It was an unusually sunny summer day on the coast of Maine. My significant other and I spent the afternoon in downtown Old Orchard Beach, eating ice cream and lobster rolls and walking along the beach. I actually had a sunburn already when we headed back to The Ballpark for the show.
The Ballpark is a small stadium, built for a minor league baseball team in the ‘80s. It wasn't anywhere near full for the show — my s.o. and I had huge amounts of dancing space where we were planted in front of the tapers’ section, and there was almost nobody in the stands. This was the last truly mellow, uncrowded Phish show I had the pleasure of experiencing.
The beginning of the first set was filled with fairly short songs. It was fun, though — especially hearing “NICU”, which had been a rarity before the Summer '94 tour, and which I had never heard on tape. The high point of the first set, though, was “Reba”. It wasn't the sort of “Reba” that you search for on tape, like the “Reba” on Halloween later in 1994, but there was a certain magic being there. The sun was setting, and tiny clouds in the west (away from the stage) were turning various shades of pink. Trey began staring off into the clouds, and then, quietly, playing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. I think the entire crowd looked back to see what he was staring at.
The second set featured more composed stuff (“Lizards”, “Bouncing”, “It's Ice”, “Silent in the Morning”, “Julius”) between the “Split Open and Melt” opener and the “Squirming Coil”. It didn't matter to me at the time, though — this was my sixth show, and I was just starting to build a tape collection. It was such a thrill to hear “Lizards” live after listening to it on tape on the drive to Maine!
The high point in the show, though, was “Antelope”. Imagine “Antelope” has just begun. The crowd goes wild. They improvise around a little on the quiet part, then move on to the louder jam, and then suddenly the sky erupts in an umbrella of pink fire droplets. Big "Ooooos" from the crowd. A great fireworks display — explosions in clusters, one after another, building a visual crescendo while the jam built aurally. At one point the band started playing the fireworks — drums hit when the fireworks went off, a little rising guitar note for the rising spark, followed by chords timed with the explosion. Page played one of the fireballs exactly the way it looked. I swear I was looking at an image of the pleasure sensors in my brain going off in response to the music during the entire fireworks display.
They held the end of “Antelope” for quite a while (waiting for the fireworks to end?), but ended up moving on to “Suzie Greenberg”. The fireworks finale came near the beginning of “Suzie”.
I've seen fireworks to Sousa marches, and I've seen fireworks to Handel's “Water Music” (which was very good, by the way), but I don't think I ever fully experienced fireworks until I saw them with “Run Like An Antelope”.
During the “Fire” encore, roadies lit a Phish-logo ground fireworks display to send us off to July 4th with our brains exploding.