continued for over fifteen minutes. Beginning in full throttle manner, this improvisation launches with some ripping piano and guitar work over a cymbal heavy beat and driving bass line. Trey wails away in his definitive connected-note, searing style that exemplifies one style of his play (a la the happy part of First Tube.) As the band chugs away, this jam continues to pick up pace like a cartoon snowball rolling down an endless slope. With a full head of steam, this section of the jam makes a brief return to the Drowned chord progression before moving towards an even faster portion of music that while still gathering some momentum, begins to hint at a more groove-based portion of improv. Eventually layers are stripped away, giving way to a dancier, yet still speedy tempo, which departs almost wholly from the previous section. Trey comes in with some rhythm chops and the band is all of a sudden in somewhat of a Crosseyed-type of groove. As this part slows a bit, Trey comes in with a melodic phrase that starts to sound like some sort of mixture between a Camel Walk and a Get Back On the Train type of lick. He soon drops this melody as the groove begins to intensify and Mike steps up a bit with a more prominent bass line. After a false ending to this jam, Trey then reenters the musicscape with a similar lick, but now it is recognizable as a rhythmic, slowed down Chalkdust line. The band seems to pick up on his idea, and through a few stops and starts, they achieve what is most effectively described as a slowed down swingier version of Chalkdust, over which they begin to sing the words "Chalkdust Torture" over this '50s style sock-hop groove. Most people, having absolutely no idea what was going on, were quite amused by the seemingly improvised made up song.
Apparently, this Chalkdust chorus was the original version of Chalkdust Torture, and the "Can I Live While I'm Young" harder section that we now know as the song was actually something of a Chalkdust Reprise. This incredibly old school piece of Phish history led into a shredding and excited version of Chalkdust whose additional emotional energy was derived by the previous chorus. A cool combo of Theme (which opened the first show Phish ever played at Deer Creek on 6/19/95) and Cavern ended the very fun and high-energy first set, setting the table for what was inevitably going to be a sick second set.
As the lights went out for the second set, the band emerged to the murky, dissonant, and spaced aged intro whose heavy bass feel first hinted at Disease, but as Page came in on the Rhodes we were unmistakably set for blast off for a set opening 2001. This Also Sprach, chock full of Mike's jungle-esque bass lines, Trey's digital delay loops and crack-like licks that we all die for, revved up the beginning of the set to a frenzied pace. 2001 best represents a Phish playground where all members are just so within the groove that a heightened state of euphoria emerges from the music that is translated into real energy that resonates in the souls of all present, whether high or sober. Trey remained on guitar for the duration of this exploration, as this version was so tight, fast, and ripping that it almost seemed as if there was no time or space for any key work in it. Leading directly into the opening if Down With Disease, this 2001 peaked with a fury, opening the doors for the rest of the set. This Disease, arguably the jam of the set, began with its traditional fast and happy onset, which continued for a quite a while before they began to depart from the song's designated realms. The band was locked into some incredibly tight music as Disease with was toyed with in every direction possible amidst this high-octane intensity. The band resembled pistons of a car firing away, as amidst this ridiculously high-paced action, Trey came in with the classic guitar line to Led Zeppelin's Moby Dick. The band soon picked up on this Moby Dick, and as they shifted modes into this short and highly recognizable Led Zeppelin groove, they featured an extended Fishman drum solo at the end of it. Moby Dick has only been played once before, at the marathon Worcester 11/29/97 show. This provided a unique surprise for the audience, as out of the drum solo, the band ripped back into the ending section of the Disease, finishing the long and unidirectional version of the song. A truly amazing transition, you must hear this Disease at all costs.
Out of the ending of Disease came the opening chords of the Phish classic Runaway Jim. This Jim improvisation started mellow and picked up the pace as Trey's lines began to spell a direction in the piano heavy jam with Fishman keeping the pace with extremely fast break beats behind it. As this jam departed from the Jim theme into some seriously abstract Phish psychadelia, Fishman's quick beats gave way to a slower and more soupy groove with amazingly played offerings from Mike and Page. Trey caught the piano-led groove and added some amazingly groovy guitar work, and as they were on the verge of true epicness. But just as they were getting to the sickest points of the jam, Trey brought the Moby Dick lick back and the band had to follow his lead into another rendition that ended the Jim jam and the potential of some really beautiful Phish moments. At this point, the band played a second set Get Back on the Train whose always-aimless ending funk section this time led the band back into their third rendition of Moby Dick of the set. The bust out of Moby Dick had now turned into humor, and apparently the theme of the set. Each of the last three jams had now ended in the same exact place, which was exciting for some, but quite boring for others. The band, however, seemed to be having an unbelievably fun time on stage as they began to create a one song thematic set, similar to the 11.27.98 Wipeout! show at the Worcester Centrum.
Following the pattern of the set's happier old school Phish jams, the band dropped into the reggae intro of Harry Hood, which of course included a brief Moby Dick tease in the reggae rhythms. This Hood, the other contender for jam of the set, built beautifully from a fatter, snare and shimmering cymbal beat starting point. Trey wasted no time in embarking on his slowly climbing melodic lines that evoke such deep and reflective emotions in so many of us. Page's Rhodes textures complimented Trey's unbelievably directed playing. No noodling or fooling around here, just a beautifully improvised melody that reminds us why it is so great to be alive. The band played more coherently, faster, and more directed than they have been in many Hoods of recent years. This one, however, seemed lock-d in from the get go, and there seemed to be no wasted time or notes in this orchestral improvisation that represented one of the top versions of this song in recent memory. This is more akin to the beautifully directed Hood masterpieces of the 94 and 95 era than most of the post-glowstick era beginning in 1997. Please take a quiet moment of your day and put this Hood on uninterrupted, you will realize what I am saying, and you will experience the feelings that I could never possibly describe in such trivial methods of writing and/or speaking. The arrival at the top of the jam brought the intense feedback common for the end of Hoods out of which they dropped into the fourth Moby Dick rendition of the set, this time seemingly for the mere humor of playing it again and again.
After this Moby Dick, Fishman emerged from the back of the drums to the organ-heavy Hold Your Head Up, as he was introduced to the audience as Gladiator star Russell Crowe. The seldom played Syd Bahret tune Terrapin (sometimes referred to as Love You) was the selection for the evening, complete with Electrolux solo. Following the Fishman antics, the set had room for one more big Phish jam, but instead of delving for something large, they settled on the popular set ending rock anthem Character Zero. This Zero plunged forward ending the set with some heavy Hendrix-like guitar grooves in what was a relatively abbreviated version of the song. Ironically, the set didn't end with the expected fifth Moby Dick of the set, leaving that privilege to the encore.
A very clever encore of First Tube>Moby Dick>Chalkdust Chorus meshed the ideas of both sets and gave us some additional dancing taboot as the final offering of the evening united all the humor and fun of quite an entertaining evening. More filled with theatrics and humor than any real deep improvisation this show provided some full throttle Phish entertainment as their bubbly and joyous moods translated from the stage to the adoring audience taking part in the spectacle. Check out the Drowned, 2001>DWD and the Hood for some real musical substance, but this show is one of those that may be more solely based in the experience of being there than tape listening later. For many, this night provided the peak Phish fun of the weekend, but for others, it was more of a humor and fun based show than one strewn with some seriously intense musical Phish moments. But when viewed in the context of the great time the band was having on stage providing this performance for everyone, one had to smile and appreciate the four super heroes who bear their souls to us on a nightly basis and provide us with the inspirational moments that keep us all going. During the fun-filled rendition of the final Chalkdust Chorus, Trey introduced the band as "The Phish from Vermont!", and told everyone who didn't have enough fun at the concert to go out and buy the book and see the movie, The Phish! Filled with humor until the very end, this set provided a different type of evening for all involved, and one that nobody will soon forget. With one more night left in the Midwestern musical Mecca, Trey sent all off to the campgrounds with his favorite warning of "Don't do anything we wouldn't do!" leaving the universe open for all types of bacchanalian celebration for the duration of the night along the corn-laced highways of Indiana.
July 12, 2000
After such a wildly entertaining and fun evening on night two of Deer Creek, some folks couldn't figure how they could attain higher peaks than the night before, while others, less entertained by the 7 Moby Dicks that were thrown in and at the end of each jam, quested for something musically deeper. Needless to say, the first night 3 of Deer Creek held much in store for the corn-surrounded concert goers, of which there were apparently a few thousand who couldn't get in, but were allowed to listen just on the other side of the lawn's gates. The Creek was about to get gnarly, and the feeling was one of blissful excitement as the anxiousness turned to energy as the band took the stage.
The first set began with the ballad turned sinister nightmare, My Friend, My Friend, which popped out atop the show for its once a tour appearance. This rocked the crowd, as the band followed up the Rift classic with what began as a normal Curtain. Yet, after the regular composed Curtain that everyone is used to, they went directly into the rest of the original music to the first incarnation of Curtain, later called Curtain With. This huge bustout freaked out my employers, as it hadn't been played in over 975 shows, dating back to 7/23/88! The initial section of the second part of the song is the slowed down original music of the song Rift, which was later put to lyrics and subsequently sped up to its normal point. As the recognizable Rift portion ended, the band continued to play, seemingly improvising a jam of the composed music which spiraled upward into the realms of an arrhythmic Reba jam. This went on for some time, and I later learned that this composed section later became the musical basis for the Reba improvisation. This entire Curtain With (coupled with the previous night's Chalkdust Torture chorus) provided an amazing throwback to the earliest days of Phish, and provided moments never experienced by nearly virtually every fan in attendance. Musically however, it was an amazing flashback to Trey's collegiate mind.
Right out of this 10-15 minute escapade, the band ripped into the second Tube of 2000, and especially due to its placement here, blew the place up! With Trey spending virtually the entire jam on his keyboard, they threw out some insane dance grooves with Page tearing it up on the clavinet. This Tube had some extended exploration, as Trey is more and more comfortable and creative with his keyboard licks with each hop onto the set-up. The energy at this point was indescribable, as the band had set the plate for what seemed at this point, what was being set up to be the show of the run. The old school-new school dichotomy was apparent with the new Heavy Things which was then followed by the beautiful newborn saga of Billy Breathes. Beauty of My Dreams provided some bluegrass textures before the band began to build the atomic funk of the USA's first Free of the summer.
This Free captivated the audience from its inception, and as the day faded, the heavy improv section dropped in with Gordon's barbarian bass phrases. As Trey began to come in with some gentle rhythm licks, he pretty much dove into a twisting lead that accentuated the thick grooves, as he began to build the jam in a slithery way. Before long, the band had the pavilion at a point of danger as Trey jumped at the foot of the stage as the brought the jam to an unexpected insane level following a climax that seemed would peak the jam. This Free was the latter centerpiece of the set, and provided by far the set's highest and most collectively sublime moments that we long for. The aggressiveness continued with Axilla, this time with its murky and slower ending which drowned off into a set ending Squirming Coil. This classic set ender featured a very melodic and worthy band jam before the lights focused on Page and the band left him to solo. A unique and amazing set from start to finish, this one carried the torch for best first set of the Deer Creek, and you know what usually follows that....
People savored their last setbreak of this amazing run, as the summer air proved a bit cooler and less muggy on this last evening. Security allowed pretty much anything, as long as you could produce a ticket to pass them with. The air was festive as all understood the significance of these shows and how momentous they are in Phish and their relationship with this special venue. As the time passed, the lights finally dimmed for the grand finale.
The last set of Deer Creek opened with the rhythmic chords of Birds of a Feather. This Birds differed greatly from its PNC predecessor back on June 29th, but was equally as sick, yet in a different way. While PNC's exploration featured prominent bass work and some deeper slower grooves and sections, this Birds remained very high paced and raging the whole time. While this might sound like the description of one of those not so unique versions, that interpretation would be dead wrong. This version reached the intricate yet adrenelized heights of a Piper-esque jam, but all within the context of some super fast Birds grooves. Some shredding work by Trey leading the band through the course of a drawn out and intense opener that featured in, yet out of theme, improvisation. If you don't catch my drift, just listen, you'll be psyched. This big opener was followed up by one of the shining points of the summer, a big second set Piper.
IMO, the band tends to experiment with things throughout the course of the tour, and as it winds down, highlights what they feel have been their most satisfying musical launch pads of the recent shows. With three amazing second set Pipers down the stretch (Toronto, Alpine), the band seems to be enjoying focusing on their ever-evolving songs. This one certainly held up to the former two, as the explosive opening section gave way to a extremely high settling point in which the band sat into a numbing groove and began a second plateau of exploration. This jam climbed until the parts of the jam came out, leaving a spacious groove which Trey began to tickle with quick rhythm chops a la some other Pipers in the past (latter parts of Minneapolis 10/2/99, Cincy 10/3/99). This dark and fast-paced dance music continued before for a while before the band locked into a rhythm pattern that provided an ending to the blowout 15-20 minute jam. This one is fierce and provides a triumvirate of Pipers (w/ Toronto, and Alpine) that rivals Brutus, Cassius, Casca of Shakespearean fame. This Piper ended a furious section of Phish, and with about one breath, the band dropped into the opening of the 6th ever Crosseyed and Painless! Often toying with the theme, but rarely playing this Talking Heads cover, immediately brought the energy of the crowd through the roof. Just like that, they were ripping and popping through the song that is referenced so often, both rhythmically and melodically in Phish jams, but almost never played as its own. Its appearance in a set makes it automatically epic, and an moment that makes everyone's heart skip a beat as you instantaneously realize what is happening. The last time this song appeared was in the depths of the Big Cypress 2000 set, and before that, one summer afternoon at Star Lake 8/13/97. This Crosseyed was tight as hell, and left the composed rhythmic jigsaw puzzle into a Phish interpretation of Crosseyed grooves. The band was locked in some amazing patterns as it continued its improvisation within the confines of the song itself. This version, while not exploding into a hugely improvisational jam session, did settle into a slowly moving amorphous jam with Trey playing some screaming lines over top of the ambience, briefly resembling the depths of the indescribable Salem, Oregon Tweezer from 12/1/94. This jam continued for a few minutes before leading into the opening of Prince Caspian, which provided a great peak for the set as the jam grew as the band moved collectively through the wave-like improvisation, evoking thoughts of the blue beyond. Trey set sail on a sheering solo as the band concluded the meat of the set with an explosive performance of this Trey favorite. A thematic conclusion to the high powered Phish that had been in your face for the past 45 minutes, the Caspian provided a shimmering peak to the four songs that had preceded it. The set then ended with the accessible funk of Meatstick as the band sang their anthem in the waning moments of an amazing three night stand. As Phish tends to do, they left the show with a mellower, reflective encore of Velvet Sea, leaving fans clawing for one more large dance piece, but it wasn't to be. Come to Columbus, the Phish beckon, see what else we have in store. Anyone complaining about an encore after three high-powered, fun-filled, and raging Phish jams, kind of missed the point here.
With extreme old school revivals, large new school jams, and general cornfield mayhem, Phish provided three nights of high powered fun, each unique for its own reasons, and each full of moments for our collective memories. Never miss Deer Creek if you can make it, it is just too much fun.
7/8/00 - Alpine Valley, East Troy, WI
Phish's performance at Alpine Valley represented a third night of an odd three night run that would subsequently be followed up by the first ever summer three night stand at the legendary Deer Creek Music Center in Noblesville, Indiana. Alpine Valley is a classic summer venue in every sense of the word, significant also in the career of the Grateful Dead, whose legacy of great shows there ended when the band was banned from the venue for the crowd's abuse of the lawn. Phish's Midwestern swings have routinely contained stops at Alpine Valley and Deer Creek for the past 5 and 6 years respectively. Alpine's shows have always been notable for their blowout intensity and creative setlists, as well as sheer energy channeled from the stage to the audience of over forty thousand. Usually coupled with a long drive from an eastern point, this one proved even longer starting from Pittsburgh. Many hours later through the night, and into the next morning, fans began to arrive to the surroundings of East Troy, WisconsIt was the midwest's turn for the tornado that is Phish music. The storm clouds brought winds as the crowd gathered for the beginning of the final week of the passing summer dream of Phish's 2000 installment. This summer's show brought memories of last years 40+ minute out-of-Fluffhead jam, as well as the Tweezer>Catapult>Tweezer> Mango>Happy Whip and Dung Song from 1999's summer installment. Expectations ran high for the out of the way stop at Alpine, and few doubted the quality and full throttle nature of what would ensue. Ok.
The first set began with the high octane opener of Punch You In the Eye, which got the crowd riled up in hurry as people freaked to the intro grooves as if let out of cage and able to run free. The slower melodies of NICU brought the crowd into a happy space as the tight version of the straight ahead blues rock of My Soul filled the larger than normal amphitheatre. The upbeat bluegrass of Poor Heart had the Midwestern hippies and heads skipping and frolicking in the summer air. The meat of the set began with a the thickness of a Wolfman's Brother. The loafing and twisting bass grooves led the jam, as Trey tickled the music with rhythm licks and a bluesy solo that found the openings in the music with accented notes that remained within the Wolfman's theme and led back to the ending of the song. Definitely a first setter, this version served as the opening jam of the evening as the show now seemed officially underway. A mid-set First Tube got upped the pace of the affair as the set began to build some mom
The large setting of Alpine gave setbreak a different flavor, as the lawn could barely be seen from most of the pavilion and vice versa. Easily the largest stage of the summer, Alpine's grandeur and ski mountain atmosphere gave the show a uniqueness not found in the cookie-cutter SFX amphitheatres of the mainstream summer circuits, shared by all from Phish to Britney Spears. Britney don't play no Tweezer though. Nuff said....onwards.
The second set opened with the pop table setter of Heavy Things as the large PA of the venue gave the song a large and beefy sound as Trey's noodling rang out over the sea of thousands. Pleased with the amazing course that the previous Piper in Toronto took, the band launched into a similar second set placement of the song in the three night stand. Proving a wise judgment, this Piper literally exploded as to quote former WWF announcer Gorilla Monsoon, "The energy is so thick you could slice it with a knife!" Certainly the case during the duration of the Piper (and beyond). After the drawn out madness of the Piper's thematic build, the band launched into a high paced dance section which featured Trey throwing out some double time rhythm licks a la Piper circa Minneapolis 10.2.99, and Cincinnati 12.3.99. This section gave way to a groove which soon turned into the opening of Rock and Roll, as this time the Velvet Underground cover served as a landing point from a jam as opposed to the previous use of a dep
Seemingly inevitable and almost overdue in the rotation at this point, the band launched into the third consecutive Alpine Tweezer. The composed section thundered through the amphitheatre as the band geared up for one of its most prized and loved improvisations. This Tweezer launched with Trey quickly left the settling grooves for some fiery leads that began to build what would be a very loud and dark Tweezer. This Tweezer slashed aggressively through the minds of the audience, as they basked in the evilness of the dark side of Phish. This Tweezer twisted through the air and remained in the dark half of the mind until its soaring and climactic peak gave way to a change in rhythm, signifying the opening of Walk Away. Used again as the landing point of a dark and deep jam (as in the sacred 10/29/98 Los Angeles Reba>Walk Away, the ominous Birds>Walk Away from Deer Creek last summer, and this summer's dark horse best show around the Twist>sick ass muthafuckin' jam>:Walk Away>2001 from Fukuoka, Japan on June 1
This amazingly beefy set so far launched into another late set Twist. Hinting only briefly at the nether-worldly possibilities of this jam, the improvisation remained very much mellow and song based as this one stayed quite tame, as the set didn't really have time for this Twist to explode. The first 2000 appearance of Horse>Silent came after a slight hint at Dirt came from Trey's guitar. This always-welcome, celebratory yet pensive Phish classic provided a great stop for the course of this set, as this set had room for a final jam which would tonight be a high-energy Possum which ended the set with a bang.
The encore proved as fun as any part in the show, as they threw down a funkalicious Suzie Greenberg which passed through at least three separate sections of funk improvisation before sailing back into the words of the old-school classic. The ending of this song morphed into the raging end of show freezer-throwing-frenzy of Tweezer Reprise. Seemingly more raging at Alpine then at other venues, the band pumped out some high octane fuel to charge the crowd in celebration of another wonderful Alpine experience. Its always a pleasure in Wisconsin, or so it seems with the Phish. Things are getting heavy, and from here on out the shows should be full throttle experiences as there are two more stands to go. The shows have dwindled to five, but with three nights in Noblesville and two in Columbus, the possibilities are far from over as the band gears up for the home stretch after about six weeks on the road in Japan and America. The whole JamBase staff have flown out from the left coast, and will see you in the
7/7/00 - Star Lake Ampitheatre, Burgettstown, PA
Somewhere between Erie and Pittsburgh is where most people found themselves at some point yesterday on the way to Star Lake Amphitheatre, as they trailed the band on the way to one of the Phishiest venues on this summer's tour. This, the fourth consecutive year Phish has graced this stage, they found themselves on the back half of a great summer tour, strewn with many versions of these songs on their newly released Farmhouse. Led by Jiboo, Twist, and Sand these songs have become the summer anthems of 2000. What would come forth at this venue where a hot show is all but historically guaranteed. Their debut performance in 1997 featured an epic Gumbo and a hot Crosseyed in the first set, as well as the electronic and mechanical Ghost>Isabella in set two. The following year they treated the Western Pennsylvania crowd to a beautiful and thematic 35 minute Runaway Jim which provided the meat of the second set, while a great Wolfman's>Time Loves A Hero and a long Reba highlighted the first set. Last summer's edition of Star Lake Phish featured a large and dark Mike's Song to open the second set which flowed into Simple and the Siket disc's My Left Toe, whose amorphous improvisation was taken to a new realms as the band moved from the traditional dark ambience of the song into a melodic jam that was taken to soaring heights before trickling into Prince Caspian, which had been hinted at in the initial darker section of the jam. Needless to say all involved were anticipatory of what would emerge from the stage on this summer evening. The dusty lot gave way to the friendly confines of the amphitheatre as the afternoon wrapped up and the fans sorted themselves into the venue.
The band took the stage amidst the afternoon sun as they opened the show with a ripping Chalkdust that got the show underway in a hurry as the crowd bopped around to the fast paced opener. The afternoon continued with the funk induced improvisation of the rare and always welcomed Gumbo. This Gumbo was a great version that passed through many sections of slower funk grooves, on the way to a great and dancy version that served as a great ice breaker for the set. The composed classic Divided Sky which was the first American version this summer. This continued the old school energy of the set, as this one looked to be a good one after only three songs. The Maze that started next featured a climbing and dramatic organ solo before Trey stepped for his guitar lead and soon began to hint at the Shafty lick. As in the Island Run a couple years ago(4/5/98 Providence, RI) the band transitioned from a super hot Maze jam into the short song formerly known as Oblivious Fool. Yet while that transition in Providence was clearly Mike led as he thundered down the new bass line of the song, this transition was clearly Trey led as the band picked up on his lick his Maze solo. This provided the crowd with a great surprise, as they moved through the song in high paced Maze-induced fashion, as the end of the lyrics gave way to a sly transition right back into the Maze jam as the band then climaxed the improvisation in ripping fashion. This coupled with the Gumbo, provided the highest improvisational points of the first set, but the energy maintained as the band ended the set with the first time combo of Curtain>Character Zero. This Zero was much slower paced than normal, as they band progressed through the jam at what seemed like half-time giving the piece a dinosaur type of feeling. A great first set brought ponderings of what type of power would be emanating from the vortex they call a Phish stage in about an hour.
The second set began with the slow sirens and adrenaline triggering intro of the summer's third Ghost (Osaka, Hartford). This one, more slowly paced and fat sounding then Hartford's version. The improv was dark and heavy as the jam creeped out of the gates and began to build within the melody of the song. Trey picked up a repetitive rhythm pattern that took the jam to the second plateau as Fishman's beat became more swing/disco-like. This Ghost built into a heavy and driving piece of music which served up a gem to open the set. Akin at times to some of the recent dancier Ghosts, this one, however, maintained a hard edge throughout as This is the type of second set opener that usually signifies a big set to come, and this time, after the Ghost settled into a mellower ending groove, Trey led a pretty abrupt transition into Jiboo, Pittsburgh style. This was just your average Jiboo, especially in comparison to the blowout version of July 4th. Not especially unique, this Jiboo was enjoyable for some summer dancing, and the set soon moved to the darkness of Split Open and Melt. Rarely placed in this huge focus spot, this Split went huge with villainous type improv as the band produced some twisting and churning music that passed through multiple sections of Split's archetypal abstract grooves climaxing in some searing musical arrival. Check the first half of this set, which came as a small package, offset with a nice second set Roggae, with a raging Mike's Groove that ended the show. The Mike's started off hot as Trey picked up from the launch point with a loud and slightly distorted lines that began to cut out the path for this Mike's which only climbed higher and higher as the jam maintained on one path of danceable aggression as the bass heavy groove exploded with red light and fog machines. Trey's improvised leads as if brushing off foes on the way to a warrior's victory. Check this Mike's out for some heavy crunching Phish music which served as a late set ending to the darkness of the set as the Simple provided a reflective relief before the band dove into a high paced Weekapaug that closed the set in a huge way as they pumped the tempo up a bit into a mind-numbing jam that punctuated an amazing set perfectly. This was a really sick Phish set that closed a show that was tight from beginning to end and had really no slacking points.
This was yet another chapter in the growing Star Lake legacy of Phish performances. Up to snuff in reference to its predecessors this show delighted fans with jams from beginning to end and a predominantly dark overall musical feel. Closing with a fiery Frankenstein, Star Lake 2000 proverbially blew up. A great show came to a close as fans immediately began to attack the 10+ hour drive to Alpine Valley, which provided the cannonball run of this summer's tour. A much longer drive than usually thrown at fans in an overnight situation, many decided to skip the show, for what is sure to be a poor decision based on past Alipne performances. These folks are sure to miss what will most likely be the third consecutive Tweezer at the Valley, a song and venue that seem to go hand in hand. So hope you like your day off as Phish rages onward into cheese country of Wisconsin, USA.
7/6 Toronto, Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto, ONPhish captured the holiday spirit over the weekend as the main east coast run came to a great end with a fabulous and very deep two night stand in Camden. As many regional fans dropped off tour for work, vacation, or other such things, Phish moved on to northern latitudes, and crossed international borders into Canada. Phish's second visit to Molson Amphitheatre in as many years, the band seemed happy to be back at the lakefront venue. Last year's initial visit on 7/20/99 brought big first set versions of Ghost and You Enjoy Myself, while the second set featured a then popular combo of Twist, Moma to open the set and huge 2001> Misty Mountain Hop to end the set. A summery and colorful amusement park surrounds the amphitheatre on all sides, as the lakefront park bustled with summer visitors. Fans weaved their way around park-goers as they mad etheir way to the pavilion. An early ticket time of 7:00pm ensured daylight for the entire first set. Against a large black backdrop, the band took the stage.
Trey gestured over to the band as he counted off the beginning of a rare opening appearance of Reba. Surfing with summer energy, this jam drifted happily into a day-dreamy territory and carried out multiple mini-climaxes within the light and melodic improvisation. Easily around fifteen minutes, this provided a highlight right off the bat as they wasted no time in getting the midweek show underway. The odd yet oft-seen combo of Reba and Dogs Stole Things popped up once again as the bluesy tune followed the Reba. The daylight continued to translate musically into Taste which provided some cool and unique grooves within its intricate structure. The lighter Dog-Faced Boy and Heavy Things was followed up by the hot combo of Moma, First Tube. The Moma had a bulged out ending section like its Lakewood predecessor, but not as long. It was a great pick-up to the set as First Tube brought the pace a step higher, After concluding the trancelike instrumental, the bad ditched their instruments for an acapella I Didn't Know, featuring a vacuum solo by Fishman, amusing some Canadian newer fans.
As the set drifted into acoustic territory, Trey played The Inlaw Josie Wales. Prince Caspian provided some sunset pleasue as the first set version remained pretty tight to format, the harder distorted ending gave way to a Golgi, which preceeded the much-needed large jam to end the set, which this time, like the summer of 99, was a big YEM whose rolling thunder funk featured some smooth rhythm licks by Trey fitting spaciously around the large Gordon bombs and Page's shorter organ chords. This YEM was a relatively normal sounding version but raged hard as as it twisted and turned day into night, and as the vocal jam faded into set break, the extremely long 1:45 minute first set came to a close.
Considering the pretty mellow security team at the Molson, one was able to maneuver about the venue without much problem and position themselves ideally on the multitude of flat cement that is offered by the Toronto amphitheatre. Shorter than normal, this setbreak came to a quick end as the band took the stage in an uncharacteristically short time. (That may just be me, but I don't think so.)
The set began with a super-energentic Limb by Limb whose extremely tight jam built into high paced territory before winding its way down to a mellow darker a more ambient point which quickly and smoothly turned into the electronic sounding beginning of 2001. This opening in particular had some electronic sound effects by both Trey and Page that made for a new and spicy beginning to the fog-equipped futuristic classic. The jam possessed some initial key work by Trey as he brought out some of his tighter keyboard rhythms. He soon picked up his guitar and began to lay down some chops as he sliced the music with his unique and amazing patterns. This 2001 was also a high paced journey which provided some serious dancehall meat of the second set. The launchpad effect of 2001 was used this time to drop into a more mellow Bug, whose Canadian version was a bit more normal than the American ones that have preceeded them this summer.
After Bug ceased, the biggest jam of the set, a drawn out Piper, began to unfold. Following its traditional melodic build, this version built out into some high paced and louder territory before dropping into some darker, yet still high-paced, grooves that could be possibly found in the depths of a Birds jam perhaps. This really provided some interesting and captivating improvisation as the band continued ripping for some time before slowing things down a bit and coming to a halt in the electrically played beginning of Driver. The folkish melodic number, came to a close in the beginning of Harry Hood. This Hood was well-played, yet not extremely divergent from the classic build. This Hood seemed to be the end of the set, but the band remained onstage and Page began the piano opening of the Exile on Main Street classic Loving Cup. The Loving Cup provided a happy and upbeat ending to this well improvised set whose lighter more dreamy feel catered to the cool northern weather blowing off the lake and the beautiful day that had preceded it.
Squirming Coil provided a mellow encore for quite a long show, whose greatest moments lie within the Reba, Moma, First Tube, YEM in the marathon first set, and the Limb>2001 and the Piper in the second. Always worth the trip, Phish peovided a spledid eve for all who carde to join in Toronto. In their only Canadian visit of the year, Phish rapped a great one.
See you at Alpine, where Phish never disappoints!
7/4/00 E Centre - Camden, NJJuly Fourth Phish, an idea as American as apple pie. And in the historic locale of Philadelphia, PA, one knew that this wouldn't be just a normal Phish show. On the heels of a great second set from the night before, people had high expectations for the second Independence Day show in as many years. A nicer day than the soaking affair of July 3rd had people ready for the excitement which loomed inside the venue gates.
The first set of this show featured some rarely heard Phish favorites, that while not heavy on improvisation, still prove pleasing for their nostalgia and rarity at this point. Two of these songs, Rift and It's Ice, followed up the more new school Farmhouse, which opened the show. Its Ice's middle part featured a distorted guitar tease at the Star-Spangled Banner, teasing the national anthem that they had sung to open the evening. The clear highlight of the first set was the dramatic and long version of Stash that served as the set's centerpiece. Building ever so slowly and creeping its way forward, this Stash finally reached a soaring peak which brought the dark jam to a serious height. This is the jam of the set, and for any of you missing the presence of Stash in shows recently, this one is for you! The blistering Stash was followed by the more mellow and composed Gamehenge mantra of Lizards. Serving as both a cool down and a kick down, the Lizards was well played and gave the crowd a chance to catch their collective breaths as the Trey sang the story. Staying on the Gamehenge vibe, the band then brought out The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, lending its mystical and melodic aura to this set. As the band moved through the changes of the instrumental piece, Kuroda decorated the stage with yellow, blue, and white lasers, creating a total mood for the music. The song made its typical transitions into the thousand-year old Avenu Malkenu and back before Trey played the opening licks of Julius. This set ender was somewhat of a debacle, as the band members couldn't really seem to get on the same musical page, as some undirected noodling soon gave way to the end of the song and the set. Minus the set ending Julius, this first course served as a nice appetizer for the main course, not to heavy as to fill you up, but tasty enough to whet your appetite.
Phish' second consecutive July 4 second set diverged from the heavy within song improvisation last year, and created an adventurous journey through many Phishy realms. Believe it or not, the set opened with yet another Gotta Jiboo, as Phish is pushing this tune as it were a top forty radio hit, appearing every other night. Yet the constant repetitiveness of the song was soon forgotten once the jam kicked in, as the band launched into a high paced and celebratory Jiboo jam that lasted for some time before departing from the normal confines of the song into some light, funk based, jamming that most closely resembled an Antelope jam. This section of the jam featured some real dandy grooves before giving way to a darker feel, which became a bit more abstract. This final section of the jam built out of its murky space into a slow groove, which built faster, into the opening rhythms of I Saw It Again! This rare appearance created some slow and heavy darkness which carried out past the traditional endpoint of the song. As the band began to bring the jam down a bit, teases at the Magilla melody came from Trey's guitar, and before you knew it, we were right in the middle of a second set, hearing the forgotten Magilla! The straight ahead jazz feel of the McConnell composition gave some cool relief from the overwhelmingly hot and dark 35-40 minutes that preceded it. (The Jiboo clocked in at about 28 minutes!) The band finally stopped after the silky soloing and bebop playing of the song, and after a brief pause opened the ambient beginning of another summer anthem, Twist. This Twist remained well within the confines of a mellow and rhythmic Twist jam for the first section of the jam, but after the band wrapped up the normal Twist jam, they continued to improvise out of the song, morphing into some dark and slow themes, potentially hinting at a large July 4th Free. This heavy jam continued, in what seemed like almost composed fashion with Trey's melodic offerings, as the band formed some evil and ambient music to juxtapose against this celebratory day. Yet, as the darkness wound down into a dronish silence, the opening notes of a Slave could barely be made out behind the lingering sounds. This Slave brought the set back to Phish triumphance as the melodic and gradually building classic served as a perfect climax to the set as a whole. Following the normal progressions of the song without departing too far in any direction, the band raised the roof of the pavilion as they brought this musical journey to the pristine meadows of imagination and glory. The epic Slave was clearly to be closer of the holiday set.
Chock full of non-stop Phish improvisation, this set is one to be heard by all. Supported by the big anthems of summer 2000 in Jiboo and Twist, and strewn with rare favorites in I Saw It Again, Magilla, and Slave, this set never lags or passes through any slow or dull points. Topped with a double encore of Lawnboy and Led Zeppelin's Good Times, Bad Times (complete with in-pavilion rhythmic fireworks intro!), this July 4th show is one that will go down in memory. A complete show from start to finish, and more specifically an amazingly improvisational set two, this show was a great ending to the six night northeast run of the previous week.
After a brief stop in our neighboring Canada, Phish will play at Star Lake before beginning their Midwest run that will conclude this is summer tour. A bit over half way there, eight nights of magic remain......stay tuned, it's only getting better.
7/3/00 E Centre - Camden, NJFourth of July weekend brings thoughts of barbeques, swimming pools, cheap beer, relatives, and if you were in Atlanta last year, thoughts of Ghost>Slave and What's the Use>Wilson>Mikes waft through your imagination. Everywhere in America, July fourth is synonymous for good times and good friends, and this year the Phish community descends upon the burgeoning metropolis of Camden, NJ to celebrate the nations birthday in this milestone year of 2000.
Across the Schuylkill River sits Philadelphia, strewn with its American heritage and history, from Ben Franklin to the Liberty Bell, and in this grand year, Phish visits this traditionally American area to perform their holiday blowout. Set in the shadow of the Philadelphia skyline, and across the street from the New Jersey State Aquarium, stands the E Centre. Fresh off of two great two-night stands in Holmdel and Hartford, Phish prepped for the nations birthday with a day off before the brief two-night holiday run. A cloudy and drizzly day greeted Phish's happy revelers as the drizzly day couldn't put a damper on the excitement felt by this large east coast crowd as they filed in patiently to the venue.
The show began with this summer's frequently played Down With Disease. This version offered about fifteen minutes of relatively Disease-esque type improvisation which went out there a bit before coming back to the triumphant lick of the Phish favorite. The rare bust out of Guelah Papyrus followed up the hot Disease, pleasing the crowd again. Next came a funny and touching moment when Trey's two daughters came running onto the stage during My Mind's Got a Mind of Its Own. Next came a true highlight of the set as the band bust out the first Foam since Worcester 11/28/98, returning the complex technical piece to action after a rather long time off of over two plus tours and eighteen months. This Foam was very well played, as the band seemed to deem the occasion special with the performance of this classic piece ..As the winds whipped up, so did the beginning of the summer's third first set Bathtub Gin. Seemingly used formulaically this tour, this Gin built to the torrid rain, winds, and lightning drenching the lawn crowd. This Gin picked up steam as the crowd's energy fed off both the storm and the music. Its always fun when Phish, weather, and energy come together, as the playful mixture always spits out some interesting fun. This Gin, while not as spectacular as it's PNC counterpart, nonetheless provided a first set improvisation that proved to be a highlight of the first set. Its rain driven frenzy brought some real wetness to the majority of the fans, as the Gin toyed with their energy.
A raucous and bluesy My Soul gave way to a Heavy Things, which in turn was followed up by the welcomed first Fluffhead of the new year. Very well played, but not excessively improvised at any point, this Fluffhead proved the third real highlight of the first set. A slower Circus provided some breathing room before yet another Antelope to close the set. This Antelope was pretty standard, especially in the shadow of the huge Lakewood version of last weekend. All in all, a pretty good set featuring this summer's more popular songs.
A wet and sticky setbreak provided some cool down slash dry off time for the crowd before the big one went down for the evening. Questions loomed as to what would emerge in the second half, as the sky seemed to be the limit for these high key holiday shows. As the music suddenly came to an abrupt halt, the lights went down in groups, and soon the bell rang for second round action.
The second set opened with a Runaway Jim which got off on a high-paced foot right off the bat and progressed into a series of full on Phish grooves which continued in exploratory fashion for a half an hour as the band passed through many sections with many sounds (including a harder Isabella-like section that a certain Canadian fan would have freaked over!). The obvious no-brainer highlight of the show, this Jim brings hints of 6/16/00 Osaka Jim, but went much darker and harder as opposed to the lighter electronic aura of the Japan closer's. At points, thoughts of Jim>2001 entered the air as the band passed through a more ambient part of improvisation. This Jim finally hopped on the waves of the jam's final build as it landed right back into the final theme of the song as if it was meant to be there. A truly fantastic Phish jam, this Jim stands in the upper echelon of this US summer's escapades, and should be heard with all due promptness. Following the half-hour, high-energy epic jam, the band kicked out the old-school once a year rarity, Glide (last played 7/24/99 Alpine). This provided some great happiness for many who have trouble catching the song, and this energy brought the stakes a little higher as the band set the stage with some rumbling dissonance out of which came a subtly placed Theme From the Bottom. This song continues to come out in the middle of big second sets, as this Theme built much longer and higher than most, as it consistently proves to be a good and timely addition to each set it is played in. This Theme's grandeur left the plate wide open for the clean up hitter, Sand. This Sand was sick as hell as the band settled into some thick dance rhythms. They passed through some dark and bouncy sections on the way to a "Puttin On the Ritz" groove that was textured by Page and Fishman to an insane point that brought on a quick stop. At that point, the band dropped back into the same, identical groove, as it blew the audience to bits with its neo-apocalyptic sound. This jam then stopped on another dime as the band then dropped into the slow-loafing funk licks of Meat. The second appearance of this summer came with a longer Trey solo before the return to the last section of the song. The band then ignited a high-octane Chalkdust which departed from the normal course of the jam as Trey led a loopy and aggressive exploration that served as an exclamation point to this dark set. Bittersweet Motel served as a cool down for the hot set, as an anti-climactic encore of Waste left the crowd hanging for the big holiday show to go down tomorrow.
An unreal start to the July 4th weekend, this show set up Camden to be the biggest two nights of the summer so far! Stay tuned for ensuing fireworks.....
7/1/00 Harfrod Meadows - Hartford, CTPhish's second show ever at Hartford Meadows came only one night after their first one, a relatively mellow first gig at the large New England amphitheatre. The spread out lots were filled with ticket seekers, as the high-key northeast and Saturday night combo made for a fairly tough ticket. Not much else to describe setting-wise at this pretty flavorless venue and lot area. As people began entering the pavilion, there was a noticeable lack of security, especially compared to the show of force the previous night. It was to be a free for all on the second night in Hartford, and it was yet to be discovered what Phish would play in their third two-night finale.
The show started off, with crowded aisles and steps, to the tune of the rare and desperate instrumental Buried Alive. This old-school number, usually used as a launch into a bigger piece, this time served as the place setter for a silky smooth first set Wolfmans. After Trey's solo, this version progressed through several different sections of funk-laced grooves as the spacious jam opened the show in an excitable and loose fashion. An odd combination of Axilla (without the slow ending) and Poor Heart followed, while Sample provided some pop relief to the diverse set. Next came one of the two highlights of the first set, the first Tube of the new year! Trey hopped on keys for what was a complexly layered and tightly chugging jam. This jam was yet another example of Trey's great rhythmic keys work that has emerged since last fall, adding to the music each and every time, a positive trend that has not always been true with his keyboard addition through the years. The improvisation continued for a bit longer than normal as Hartford basked in the swamp funk of this Phish dance favorite. The crowd roared as the song came to a halt, yet the abrupt change into Beauty of My Dreams soon had the crowd bobbing their heads to this Phish-grass ditty. A beautifully played Roggae gave way to the other highlight of the set, a dusk version of the dark 1997 Phish addition, Vultures. This version, complimented unbelievably by Kuroda's light work as darkness fell over the venue, was ripped loudly by the band as Trey layed millennial soundscapes over the top of the dramatic improvisation. This was a standout version of the song, and should certainly be heard by all, especially those favoring the dark side of Phish. Dirt provided a slower moment before a more abstract, and not always grooving Split Open and Melt closed the set. The Split provided the dark compliment to Vultures as some complex and polyrhythmic jamming amazed some and confused others. The jam finally returned to the groove after a period of exploration, and the crowd cheered in recognition of the music, and appreciation of the madness that had preceded. Check this out for some "out there" (yet not in the ambient sense) improvisation. This set, while a bit choppy at times, remained strong with the Buried>Wolfman's, Tube, Vultures, and Split. Definitely worth having.
People moved about openly and did pretty much what ever they wanted during a particularly mellow and unsupervised setbreak in the Meadows. Why did it turn out this way, who knows, but it was a welcome change of atmosphere from the previous night of tyrannical rule of the yellow shirts. As time passed, the music finally stopped and the lights were off for the last set of the four night run.
The set opened with the second Jiboo of the four night run, and the seventh of the summer (including Japan). It sure looks like this will continue to appear routinely over the course of the summer, as most of the Farmhouse songs. Yet, with the third consecutive placement at the beginning of the second set, this seemed a bit of a deja vu for those on tour. This Jiboo, however, was quite long and quite ripping as the improvisation stayed within the happy realms of the song for the majority of the time. A brief section of departure precludes a quick return to the end of the song with Trey bringing back the initial melody. Check out Page in this jam, as he is out front for portions of the jam, pushing its direction at a couple of different times.
Following Jiboo came another summer focal point, Bug. This version, again placed in the large slot of the second song of the second set, exploded in triumphance as it was less alternative and washy than the big Lakewood version,and more clean, celebratory, and exuberant. A short silence led to the drop into the fast initial groove of First Tube, as Trey came in with his melody, the place was raging to a relatively rare mid-second set version (Vancouver and Oak Mountain, both of which launched into a Tweezer). As this First Tube turned over to the happier section, Fishman began to play a more sparse, danceable and less driving beat, giving a more accessible feel to the final drawn out build. This came to a searing halt, and Trey then played the familiar opening licks to Mike's Song. This version, both longer and heavier than the first US version at PNC three shows before, featured some seriously dark realms filled with spiraling grooves and many mini-climaxes. This Mike's Song drew similarities to the raw and angst filled version which shook the universe at Big Cypress last December. This was the blow out jam of the show; this Mike's turned the venue into a villainous and aggressive dancehall, and should be the focal point of any listening sessions of this set. The Mike's dropped into the murky netherworld of the post-Simple break point before oozing into the Beatles-esque combination of Swept Away>Steep before following up the eerie songs with an short upbeat Weekapaug that quickly gave way to the melodic guitar line of Nellie Kane as the rest of the band quickly picked up on the musical suggestion, and the band transitioned into the folky/country tune. Instead of finishing the Weekapaug, the band dropped into the digital loops and creeping into of Ghost.
Appearing increasingly rarer in recent times, each version command great attention by both band and audience alike. This Ghost left the composed section in a high paced fashion instead of falling into a slower funk groove as some tend to do (some similar ones that do this that come to mind are Prague 7/6/98, Toronto 7/20/99, Las Cruces 9/22/99). This more driving form of the jam gave a dark and continuous path to the final jam of the show. As the Ghost began to build aggressively, the band kicked it into high gear, a la this summer, and finished the Ghost with a incredibly fast and trance-like jam that peaks in a screeching climax that needs to be heard to be comprehended. Truly sick, this version certainly stands out as quite unique in the realms of Ghost jams, and provides another true highlight of the set along with the deep and raging Mike's.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps brought a dark and mellow close to this heavy hitting show, chock full of great Phish. While repetitive in setlist from some of the earlier shows of the tour, this fact proves completely insignificant in the face of the great and original improvisation that is strewn throughout the show. A great finale to the four night run, Phish prepared to take a U-turn and head directly back to southern New Jersey for a July 4th stand at the E Centre in Camden. After great shows in both Camden last summer (with a great Chalkdust, Gin, Tweezer, and Birds) and Atlanta for July 4th (the whole show, especially set 2), things bode well for the upcoming conclusion to the northeast portion of the summer tour. See you in Camden.......fireworks expected.......
6/30/00 - Hartford Meadows - Hartford, CTPhish was coming off a tremendous two night run in Holmdel as they stepped right into the opening show of a two night run for their first visit to The Meadows in Hartford, CT. Building it up with the first release of a Jim Pollock limited edition print of the new year, Phish roared into the familiar stomping grounds of New England, poised to build on what has been an eventful first week of summer tour. Pleasant weather again greeted attendees as Connenecticut brought some cool breezes and sunshine on the last day of June (and the two year anniversary of the epic three night run at Den Gra Hal (The Grey Hall), in Christiana, Copenhagen.) Phish was looking to go big in what would be the only New England shows of the summertime. The Meadows was a large pavilion with an unusually high roof to the pavilion, and a lot of open space (not that the security was willing to let you use it!). A late ticket time, combined with the holiday weekend traffic, saw the show begin at about 8:30.
As the daylight dwindled and turned to evening, Phish opened the show with a bust out of the short but boisterous instrumental Ha Ha Ha. Not played since the fall tour opener in Vancouver last fall, this one built to the opening drop into AC/DC Bag. This Bag was extremely well played, and while not departing too far from Bag territory, still provided some room for some steady summer grooves and a drawn out build at the end of the improvisation. As the Bag trickled away, the opening licks to the second consecutive first set Tweezer upped the ante quite a bit, as the Phish took no time to get this show on the road. This Tweezer, much more succint and contained than the last two incredibly huge 30 minute odesseys of Tokyo and Atlanta, remained well within the bounds of the Tweezer theme, as the jam began to build right away with some Gordon led gangster-mission-funk as Trey also began playing loudly from the get go, dropping his customary rhythm section from the beginning of the jam. This Tweezer used large distorted builds featuring Page and Trey forming an ocean of sound as each section crashed into the next. Quite great in its own right, this Tweezer could best be described as a lion lurking in the brush, stalking its prey and then roaring in attack, exclaiming its place as the king of the jungle. A highlight of this set, as almost all sets that it is played in, the Tweezer began to settle before abruptly changing into Runaway Jim. This Jim built for quite a long time before the band arrived at the top of the jam. This also was played quite well while staying within in theme of the song, favoring the old school feel of the set. The smoking improv featured Trey shooting out accentuated licks from his guitar as if a dragon spitting bits of fire. This Jim kept building as the night fell over the state capitol, and as the song ended, a short pause gave way to the opening notes of the Robert Palmer throwback, Sneaking Sally Through the Alley. While not as long as some of the better versions that have resurfaced since 12/30/97 (8/8/98 Merriweather Post, 4/2/98 Nassau Coliseum, and 7/28/98 Bonner Springs, KS), this one provided some great Phish funk for the middle of the set with some great work by Gordon as Trey played his solo around the bass lines. What seemed to be a set ending Guyute gave way to a Golgi, a rare first set Tweezer reprise, and an even rarer post-Reprise song in Possum which built out of its usual bluegrass noodling to some heavier climaxes at the end of the jam. This first set provided some awesome moments with some older Phish classics, all staying within the realms of their charted routes.
The second set openend with some more old school energy of Halley's Comet. Always a crowd favorite, tonights Halley's traditional departure point featured a steady and awesome high speed funk groove instead of the more traditional blaring guitar solo by Trey. This jam was the clear highlight of the show, as some seriously dancy improvistaion emanated from the stage. Somewhat akin to the first set version from Great Woods last summer, this one became darker and more aggressive as the jam continued. After a high energy fifteen minutes or so, the band provided some tight summer reflection with a Mango Song. Without ending the Mango, the band instead improvised into a mellow yet groovy territory that bounced along like the end of the song before becoming quiter and seguing into Twist. This Twist was a version that ripped while also staying within the realms of the conventional harder Twist sound. A second set Get Back On the Train carried out its country-bumpkin guitar funk and slowly segued into the second recent late second set Makisupa, with Trey's 420 reference being "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Big Fat Doobie". This version had some dragging beats and melodius leads by Trey before escalating into some tweeked out keyboard sounds (with Trey on keys as well). The mellow interlude continued with a late set Farmhouse, and Sleeping Monkey, and the rock ballads swayed the large crowd back and forth. The set looked to a Bowie for some let set heavy improv, but was greeted with a pretty standard version of the song featuring some looser sections before building into the churning ending to the song. Less significant than some of the bigger Bowies that have gone down recently (5/22 Radio City, 6/11 Hibiya Outdoor, 6/23 Lakewood), this one still brought a loud and heavy close to a pretty light and summery second set.
After an encore of Cavern, with Trey teasing the Tweezer melody in the fills, closed the show, Trey thanked the crowd and told them he'd see them tomorrow night, and they'd have it no other way. A solid show beginnig to end, this show set contained some great moments, but seemed to serve as a table setter for what should be a huge second night of Phish. After all, they made the posters! Listen to the Halley's>Mango>Twist, and the first set of this one folks, and stay tuned tomorrow for more from the Nutmeg State.
6/29 PNC Bank Arts CenterPhish pulled into Holmdel tonight on the back end of the summer's second two night stand. After a rocking and energy-laden initial show on Wednesday, Thursday was fixed to be a darker and more psychedelic journey with hopefully some deeper explorations. Whatever the Phish selected, you knew that the second night of this New Jersey stand would provide more than a few amazing moments and musical adventures. Show-goers were treated with some rare cool and sunny summer weather as the omnipresent New Jersey humidity disappeared from this late June day.
The show opened with a loungy Funky Bitch in which Page took a great organ solo before Trey's rhythm offerings gave way to a bluesy solo that got the crowd bumping in the cool afternoon air. The Gamehendge saga throwback of Wilson drove the crowd into a frenzy as the band ressurected the desperate calls of revolutionary (to later turn tyrant) Errand Wolfe. Some raging and aggressive energy excited the Jersey crowd as the band wailed through a great, yet short, Wilson. The Limb By Limb which came next was a normal sounding jam which climbed to some improvisational heights in the ending section of the jam. The clear highlight of the set came into a largely improvised Drowned which segued seamlessly into Rock and Roll. The Drowned, which easily came in at over fifteen minutes, built out of the theme of the jam into the now patented Crosseyeed-esque grooves featured in many jams (The 6/15/00 Osaka Down With Disease, 5/22/00 Radio City Ghost, 9/12/99 Portland Ghost, 9/14/99 Boise AC/DC Bag and many other jams) before picking up the pace. The fast paced rhythmic patterns continued to build, finally reaching the musical zenith of Rock and Roll before Trey came in with the melodic shift and Page began the lyrical section of the now common Velvet Underground classic. The Rock and Roll took the set to its energetic and musical peak as the band seemed pleased with its tightly directed, almost half hour exploration. The crowd, excited by such a large first set jam, looked towards what was looking to be an amazing second set of Phish. Seek out this great five song set for the large second half, the Drowned is a jam that is certainly not to be missed.
A long yet welcomed summer set break, ended with the summers third second set opening Birds of a Feather of the summer (Hibiya Outdoor, Tokyo (6/11), Lakewood, Atlanta (6/23). Differing from its summer 2000 predecessors this Birds was the heaviest and most improvised Birds jam since the large carnivorous Birds of summer '99 (7/8/99 Virginia Beach, 7/10/99 Camden, 7/23/99 Columbus, and 7/25/99 Deer Creek). This Birds featured large amounts of dark improvised madness as the band swooped deeply into the musical depths of texture and rhythm as they chugged through a melodic section on the way to the creation of an amazing and dramatic groove. This groove, recognized by the band by the singing of Catapult, their classic vocal arrangement. The jam built to a distorted ending as Trey's pedal triggered sound effect note signifying the onset of Heavy Things emerged through the dissonance. The band splashed into a big second set version of the song which featured Trey's leftover digital delay loop from Birds creating an added layer throughout the song and improvisational segment. The crowd seemed to enjoy the melodic relief from their dark and murky imaginatory realms triggered by the nasty Birds jam, as the new Phish pop favorite added an upbeat portion of the set. A long pause between songs, climaxing in a swaying dance by Trey, brought the band to the initial explosion of the second US summer Sand. This Sand jam commenced with a settling bouncy bass driven section as Trey swung his axe behind him and took his place at his keyboard. The first part of this Sand featured some heavy band landscape with Trey painting intricate and melodic keyboard grooves over the top of the music, similar to the Raleigh Sand from 12/16/99 (a highlight of December tour, if you haven't yet been enlightened). Akin to its Raliegh counterpart, this jam features Trey coming off the keys and beginning to shred apart the futuristic soundscape he just played a large part in creating. Mike and Fishman remain in complete connection throughout, as their thunderous work provides the force behind this jam. Their work on this summer tour continues to be amazingly intricate and intoxicating as their beats and rhythms have become the foundation of the band's sound.
After this great Sand, which should be heard and studied by all :), the band revisited the Orient with a Japanese medley of Meatstick>Cities>Walk Away. The Meatstick featured the second ever performance of its Japanese lyrics after Trey explained how people in Tokyo, and Osaka are now walking down the street doing the Meatstick! After a hooligan jumped onstage twice during the Meatstick, Trey began improvising lyrics about jumping onstage and Pete Carini, giving a nod to the onstage antics before the Antelope from the epic second set of 4/3/98 at the Nassau Coliseum. The Meatstick grooves then built into what was the third great transition of the evening as the key shift to Cities brought a roar from the crowd. Making a rare second set appearance, the song also featured Japanese references to Sushi and Japanese Meatstick dancers. The Japanese medley then concluded with a ripping version of Walk Away after yet another transition from Cities, tipping the hat to the epic second set from 6/14/00 Fukuoka (Train, Twist>Walk Away>2001).
All in attendance who were in the Far East for the amazing two weeks felt a special nostalgia for the band-led trip down memory lane. The set then climaxed with the second raging high speed and dark Antelope of the last three shows. Sharing a similar direction with its Lakewood predecessor, this Antelope brought the set to an amazing peak and seeming conclusion before the band burst into the roaring Edgar Winters 70s rock classic Frankenstein. Page's organ and Trey's distorted lines rocked the pavilion as the song seemed like gravy after such a sick set! The band, seemingly instructed by Trey to sit back down as they stood to take a bow, finished the show with the reflective denouement of Wading In a Velvet Sea. This mellow tail to a ragingly adventurous set seemed the ideal cool down for both mind and body as Phish's waves of sound and color washed over the electrified audience. The band, quite happy with their performance in Page and Trey's home state, took a triumphant bow as they walked off the stage after a set that left no one in the venue disappointed.
A deep and guttural Character Zero provided a Phishy exclamation point to a sick two night stand that they will build upon as they enter the uncharted waters of Meadows Music Theatre in Hartford, CT. Things are heating up in the east coast as the tour approaches the middle core of its dates. A long holiday weekend begins tomorrow, be there, or be here........
Take it slow, don't forget about the premiere of the Roseland VH-1 telecast on July 1st. Stay tuned, I'll bring you up to date on what should be a wonderful weekend in New England.
6/28/00 PNC Bank Arts Center - Holmdel, NJAfter two days off and a migration north, Phish landed in the familiar waters of the northeast, not too far from where Trey and Page were raised in central New Jersey. The police strewn lots of PNC Arts Center filled up early with showgoers on what was a welcome overcast day in the middle of the week. Phish was embarking on a six show in seven night run, culminating in the nation's 224th birthday this July 4th in Camden. Last years two-night PNC run, featuring an epic Meatstick>Split>Kung>Split, a great Ghost, YEM, and a nice 2001>Mike's Groove provided some nice memories for those returning to the space-age pavilion for the second summer in a row. New Jersey's beefed up force of State Troopers braced for what they seemed to think would be a disruptive affair, as the calm and happy fans filtered towards the entrance of the venue.
The first set was was a well crafted set of Phish songs, the highlight of which was a huge jam in the form of Bathtub Gin. Phish wasted no time in heating up with a smoking Chalkdust opener, followed by a rare and clean performance of Sloth, not seen since the night before New Years Eve in the climactic third set of 12/30/99 at Big Cypress. Next came a tight and well-syncopated version of Taste which seemed ideal music for the cool summer afternoon. The hotly improvised and arrhythmic jam climaxed with some amazingly weaving melodies by Trey and Page over Mike and Fishman's tightly locked pattern of offbeats. The highlight of the set, and arguably the show, came next with the the Bathtub Gin's quick-paced and highly danceable improvisation, which followed the trend of Phish's faster summer dance grooves. This jam climbed super high led by Trey's piercing melodies, providing some summer color emerging from the depths of a dancier jam in the vein of the epic Gin from 7/29/98, St. Louis. The set continued with a Piper which skipped the initial rhythmic build following the first section of lyrics, and leapt into a soaring Trey solo exploding the amphitheatre as the light subtly escaped the air of the cool evening. The set ended with a beautiful rendition of If I Could which extended longer than usual in its first appearance since 7/31/98, Columbus, OH. The set closed with this welcome return of the Hoist ballad as its gorgeous melodies meandered through the amphitheatre and out into the New Jersey night.
As the setbreak set in, the "deviant" crowd tried to sneak in a setbreak spliff between the stern stares of the harsh venue security. This overbearing security were not shy in grabbing the audience's treats as the omni-present rays of the security's flashlights darted through the pavilion.
This anthem-laden second set opened with a visibly excited band taking the stage to the rumbling opening dissonance of Down With Disease, quickly emerging as a summer focal point and launch pad for some of Phish's most original exploration of late. This Disease progressed from the ripping guitar-led section to a shimmery and triumphant orchestral section, opening yet new realms for this song. As the band beautifully built the jam back into the Disease ending riffs, Fishman prepared the opening drum roll of an early set Harry Hood. Put in the central location of the second set, this Hood, while perfectly great, didn't go as large as its set placement might have suggested it would. This high paced set of Phishy classics continued with the lighter summer improvisation of Gotta Jiboo, as this version really pumped along as the band simultaneously brought the jam to the top with some great work by all involved and some particularly great work by Fishman.
The mellow interlude of Los Lobos' Circus set the plate for a dark, brain-blasting and boisterous Mike's Song which was led by a barrage of bass lines and some seriously sick high-paced grooves that brought the venue to an the point of implosion. In what was the largest jam of the show, Phish threw some heavy and belligerent neo-nuclear grooves in the welcoming grins and scowls of its addicted fanbase. In a high energy second set of ripping Phish this Mike's provides the most prominent musical highlight of a great initial night of the summer's second four night run. After the Mike's stopped on a dime, the show passed through the calmer moments of Neil Young's Albuquerque, before ending in a melody driven Weekapaug which brought the set around to its proper place before the band took its bow and left the stage concluding a great evening of Phish in the Garden State.
The show ended in the high paced fashion that it began with a blistering encore of First Tube, Loving Cup. The appreciative northeast crowd roared as the band finished a straightforward show of powerful Phish jams. Larger exploration most likely awaits, as Wednesday slowly turns into Thursday across the northeast. The New York area tends to bring out the heaviest of Phish, so hide the women and children.
Signing off, from the jersey shore......
6/25 Alltel Pavilion at Walnut Creek, Raleigh NCFollowing three nights of seriously intense Phish jams one after another, one wondered what would come in the classic venue of Walnut Creek. The site of such epic moments as the 6.16.95 Runaway Jim>Free, and the classic stormy and dark-weathered evil journey on 7.22.97 through a Disease>Mikes>Simple>Hydrogen>Weekapaug that is as great as anything in that great year. Other great Walnut Creek moments include an amazing first set Ghost and a rare sighting of a Forbin's>Mockingbird from 8.7.98. Anyhow, large things tend to come from this Raleigh venue, and at least a few folks were expecting a large Mike's to close the weekend.
The ticket time was a half hour earlier than normal, causing the entire first set to be played in daylight, and contributing some ticket-finding issues for the stubless fans at Walnut Creeks sold out show. In a relatively mellow first set containing standard quality versions of NICU, Sample, Old Home Place, Punch, Water In the Sky, Funky Bitch, Horn and Heavy Things, the highlight of the set, and the show in fact, was the Split Open and Melt that closed the set. A ferocious version featured the sped up summer jamming we've seen since Phish has come out of the gates this weekend, and high speed ripping rhythm licks by Trey. In the middle section of this Split, the band built out of the song's heavy drone like and menacing grooves into a melody-driven improvisation that continued the high paced rhythm of the jam but in a lighter tones and colors. This period of triumph smoothly segued back into the evil high paced Split jam. Led by some amazing wailing Trey lines , the band landed firmly back into the end and eventual climax of the normal Split jam. The clear highlight of the show, the Split requires a listen, and immediate rewind, and re-listen! Let yours ears be the judge.
The second set opened with the dancy rhythms and melodic lines of Jiboo. While not quite as climactic or improvised as Nashville's summer opening version, this Jiboo provided a fun and high energy opening to the Sunday night closer of the four night run. The set took a turn for the mellow as the played the rare ballad Fast Enough For You and followed it up with the even rarer Scent of A Mule. The Gordon scribed piece, featuring an always abstract middle section, tonight featured a very quiet section with Trey playing single notes and distorting them with a pedal. Interesting, but fairly uneventful, the jam then built back into the "Russian" melody leading back into the end of the song. The Japanese combo of Meat, Maze provided the next section of the set. The Maze provided another faster jam as Trey played some more high paced rhythm grooves as he toyed with the songs theme by bouncing in and out of it with his improvisation, as Page led his bandmates in building the music that Trey painted upon. This Maze is certainly worth checking out.
Next came the welcome return of some Siket Disc material with the monstrous soundscapes and searing melodies of What's The Use. Kuroda's lights perfectly complimented the dark instrumental, which was originally derived from the depths of the bands' epic improvisation contained in the Bearsville Session tapes. This eerie and mystical piece led ambiently into the quiet opening of Slave. While this particular Slave didn't quite climb to the normal exalting peak of the jam, its wavelike ambience provided a slower and more mellow ending to Raleigh's summer night. Still interesting and worth a listen in combination with the What's the Use, this Slave put a melodic ending on a relatively mellow show. The Uncle Pen encore provided some tight Phish-grass to the southern crowd, as its second appearance in four days is unprecedented in recent years. Followed up by the Hendrix anthem Bold As Love, the encore added a double ending to the weekend. Definitely the least climactic show of the weekend, the Split however remains as a nugget of gold in the first set and the Jiboo and the Maze deserve note, and while I personally liked the Slave, some others were not quite as psyched with the version. Yet it deserves listen, by virtue of the fact that it is a Slave jam. So the southeast weekend certainly ripped with many epic jams involved all over. With the Tweezer leading the pack, the last four shows are filled with highlights and amazing and bombastic Phish improvisation necessary to be heard by fans near and far.
The Northeast is next, and that's home for the Phish, so be careful as large east coast grooves loom near, and if your not careful, they could blindside you and knock you over.
Stay prudent, and beware.....see you in PNC.....
6/24 - Lakewood Amphitheatre, Atlanta, GA
Following two great opening nights, the second night of Lakewood was all of a sudden the first "huge" show of the summer season. The conclusion of Atlanta's two-night stand was bound to excite, following in the hallowed paths of last years July 4th epic second set. The day was again a hot one, as Lakewood's two lots overflowed with fans, both with and without tickets to the sold out show. Phish's two night stands always bring high anticipation for that climactic second night, and they seldom disappoint..
The evening began with a daytime Moma Dance featuring thick bass work by Gordon and some large opening dance grooves for the summertime revelers. This version featured a blown out ending section with long aggressive improvisation by the band and roaring guitar lines from Trey. This jam is more akin to a Carini build than anything that's ever come from this song before. Opening the day in large fashion, the crowd was pumped and warm for what was to soon come. Following a well-played, high paced and classic sounding Runaway Jim, and a stop of in an always welcome Bouncin', Phish ripped into what would be the jam of the US tour by far up to this early point.
The gnarling melody of Tweezer crunched through the venue as the crowd freaked out at the first appearance of Tweezer in this country since Big Cypress. Let me say right off the bat, since Phish turned to a more groove-based playing in 1997, you can not show me a better Tweezer that has been played than tonight's 30 minute groovefest, featuring a large Tweezer jam, followed by a melodic interlude leading to a double-paced jam landing in some of the most triumphant Phish bliss ever.
Honestly, this was the greatest! I missed a few in '96, but I would bet that since they left the more abstract approach to the song in 1995, that this Tweezer holds the crown as the most amazingly improvised, well directed and successful jam stemming from this epic anthem in quite some time, and let me tell you, I pretty much have studied them all (from the Page led odyssey of Denver 11/17/97, to the dinosaur funk of Detroit 12/6/97, to the euro-dance-club grooves of Christiana 7/1/98 and Barcelona 7/9/98, to the thick summer yo-yo grooves of Austin 7/25/98, and the classic slamming version from Hampton 11/22/97, etc.) Hands down folks, this one might stay in your tape deck, CD player, or car stereo forever. For one of the largest Tweezer fans on the planet, I give this one the nod.
At points the second part of the jam could have been stemmed from any numbert of their songs, a true Phishy adventure leading from the intoxicating grooves to a soaring ending that needs to be heard to understand at all. With all band members in full communication, a jam emerged that reminds us why we drove to Atlanta to see this band called Phish; to feel alive, full of inspiration, spirit and power! To experience a musical journey to all corners of your soul while basking in the majesty of art at its most dramatic height, night after night after night! This Tweezer touches on multiple aspects of the bands greatness, and a the clear highlight of this weekend to this point. Strange Design and Cavern closed this well-flowing set of Phish classics.
The second set began with the opening licks of Birds of a Feather, a version which featured some ripping work by Trey but remained within the confines of Birds the whole time. Bug, a song which seems to get bigger each time it is played, completely blew the house down tonight with its alterna-wall of sound style shifting ever so slightly with each movement of each band member. A real highlight, this Bug should be checked out for sure. But the real large jam of the set came in the form of an extremely intense Antelope which began with dark dark faster grooves and built into a frenzy of noise and light as Trey ripped up and down his guitar with a cool effect as the Antelope continued to climb with each supposed plateau. This is a full on "drooler" of an Antelope as one fan described it. A second highlight following the Tweezer for sure, Antelope led right into a beautifully played Frankie Says, modeled eerily after and constantly hinting at the Mind Left Body jam. Trey decided to then crank it back up with a loud and raucous Carini which raged hard with distorted millennial grooves for a duration longer than usual, featuring some real aggressive psychadelia here. A great peak of the set before a seemingly ever-present Coil, and a sublimely improvised Prince Caspian ended the set on a more mellow note.
A celebratory Guyute encore was then followed up by the Inlaw Josie Wales and Driver before an intense Tweezer Rerprise brought thought full circle to the epic jam in the first set. If for nothing else, get these tapes for the Tweezer, but a great show through and through, the second night of Lakewood continue to build what is looking to be quite a huge Summer Tour. Following an eight hour drive and this recap, the pillow calls.....sweet dreams....
6/23 - Lakewood Ampitheatre, Atlanta, GA
Phish came off an explosive first night of tour with a full on show that was two sets of great Phish, a stronger 2-set performance than last night, while the 5 minutes of Jiboo, 2001 > Sand, will remain in light for some time. The first set of Atlanta's more spacious and now Phishy amphitheatre began with Yamar which featured much adventurous noodling by Trey around the calypso groove. This Yamar proved a great summertime opener as the light exploration served as a warm introduction to the show. A tight and relatively normal My Soul brought the energy of the crowd even higher as the opening licks of Bathtub Gin filled the pavilion. This Gin was a great and high-paced version which while remaining within the theme of Gin, still had room for some fast dancier sections with some high speed licks by Trey which eventually gave way to longer more resonant licks which the band continued chugging away under his wall of guitar sound.
An extremely hot and happy Gin, gave way to a similarly upbeat Heavy Things, which was subsequently followed by its now-often-played "Farmhouse" counterpart Get Back On the Train. The highlight of the set came next as a quick intro gave way to a serious David Bowie. The jam commenced, akin to its faster and more aggressive versions likened to the-old school, rather than the looser, more groovy Bowies of Radio City and HIbiya Outdoor Theatre. This jam was pure psychadelia from the get go as the band continued to built and chug away at a fast and furious Bowie climaxing with amazing work by Kuroda as the band came to the top of the jam. Check this one out, especially for those who like the full on dark and fast versions of the Phish classic. A rare Cars Trucks and Busses lightened the air with a bit of summer piano funk before the band closed the set with a relatively extended Farmhouse which served as a beautiful bringing-to night set closer.
The long summertime set break, in the still moist Hotlanta air, gave way to a great Phish set featuring quite an odd setlist. The set opened with a long and deeply improvised Velvet Underground cover Rock and Roll. This jam saw the biggest version of the song since Big Cypress, or before, and featured high-octane and blistering Phish for the first part before giving way to a darker and deeper section which approached realms of slower dark ambience before slowly giving way to Jesus Left Chicago, Phish's popular blues cover of the ZZ Top Original. A nicely paced Jesus featuring great solos by Page and Trey, then gave way to dark rumblings of what do you know, another Disease!
This Disease, again, holds up to the amazingly improvised Diseases that continue to flow from the waters of Phish's summer 2000 journey. In this Disease, following the classic and virtually always ripping Disease portion, was a lighter summer funk section with Trey playing the faster and smother rhythm licks which surfaced in the Sand of the previous night. Following this dancier portion of the Disease, the jam turned outward to the ambient space grooves of the Twist from Fukuoka, Japan. These jams bear great resemblance upon listening, and you will certainly see the correspondence to, the epic jam first dropped in the Pacific Islands. With the band moving through mellower amorphous grooves, Trey lended his millennial atonal soundscapes to the picture as the band creeped through a very mystical portion of the set, which subtly shifted to the amorphous and quieter intro to Twist. Phish quietly built into the drumbeat of the Twist, (and on the subject of drums, let me add that Fishman has just been amazing in his activity behind the set this summer, dropping high speed and amazingly quickly improvised beats in all of the many epic jams that have made up this summer so far!) This Twist was also sick as hell as the band through some summery yet hard Twist grooves which featured some time in an ambience, but generally contained smoothly improvised Twist grooves. The end of the set featured the more mellower crowd favorites of Contact and Makisupa Policeman before raging the closer of Character Zero which brought the delighted crowd to their feet as Trey reached to the heaven's of the final note of the song. The double encore of Brian and Robert and Possum seemed to provide a nice moment of reflection followed by the southern dance favorite.
This night was chock full of some great Phish jams, specifically the Gin, Bowie, Rock and Roll and Disease>Twist, and you should check out the tapes to hear how the band turned a relatively odd setlist into a quite a fun, exploratory, and mind-pleasing evening. Look for some throw down Phish classics in the second night Lakewood show tonight.....Mike's? Tweezer? Ghost? Only time will tell......
6/22 AmSouth Amphitheatre, Antioch, TNOut of the Pacific and back to the welcoming shores of America, and primed off their two-week club tour of the land of the rising sun, Phish came back to their homeland with authority. Back in the traffic laden, veggie burrito and t-shirt-slinging, grilled-cheese-hawking, one hitter la la land that is summer tour! And this is time its Summer 2000; the proverbially time has come.
The barbequing and lot melee got underway even earlier than permitted as people began to assume the position while still waiting for gates to open. Festivity was in the air as Phishies spilled over into every restaurant, hotel, and gas station in Antioch, Tennessee. It was time. The Phish took the stage to the driving force of First Tube, which while suffering some glaring PA problems early on, managed to emerge from the miscues in a climax leading to the opening piano licks of Wolfman's Brother. This Wolfman's carried on a steady Mike and Page led groove through a Wolfmans-y guitar solo before Trey starts tickling the music with his rhythm licks, leaving room for his band mates to fill in the grooves. Following this groove-based section, Trey then begins to raise the jam as he begins a soaring solo which eventually leads back into a 70s In-a-gadda-da-vida ending to the jam, which ended before fully returning to the song. This first set, focused primarily on individual songs, also featured a good Limb by Limb, Bug, and a ripping set ending Chalkdust.
A lengthy set break ended with the crew setting up some monitors and microphones for some guest musicians. Thoughts immediately turned to last summer's Nashville show which featured Jerry Douglas on dobro guitar for a bluesy Wolfman's and then Ronnie McCoury also sit in on Mandolin for a beautifully improvised Roggae. People began to wonder if we'd be treated to a down home blue-grass fest in the second set. But Phish ignored that part of the stage set up for the first hour of the second set. The opening chords to Gotta Jiboo rang through the summer air, and Nashville was immediately bumping with summer Phish grooves. Featuring some very delicate work by Trey and focused and some great lead play by Page, this Jiboo got to newly improvised places and looks as if it is lining up as a large summer jam in the 0-0-0. Built to a climax with a beautifully improvised Trey melody, this Jiboo is one to be heard by all and could be a signpost to large things ahead. The band then built a short dissonant intro before dropping right into a 2001. Kuroda, as relieved as anyone to be back in the states with his own lighting gear, let things fly as Phish navigated through the opening bass driven grooves of their anthem. Trey remained in the background of the first section, adding accents, color, and texture to the Gordon-led grooves, much like the initial section from Charlotte's 2001 from last summer (07/07/99). Fishman and Gordon remained tightly locked as Page tinkled the Rhodes for the futuristic space travel feel. The second section saw Trey take an extended solo in his high pitched, almost mellower tone, which brought the grooves to a quiter point before building them back and exploding into the second theme. This great 2001 then became a forethought to the opening licks of the USA's first Sand of the summer. This Sand, (you may hear this again and again this summer) was the clear highlight of the set and the show. Featuring a new approach of full band improvisation rather then the focused grooving with Trey led exploration, this Sand uncharted territory and opened up worlds of new possibilities for this song. This faster paced jam began with many waves of quieter points building to mini-climaxes within the Sand grooves, taking a musical approach from the 2001 that preceded it. The initial section of the Sand also resembled the wide open musical landscape of the 2001 grooves that had preceded it. This Sand then takes off on a dark journey climaxing in a sinister fashion which the band continues to build upon, reaching dizzying heights before Trey's classic Sand licks that settle the ship back into port, back on the Sand-y shore. This Sand could also be a sign of newly charted waters for this jam all summer, which should bring many unbelievable moments like those that were created this evening. Serious freak scene here people, jamming at the next level, Sand is only beginning to hint at it's true potential. At many points in the jam, all band members are playing far outside their conventional Sand characters, and creating some of the more improvised and exciting moments of the first night of the summer.
The band immediately dropped into a Hood (thanking Mister Minor, perhaps?), but paused before the "Harry!" for a brief Dog-Faced interlude in the intro which as the jam began, brought out the guest violinist and bluegrass legend Sam Bush and mandolin player Ronnie McCoury, and banjo player Rob McCoury. Showing these musicians the highest level of respect by bringing them out in one of the more sacred and Phishier jams in the book, they seemed right at home in the improvisational territory of the Hood, and each blended right in with the ideas at hand. After each guest stepped up and led a part of the jam, Trey then stepped up to lead them in a beautifully orchestrated climax. The climax featured all musicians locked in on each others musical thoughts and movements as they each offered insane harmonic melodies, bringing the jam to the top. This uncharacteristic guest appearance in the depth of a jam proved unusually successful as all involved immediately were comfortable and completely together in building the jam.
All guests remained and Ricky Skaggs, as well as Del McCoury and his band joined the stage, now strewn with bluegrass legends, as Phish led them through a "Blue and Lonesome", then "I'm Coming Home," followed by Bill Monroe's "Uncle Pen" which featured many solos by guest legends giving the song, and it's late creator, its due, and the Nashville crowd seemed quite entertained. After this a woman took the stage, who, after some wondering questions and glances among the puzzled crowd, proved to be none other than Wynonna Judd! The current pop country star proceeded to lead Phish and the remaining guests through a dramatic and belted-out version of Freebird, driving the appreciative Southern crowd to a frenzy. The band ended the set largely tongue-in-cheek, as all hoped for a Phishy encore to end this great evening.
Never ones to let down, the band came out and dropped a relatively normal sized, yet very hot version of You Enjoy Myself. The band got into some very rhythmic electronic sounding grooves during this jam with shorter phrases from all band members. A serious and necessary dance session climaxed this YEM before the band dropped into the heavy bass grooves wrapping up the fun for the evening. Giving a nod to last summer's 7/1/99 Nashville 30 minute long YEM under full on thunder and lighting storms and monsoon-like conditions at the very same Amphitheatre, this YEM wrapped a phenomenal first evening of the US Summer edition of Phish 2000. It looks like it should be a great summer to have your dancing shoes on (or off if that's your style, just take care of them) and get ready for some summertime millennial Phish grooves to carry you any place you'd like to go. If tonight's Jiboo, 2001>Sand means anything, I think we're cleared for take off......
-Mister Minor - firstname.lastname@example.org
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