FUNKY BITCH was a rocking opener, got everyone dancing and YA MAR followed suit. I don't necessarily remember a segue into CARINI, but it's entirely possible that there was one. Carini was great, with the typical heavy metal riffing by Trey. It's one of my favorite songs. I have seen it posted that this Carini included the lyrics about the naked person...I didn't notice this, but there was a part of the lyrics that I thought was flubbed, so this may have been the changed part. The energy was very high up to this point, and the crowd was really psyched.
RUNAWAY JIM evoked memories of last year, and I was hoping for a repeat performance of last year's odyssey. Alas, it was not to be and we were treated to a relatively straight-up, Trey-led jam, which was not very experimental at all (although still quite good). At this point, after New Haven and the first few songs of this set, I felt that the band was heading in a 94-ish Machine-gun Trey direction, and getting away from the funk and whole-band exploratory jams. As if responding to my concerns, the band brought out MEAT which was a welcome return to the sparse funk. Similar to what you hear on the album, but with either 1 or 2 more false endings, and probably a bit slower. Definitely better than any ballad which they might put after a high energy opening; and very much a *whole band* effort. Mike was *much* louder tonight than at New Haven, possibly because of the weird shape of that crappy New Haven venue. It added considerably to my enjoyment to be able to really hear Mike spanking the bass.
Next up was REBA, and a nice Reba it was, too. This song and me have a strange history...it started out as one of the songs that got me into Phish, moved on to a song that I didn't really like at all, and now is a song that consistently gives me a transcendent experience. This version was no exception, and contained some great tension-filled guitar work by Trey. Not the "best" Reba, but I have a hard time comparing Rebas in much the same way I can't really compare Hoods.
MY OLD HOME PLACE pleased me in that it wasn't Ginseng, which I've heard a lot of lately. DOGS STOLE THINGS at least doesn't have the Mound drumbeat at the beginning anymore to piss me off, but still doesn't excite me at all. VULTURES is one of my favorite of the 97 crop of songs, and I was glad to hear it. This version was rearranged, but without a tape of both of them next to me, I can't really say how, since it's been 4 days since the show. WHEN THE CIRCUS COMES I could really do without, and would rather hear any number of Phish-authored ballads (FEFY in particular!) before it. I guess it kind of means something when they start a multi-night run in a city but I just get bored with it. BIRDS OF A FEATHER was nowhere near as good as the Providence version from earlier this year and I've heard this song on the radio a few too many times to really get into it if they aren't going to take the jam places. I figured Birds would be the set closer, and I was right.
Set I recap: Carini was great, Meat funky and fun and Reba transcendent. Not much to say about the rest of the set, and overall, I give it a 4 on the SJCRS.
BURIED ALIVE is one of the greatest set openers, IMO, and was great to hear at the Centrum since it was the location of my only other Buried on 12/28/95. Really a great song, and it shows off Trey's chops big time. MIke's bassline during this is nice too. Not very different from the versions you've heard on tape, however. WIPE OUT was such a complete and total surprise that it took me longer to recognize than it should have. Fishman was great with the drum solos and yells; Trey introduced him as Bob Weaver at one point during the song, but it wasn't very clear what exactly he was saying.
After the amazing debut of Wipe Out, I didn't mind hearing my second CHALKDUST TORTURE in one week. As soon as I heard the Wipe Out teases by Trey in the beginning and nearly every break between the lyrics, I REALLY didn't mind. Then the jam segued into MIRROR IN THE BATHROOM, which sounded very familiar but is a song that I don't really know at all. I could place the decade, but beyond that, my mind was drawing a blank. This is something I'll want to hear on tape. They sang a couple of verses of Mirror and went back into Chalkdust. Then what I would describe as a
hard blues jam evolved and the band started singing..."Walking cross the lawn lawn lawn lawn lawn..."
Whoohoo! My third DOG LOG! (I was at the Dog Log show This was much different from the straight up white album version or the slow lounge lizard version. I'm not entirely certain that they got all the way through the lyrics, I was too excited to file these things away in my head, but the music was soon headed back into CHALKDUST. By this point the audience was nuts, and nearly everyone joined in the "Can't I live while I'm young?" singing. The segue into SANITY was definitely of the start-stop variety, and thus I wouldn't even call it a segue, but that's the way notation works on Phish.Net (and in the Mockingbird Book as I understand it, so get used to it!). Sanity was classic, as always, with unbelievable energy from the band during the "Boom....boom...." part at the end. They were screaming like the world was exploding!
Fishman's favorite song, BUFFALO BILL, started up next. Looking for owls? I certainly was, and it was at this point that I realized the set had entered the realm of the Old School. The jam kind of slowed to a stop and Trey played (and flubbed a bit) the guitar opening to MIKE'S SONG. The jam started out normally enough, but then entered a somewhat spacey territory. It continued like this and I was praying for a Hydrogen, which was the song I was least likely to have not seen, according to ZZYZX. Not to disappoint, Fishman started the drumbeat to I AM HYDROGEN. The Mike's hadn't ended with the driving bass/guitar like Mike's of old, but Fishman was playing Hydrogen anyway. The rest of the band layed down some space on Fish's beat which bore no resemblence to any Hydrogen I've ever heard. After at least 3 minutes of spacey jamming, they started to actually play the song, which seemed a bit rusty, but was beautiful as always. I think it just may be the prettiest Phish song. Anyone want to argue?
Pretty standard segue (which isn't that standard anymore, now is it?) into WEEKAPAUG GROOVE. Mike spanked out a solo and they were off. I would say that they segued into WIPE OUT completely during this tune, rather than just jamming on it, but that's a matter of opinion. The jam got a bit spacey and then sort of died out. Trey then walked around to the rest of the band and they started up the jam again, leading off with the main Weekapaug riff and then quickly heading into some space, and this was by far the most experimental thing I've heard out of Phish this fall. Very cool, and a great contrast to the machine gun Trey jamming of the first set and New Haven. If I was writing the setlist I would have called this WEEKAPAUG REPRISE, but it probably would screw up ZZYZX that way, so I won't. This is the sort of thing that I hadn't seen too much of this year at all, and it's glad to know they still have some Type II up their sleeves!
RUN LIKE AN ANTELOPE came next, and I was shaking my head in disbelief as it was already 10 past 11. This set just doesn't quit, folks! The energy was so high at the end of this set that the Antelope blew everyone away. I would rate this above 5/4/94 New Orleans, the Antelope dedicated to the baby of Trey's friend that was being born during the show. And I had never heard a better Antelope than that one.
Set II recap: One of the best Phish sets I have ever heard. Almost as if they transported 2/20/93 to 1998 and kept all the improvement they've made as musicians. Without a doubt, a perfect 10 on the SJCRS. A "must have" set, without question.
My friends and I were really expecting to hear Destiny. If there ever was a time where I thought they would play it, it was tonight. The crowd was EXTREMELY loud during the wait for the encore; when the band did come out, the crowd was the loudest I have ever heard anywhere. It was almost painful! You could tell what everyone thought of that amazing second set. So, when Page started playing WADING IN THE VELVET SEA, I was a bit disappointed since I just heard it at New Haven. I really like it as a song and all, but I expected something special. GOLGI APPARATUS followed, and is a song that I really enjoy in spite of the lack of jamming/short length. The segue into WIPE OUT was a perfect way to end the evening, and was by far the best of the three Wipe Outs played. What a great show!
Full show recap: First set started off with a lot of energy, cooled down some. Second set left me speechless and was among the best ever! Encore great on balance, would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't gone to New Haven. I give this show a 9.25 on the SJCRS. (I know the average doesn't
work, but if you felt the way I did after the show, you would give it the same grade.)