, attached to 1998-11-27

Review by Ez_and_not_so_Fast

Ez_and_not_so_Fast I wasn't at the show but I decided to give a listen after reading about Fishman being stubborn with Yo Soy H.

I heard the soundcheck before I listened to the show proper. Lemme tell ya, if you're interested in all the mad interplay of how unconstrained the quartet was on that night then you should really do yourself a favor and find the soundcheck if you haven't already.
So.

SPOILER ALERT!
-This Review Is Not About The Second Set!

If you WERE at the show I suspect you'd have known to buckle your seatbelts already by the ROCK Bitch they dropped as an opener, in opposition to the funky Bitches that were coming out at the time. You could take a few clips from near the end of this Rocky Bitch and stick them in the middle of a Llama and they'd fit. They'd fit well. Seriously. Or if you were a "Page Side Rage Side" type like I am and you came to the show with a nice shiny sports car that you keep very clean, you'd certainly have noticed Good McConnell asking you "Roads?" when Leo starts telling Ya Mar like it is.

...

"Where we're going we don't need roads!"

...

Ya Mar is so chill I would have expected it to segue into a Billy Breathes or a Prince Caspian. But no. Out of such peace and comfort Carini bashes us over our lumpy heads, which would have been rude except I would have been so full of excitement to hear an Axilla, BBFCFM, Led Zeppelin mad metal show. But no. Runaway Jim. No metal show.

Runaway Jim would have further discombobulated me, especially because it blisters the way a hyper Maze or a rip roaring Rift does. This Jim would have had me thinking about some of those early SOAM Your Face Off Jams but that's about the only foreshadowing I would have been somewhat correct about. I read another review here that hearkens this show to those of 1993 and I find such an assessment apropos. With the exception of Izabella, it's almost seems as if the Autumn of 1997 never happened. This whole show does kinda have an early 1990s thing to it, pre-Hoist.

But by the time Meat would have rolled around I would have been in free fall, totally confused and without a map. They did warn early that I was unprepared for what they had prepared for me but I guess I don't take advice well. And Meat doesn't really end here, does it? It unexpectedly keeps on going until it just kind of gets interrupted by...
Well, the Meat gets bagged, tagged and sold to the butcher in the...
Old Home Place? Wow.

But Wait! Wait.
I feel like I am in that Pixies song Where Is My Mind?
"Stop."

Did I just skip Reba? Yes. There is a reason for that. It's because this Reba is nearly nameless. It's subtle. What I mean is that this is a subtle performance that transcends its form and composition. What I mean is that there is nothing obtrusive about it, nor is there much with which we are familiar and comfortable onto which we can grab hold. While there's nothing here to give you a lumpy head, it's true, there's also not a not a lot of what we'd call "Reba" here. It's kind of a vehicle for this other... thing that's happening onstage. This is a lullaby! It's okay, I slept through it the first time, too. And it was a good thing, I think we were supposed to. Like the long, dark mist sequences that nobody seems to notice the first time they watch Battleship Potempkin, our brains pleasantly check out for a much-needed moment of respite and reflection until we give the material a second visit. Except for the peace that Ya Mar offered, this Reba is not in line stylistically with any of the rest of the concert up to this point. The tender rhythmic feelings of this lovely "Reba" are to be reprised in tone in Vultures (strangely enough), when Fishman forces Yo Soy H and finally in Velvet Sea.

Which leads to the conclusion of my synopsis of this show, fully understanding how rude it may be to say it: For me, November 27th, 1998 is a "Fishman Show." Sometimes, albeit rarely, one of them just seems to musically declare, "I'm on fire tonight, fellas." The rest are all are respectful and professional enough to ALWAYS respond with a collective, "Go, we got your back. Do it." If you were to do some surgery and open up the insides of most of the songs in this show and eliminate the keys, guitar and bass, you might be left with what virtuosic jazz / progrock percussionists play at drum clinic master classes. No exaggeration. I don't usually focus so much on any one instrument and even more rarely do I (or can I) focus strictly on the drums but after listening to this show a couple of times, that's where my ears are pulled and it's there that they stay. After trying really hard to wrap my head around what's happening in this mad show, I think I found the key. And I think it's Jon Fishman. And the following musical moment may elucidate why.

Suddenly and from out of nowhere, about ten minutes into Reba they get stuck as if a single rotation of a scratched record is playing over and over. And over again. It's weird. I urge you to give this strange short moment another couple of focused listenings to ask yourself, "Were I playing that, up on that stage, behind any one of those instruments, responsible for such an odd magical loop, how in the hell would I be able to UN-SCRATCH the record?" Personally, I would likely stay tied up in it as most of us would but if you concentrate I'll bet that you too can hear how Jon Fishman unties the knot with all the subtle skill of a true master. Furthermore, I'd like to say, he infuses it with a whole lot of confidence and joy.

There are many comments about the setlist, about how Chalkdust appears thrice, how Weekapaug also appears thrice, and so emphasizing these oddities yet again would not serve this review well, especially because I believe I've found a longer arc, spanning just about the entire show. So allow your attention to fall upon the cohesive thread that runs through the innards of:

Ya Mar = Reba = Vultures = Yo Soy H = Velvet Sea.

...

I was swimmin' in Massachusetts
Vultures were hiding behind the ROCK!
Except the little Fish
But they told me,
He swears
Chalk Dust Torture me, Dog Log...

Where is my mind?
Wipe Out in the water, see it swimming...
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