, attached to 1998-07-17

Review by n00b100

n00b100 I mentioned in my 7/6/98 review that I consider this one of the shows of the year; honestly, the more I think about it, the more I feel comfortable removing the "one of the" qualifier, and yes, I've heard the Island Tour shows. This one, to me at least, feels like the strongest show top to bottom, even without a massive year-defining jam like the 4/3 Roses Are Free; the second set, in particular, feels like something out of the laser-focused Fall '97 (I'm not totally sure any of the Island Tour shows do - they feel more their own animal IMO), and that is enough to win it the prize.

The show starts off in an interesting manner with Makisupa (never my favorite song, but it's chill enough, and most other fans do like it quite a bit), before heading into an always welcome, joyfully upbeat Ya Mar and a molasses-slow Gumbo that tells us something special's in the cards for tonight (as the first three songs have given us a good half hour of really nifty, groovy jamming); a panoramic Divided Sky just adds to that feeling. The rest of the first set is standard enough, but that's nearly 50 minutes of high class music right there, which is hardly anything to complain about for a first set.

The second set, though, is where things get rather tasty indeed. After a couple minutes of almost ugly white noise, the band kicks into a supercharged version of 2001, overflowing with pulsating energy from the word go, and slowing to a mellow groove before finishing with a flourish; no short list of best 2001s ever is complete without this bad boy (along with 11/19/97, 12/29/98, and the Went). Next comes Mike's Song, a growling and snarling midtempo beast that sweeps aside everything before it before hitting the usual closing sequence, then moving into a more open, blissful jam that gives the band more room to breathe (and Page more of a chance to shine) and climaxes in a really sweet ending...

...and then Fishman starts up the drumbeat to Weekapaug Groove, and what has been a really top-notch set so far enters a brand new dimension. This Weekapaug Groove brings some outrageous, powerful funk, never letting up in terms of straight energy - this is the kind of jam that feels like a shot of adrenaline straight to your brain, especially when the band starts going double time en route to Character Zero. Zero is Zero, of course, but at this point it makes no difference - this is a set to stash away on whatever music player you've got for as long as you listen to music. PYITE/Rocky Top is just icing on the cake.

LivePhish released the show two days earlier, which is certainly fun enough (I greatly enjoy that Tweezer, and the Simple, and the Horn Jam, and...), but is a mere lark compared to the monster show Phish dropped on the Gorge here. 1998 was not exactly the most consistent of years, but when '98 Phish was feeling it, shows like this were the result. Give it a listen, won't you?


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