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Link Saturday, 11/16/1996
Civic Auditorium, Omaha, NE

Set 1: Poor Heart > DwDDown with Disease, Guyute, Gumbo, Rift, Free, Old Home PlaceThe Old Home Place, BowieDavid Bowie, Lawn Boy > Sparkle > Frankenstein

Set 2: La Grange > Runaway Jim -> Vibration of LifeThe Vibration of Life -> Kung -> Catapult, Axilla[1] > HoodHarry Hood[2] > SuzySuzy Greenberg[3], Amazing Grace

Encore: We're an American Band[4]

[1] Tribute to the light crew, Leigh Fordham references at end.
[2] Lyrics referenced Leigh Fordham.
[3] Leigh Fordham reference.
[4] Phish debut.

Teases:
· La Grange and Axilla teases in Suzy Greenberg

Noteworthy Jams: Runaway Jim, Harry Hood

Average Song Gap: 19.65

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

Notes: The Vibration of Life was announced by Trey as “Written by God” and was performed for the first time since November 30, 1994 (148 shows). At the end of Axilla, the light crew also received a bizarre tribute and Leigh Fordham, a member of Phish's light crew, was mentioned several times. The Hood lyrics were subsequently altered slightly to include a bit about Leigh Fordham. Suzy Greenberg included Leigh Fordham references as well as La Grange and Axilla teases. We’re An American Band made its Phish debut in the city referenced in its lyrics.

Song Distribution:
2 Stash
2 Rift
2 A Picture of Nectar
1 The Story of the Ghost
1 Billy Breathes
1 Hoist
1 Lawn Boy
1 Junta

Songs by Debut Year:

This show was part of the "1996 Fall Tour."

, attached to 1996-11-16 Permalink
(Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

There always seems to be a stigma with reviews of Phish shows, that someone's review or opinion is almost always wrong about how good or bad a given show is. More recently since the return of Phish, shows have either been tagged with the label of "epic", "best show ever", or "worst show ever". Rarely in reviews does one read about a show that was simply solid, with high energy and great fun all the way around. A show where the setlist had good balance, the sound of the venue was excellent, and the band and the crowd were in high spirit. A show where no particular song crumbled, but a couple stood out as inspirational and emotional markers of the evening. And more importantly, a show you were so glad to be at or kicking the dirt because you were not. A show like the one that took place during the late fall of 1996 in the desolate tiny town in the Great Plains known as Omaha, NE. My intention of this review is not to hype up an underrated show to acclaim some certain status, but to intrigue fans to go and download or trade for this show to enhance their listening pleasure.
One reason this show might be masked of its greatness could be due to what went down at the infamous "M" show on the night before in St. Louis. We drove from Bowling Green, KY only to hit St. Louis. After such a great show, my girlfriend (now wife), along with two roommates were standing in the Kiel Center lot confused as to whether we wanted to drive back home on such a solid note, or to utilize our post-show high energy to hoof it to Omaha. We decided to at least head towards Nebraska and decide by the time we got to Kansas City. We figured if not, then hang out in Kansas City and go home on the following day. So we arrived in Kansas City and slept on our decision.
Naturally, we decided to finish the trip right and head to Omaha. We didn't know what to expect so we ordered four Will Call tickets to be safe from a sold-out show. When we arrived in Omaha, the weather was biting cold with freezing rain. As we drove past the venue the marquee read, "Tonight Phish" and just below, "Sold Out". After a swipe of the brow and "thank goodness we called earlier" heard throughout the car, we proceeded to the lot, which was cold, wet, slippery with ice, and quiet as everyone wanted in when the doors opened.
Inside, the venue was rather small (compared to most Fall 1996 venues and thereafter). The venue had a nice personal feeling to it because of its size. Both the floor and the seats were general admission so we decided to park it right behind the stage in the front row by Page...literally. Sitting in my seat, I would rest my feet on the stage floor, as Page was not too far in front of my seat. The sound and lights from our location were excellent. A nice feature of sitting behind the stage is having a similar view as the band. Our expectations for the show were low (because of the "M" show), but we were still excited to be in such a small venue in the middle of nowhere seeing Phish.
After absorbing the first set's energy by finally getting to sit down during set break, the four of us knew we drove all the way here for a reason and that reason was firmly established during the second set. The “La Grange” opener set a nice opening tone with another reminder that we were in Omaha, getting down to some ZZ Top style country rock and roll. None of us had seen Phish do this number before (and have yet to see it since), which increased our excitement. Following “La Grange” was a dark “Runaway Jim”. As this jam vehicle launched away, there was this immediate feeling of intensity and indifference that eventually led to a deconstructed breakdown into this hum, which began to overtake the sound.
At first it was annoying and I think many were waiting for Paul to fix a feedback problem. But then Trey began to narrate and everyone got interested real fast as he described, defined, and gave us all, the “Vibration of Life”! After Trey announced that the “VOL” had been written by God, the vibe slid right into “Kung”. With this only being my second “Kung” since my first show (10/29/95), I was very excited.
Many of the jams so far in the evening were taking on a dark connotation, with heavy use of red, yellow, and white lights from Kuroda. Thus “Kung” fit right into the theme. Soon after the chant, the odd calypso beat of “Catapult” sprung in as Mike performed gypsy-like dancing at the front of stage while waving a purple handkerchief. To break from this odd but rather amusing part of the show, the band jumped right into “Axilla”.
This heavy rocker immediately built the energy back up before taking on more of the dark style of jamming and chanting during the slow outro. The chant involved some shouting between Trey and Fish involving Leigh Fordham. A creepy “Axilla” nonetheless and well worth a listen. What came next would be what I would consider one of the most energetic, emotional, and inspirational moments out of my seventy seven show Phishtory, and that moment occurred during “Hood”. During the "Harry" portion of the song, the band altered the lyrics referencing Leigh Fordham, once again adding to the mystery of what the story behind Leigh Fordham was all about. As we all know, Leigh popped up again in the lyrics to “46 Days”.
Anyway, this “Hood” could very well be the top version that I have heard and seen. All “Hood”s are a blessing, in my opinion, but during this particular version, Trey held this one note for just over four minutes while pumping his arm and fist in the air. He motioned to the crowd as if he were saying, "Come on, feel this moment, this it, this is why you are here and all of us in this room are connected on the same level of musical euphoria". And it worked, as the crowd roared throughout this everlasting moment, and Trey broke out of the note to finish the jam. If you are looking for a touching goosebump type of song, get this show for this version of “Hood”.
My buddy was really hoping for a “Harpua” sometime during the show and especially loves the line "we're coming to your town, we'll help you party down". Well, he was at least satisfied when they encored with the debut of “We're An American Band”, where the same line appears all throughout the song. This song fittingly has Omaha references and maintained a high energy send-off.
The show ended a bit early (between 10:30-10:45pm) due to a heavy ice storm that was taking place during the show. We were slipping and sliding to our car only to find over an inch of ice on the windshield. It was a hectic drive, but the eighteen hour drive home in snow and ice was well worth it. From the Fall of 1995 to the Summer of 2003, this show stands out as one of the most fun and solid shows that I have attended, and I highly recommend it to anyone who does not have it in his collection.
Score: 3
TheEmu Phish.net Staff , attached to 1996-11-16 Permalink
TheEmu In order to fully appreciate this show, you should really check out the many videos available on YouTube. The first set is solid, nothing too amazing, unless you were under the influence of mescaline and practically ran for your life when they played David Bowie. But I digress...

As Trey makes mention during the second set, it was an all GA show with no seats on the floor. The Civic Auditorium (may it rest in peace) was PACKED, and I had to get out of the crush, so I made my way to the seats behind the stage, where I had a good view of the second set insanity.

A solid La Grange opener gives way to a Runaway Jim that meanders for a bit before entering some darker territory. It's at this point that Trey steps up and says he's going to give us the Vibration of Life, so you can feel it in your ass and in your solar plexus and be recharged for the rest of the evening. They then proceeded to Kung the Omaha crowd before Trey headed for his mini drum kit for a bizarre jam that turned into Catapult. Mike added some babushka-waiving antics that must have had many people asking "WTF?" This insanity is followed by a ripping Axilla I with spooky Axilla II ending and hilarious shouting about Kuroda, Leigh Fordam, and a trip to Cuba. Fishman carries the Leigh Fordham craziness right into a now-famous Harry Hood that contains a full three minute sustained note from Trey which sees him playing the crowd like puppets. Fantastic. Wrap it up with Suzy, Grace, and the first American Band encore as a shout out to my home town, and it was really a memorable night. If you are looking for amazing jams, this might not blow you away, but it was tremendously fun to be at and a fun listen, even on tape. Part of me wants to say 5 stars, but it was more about a good time than great music, so I'll stick with 4.
Score: 2
wordsisailupon , attached to 1996-11-16 Permalink
Wow, another hot Fall 1996 show from the Mid-West. This second set was a bit wild, especially the Vibration->Kung->Catapult and huge tribute to the lighting crew during Axilla/Suzy. You can feel good about Hood in this show and We're an American Band was a special treat. I never really knew who Leigh Fordham was (46 days)until hearing this show and reading the show notes. It is all tied together in the world of Phish.
Score: 0
Tbone , attached to 1996-11-16 Permalink
This journey started at our house in Denver during a college party that we were hosting. I had just caught my first two shows having seen Jazz Fest show and 2nd night a Red Rocks. My buddy comes up to me pretty damn close to midnight and says "I just got two tickets to see Phish in Omaha and we are about to take off. Why don't you come with?" After finalizing some of the logistics and discovering that one our friends Meagan would provide the car and that our friend Anne was from Omaha and that we had a place to sleep we hit the road.

One of the nastiest road trips you could imagine. I just remember my buddy Mark and I switching off driving and it was a white knuckle drive as ice was everywhere. When the sun came up in the morning we could see jackknifed trucks all over the interstate. Arrived to Omaha, took a nap and woke up for Phish.

Man was I blown away by the entire night. I think part of it was seeing them in what was a small venue to me. The first set was solid but I felt a good vibe and then when they came out for the second set I had my mind blown away. First opening with La Grange which is my favorite ZZ Top song by far and I had no idea back then that they covered it. Then things got crazy as Runaway Jim led to some insanity. I will skip ahead to something I will never forget and that is this version of Harry Hood. I remember Trey egging us on while holding that note, man that's perhaps the biggest sustained smile I have experienced and damn near brought some tears to my eyes (in a good way). Beautiful song and what an experience it was, I have seen plenty of Harry Hoods since but that one will always remain special and my favorite version witnessed. The We're an American Band encore was great too, the crowd erupted during the Omaha line.

The drive back was a piece of cake and we all had big smiles the entire time. That was the only spur of the moment Phish trip I ever took and would definitely do it again if I had the chance.
Score: 0

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