, attached to 2002-06-06

Review by howard_roark

howard_roark Nearly one year on from my intro to the world of Phish - TAB 07/21/01 - I attended this show with six of my best friends on the final day of my Junior year of High School. I drove my Mom's minivan to the show, so, there's that.

In the 11 months between my "awakening" and my second Phish-related show, I absorbed Phish with a relentlessness I have few things in my life. To say I was obsessed is a massive understatement. The first two Live Phish Series introduced me to concepts like "December 95," "Harpua," "Sleeper Shows," "Augusts 93," "Cow Funk," "Camden Chalkdust," "Seguefest," etc. All phrases and ideas that would become common-speak. I'd learned I was a massive noob on Phantasy Tour, dedicated much of my disposable income to Blanks & Postage, read "The Phish Book" numerous times, and dreamt of what I would do if/when Phish reunited. When Trey announced his Summer 02 tour, I knew I HAD to go to this show.

My buddies and I walked into the show early and grabbed a spot on the rail, just to the right of Trey. We'd hid the beer we pounded in the lot, and crouched low in the venue every time we got high. We were so goddamn green. I swear, when Trey walked on stage, he pointed right at us. Yes, we were those guys. Probably looked just like the MSG HOOD guy when then lights dropped.

As for the show, this was exhaustive and thrilling all at once. In hindsight it holds zero resemblance to the Phish/Trey of today. I've been told he was on some serious drugs during this show, but have nothing to back it up. All's I know, this was Trey in his prime partying, not yet destructive, phase. He pointed out a topless girl at some point, dedicating the first set to her.

Four songs exceed 25 minutes. The second set was 4 songs proper. Ray Dawn Balloon was simply played to give everyone a fucking break. If I'd learned anything at my first SCI show in April, it was that these shows could be more of a marathon than a relaxing moment of bliss. When the band decides to go deep, you HAVE to be ready to go deep with them.

Push On was a repeat opener for me and I thought it odd that I'd get that at my first two Trey shows. Still, it raged for 25 min and was incendiary. Still, to this day, one of the best moments of live music I've ever experienced. This was the peak of the 99-03 TAB project. Trey looked at this project as a growth of Phish's potential, and thus put everything into it. He and the band were locked in, and every change he called for turned on a dime. I remember wondering at some point if Trey used hand signals as well for Phish changes. I'm glad to say now, that he doesn't need to.

Set I was a blur and a dream. I wanted every song, and they all connected. The closing MLC is one of the greatest moments musically I've ever experienced.

If there was one thing I didn't like about TAB in 02 it was Cyro Baptista. He was loud, abrasive, and created little more than cacaphonous noise alongside Trey. Combining this with the energy required by a 40min Last Tube, sultry Every Story Ends In Stone, and 36min Mr Completely, and I was just gutted by the end of Set II. I was exhausted, tired, and overwhelmed musically. Listening back, the sounds and styles they cover here are confounding. It's one of my favorite pieces of music to throw on. In the moment, it blew me away much more than I was prepared for.

The encore, on the other hand, was pure bliss. Trey sitting in that worn out chair that's nowhere to be found in 3.0, playing Phish classics on the acoustic guitar, pointing at himself during Wilson, it was all perfect. Alive Again with Stash teases was a perfect cap. I wanted Sultans of Swing, but was more than happy with what I got.

This would be my last TAB show, and looking back, one of the best shows I've ever seen. In the moment, I was probably too young and fresh to truly appreciate. Phish would be back soon, and I'd been properly introduced to everything I needed to know this is what I wanted for the rest of my life.
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