, attached to 1998-08-16

Review by n00b100

n00b100 Set 1: The Gin in this set, while obviously no Went Gin, has its own cool, trill-laden jam that picks up steam and then segues pretty naturally into Rift. Nothing else particularly stands out, although the energy is appreciated (like in the short Bag jam); like yesterday, this set feels like a warmup for what is about to come.

Set 2: DWD kicks things off with a typical DWD jam before getting funky and swampy, before Piper emerges from said muck and catches fire, the band rocking so fast that Trey trips over words (what few words there are) to keep up with the speed at which the song is being ripped through. Piper then goes into its old closing coda, before the band launches into Ghost (slightly disappointed they didn't try a segue), botching the start of the final verse during the song portion, then making up for it with a slow, sweet, Page-driven jam that you can shut your eyes and sway your body to, before a brief passage reminiscent of some of last night's jamming and a quiet transition into Fluffhead. Circus and Wading, then a surprisingly long HYHU (Fishman introducing the rest of the band is a droll joy) that actually hits a neat groove before they say "ah, F it" and go into Sexual Healing, which is the usual amusing mess (at least they figured out the bridge!). A sprightly, typical late-90s Antelope (Page gives those ivories one hell of a tickling) brings the set of the weekend - by a hair over last night's 2nd set - to a close.

Set 3: Sabotage, yep, then out of the closing chords comes a barrage of alien sounds, leading into a smooth 2001 that (again) invites comparisons to the Went's version; again, it's not as good as that definitive version, but it's certainly funky as all get-out (even the cool-down section is funky) and Page plays some really nifty twinkling notes over the whole thing. Wilson comes next, and justifies its placement with a heavy loop-laden middle section that also threatens to go ambient before "Blatt boom!" gives us the big rock and roll ending. The rest of the set is crowd pleasers and a great bustout in While My Guitar Gently Weeps, a fine way to close out the festival...

Encore: ...except it doesn't close out the festival. Harry Hood does, and after a fine but standard Hood jam the band goes into one final, dark and beautiful ambient soundscape, guitar loops and all, as fireworks go off and Fish favors (?) us with some trombone work, before (of all things!) Page starts up Baby Elephant Walk (best known by my generation for being Dancin' Homer's theme song in that Simpsons episode) and the band wraps things up in a giddy, charming high note (although what was up with Trey's guitar tone there?).

Final Thoughts: Neither show is the best of the summer by any stretch of the imagination (maybe 8/16 sneaks into the top 5?), but there are some fine moments and both nights' second sets should definitely be heard. And, of course, the Ambient Jam is a watershed moment for the band and it's almost malfeasance to not listen to it.
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