, attached to 1996-08-16

Review by MiguelSanchez

MiguelSanchez I was not at the clifford ball, so i can't really comment on the "good times factor," but it high this one was up there. now, i can speak on the musical intensity of these shows. while i feel the 2nd night of deer creek was the best show of the tour, i feel the ball was the best "stand," granted all the shows were one and done except creek, ball, and red rocks. anyway, this is my favorite of the 2 night clifford ball, phish's first "intentional" festival. after sugarbush was flooded last summer, phish was inspired to do this...

a nice ripping chalk dust opens this one up in fine form. pretty standard opener but it gets the crowd grooving in the right direction. bathtub gin brings the first jam of the festival. they don't go too far out for gin, but it is a good solid first set jam. trey and page work off each other quite well as they navigate back through to the gin theme. yamar is a nice cool easy summer breather before they crank out a pretty sharp ac/dc bag. esther is played well; it's not my favorite phish tune, but hey... the divided sky provides another nice improvisatory song. you can start tell phish is really feeling it here. trey comes out of the silent portion flying high. a quick but always fun halley's moves nicely into a strong bowie set closer.

the second set kicks off with a pretty straight forward but still rocking split open and melt. nothing too far out, but they are playing nice and sharp on this one. a quick run through sparkle brings us to a very rocking free. this set seems to really be picking up steam here, but they bring it down a peg with a rare mid set squirming coil. this leads us into the acoustic mini stage that was previously brought out at red rocks and deer creek. this would also be the last time we would see this full set up. anyway, all of that is well played, but fairly straight forward. then, like red rocks, they follow the acoustic mini set with a killer mike's song. i like this one more than the red rocks version, less than the deer creek version. trey really delves into this one, page works off of trey nicely, and the gordon/fishman rhythm section is rock solid. this mikes finds its way into a nicely explored simple. the set closers with a nice funky/fun contact>weekapaugh combo. weekapaugh is especially blazing. trey and gordon trade some real hot licks through out this 'paugh..check it out.

the final set of the "official show" kicks off with a nice laid back maksiuaup, which leads to a killer pre 1997 2001. page and fishman are particularly tight on this one. 2001 really blew up in 97-98, but in 1996, phish displayed some very interesting formative versions. if you like this one, check out the versions from halloween, msg, and red rocks. speaking of songs that really started to blow up around this time, down with disease followed 2001. trey leads the charge on this one, and the boys,especially for 1996, really took this one deep. they blaze through a strong, focused, tight jam before they dive into a little funk. this funky jam leads nicely into nicu. after this very serious stretch of music, the boys deliver beautifully on life on mars. this really fit in this set, and the guys sounded great. keeping with the excellent flow of the set, fishman leads the charge into my favorite harry hood of the summer. alpine's was good, but they really cut loose here. this leads into a nice fireworks jam, that probably was much cooler in person than it is on my super crisp sbd cassette. amazing grace would be a weak encore if it weren't for the whole flat bed truck jam.

all in all, this is an excellent first night at phish's first festival. a must have for any fan.

highlights:

set 1:
bt gin, ac/dc bag, halley's>bowie

set 2:

free, mike's groove

set 3:
2001>dwd>nicu, life on mars>hood


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