On the May `94 West Coast tour, they booked a show at The Hult and I knew I had to be there. Silva Hall is the main theater at the Hult, 2,500 capacity, and is an incredible modern acoustically designed concert theater "in the central part of town". www.hultcenter.org/Silva/index.htm .
The ceiling is a "basket weave" surface that reflects sound perfectly.
Every seat has a view and great sound.
This remains perhaps my favorite Phish show of the past twelve years.
Any show that starts off with "Halley's Comet" ->"Llama" sends a clear message from the band that they are out to deliver the goods. That became even more clear when they played an insane version of "Stash". The jams this night were tight and focused, rather than loose and spacey, and the "Stash" got evil. They took it into a very alien sounding atonal pattern that stayed intense, and wound up into the most explosive ending I've ever heard. After the final note, the kid next to me said "That's the best Stash I ever heard, and I'm from f***ing VERMONT!" Highly recommended version, a must have for any fan. It was followed by a strong and emotional "Horse"-> "Silent in the Morning", which was absolutely perfect.
The next song was "Down With Disease", debuted about a
month earlier, and the new song had us dancing down hard during the jam. I remember thinking how great the new songs were. The "Mango Song" that followed had the intensity and sparkle that was escalating through the whole set, and had Trey ad-libbing in-between chorus lines to someone in the audience.
The second set picked up steam again and they laid out a classic
"Mike's"-> "Hydrogen" -> "Weekapaug" that was again tight, clear and focused. The band never seemed to lose their way this night (typical of so many `94 shows) with all four minds combined as one as they turned corners together with ease. "Julius" confirmed my opinion of the new material as it rocked the place. Then after a huge Big Ball Jam came perhaps the finest part of the whole night: "Harry Hood". This "Hood" jam ranks as my all time favorite since I began following Phish in 1991. They take it from a delicate ice petal flower and patiently build it into a very different type of sound with Gordon hammering on his bass strings as if he was some Thunder God, with Fishman slamming punctuation marks into it. Then they return to the classic "Hood" theme, and bring it to an almost sexual climax that peaks once, then again, then again, each one higher than the one before, until one last huge peak with all of them just as focused and powerful as I've ever heard them. This is absolutely my pick for the finest "Hood" of all time.
The encore was completely un-amplified bluegrass, and could easily be heard throughout this acoustic marvel of a hall. Jimi Hendrix's "Fire" wrapped it up with one more electric punch.
I rate this show a solid A+. Pure solid Phish packed in its own juices.