, attached to 1998-08-01

Review by waxbanks

waxbanks First a quick setlist note: that 2001 > Magilla > 2001 looks more complicated than it is. The 2001 reprise lasts just a few seconds before Trey starts playing Tweezer. You won't mind.


Ramble On received canonical treatment eight shows later (and you shouldn't hesitate to seek out that performance) and is pretty much by-the-book here, but the delicate complexity of the song creeps into a wonderfully nimble Mike's Song. By this point Phish's uptempo rock tunes were benefitting greatly from the yearlong ongoing experiment in minimalist funk polyrhythms; the Mike's jam blends wah/clav funk noise and rock'n'roll anger in equal measures. It's not an era-defining jam or anything, just another quarter-hour of balls-out sophisticated jamming from a band drunk on its own power. The rest of Set One proceeds along similar lines, featuring dance jams of almost pornographic virtuosity.

Standard Piper to open the second set, a little restrained in comparison to its current form. I don't know why Wilson turns up in so many second sets; it doesn't usually keep the improvisatory momentum going (not to my tastes anyway). This version features a short metal-riff jam that holds some interest, I suppose. Then it's 2001 > Magilla > teeeeeease > Tweezer, and it's as fun as it looks on the page. This is a *really* frisky 2001! The band brings things down in a skillful decrescendo. Trey gets the idea to dive into Magilla, Fishman's with him, things are a little rickety, Page hops gladly into the fray, Fishman's skittering around on spider legs, Mike takes a brief solo - pure 'why the fuck not?' goofiness at a high level of casual expertise. (Do folks realize what a talented jazz drummer Jon Fishman is?)

During Phish's mid-90's solidification, Tweezer was one of the band's great outstretched blank canvases for experimentation, and the gorgeous 8/1/98 version recalls the song's old pre-funk variety while maintaining all the emotional depth and patience that characterize the band's music since the watershed Fall '97 tour. This is a divine Tweezer: understated, precise late-nite music that ends with dark dissolution rather than climax precisely because all four band members are prepared to follow even half-formed impulses. It's 'ambient' jamming of a sort and (unsurprisingly) wouldn't be out of place in the Lemonwheel 'Ring of Fire' set, but the darkness of the closing few minutes prefigures the evil ambience of 12/28/98. Fluffhead is the perfect tonic after this complex exploration. What a set! (There are four more songs after Fluff's Travels, but by this point the set is past peak intensity and interest.)

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