I saw a ton of shows on this tour, and the first night in Jersey may well be my favorite Summer `99 piece. Simply put, the jamming starts early, and doesn't let up. The first set is littered with fabulous song selection and placement, from the slick "Ghost" to the lovely "Axilla" > "Theme" and the raging "YEM" closer. The boys had been playing great first sets up through this stretch, actually, from the Camden "Chalk Dust" and "Gin", to the "Foreplay/Longtime" and "Curtain", "Halley's" of the two Great Woods shows. But whereas the Great Woods shows had second sets with as many lulls as high points, this second set in Jersey was a thing of beauty.
"Meatstick" skeptics should hear this version. It clocks in at about twenty one minutes and has some of the best jamming Phish did in `99. Bar none the best one out there, and a great example of how good a jam vehicle this song can be. I've been waiting for them to take advantage of that potential like this ever since, to no avail. The early segment has some playful banter about setting the world record in Oswego, and then once the dance is out of the way launches into a really intricate, spacey and danceable jam that I've listened to countless times since. Fans of the epic 4/3/98 show at Nassau should hear this jam. Very much in the same vein as the "Roses" -> "Jam" -> "Piper" -> "Jam", if you get my drift. As if that weren't enough, the "SOAM" -> "Kung" -> "Jam" runs a full half hour without letting up. The "Melt" caught us off guard, having been just played (fantastically) in Great Woods, and sounded almost like a "2001" tease. But it leads effortlessly into the highest energy "Kung" you'll hear, with harmonic vocals towards the end that just push the boys in a balls-to-the-walls jam that last seventeen minutes.
Absolutely fantastic show.