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Link Friday, 07/12/1996
Melkweg, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Set 1: Wilson > DividedDivided Sky, Horn, SOAMeltSplit Open and Melt, Ya Mar > Funky Bitch, Taste, ThemeTheme From the Bottom, Tweezer > Llama

Set 2: It's Ice[1] -> CaspianPrince Caspian[1] > Mike'sMike's Song[1] -> AntelopeRun Like an Antelope[1] -> Purple Rain > HYHUHold Your Head Up, Jam[2], NICU[1] -> SlaveSlave to the Traffic Light[1], SuzySuzy Greenberg

Set 3: BowieDavid Bowie[1] -> Free[1], Hello My Baby

Encore: GinBathtub Gin, JBGJohnny B. Goode

[1] Unfinished.
[2] Interactive, as the band jammed on chords yelled out by the fans.

Noteworthy Jams: Jam

Average Song Gap: 8.56

Performers: Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon

Notes: It's Ice, Caspian, Mike's Song, Antelope, NICU, Slave, Bowie, and Free were all unfinished. The jam before NICU was interactive, as the band jammed on chords yelled out by the fans.

Song Distribution:
4 Billy Breathes
3 Lawn Boy
3 The White Tape
2 Rift
2 A Picture of Nectar
2 Junta
1 Stash
1 The Man Who Stepped into Yesterday

Songs by Debut Year:

This show was part of the "1996 Summer European Tour."

nichobert , attached to 1996-07-12 Permalink
nichobert I never realized that people viewed all these unfinished songs as some sort of flubbery until today.

Just seemed like the theme of the 2nd (which includes the 3rd) set was to throw repeated curveballs.

If this set happened a year later, I think it would have been taken better. In 1996, people apparently weren't ready for a Phish willing to tinker with their catalouge, play weird jams out of NICU and leave all the big peaks on the table.

Is it the best played show ever? God no. But in retrospect, it's quite a bit more interesting than a typical summer 96 show where they just stuck to the script, tried not to mess up, and got off stage. I love that it's this weird slice of summer 97 transported back a year early.
Score: 7
, attached to 1996-07-12 Permalink
(Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

This was one of the most eagerly anticipated shows of all time. Phish, the biggest psychedelic party band of our generation, was playing Amsterdam, the party and cannabis capital of the world. The announcement of Phish's very first show in Amsterdam was a dream come true for aphishionados everywhere. Unfortunately, what many thought would be one of the best Phish shows of all time turned out to be one of the worst. This show is actually proof of how potent the pot is in Amsterdam. Apparently, the pot is so powerful that it causes the best musicians in the world to forget how to play their own songs. Throughout the show there are many mistakes made both lyrically and musically. Many songs and jam segments remained unfinished or ended in a restrained or quiet manner. All of the jam segments are short, simple, and mellow. The main reason the jam segments are lame is because Trey appears to be stoned. In fact, in the middle of the show he says the band is going to take a break and go smoke some hash buds. It is hard to hear him during many songs, and there are no spine-tingling guitar solos from him. The endings of so many songs in this show are lame because Trey doesn't "go off" with fiery solos to wrap up the endings like he normally does. In fact, the three words that best sum up this show are mellow, sloppy, and strange. Most of the playing sounds boring and uninspired. Then again, I'm sure the audience was so zonked they never even noticed.
The “Wilson” and “Divided Sky” that open the show sound decent. In fact, the “Divided Sky” is one of the best-played songs of the night, which is surprising giving its complex compositional nature. “Horn” and “Split Open” are next. “Horn” is played normally and “Split” starts off fine, including the jam segment. But eventually the jam begins to get super mellow, and Trey barely plays anything. The volume lowers and the tempo slows down as jam becomes very quiet and hushed. A typical “Split” ends in loud, chaotic, powerful fashion. But the final ending notes of this “Split” are played as though someone was whispering. “Ya Mar” is next and is okay until the end. Trey and Page just keep playing the same boring note over and over again for about ten seconds. Then all of a sudden it sounds like the band is going to bust into “BBFCFM”, but instead they opt for “Funky Bitch”. In the middle of “Funky Bitch” the band goes into "hush" mode and plays really quietly as Mike whispers instead of sings. Luckily, the band eventually gets louder and they finish up the song in standard fashion. The rest of the set is decent with “Taste” and “Theme” getting honorable mentions as standard versions and sounding fine. “Tweezer” has a nice segue into “Llama” to close out the set.
The second set begins with a series of segues (“Ice” > “Caspian” > “Mike’s” > “Antelope” > “Purple Rain”) that looks nice on paper, but looks can be deceiving. “Ice” and “Caspian” are okay, but “Mike’s Song” is awful and among the worst versions ever because Trey does nothing. He is inaudible during most of this short “Mike’s Song” until the segue into “Antelope”. This is a lame segue, because at this point the jam dissolved into nothing but Page. As the “Antelope” kicks in over the keyboards, Trey comes back to life. “Antelope” is uptempo and eventually starts to rock out a bit. They play most of “Antelope” fine until they get to the "Rye Rye Rocco" part. At the moment they should go into that part, they instead segue into “Purple Rain”. The segue itself is perfect, but an odd and dreadful choice. The “Purple Rain” just absolutely kills all the momentum “Antelope” had achieved. The decision to segue into “Purple Rain” ended “Antelope” prematurely and if I was at the show I would have been horrified.
Next up, the audience gets to create a song. Trey asks them to name a few chords and name a groove. A ska groove is chosen and the band plays this new jam, but Trey cuts it off after only forty seconds and says "We're gonna play our song, yours is too weird." Someone should have reminded Trey that practically every song he was playing that night sounded weird. The “NICU” is a perfect example because it is sloppy both vocally and musically and the jam is completely different than a typical “NICU”. However, the segue from “NICU” > “Slave” is nice, but the “Slave” is extremely mellow and unfinished. Usually Trey shines during the end of “Slave” with his powerful and emotional solos. But this “Slave” jam just abruptly ends and dies a quick death without ever going anywhere. Just to show you how stoned Trey was, he sounds amazed when Fishman gets a boring, typical feedback sound from his equipment. "That was Fishman and that was incredible when he plugged his cord in," Trey said excitedly. During the “Suzie Greenberg” that follows, Trey sings the first verse but forgets the rest of the lyrics. There are no vocals in this “Suzie Greenberg”. Trey jokingly says "Suzie, Suzie, Suzie" where he should be singing an actual verse of the song. Since Trey can't remember any of the words, the band just moved directly into the jam portion. Trey remembers to sing the last verse but as the song ends instead of singing the closing chorus of “Suzie Greenberg” energetically, the band just barely whispers it. The set ends with “Suzie”, but for some reason Fishman stays on stage alone and keeps playing drums. He plays a slow, hypnotic beat for about a minute and some audience members don't even realize he is still up there.
The third set begins with a good, normal version of “David Bowie” > “Free”. The “Bowie” is unfinished as the jam gets real mellow and quiet before segueing into “Free”. “Free” is fine, but just like so many jams during this show, this jam just abruptly fades out and ends prematurely. The “Bathtub Gin” during the encore is the exact same way. The jam segment is unfinished and just suddenly ends mysteriously. After “Gin”, knowing this Phish performance was lame as hell, Trey whispers "Rock and roll," and they rock out to “Johnny B. Goode”. This song is so basic there's no way they can screw it up. And they don't. A solid, rocking version of “Johnny B. Goode” ends one of the sloppiest nights of Phish ever.
Score: 6
1blue , attached to 1996-07-12 Permalink
Something stinks in the state of Holland.

I had worked with a couple of traders to get a copy of this show because of a positive review my friend had given it. Naturally, I was excited to hear it when I finally did get it, but I can't say that my expectations were truly met.

Set I was by far the strongest of the three. The Wilson opener was well-played, and Trey ripped through the solo sections. Divided Sky was up next, and once again, it started great. Unfortunately, after the long break in the middle, the band never really gained back the momentum they lost. The song ended unceremoniously. Horn was decent, if only because the mellow solo section was something that Trey could handle at the time. SOAMelt was poor lyrically, as Trey barely sang the lyrics out. Mike managed to hold Ya Mar's vocal section together, but once again, Trey absolutely negated any progress that had been made with a lackluster solo section that Page luckily took over. Mike again sang well on Funky Bitch. Not much to say there. The reworked Taste was interesting, but not anything to listen to particularly. Theme was great until the solo section, where Mr. Anastasio decided to again turn a roaring song into a dreary mess. Tweezer and Llama were uninteresting and I have little to say about their quality.

I am of the firm belief that Trey got, if this is even possible, more stoned during the set break. Set II was an absolute mess; some of the worst Phish I've heard. Ice degraded into another Page-centric section, and listening to Trey wail Caspian into the mic was painful at times. Mike's Song was my least favorite piece of the show. The segue into Antelope was unnatural and unusual to hear. Antelope itself was missing its characteristic opening solos, which were replaced by more half-baked strumming from Trey. Just when I felt that the band had reached its nadir, they brought out Purple Rain. The cover was bad enough to force Prince to change his name in an attempt to never again be associated with the song. Fish's vacuum didn't fit at all, and the vocals by him were understandably lacking, though they even fell short of his usual potential. The jam was an interesting diversion, and was not bad altogether. I wish the same could be said for NICU. The piece was plagued by lyrical errors and lackluster guitar work, including a completely missed chorus by Trey. Slave started decent but quickly devolved until Page managed to save the song from a total crash. I felt like I needed an appointment with a good neurologist after hearing Suzy.

A lobotomy would have been more welcome than another set, but unfortunately, the band played on. Bowie stank worse than the vessel from which Copernicus drank, and unfinished, it felt hollow and one-dimensional. Free was unrecognizable at points, and once again, it pleaded to be finished. The Hello my Baby closer should have been it, but a two-song encore crushed any hopes of an end to the show. Bathtub Gin was unremarkable, and JBG was worthless. Trey's vocals had regressed into inaudible and unintelligible mumbles, but were not the worst of the night. The guitar work surprisingly had improved, but that's not saying much in the scope of this show.

All in all, the night was awful. Perhaps the crowd had a good time, if only because they were as intoxicated as a certain frontman, but to any listener in the present, the show will be one to be remember in infamy. I would only recommend this show if you are purposely looking for a bad night for phish, which is honestly a rarity considering how many shows they've played.
Score: 0
Lee_Fordham , attached to 1996-07-12 Permalink
I was at this show, and I can attest that the crowd as zonked as the band, so I don't think anyone was too critical of the piss-poor play. Between the 2nd and 3rd set, my buddy pointed out that no one was even talking to each other, and it was true, when I looked around, it was just a sea of hazy gazes.

Other random notes:

The scene outside the venue pre-show was an absolute madhouse as you can imagine. Was this the hardest ticket in Phish history? It sure felt like it. You had to cross a little bridge to get to the venue, and then there was a indoor lobby before you had to show your ticket and actually enter the show. As we left behind the hundreds of fingers-in-the-air and shuffled our way in, I saw a guy inside the lobby with his finger up. What horrible strategy, I thought, anyone who had an extra ticket would surely have unloaded it by now. Oh well, I'm sure he won't be too disappointed, there will be many people who don't get in... and before I could finish that thought, someone actually pulled out an extra for the guy. Miracle, indeed!

* Between the 1st and 2nd sets, Fishman was just sitting behind his kit for like 15 minutes, and no one seemed to notice or care.

* This is an instance where the pre-show hype didn't come close to delivering a quality show, but oh, what great memories of the hype. I will never forget the bewildered looks from the Amsterdam locals who just happened to be walking past the venue on their way home from work.
Score: 0
DaReba , attached to 1996-07-12 Permalink
Holla to phistracks for all my reviews!!When I got these tapes I was pumped . had to listen to this one because of the expectations I remember of the show and then reading reviews. so this is my objective take
Wilson was fire. the guys are on and the fans are pumped
this divided sky is powerful to say the least . Fish is the star. Trey is aware and on top of things including the loud bombastic train that the rest of the band has formulated. then trey goes into his DEG-CPU-jam where he's in the sam octave as page and mike. I love it. Page gives us some perfect chords at the end. Solid Didvided sky
I dont like horn as a song on phish's best nights so....
You could tell by SOAM the crowd was trashed becausue the enthusiasm dissipated . The opening notes didn't elicit the same screams as the other songs and this is a better song than horn.
They are on fire as far as the instruments go. You can hear Trey isnt singing really into the mic but his guitar work is still the same tempo as fish and the rest of the band.
Fish shines here. Trey is content to lay back because he can the trio of fish , gordon, and page is heavy and moving. Trey's ear is so incredible he's loving being engulfed in this metal ball of sound on stage... in my humble opinion...the y brung the jam to a faling metal box ending
Ya MAr was a gimme at the venue and whatever..
Funky Bitch starts off with a bang! again.just listen to Fish and you gotta dance!
Trey is on point. This is a stoner Rock Dance PArty. Page's chords are brilliant and raw . The band is tight. Page's solo is ridiculous. Trey's rhythm guitar playing is always entertaining. The crowd is awake out of the smoker haze by the end of the song. Many request are shouted.
then trey thanks the crowd and acknowledges the no curfew and jokes about leaving to smoke some hash. trey explains the evolution of the name of the song taste.
They proceed into a musically perfect version of the song. Lyrically trey flubs like he did on the santana tor earlier in the month
What happens next is beautiful music. Fish , again , is on point, so is page.
This Them is not extroadinary . but its a fun loud listen. Trey sits back and just pushes this behemoth as far as the moment allows. The fan are silent when the verse starts at the end of the jam, like a prayer.
Score: 0

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