, attached to 1997-07-23

Review by dr_strangelove

dr_strangelove Stellar show that caps the stellar opening weekend for Phish's return from Europe. Must hear material laced throughout. Incredible show. Highlights:

1) Julius: After hearing Julius follow the same mold time after time, what a delight this version is! This Type I jam goes from full-on rage mode down to cool, bluesy mode and stays fun the whole time. Mike is particularly excellent in this version, with Page and Trey setting a nice backdrop for his bass riffing. The energy ramps back up for the final coda, foreshadowing the arrival of many more unexpected delights.

2) SOAMelt: Drops straight into some lite porno funk which is awesome. Didn't know you could f*** to this song. Eventually, the jam begins a meandering journey to the more familiar tension-building dynamics. The journey is worth the effort, because the band finally locks in and raises some spine-tingling moments of anticipation.

3) Possum: Hey kids, ever heard the phrase "rage tits"? No? Define it in a sentence, you say? Hmmm.... the 1997-07-23 Possum is rage tits.

4) Ghost: tl;dr: Gravy funk that bubbles over into the the theme song for a baby elephant dying in a mud pit... OK, the jam starts with slinky clav, Mike's snap crackle and pop basslines; the makings of smooth gravy funk. Trey cranks the burner, causing the gravy to bubble from smooth to hyper-groove. The jam persists in this realm for a while (like 12+ minutes?) and its all grade-A bacon fat mixed with flour. Danceable flowing mini-grooves galore. At ~17:30, Trey goes in for the kill, attacking on a theme he had been flirting with. The peak is so good, Fishman literally starts screaming over the funk. After about 2:00 mins of this amazing peak, the jam down-shifts into a slow, plodding funk, with a melancholic feel. Like a baby elephant stuck in a mud pit, Mike's bass notes marking the slogging, plodding steps while Trey and Page are the swirling savannah birds offering pitiful cries of woe. This weird, amazing jam grows in intensity until the plodding becomes thrashing and it ends with an orgasm of weird Page synth effects before Trey's guitar emerges above the din with a great transition to Sample in a Jar.

5) YEM: tl;dr: very well-played YEM becomes a demented bar mitzvah dance party.... OK, so the YEM proper is well-played and follows the funky pattern we've all come to expect. And then suddenly it's just not that anymore!? Fishman starts playing a simple 4/4 woodblock beat and this is where the jeopardy tease comes in. And jeopardy naturally leads to a Nagila Hava-esque bar mitzvah dance party? Mike takes an astounding lead (which is part of the reason this jam is resembles SOAMule), and suddenly the band starts reciting the "wash ufizzi drive me to Firenzi" refrain over this Klezmer beat. The refrains grow to ridiculous insanity, the beat speeding up, audience clapping along, before ending with a cacophony of noise that is punctured by fractured hits. And now the band is... what in the hell is going on?!? The band is playing...

6) Rocky Mountain Way: ROCKY MOUNTAIN WAY!! GTFO!! The journey getting to this song was amazing and the energy carries over into this awesome cover tune.


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