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Permalink Posted by n00b100 on , attached to 1998-11-02
n00b100This show, as we all know, contains one of the greatest sets that Phish ever played. And that reputation is fully deserved - the Tube and its attending jam are a marvelous blend of '97's funk and '99's space, the segue into a ferocious Drowned is marvelous, and the sequence ends with a perfect, relaxed JJLC, not to mention that great Limb by Limb and...

What? Oh.

So, yes, this is the famous DSOTM show, the ultimate example of You Snooze, You Lose, as an arena that can probably generously be half-full gets treated to a surprise musical costume that Phish basically learned in less than a day (!!!) as their reward for a) being in West Valley City, Utah, and b) not skipping the show after Halloween in Vegas. And, all jokes aside, that first set is really quite good, and the musical costume itself is just fine (IMO), but does anybody REALLY think the musical quality is the main reason the show is rated the way that it is? To me, at least, the show is all about Phish covering one of the albums that would probably hold the most meaning to their audience (as well as to them, I imagine), in a tiny venue in the middle of nowhere, for no real reason other than they're Phish and they do things like this (hell, with Tweezepplin and the "S" show, they still do), with the crowd going absolutely bonkers as the album slowly unfolds in front of them, in a way probably no Phish crowd has ever done before or since. There's a lot to be said for that, much as there's a lot to be said about how people felt at Big Cypress or the Went or any major event in Phish history - and this might honestly be the biggest, all things considered.

That being said, having listened to the show on tape, I find myself wishing that the show's inherent specialness could be divorced from the actual music itself (which, again, is anywhere between pretty good to very good). I don't care too, too much about DSOTM (my go-to for Pink Floyd is Wish You Were Here), but I know that plenty of people do, and I honestly think many Phish fans do, which definitely helps this show's reputation. As a "musical costume" show, I don't think the show as a whole tops 1994, nor do I think the costume section tops 1996 (both in musical value, as the Remain in Light performance is damn near perfect, or in historical significance, for obvious reasons). It doesn't have to, of course, but that makes a difference; nobody really plumps for Halloween '96 or even '94 as best show ever, do they? And I think the surprise factor has a bigger role in the show's rep than maybe it should; would people care as much if they'd just played this on Halloween, or even if they'd flip-flopped this and Loaded? Ultimately, the weight of this show's reputation tends to crush it a little bit, a bit like Big Cypress's reputation does that show a disservice. Maybe that's just me.

In the end, I absolutely, wholeheartedly recommend this show to any person that hasn't heard it before, if only to make a judgment yourself about its quality. You might end up keeping the whole show, or just the DSOTM part, or even (much less likely) just the first set. And that's okay; that's what loving this band, and the countless hours of music they've produced for us, is all about.
Score: 5

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