CoreStates Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA
Set 2: MakisupaMakisupa Policeman -> Maze, Bouncin'Bouncing Around the Room, Digital Delay Loop Jam -> TMWSIYThe Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu > Mike'sMike's Song -> Strange Design > WeekapaugWeekapaug Groove, Star Spangled BannerThe Star Spangled Banner
 Key words: “Stink, Stank, Stunk"
 Ended with long Page solo.
Average Song Gap: 10.55
Notes: Makisupa Policeman included the cryptic lyrics “Stink, Stank, Stunk,” which may have been a reference to the theme song in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Weekapaug Groove ended with a long Page solo. The Star Spangled Banner was dedicated to Kate Smith, who used to sing God Bless America at Flyers’ home hockey games.
Songs by Debut Year:
This show was part of the "1996 NYE Run."
This was quite an historic night for me: the first night of the New Year's Run, my second show, and my eighteenth birthday. I still had not yet gotten into the tape-trading scene, so I was not overly familiar with the unpublished music, which gives a whole new approach to the show. My first show was on 10/21/96 (MSG, New York City), but this was the one that truly sold me on Phish. You appreciate things in the moment, rather then as a comparison to the two dozen other times you've heard the same song. For example, I thought Frankenstein was amazing, it totally floored me. Now, after fifteen shows and some 320-plus hours of tape, this song has a “been there, done that” feel. With experience, you really begin to appreciate the nuances of the jam songs and the genius of the improvisations, but at the same time, you tend to lose the excitement of the composed numbers.
The first set is good. The second set smokes because of one man…Page McConnell. If you love Page, you should seek out this show. 1996 is a great year for Page, he really improved. His "mule duel" segments become amazing. This is one of the few shows I've heard that allows Page to shine through, especially compared to later tours. He gets to tear things up on “Maze”, then gets a solo from “Mike's Song” > “Strange Design” and then again at the end of “Weekapaug”. The man was in rare form. The stuff is beautiful, poetic, pure magic. Like I said, I was sold.
From the opening licks of Runaway Jim to the rollicking version of Johnny B. Goode, there was no turning this long time Phish fan away. I agree 100% with the previous reviewer that this was a Page show. The weekapaug may be one of the best I've heard since seeing Phish. Yeah, I could be bias since this was my first show but nothing quite like the experience of the first show and everything played was played with exuberance and fever that isn't always on tap each night the band plays (although the mid-90s had few misses).
Finally, as bad as this may sound coming from a Phish head, I have not found a quality recording of this show. I have the tape but lord, I can barely stomach the quality of my old tapes these days. I've tried the recording from the epic spreadsheet but that one is also low quality. If anyone knows where I might be able to find it, send me a messag on Twitter (@kipdog).
Here's to more "first timers".
Always a good sign to start out a set with Makisupa > Maze. Bouncing would not have been my next choice but the crowd really got into it so what do I know? After that came the meat of the set: Digital Delay Loop Jam -> TMWSIY > Avenu Malkenu > Mike's Song -> Strange Design > Weekapaug Groove . This should be listened to as it is one of the highlights of the 96 Holiday Run. Again, Page should be listened to closely here. Thankfully a very good audience recording has surfaced within the last few months. Until now there has not been a circulated recording to do this show justice.
Johnny B. Goode was not what I hoped for in the encore but at least it was smokin’. No doubt Trey has listened to the Jimi Hendrix version from Berkeley 70 included on the “In The West” album many times.