, attached to 1995-12-31

Review by n00b100

n00b100 So, look. In a certain sense, you can argue that (much like Big Cypress, its spiritual yang in so many ways) this is essentially a criticism-proof show, a show so storied and beloved that it would have been weird if this show *hadn't* been officially released. Every big jam here is a contender for "greatest (x) ever", the Mike's Groove and YEM in particular are absolute A+ jams, and everything flows together as well as you could ever want from a three-set show. It's a tremendous, tremendous show. I'm not ever going to argue against that.


I, myself, n00b100 (and find yourself a fainting couch, post-haste), generally consider this the third-best show of December 1995 (maybe fourth; I go back-and-forth on 12/7). Not the third-best show ever (although even that would surely raise some eyebrows), the third best show of the month. That's hardly any sort of insult - 12/95, of course, is one of the greatest stretches in the band's history. But I find myself reaching for 12/14 and 12/29 a lot more often (to say nothing of many, many other shows), and I occasionally find myself wondering why. And I think the best answer I can come up with is that December 1995 shows always feel pulsating with life, with energy, with an almost *seething* desire to push the envelope and batter every jam to within an inch of its life, and I think 12/14 is the absolute best example of that (hence the reason I consider it the show of the year). 12/31? Not the best example. I still love these jams, but (to me, of course), they're missing that explosive je nais se quoi that made the month so legendary. Heck, a second-tier show like 12/1 has that special something that 12/31 (again, to me, of course) doesn't. Lots of classic jams, lots of fun all around...but the 12/1 Mike's Groove just *grabs* me by the throat, and I'm not sure the 12/31 version does. Or, at least, not in the same way.

This doesn't really matter, in the end - the show's classic, beloved by just about everyone, and you'd have to listen to it no matter what if you want any sort of understanding as to why Phish is so beloved. But, in one man's estimation at least, the longer you persist in your Phish fandom, the less you'll love it so much yourself. This is a truly incredible show, make no mistake of that. But there are better.


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