If you look at past shows with “Catapult” in them you will notice that most of them are some of the best shows ever. Knowing this, I believed we might be in for something epic on this night. The “Horn” and “Guyute” that followed dashed that dream, however. They’re not bad songs, but just not songs that are played in epic shows, and man have I heard “Guyute” enough already even after two and a half years of Hiatus.
I was pumped for “Round Room” and I believed that this song had great jam potential until they actually did jam on it. This was very typical of the ambient style from 2000, which I am not a fan of. Listen to any of the jams from the second set Hershey 2000 show and you will know what this “Round Room” jam was like.
“Golden Lady” may have been a bustout but it wasn't exciting. That, my friends, is a cheesy song. “Poor Heart” was a welcome boost in energy as much of the crowd was starting to look dazed. “Pebbles and Marbles” was a song I was hoping to see and I thought it could be a second set opener. It may have served better as a set opener, because it just doesn't cut it as a set closer. They were working to get this to rock pretty hard, but I felt it was really choppy and rushed. I love the song, but this version didn't impress at all. This set was the worst of the four this weekend.
For the second set, you could feel the spacey openings of “Disease” right out of the gate and it was on! The beginning of this “Disease” was rough to take, though. The sloppiness was akin to many of the composed sections of the Hampton songs I have heard (see “YEM”). There were some groans, but by the jam section we had forgotten all about it as Trey was absolutely ripping this song apart. This jam got down to a groove pretty quick, not a typical rock and roll “Disease” that can get repetitive and dull by some accounts. I for one like the “Disease” that can settle and groove, and this pleased me just fine.
The segue into “Seven Below” was the first real segue of the weekend and it was the Phish I fell in love with so many years ago. I think Mike was playing the bass line to get the segue going and Trey moved in quickly to follow suit. I didn't think a “Seven Below” could be as good without snowflakes and dancing ice fairies, but this one beat New Year’s. Trey really got the industrial, grungy guitar going. He jammed over the theme and then into open territory, brought back into the theme, back out into uncharted territory, and back into “Disease”! This was absolutely sick, and I was pumped to get a segue both in and out of a great song like “Seven Below”.
“Anything But Me” was fine by me, although it killed a little momentum. I like the song, and at the end it sort of sounded as though they were just going to pick up an ambient jam. At this point a couple of us were thinking/praying for a “2001”, but when “Piper” kicked in we said we would settle. The NYE ”Piper” raged and contained all the energy necessary for the first song back. Could it be beaten?
That “Piper” was Mike Tyson getting bludgeoned by this Lennox Lewis of this “Piper”. It was hands down the best I have seen or heard and I have seen and heard a ton of “Piper”s. The thick gooey funk that worked its way into this twenty minute jam was just what the doctor ordered. The start/stop Trey solo ala so many of those Fall ‘97 shows is something I have been dying to hear again for years. The jam back into “Disease”, which some have incredibly called lame, was magic to my ears. This jam is one that should be ranked with many of the best, and would fit perfectly into the best sets of any Fall ‘97 show.
The segue into “Makisupa” was strong like the “Disease” — > “7 Below”, and the song was entertaining as always. I am surprised I haven't read more people comment on how prominently Trey was saying the "house" lyric because we were all obviously finding out that "the house always wins" this weekend! Did no one else find this funny? I got a good laugh out of it.
The “Friday” encore sucked, no other way to say it. I have come to expect shitty encores from this band over the years, and this was a prime example. Suck it up and send us out into the streets of Vegas
in a frenzy!
Overall it was a great, great weekend. In terms of music, it is probably the best two-night run I have seen since Philly in ‘99. It was the most fun since Vegas 2000. It had glimpses of some of the best Phish jamming anyone has heard since Boise ‘99 and the best of ‘97. There was though some looseness in the composed sections of some of the Phish standards, notably the sloppy “Disease” and some problems in the “Ghost”. Strangely enough, these two songs produced the best jams of the weekend, which means I will surely sacrifice perfect composition for sick jams.