, attached to 1998-08-09

Review by kipmat

kipmat Ok, let's all take a deep breath. Yes, many Phish fans are also Grateful Dead fans. The members of Phish are also avowed fans, and both the band and the scene owe, and acknowledge, an immense debt to the trails blazed by the Dead. All of this is to say that I understand the powerful significance of Phish playing Terrapin Station as the encore to this show. I'm not being naive, or narrow-minded, and I am not trolling to get a rise out of my fellow phans.

Summer Tour '98 is remembered for all the surprise cover tunes that the band would break out almost nightly. Most of them were cool, but a little ragged, like the boys were daring themselves to get away with playing the song. Terrapin Station is *not* ragged; in fact, it is really well played, perhaps even cautiously played, as if the band wouldn't allow themselves to get away with a sloppy cover of a highly-esteemed Dead tune on the 3rd anniversary of Jerry Garcia's passing. It's one of the classic and classiest encores of the band's career. It's worth hearing just for the crowd reaction - truly awe-inspiring.

But as great as the encore is, IMO it doesn't make up for two of the weakest sets of the tour. I use the term "weakest" to reflect on the surprising strength of the rest of the tour - 3 shows from this tour have seen official release: 7/15, 7/20, and 8/11. Before listening to this show, I listened to all of the preceding shows starting with 7/31 Polaris. I thought the Polaris show was also on the weak side, but the other shows from Alpine through MPP were great, right there with the shows from the incredible West Coast run that started this tour.

Virginia Beach '98, to my ears, has three highlights: Terrapin encore, the jam out of AC/DC Bag (possibly the most upbeat Summer '98 jam), and the downright precious Waste->SOTR. All three are must-hear moments, standing with pride alongside other highlights from this tour. But the rest of the show gave me a case of the "meh"s. I can forgive the band for a lackluster first set Bathtub Gin, since the previous two versions were among the all-time best, but the Bowie and Antelope are very noodle-y, simmering but not boiling, and the funk jam in YEM lasts only slightly longer than the vocal jam.

I'm glad I listened to the whole show, and I can appreciate Phish shows where the highlights come in the quietest, most restrained moments. But I feel strongly that, top-to-bottom, this is a "below average Phish show", and with a show rating of 4.495, it is the most overrated Phish show on this site. If you are inclined to disagree with my opinions, feel free to PM me with an explanation, and I will give you a full refund on this show review :)


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