The Library lobby was a medium sized, square room with a wide staircase that rose, from the side-center of the main floor to a second floor/landing with a railing that ran around the perimeter of the space. The stage was set up to face the stairs, about chest high and under the edge of the opposite overhanging landing.
After some campus announcements, which were met with good natured, impatient amusement from the eager people, they introduced the band. We made as much noise as we could, and I remember the guitarist grinning as he came on and the keyboardist settling in in his seat also smiling, the bass player looking possibly annoyed. A small sub-group of the crowd screamed as a bearded troll dude in basketball glasses and a donut muumuu climbed up and waved, to settle behind the drum kit.
The music started and then it's just memories of dancing, hard and free, upstairs alone, downstairs with others, up front at the stage, up above the band on the balcony , looking down at the tops of their heads while they jumped on trampolines! Hiding, wrapped in the curtains in the dark corners of the room, stealing a reprieve during intense moments.
I remember Mike and the way he looked as he stepped up to the front to take a solo, he looked us in the eye, pressed his mouth into a thin line, and went off in a fashion I had never before witnessed, and have never since. The crowd was absolutely dumbstruck, peoples mouths were hanging open, their bodies rolling in automatic response to the depth and power of THE BASS. A small satisfied smile curling him up at the corners, he stepped back. Other memory fragments are of all of the players taking turns shining, as a whole shifting musical styles like chameleons, and performing musical acrobatics that left us reeling.
They really treated us as though we were special that night, and even though I'm sure it was more about the new west coast fans who had followed them up from the Catalyst onward, I felt like they made a connection with Evergreen and Olympia.
I love this band. I always will.
In this song by song review, I have tried (and failed) to objectively review the song, followed by any memories that floated up. This, of course has gotten muddled up here and there so bugger all anyway. Here goes.
TMWSIY - Flowing, beautiful way to start things off. Building smoothly as Page and then Fish come in to fill into a nice rich flow. Entrancing.
We were standing listening to them noodle around in a nice tuning sort of way and it just kept jelling until they had this nice cadence going, I was sort of expecting something SCA-ish when they dropped into>
Avenu Mulkenu - Whoa! Fish hits the crazy cowbell rhythm, and they are off into some intense Israeli funk, with Mike stepping up to punch us repeatedly, and then tickle, then tumble back to the depths, the gusto of the return to the verse is resounding. Slam to a stop and then >
This is the Mike Moment I referred to in the first half of my review. I was sold. This was a year when Phil was the name in the mouths of all the deadheads. Terms like, "lead bass" and "sick bass" were sprouting like mushrooms from the Greener patter. And Mike just destroyed. I had an instant new favorite bass player.
TMWSIY - Ok, back to this? Are they starting over? I was confused. But lovely, it winds delicately into a blues tinkle before >
Tweezer - The building starts dropping around us and This Groove is the groove that will haunt me for the following months until the release of Nectar. So smooth and loose, growling and rolling it around. Mike slamming and twisting it up into pointy shapes. They drop to the jam and let it soak, with mike hitting low tones, and then sproinging around some more. They roll into a typical tweezer grinding jam structure with Mike, Oh shit, Mike still just so out there. They start to fall toward chaos with Fish holding them together. Page starting to bang around noisily and they begin to climb. Trey is sonic backwash and screeching tones. Classic slow-down ending with a nice return to the theme to thump a few more bars until they drop off.
I remember being a little scared during this jam. Mike and Fishman had impressed me most at this point in the show.
Esther - Story time! Amazing rendition of this tune, other than loosing sync as mentioned by others. Such a treat. Page's tone is so perfectly old-time carnival. On this listen I am drawn to the crispness of Fishmans cymbal work during the composed sections. Puffy soft. As much as the warble is a cool effect, I remember the pureness of the tone Trey had and hope for an upgrade someday.
We were enthralled as Trey made cartoons in our heads. The gravity in the room got palpably weaker during Esther's flight over the town and I felt the floating. And I know I'm not the only one.
Oh Kee Pa - Delightful! Jazz dexterity!
The sheer variety was making us giddy.>
AC/DC Bag - Oh my god, the rock! They are at full steam now. Punching percussive version, with a dirty, dirty dance groove. Trey's solo is interesting in that it sounds to me like he starts to go off, backs off, and just plucks for a while as though he is thinking things through and then begins to weave it into an enormous machine-gun peak.
The dancing became a frenzy at this point. The fun meter went through the roof but when Trey built into his ending solo, the crowd slowed and watched as he caught fire.
Fluffhead - Fantastic. All members put this incredible piece to a thorough work out. Seconding the appreciation of the fuzz bass Mike has going during "check it out". Can't really do this one justice with words. Fishman's closing "off your head!" fills me with glee.
This one made us laugh in the beginning. Fluff's Travels was immense and I remember during this time people meandered around, hugged and found new vantage points, there being nowhere you could go that was not in fair sight of the stage.
Tweezer Reprise - Spooky return! Love this here! The sounds Mike generates are unbelievable.
If the show had ended here, I would have been a happy man.
During set break, we stood out front, shellshocked, with maybe 25 people, passing amazed smiles and other goodwill around. It didn't even occur to me to stroll around the building to see if maybe the other hundred people were hanging out with anyone interesting in the loading zone. D'oh!
Ya Mar - It was confusing all right. Calypso! This has a great early sound to it, Fish the man with the kick drum! They sound like they had some loosening up fun during the intermission with the locals. Lotsa fun energy. Leo, when called in such an extravagant manner sounds just a little shy, and takes it in a fairly restrained fashion. New car. Cigar. Trey weaves growing green lattice basketry out of coconut fronds. Piña Coladas circulate.
Too much magic, no clear memories other than wanting to limbo.
Melt - Things are getting dangerous again, I like hearing this so slow, it really gives you time to hear the complexity of the composed section. They stick the harmony bridge, and drop to a nice jazzy tick-tock jam. Mike thudding. This sounds better the louder I play it. Cacophonic, spiraling, space-pulling-apart jam. Trey in full control of his wailing dissonance. Great return to the finish.
This one blew me away, No dancee, all watchee.
Jim - This is a great version of this song, but the energy stays pretty even. Love Fish's Boom-tish beat.
This was super fun, and it was all starting to blend together at this point.
For a long time the setlist for this show was unconfirmed and thought to be missing songs in addition to not having a circulating source. If I recall correctly, this was the missing song!
Magilla - Jazz interlude! Someone in the audience is very happy about this song.
Musical chameleons indeed. In the true jazz style, they all take solos, hot ones.
Llama - Fishman really does miss it hard, but they recover nicely. Mike makes this one a real juggernaut. After a shaky start finishes his solo with a flaming run.
YEM - You hear Trey try to start into Gin, and Fish stops him with a "whack". They get it together and launch. Every one is very focused sounding. Mikes solo bridge is so lofty and burbling. Superfunk vocal section into cool keyboard space with Mike flatulent while they pull out the tramps. Trey's intro to his solo is so fluently bizarre and unflashy but just prescice. Mike mutating like a beast from the Outer Funk Belt of Planet Booty. My visage runs like hot wax. Vocal jam has lilly-octopussy. And then you go and get a flat tire.
This was IT for me. I thought I was in already, but this changed my DNA. I'm pretty sure that's partly me you can hear screaming during the first lull after Trey's first break. Then the vocals, oh the vocals…
When the tramps were pulled out, I ran around to the top, as I mentioned, and watched them do the jump segment. My mind reeled as they hit the beat, returned to playing and began to do 1/4 turns back and forth in gear-like synchrony. I stayed for the rest of the jam, watching fingers twist and writhe until the vocal jam when I decided it was time to find Kia (She's my sugar).
Bathtub Gin - Some mellow space-age pop to groove along with. I love this song. Short early version, gets (nice and) sloppy at the end.
Kia and I were giggling and trying to dance and hug at the same time to this one. To discover she was loving the music almost as much as I was was a joyful surprise, as she is a mild dead-head at best with zero tolerance for FZ (a hero of mine). We were so all in.
Icculus - Bringing us into the fold. Tart it up with a camp sensibility.
Antelope - Slinky jazz intro, love Pages sound! Somebody sings "Doop-doo" in there. Huge rolls from the drums and Mike digs in deep. Trey makes lovely melodic trills over the top. Too much to describe here, I've been listening to this since it popped up a couple years ago, and it is still beyond me. The rhythm breakdown is so beautifully unhurried.
I thought it was over. I was spun. Just jelly. Mostly sober, but soooo high.
HYHY > Terrapin > HYHU - As awesome as this one gets. Trey rocks the drums up, the band gets up behind Henrietta and he gets gurggly.
This was so crazy. That's all I remember.
Possum - Heartfelt rendition, sounds like they are having so much fun! Trey's performance during this one, especially the quiet part of the jam, before they crank it up, is my favorite kind of playing from him. Awesome Possum!
They left the stage without a word and quickly returned.
JJLC - Ah Page, so young. This is a nice version of this song, I love Page's extra ham after coming in early. His solo is mellow and smoky, and Trey does sweet things with his.
I was initially a little let down by a standard sounding blues number as an encore, but by the end, with such great solo's I didn't want it to end. Then they leap into >
Alumni Blues - Page attack! This just kills. Letter to Jimmy snaps bogglingly tight.
This was so intense. That year the Evergreen graduating class had chosen "Do you want fries with that?" as their motto, due to poor job outlook in the last recession. Thus the ironic chorus "I'm alright…'cause I got a degree" rang a bittersweet chord to close it out.
"Thanks a lot, see you in the fall."
And we did, at a funky little dive called the North Shore Surf Club.
But that's another story.