Thursday, May 23, 2013

Show #8: 7/10/99 E Center Camden, NJ

Highlights: Wilson>Chalkdust>Roggae, Bathtub Gin, Tweezer, Fluffhead
Listen Here: Phan Reviews:


There are so many great shows from the past 30 years. Shows with incredible jams, incredible energy, hi-jinx, theatricality, and that spirit of oneness that pulls the entire audience together for that one night. Some of the best shows are a combination of many of those attributes. We as a community are lucky to have an opportunity to see Phish in 2013, and are lucky enough to have that chance to see a truly great show... on any given night. You pick and choose the shows you are going to attend with the hopes that on that steamy night in Maryland in July, or that crisp evening in Denver on September 1st, your mind will be blown. You will be hugging strangers. You will be screaming until your lungs bleed. You will be one.

This particular show from Camden, NJ in 1999 is one of those shows. It may not have the huge ambient jams that propel the ambient jam grade to a 10/10, but it has everything a show needs to be a "great" show for the ages. Phish knows this show was THAT good, because they released it in the original run of "LivePhish" remasters.

SET 1: Wilson opener gets down and dirty real fast featuring a very heavy metal drone with distortion from Trey in the jam that leads to a solo with his reverse reverb effect sucking the solo notes back into the vortex. The distortion and feedback swells, Trey piles notes upon notes with the reverse effect creating a dizzying effect within the jam. Quick and powerful. Trey decides that having one first set opener is not enough. He opts to steer the band toward another first set opener in Chalkdust Torture. These are often the two summer rock openers that band uses to get a show started with high energy, and to stack them one on top of another is a sign of things to come for this show. The Chalkdust cools off a bit during the sing-song part of the tune, but Fishman keeps it up-tempo and drives the speed with his unrelenting snare hits. Trey finally gets to the solo and unleashes in his fiery late 90's Chalkdust style ...but only for a couple minutes. Then he just stops. Hangs on a two or three note combo and starts to stray towards a melodic jam unusual for a Chalkdust. He brings back some of his usual guitar runs for a few measures to see if the band wants to go back to rage mode, but quickly realizes that the Type II approach was much more fun. The journey finds soaring solo notes and whale calls (not fully used until years later). Trey uses the Whale Calls to surf the ambient backdrop painted by Gordon and Page like Bob Ross on Valium. Fishman keeps hammering the beat. Keeping the ship straight. Trey appears to be searching. Looking for something in the jam. Never satisfied. Then he finds the robot and turns him on. The robot responds with laser eyes and a chugging deep and symmetrical bass groove found in between the lines of an Isaac Asimov novel. Almost like a robot march to salvation. Page sets the alien landscape. Full invasion. The only escape can be found in the solace of Roggae which appears like a mirage in the alien desert. The Roggae takes over and steers the band into a slower, lower groove that floats perfectly as the third song in a hot set in need of a funky cool-off. Trey's use of the Leslie with distortion, as is typical with this song, sounds so perfect after the crazy Type II Chalkdust. Almost like a glimpse in the rear-view mirror at the robot behind, as the band journey's toward the delicate melodies ahead in the form of Page's fluid piano fills. The Roggae jam features more melodic playing by Trey over a droning ambient groove from Mike. Building the soft, floating jam into the harsh return of the heavy distortion power chords is such a perfect use of dynamics both in the song and in the set. While this Roggae doesn't stray too far from the conventional versions, it is the beauty of the playing and the placement in the set that really make it stand out. Set filler follows until we arrive at Bathtub Gin. This seems to be a very ordinary Bathtub Gin with your "meat and potatoes" Gin jam until the 11min 30sec mark. At that point Trey decides to go in a completely different direction, Page follows, and eventually so do Fishman and Gordon into a full on Spencer Davis Group "I'm a Man" jam. It is absolutely perfect. Funky. Upbeat. Driving. Like James Brown on his worst day. Standard Golgi Apparatus closer seems to say, "Keep your ticket; you are lucky you picked this show."

Set 2: Tweezer. One of the best feelings in the world for phans is a second set Tweezer opener. The band knows it, the audience knows it, something is coming... something huge. The song builds and opens up to the jam. Ambient loops. Clav with wah. Funked out Gordon bass grooves. Fishman on a slow burning funk beat. Trey starts the build with ascending high fret funk chords. 7th and 9ths in a slower, funked out Tweeprise climb. Then Page drops the alien synth clavs on top and you have liftoff. Then around the 14 minute mark the rug gets pulled out from under the band. Trey is back to minimal riffs and picking. Page waits and comes over the top with over-arching chords similar to the No Quarter intro but in a different key and chord structure. Fishman provides an ambient soundscape with cymbal crashes and tom hits. Gordon searches for a way to bring a groove to the jam as the ambient space bleeds through everything. It's wavy. The music is blurry. The sounds unclear. The jam drifts away into the ether. Feedback echoes and slowly dissipates into Mountains in the Mist. Solid takes on Birds of a Feather (with a notable break down jam at the end) and When the Circus Comes takes us to a tremendous Fluffhead with an excellent and always appreciated Fluff jam along with its epic peak ending. Not much in the way of ambient jams on the back half of this set, but great energetic playing none-the-less. An appropriate While My Guitar Gently Weeps>Tweezer Reprise to cap the encore and send the good vibes into the dark New Jersey night.

Link Saturday, 07/10/1999
E Centre, Camden, NJ

Soundcheck: Foam, Funky Bitch, Back at the Chicken Shack, Jam, Blue Bayou
Set 1: Wilson > Chalk Dust Torture[1] -> Roggae, Water in the Sky > Back at the Chicken Shack, Sparkle > Bathtub Gin[2], Golgi Apparatus
Set 2: Tweezer[3] > Mountains in the Mist, Birds of a Feather > When the Circus Comes, Fluffhead
Encore: While My Guitar Gently Weeps > Tweezer Reprise
[1] In Memory of Elizabeth Reed tease from Trey. Unfinished.
[2] I'm a Man (Spencer Davis Group) jam.
[3] What's the Use? tease.
Show Note: Trey was wearing a Mia Hamm #9 USA Soccer Jersey

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