, attached to 1999-09-14

Review by fhqwhgads

fhqwhgads This review is occasioned by the LivePhish archival release (I wasn't at the show.) Phans have clamoured for 9/14/99's release for some time, and many feel that 1999 is underrepresented in the LivePhish catalogue disproportionately to its quality. I've listened to merely a sample of '99, but aside from being The Year of the Big Cypress, I'd have to agree that it's not to be overlooked. I remember talk on rec.music.phish (RMP) in 1999 about Phish's new "techno" sound; while I can't quite agree with that association, I would definitely sign off on 1999 representing a critical interlocking of the funk of '97 and the ambience of '98 into a new--yes, perhaps more "electronic," at least in a synaesthetic sense of having a propulsive groove yet a clinical or detached patience--groove that didn't put as much emphasis on balls-out "rawk" as would be found in many shows in 2000. Someone in the Forum said that the first set is the definition of standard, but I have to stand up on behalf of 9/14's Set I. It scratches a very thematic itch, with that peculiar-to-1999 sound cropping up in several tunes' outros, or, in the case of What's the Use?, for the duration. The kind of picture I'm trying to draw of how I perceive 1999's signature sound is probably best encompassed by The Siket Disc, which IIRC was released that year but was comprised of jams from the Story of the Ghost album sessions compiled by Page and Phish engineer Jon Siket. I have to inwardly giggle a bit at The Curtain here, because, although Big Cypress wouldn't be announced until later, the boys/gents have to stifle their own snickers at the "Follow the lines going south" line, not giving away the surprise. Waste is rendered quite beautifully here, Wading has pristine vocal harmonies, Taste is long and inspired and holds my attention for the duration, and Nellie Kane and Rocky Top bookend that jam with their respective bluegrass merits. This is certainly not a first set that I feel should be dismissed too hastily, if at all.

Set II opens with Peaches en Regalia, which must've been oft-requested in '99, as you can hear someone on the official releases of both 7/10/99 *and* 12/16/99 (evincing attendance at Summer and Fall tours, or at least a few shows each--but I like to think of this guy doing this every show that year) yelling "Peaches" in the "Wiiiil-soooon" breaks in those shows' Wilsons. Well, the guy finally got his Peaches; I just hope he was at this show (there's some banter audible on the LP SBD with Trey asking, "You want Peaches?" to someone in the audience, totes a thing.) Next up to bat is Bag. This AC/DC Bag is enormous! Very patient, very typical yet outstanding by 1999 standards, and seems to point down the road to the year-capping festival in Florida. You've really got to hear this wide-roving masterpiece for yourself. There's even a bit of stop-start jamming, unbewooed for that matter. What I'll refer to as the "second half" of the jam really does, upon relisten, call to mind danceable electronic music--perhaps not techno specifically, especially of the Detroit mode, and not today's woefully-monikered "EDM"--before segueing fleetly into a jammed-out Gumbo with Another One Bites the Dust teases deftly woven into the fabric of the Type-I excursion. DWD features some exemplary guitar pyrotechnics from Trey before Frankenstein takes us home. A study in contrasts, the first set and the second set, though both seem of-a-piece in themselves. Great value and great variety are two things you almost always get at a Phish show. Nice Simple, Hello My Baby encore just for shits and giggles, and Phish puts this one away, no problem. Truly a show for the ages; I hope you all get as much out of it as I already have, or more, and support Phish's archival-release program by buying the show at LivePhish.com.


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