, attached to 1999-07-18

Review by n00b100

n00b100 Quick note - I'm still not entirely sure how the last review on this page made it to this page, let alone the Phish Companion. I mean, I get what the person's trying to say, but it managed to neither sum up the experience of being there nor the music being played, and you kind of need to do one or the other when you're reviewing a show. No wonder it's carrying a hefty -11 rating.

Set 1: The first big moment comes in the Gin, which settles into an uptempo, Page-driven groove that you can dance to in the living room if that's your sort of thing; it's a different beast from the Went Gin, less heavenly rockout and more 2001-esque dance party. The Del McCoury section is a lot of fun (especially the bluegrass breakdown after I'm Blue), with Phish's respect for them palpable throughout, and the BOTT the highlight. The other highlight of the set is the Chalk Dust, which steps out for a glorious jam that gives us some nice tension and release.

Set 2: Jim starts things off, and it soon drops into dark territory, Trey getting off some growling guitar work, the band whipping up an almost tribal rhythm behind him. Then the jam suddenly shifts into fifth gear, while still retaining its dark demeanor, peaking superbly with about 5 minutes to go before going even darker, Page playing some monster movie soundtrack piano notes, which allows Free to perfectly sneak in. The Free jam is almost metallic; it's pounding without being ponderous (well, maybe a tad ponderous). The rest of the set's of no particular interest.

Set 3: The Piper here starts off full of fury, then gets more rhythmic and funky (a bit like the earlier Gin), an exciting and sharp jam that brims with controlled energy before the energy ratchets down and Prince Caspian starts up. Caspian and Wilson, but then Wilson grows menacing, and then they start up Catapult. Trey goes on about the Meatstick dance thing, then starts lecturing about books versus television, brings up heavy metal (leading into a fun Smoke on the Water jam and even more fun comparison with Cat Scratch Fever), and then finally gives us a proper Icculus narration (but not before Fish throws out Miss You, leading to a jam on *that* for a few measures). Quinn's a nice bustout (although Trey incorrectly calls it a Dylan song - well, it IS, but - ah, never mind), and Fluffhead ends an odd set, to say the least.

Encore: Thumbs up, although a step down from last year's Hood.

Final thoughts: Night one has some good moments, but my socks stayed firmly on all throughout. Night two...jeez. The Gin, Piper, and Jim are all strong jams (especially the Gin), but they're isolated in otherwise unspectacular sets (although the bluegrass really is charming and worth hearing); the Icculus stuff is fun but the replay value is not all that high. I'd say both shows are worth the listen once, but you can pluck out the best jams and safely discard the rest.


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