, attached to 1999-06-30

Review by TimberCarini

TimberCarini 6/30/99 SET I
The Bonner Springs, Kansas show opens with a BANG! A huge Bathtub Gin with full band exploration and an ambient jam that enveloped the venue in a haze of mixed rhythmic signatures, gorgeous varied loops, and beautiful themes from Trey on guitar and Page on the baby grand piano. This Bathtub Gin ambient jam never goes fully off the edge of the world into polyphonic disarray, but seems to bridge the melodic jams Phish is known for crafting through its live improvisation with the new backdrop of fuzz, feedback and "wall of sound" alien effects from Page. The last 7 minutes of this Gin Jam are truly mesmerizing. Standard set filler gets us to a strong Maze with Trey using his drone based feedback loop to build the transitions and backdrops throughout the song. A nice touch using this new ambient style, but no full blown out jam. The Limb X Limb that followed Maze has a lovely melodic jam with some beautiful solo work through the jam and back into the coda. Quite lovely touches by Page and Trey at the end of this nearly 12 minute LXL, but nothing remotely close to the ambience of the Bathtub Gin opener.

6/30/99 SET 2
Opening with a Squirming Coil seems a bit strange, but was clearly meant as a warmup for what was to become a set full of the band's new ideas into sonic exploration. The end of the Squirming Coil piano solo culminates with a feedback buildup and the sonic texturing that Trey had been using throughout transitions in the first set. The buildup bled into a monster Free that carries the same feedback touches throughout the intro as Trey pushed the band to carry that new spark throughout the set. The superb Free jam that emerged found Gordon and Fishman providing a strong backbone and beat for Trey's droning and feedback loops on top of Page's alien landscapes. While the bass and drums steer the beat away from complete ambient bliss, the work of Trey and Page to pull the psychedelic backdrop to the forefront creates a Free jam that is jaw dropping. The set rolls on through a seque-fest of Birds of a Feather > Simple > Swept Away > Steep > Piper with various ambient flourishes to carry the torch until unleashing the first ever My Left Toe. This 9+ minute MLT (a track originally recorded at 4min 47sec) is a gorgeous ambient musical display which Phish crafts with reckless abandon and intense precision. A culmination of three years worth of work on the Siket Disc, and finally an opportunity to display this new masterpiece has resulted in near perfection. While vastly different than any song publicly played by Phish in the past (at least any song with an actual name), MLT evokes amazing images and emotions in a musical onslaught to every nerve and every synapse. It both attacks you and lifts you floating to the heavens. At the time, many Phans were unsure what to make of this new style and direction, but upon further review it is clear that Phish was developing a genre perfected by bands like Radiohead years later. Listening to the show again on Phishtracks.com, it is evident by the crowd reaction that Phans are blown away by the new song and an almost unheard of late second set stunned silence falls over the crowd... Page breaks the silence to announce unceremoniously, "that was the first song off our new album, it's called My Left Toe." A nice Stash with a slightly ambient jam at the end closes out the show, as a casual fan friendly encore wrapped up the evening.

All in all a terrific debut for Phish in 1999 and a sign of the amazing things to come for the band in this oft overlooked, but seminal, year of creative exploration in music.
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