Friday 08/04/2017 by sausagemahoney


In celebration of Phish's 13-show run at Madison Square Garden, the Mockingbird Foundation is announcing 13 unsolicited "miracle grants" supporting music programs across the country. Each board member identified their favorite Phish show, and we found a worthy music education program nearby, part of the Foundation's long-standing Tour Grants program. We're presenting these 13 special grants chronologically, based on the dates of those favorited shows.

Board member Dan Purcell picked the 10/31/98 show in Las Vegas, NV:

It's the best concert I've ever seen, never mind the best Phish show. The first set has its merits -- a then-rare "Sneaking Sally" and a set-closing "Mike's Groove" that careens into the guardrail and back onto the track by the slimmest of margins. But the second set is Phish's most successful Halloween project, with only the sui generis Haunted House and its much bigger budget having an argument. Confronted with making a full set out of a 40-minute album, Phish expands Loaded far past its runtime. Performing the Velvet Underground's friendliest record with care and raging energy, they go fairly far out on "Sweet Jane," "Rock and Roll," and -- least expected and most gratifying of all -- "Lonesome Cowboy Bill," sung by Fish from behind his kit, no vacuum in sight. The message was clear: this was no joke. The closing "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" had us looking around for someone to hug like Jim Valvano. I have never seen chaos at a Phish show like the concourse and bathrooms after that set, not even on the hillside at Great Woods or the muddy bottoms of Coventry.

If that wasn't enough, and it never is, the abbreviated third set brought the sheer terror that we require on Halloween. A half-hour take on "Wolfman's Brother," sung by Trey from under a wolfman mask, the long jam a low, faint hum peppered by whispered threats and moments of brutality. Resolving into "Piper" lightened the mood a touch but the slower build to the chorus felt less like ecstasy and more like running through the woods to escape something formless and terrible. They ran out of time to do much with their then-mission statement "Ghost," Trey stalking off dejectedly over a digital delay loop. But we had seen behind the curtain; we were ready to head back. "Sleeping Monkey" returned us to the world of flesh, and the "Tweezer Reprise" left over from the night before blew us out the doors and into the brisk neon desert night.

In honor of this magnificent evening, Mockingbird is sending a $1,500 grant check to the nearby Victoria Fertitta Middle School Firebird Band.

If you liked this blog post, one way you could "like" it is to make a donation to The Mockingbird Foundation, the sponsor of Support music education for children, and you just might change the world.


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