Due to the fact that a tape of this show has never come my way, this review will have to consist of mainly my personal memories of the show. Most of the music has long since been lost to me.
The first thing I noticed after the trip across the Hudson River from New Paltz was how different the feel was at the Chance that particular night. We had bought tickets at the door, but many people were bummed later to find it had sold out shortly thereafter. However, unlike other sold-out shows I had seen at The Chance, this crowd seemed friendly and familiar with each other. Not like the drunken, rowdy crowds at shows like Joe Walsh and Johnny Winter. I had gotten this feeling at Phish shows before, but this night was different.
After getting into the tiny, ancient vaudeville theater, my companion and I walked past the merchandise table. I was already signed up for the mailing list, but after she jotted her info down, I wrote my name and a little note saying "hi" to the band. It was for this reason that I think the following happened.
After getting a spot to stand near the center and against the second rail (about 1 foot up and twenty-five feet back), my friend went to use the bathroom. So there I stood, watching the opening band more or less alone when a guy came by and stood next to me, in her spot. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: "Excuse me, but someone is standing there. She just went to…you're Mike Gordon."
Me: "Cool. Pleased to meet you." (while shaking hands)
Then a long pause passed by as we watched the opening band…
MG: "Pretty cool band huh?"
Me: "Actually, I think they suck."
There was then another long pause as we took in Skratch Baxter. Then a couple of guys came over fawning, screaming "MIKE GORDON!" and asking for autographs. He obliged them, then excused himself as he disappeared backstage. About that time, my companion returned to her place beside me, and I proceeded to relay the story to her. Her response? "Well, don't look now, but Fishman is standing on your other side."
I turned to look just as he was leaving. Drat! Perhaps another time, Henrietta.
Eventually Phish hit the stage, and I remember a slow start followed by a toe-tapping “Rocky Top”, and then an equipment malfunction. Our setlists remind me that it was “Colonel Forbin” that brought us a mystery guest on some large, odd instrument (reported to be a didjeridoo, but I remember it as one of those big horns they play on the mountains of Switzerland). “Sweet Adeline” was preceded by an explanation of how The Chance used to be a vaudeville theater way back when. Trey felt this was a good reason to sing “Sweet Adeline” without the benefit of amplification.
I believe it was during set break that some friends from college convinced me to join them on what passed at that time as "the rail": leaning against a five-foot stage, right at Trey's feet. I spent most of the second set marveling at Trey's guitar playing. I remember at some point being amazed by how many frets he could spread his fingers across.
I remember less of the second set then the first. But what sticks with me most is that when Fishman came out from his kit to sing “I Didn't Know”, he was wearing that funky superhero suit he used to have. It was made of a red and blue satin-like material so form-fitting it looked like the seams were about to bust! Hilarious. As I recall, my comment after the show was "that outfit was so tight you could tell if he was circumcised or not." (No, I don't remember the answer.)
Oh well, I guess if I was to keep any memory of this show it would be Zeroman standing at the edge of the stage with only his face protruding from that tight, red hood with the tiny cape coming off the back of his neck.
Speaking of “Hood”s, that's what the encore was, I believe by request. There were many people screaming what I thought was "hairy" when Phish came back onstage (not only did I not have many tapes then, but Harry was relatively rare). So Trey did a little speech that was lost on me, concerning the Vermont Dairy Farmers. And away we went….