, attached to 1999-07-03

Review by JMart

JMart I usually don't delve too far into pre-show specifics, but on this, the 19th anniversary of my 12th show, I thought I'd indulge myself.
My cousin drove down from West Virginia to North Carolina the night before. Over a few beers at one of my local bars we told ourselves we'd take it easy on account of having a long run of shows ahead of us. I'm sure you can see where this is going. Fast forward a few hours and we'd gotten so drunk we'd decided to settle some long-forgotten dispute with a good ol' fistfight outside of my apartment. The fight reached its zenith when he landed a fantastic PYITE (still have the scar!) and I smashed his head into a mailbox.
As luck would have it, our server the next morning at breakfast was my senior prom date. Her jaw literally dropped at our appearance. On to Atlanta!
The lot outside Lakewood was steaming, full of very fucked up heads and a ton of undercover cops. We saw Mike zoom by on the gocart. I traded my extra ticket for a 10 strip and promptly ate the whole thing. To say that I had difficulty getting into the show would be a tremendous understatement, but arrive we did, just in time for a blazing Chalkdust. Even this early on in my phish career, I thought this was a fairly uninspired opener choice, and they made me pay by laying down one of my still-favorite versions and followed that up with my still-favorite version of Gumbo. Here is where we got the first taste of the swirling loops that would go on to define the summer '99 sound. Tube is also worth checking out.
The second set, despite the somewhat raggedy ending, is one of my favorites of all time. The Piper, in particular, was the first version I ever heard (and I think may be *the* first version) where they really stretch out the beginning. Relistening, it's clearer now than ever that Fish is controlling the tempo on this one. The intensity builds and builds, a very good metaphor being when you're doing your level best to not to bust, and when you do, it's absolutely glorious. Trey (continuing the metaphor) unloads on the back end and we melt into a wonderfully fresh Moma. This antelope, along with 11/22/97, continues to serve as my standard bearer for the song. There is no Piperesque subtlety to this one- they go straight for the jugular from the beginning and ravage the ears the whole way through. During the final buildup, I remember thinking this is what it must have sounded like when the Titanic hit the iceburg. How can four people make this much noise?! Coming out of this was massive whiplash and served as the de facto end of the second set. Thank goodness. I don't know if I could have stood much more.
We'd made campground reservations near the venue and, being the 21-year-old idiots that we were, brought sleeping bags but no tents. Those mosquitos got so much blood from us, they're probably still sitting around on the couch digesting their meals. OUCH. This was a great opening night for our five show run. I only hope that one day they wisen up and release this as a two-show box set.
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