, attached to 1996-07-12

Review by TwiceBitten

TwiceBitten The most misunderstood show in Phish history = 7/12/96.

Long considered one of their worst gigs ever, this is actually an elaborate prank in which every song in the second set is left unfinished (even the ones not noted on the setlist are missing lyrics) and all the jams devolve into quiet atonal playing (Bowie does it more than once). As a teen I didn't understand this gig and bought the hype on how bad it was, how the band was on mushrooms or particularly potent hash (hey I too have forgotten to play any notes while tripping and jamming) but listening back now I'm noticing all sorts of subtle in-jokes and whispering and stuff. This was Phish's first show in Amsterdam and they are fucking with the audience on a deep and disturbing level.

There are some hints of what's to come in the first set (Melt > Ya Mar > Funky Bitch and Tweezer > Llama) but most of weirdness comes in set two. Just listen to it yourself with fresh ears if you've ever written it off before. Right before they take the break you can imagine Trey smirking to himself when he says "we're just getting warmed up". He knew what he was about to do to these drug addled freaks. Apparently after Suzy Greenberg, the rest of the band left Fishman up on stage to play a "slow hypnotic beat" very quietly by himself (as per the Phish Companion review). You can definitely hear Fish starting the "slow hypnotic beat" at the end of Suzy and I'm pretty sure you can hear it continuing at the start of "Set 3". My thesis here is that Phish never truly took another set break and that at least one member was on stage during the whole of Sets 2 and 3. I wonder if anyone has a recording of the "dead air" and can confirm this. Wow. We as a fan base are so easily deluded. Was Phish covering John Cage on our ass? This is real commitment to your craft here. I'm honestly shocked I've never realized how utterly unique this mindfuck of a show is.

Everyone always said Trey was too stoned at this gig but he had these trustafarian noobs in the palm of his hands. Still does. Trey whispering "rock and roll, man" while intentionally fading out the Gin jam and then blasting into Johnny B. Goode to end the show pretty much says it all...

Best band ever.


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