, attached to 1996-11-07

Review by TRob_93

TRob_93 Listening to the archival release, you're immediately struck by the energy of this show. The "Rupp Gin", as it has come to be known, is the famous draw from this show (and deservedly so), but from beginning to end, it's just a really fun, energetic outing.

Given its fame and notoriety, I'm not even going to try and describe the Gin, other than to say that it is, indeed, a must-listen version. I'm not sure - I'd need to re-listen a few times to be certain - but right now, I think I prefer this Gin over the monstrous '98 Riverport Gin. Just go listen and form your own opinions.

Even "Rift" - a song that is generally among my least-favorite standard phare during the mid-90s - really hits the spot. There aren't a whole lot of individual moments in the music, outside of the Gin, that stand out, yet everything is performed well. Some of my favorite non-Gin moments: the fluid energy shift felt during the move from a hot "Stash" into a cool "Waste" (not a ->, or even a >, but still one of my favorite setlist moves I've experienced in a good while), the pulsating, kinetic "Suzy", and the well-played yet unhurried YEM. The "Frankenstein" encore was a teency bit underwhelming, but it did fit the vibe of the show as a whole, so I can't complain.

Listening to Trey's banter at the opening of Set II, where he's teasing Fishman about not yet having sung on this tour, it seems to capture the ethos of the evening: light, fun, goofy, and yet somehow conveying a undercurrent of earnest seriousness of purpose. I can't quite articulate what it is exactly, but it feels like something in Trey's stage presence, there at the start of Set II, emanates palpable vibes of, "I came here to melt faces and chew bubblegum, and I'm all out of bubblegum."

I came to this show basically expecting a solid, mid-90s Phish performance that just so happens to include an all-timer Gin, but it's really so much more than that. It isn't my favorite Phish show of all time - it's probably not even my favorite non-Clifford Ball, non-Halloween show from 1996 - but it somehow captures the ineffable zeitgeist of what makes Phish quite possibly the greatest live act in the history of music. The only thing missing in this show, the only real chink in the armor, imho, is the lack of any noteworthy jams besides the legendary Gin. Obviously "Stash", "Guyute", "Tela", and "You Enjoy Myself" all contain some fun Type 1, but nothing transcendent (as borne out by the jam charts). Everything is well-executed, but there weren't any non-Gin moments that pushed the envelope.

If 5 stars indicates Phish performing at the absolute peak of their powers for the entire show, I'd say this show easily warrants a solid 4.5/5. And since .net's ratings system doesn't allow for half stars, it gets rounded up to 5/5. Very, very strong showing, and a very fun listen. :)
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