on 11/27/96 in seattle, jimi's "home town" and on his birthday phish brought a set that rivals the best of the year... i'm looking at you vegas and coral gables. there are no guests here, just pure phish.
the first set is somewhat standard, but it is "high-end standard," if you will. my friend is well-executed. yamar gives you that nice summer'ish feeling. chalk dust and the sloth are nice and rocking. the free>theme combination highlights the first set. finally, the boys pay their first tribute to jimi, dropping a very inspired axis bold as love to close things down.
now, this 2nd set is the definition of a no non-sense, from start to finish barn burner. down with disease was still pretty hit and miss in the jam department, but this is one of the early versions that helped cement it as a phish classic. they move some pretty melodic down with disease jamming before the boys find a nice funky groove to latch on to. trey sits back and plays some ripping rhythm guitar, and from here on, i feel like he is in complete "band of gypsies mode." finally they latch onto something a little heavier and take that on a ride, eventually falling into a spacier jam. gordon finally latches onto a bit of a groove that he likes and they build that take that into a very rocking territory. it starts to sound like they will shift into johny b. goode, but they move into a much more dissodant jam, resolving into another spacier jam with threy thowing in some machine gun'esque licks. this leads to another nod to hendrix. billy gibbons of zz top was hendrix's favorite guitars, or at least near the top, so the boys dropped down a rip-roaring guitar blazing take of jesus left chicago. trey really drives his solo about as high as you possibly could. great take of jesus left chicago. shifty gears a bit, the boys crank a great scent of a mule. the middle section is extended fairly nicely with some excellent exchanges between page and trey. then comes tweezer. unless i'm missing one, this is the first really "groove orientated" tweezers. trey has a few nifty fills going through the song portion, before they unleash the jam. fishman and gordon lock into a groove, and trey and page start some fairly out there playing. as trey starts to build to a climax, fishhman provides a nice funky fill, and all of a sudden the boys all fall into line. the snap right into a funky little jam. trey lets out a few wild shrill wails before dipping back into that funky groove with the rest of the boys. the work this groove for a minute and then trey comes in over the top, briefly, with the sweet emotion chorus. they leave sweet emotion and trey, with some very subtle moves, starts to steer the ship back into familiar territory. we trey has managed a devine swing back into the dwd ending. now, fishman kind of fucks up here. he really rushes things, throwing everything off, but hey, after an hour of intense jamming, it is hard to come down on him too hard. great move back into down with disease either way. well, they go into blow out the back section of this too. hey, why not?! they tack on the can't you hear me knocking ending taboot. then, in practice for their forthcoming singing of the anthem of the sonics/lakers game and possibly further hendrix tribute, they acceppella up the star spangled banner. hilarious counterpoint to hendrix's wah drenched wood stock banner, and of course, they have one more for jimi. fire closes out a very rowdy second set. of course, trey buries this one. a good tribute indeed. don't overlook this show because of vegas. this second set is my favorite set of the west coast run. now, all in all, i have to go with vegas as my favorite west/fall '96 show. the first set is soooo stacked and well, claypool! also, be sure to check out 11/30/96 sacramento. John McEun on banjo in the first set and pedal steel toward the end of the show and Peter Apfelbaum on tenor sax adds a very nice feel to this show. the taste with the intro jam is just mesmerizing. enjoy fellow phish people!!