, attached to 1998-07-31

Review by Anonymous

(Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

As I headed over to my buddy Matt's house to pick him up for the show, I turned my head away from the country road stretched out before me and gazed across the green, rolling hills that made up the countryside. I remember thinking to myself, "what a beautiful day for a Phish show." Everybody loves seeing Phish outdoors, but having a beautiful summer day with no rain clouds in sight just makes it that much better. I got to Matt's house, which was where I was also supposed to meet up with my friends Dan, Dave, and Adam who were going to follow us down to Columbus caravan style. Once we were all situated we were off to Erie to pick up the final member of our crew, Alex who had just got back from some kind of Boy Scout camping trip or something. With Alex in the car, we merged onto I-90 headed westbound with the in-dash CD player cranking out Jerry Garcia licks and the three of us speculating as to what we were going to hear that night.
We made it around Cleveland and into the I-271 express lane towards Columbus with no problems. However, we had only made it to the first rest stop on 271 before nature called upon us to stop. I love rest stops on the way to Phish shows because you always run into at least one or two cars full of heady kids on their way to the same place you are. Surprisingly, this particular site was full of tourists and no fellow freaks. We all went in, and when I came out, much to my surprise, my buddy Richard and his van full of friends had pulled into the parking lot right next to my car. As we all conversed for a few minutes, the two cars in our caravan decided it was time to get back on the road. Matt, Alex, and I still had to check into our hotie before we could head to the lot. We said goodbye to Dick and Co. and told them we'd meet them at the show.
We were just outside of Columbus before I had to stop and fill up my tank with some rather expensive gas. Dan, Dave, and Adam left us at the station so they could get to the lot and get rid of the beer they were planning on selling. Less than thirty minutes later we were at our quaint little room at the Cross Country Inn, which was luckily only two exits from the venue which happens to be located right off I-71. We finished up a quick lunch and headed for the lot. Surprisingly, parking was no real issue at all. We didn't run into any cars being backed up until we got off the highway and got onto the road that lead through an industrial area and then eventually into the venue's parking area. All in all, at least from my observation, Polaris Amphitheater is in a really poor location. There aren't enough lanes flowing into the lot and the noise must be pretty loud for the office buildings and eateries located on the same road.
We got ourselves parked and out of the car. That beautiful summer day turned into a real scorcher as I could feel the sweat beading up on my brow after taking a few laps around the lot. The scene was really chill, which was surprising since the lot is somewhat small, and as cars filed in it got to be pretty crowded really quick. We made our way into the lawn at about 7pm, hoping to find some of the friends we knew were there. We found some nice spots at the bottom of the lawn right above the moat and took a seat. As people started to file in, anticipation grew deep inside me. I really had no idea what they were going to play; however, I had this sort of vibe that they weren't going to bust out any new covers like they had been doing (and would go on to do) this tour. I finally spotted Dave, Adam, and Dan in the crowd entering the venue. I called out their names and they came to join us.
Finally, the house music stopped and the crowd roared to its feet. The familiar intro to "My Friend, My Friend" began and was received by hoots and hollers of approval. The band went on to deliver fine versions of "Ya Mar", "Roggae", and the first "Rift" in nearly 100 shows; however, the highlight of the first set was definitely a funked out version of "Cities". This got the crowd moving and singing together and really set the vibe for the rest of the night. The band brought the set to a close with "Water In The Sky" and "Stash". Overall the set had a real summertime feel to it, the kind of set that served as a nice backdrop for a bunch of barefoot kids to dance and frolic in the sunshine. The monstrous "Cities" and the long "Stash" stood out as first set highlights.
As night fell, I overheard many conversations held by fans that expected a really tight second set. As the lights in the pavilion went out I could feel myself biting my lower lip, waiting to the first notes of the second set. As the band literally launched into "Curtain", I could feel a tingle in my stomach and I knew right then and there that this set was going to be a good one. The tune was executed flawlessly and meandered its way into "Free". After some heavy improv, the band collectively brought the tune down to an end as Trey began to signify the segue into the first "If I Could" played since 1996. This version was exquisite and is a perfect example as to why it should be played more often. Trey played the lines on his guitar that had been played by the strings on the studio version and it gave me goose bumps.
"If I Could" wound its way into some blissful jamming that flowed effortlessly into "TMWSIY". This was my first time hearing this composition and the haunting note phrases along with Kuroda's light work had each little hair on my arms and the back of my neck standing on end. Then, at Fish's signal the band kicked into "Avenu Malkenu", the song of the night as far as the light show was concerned. A somewhat new tune called "Twist" found its way out of "Avenu Malkenu" and proved itself to be quite the jam vehicle, allowing the band to take it through many twists and turns before they arrived at the only cover of the night, Jimi Hendrix's "Izabella". Rock star Trey showed himself for a few minutes during this song before burying himself back into the deep and murky groove.
The set ended with a rollicking "Julius" and a solid "Cavern". As the band left the stage the crowd went nuts, wondering aloud how they'd be able to top that second set segue fest. The band once again took their place onstage for the encore. Kuroda bathed the stage in orange light as Trey began his palm-muted pick scratches that could only mean one thing: "PYITE"! Phish nailed this fun tune in such a way that they could have sent us all home smiling; however, not before hearing a beautifully executed "Slave" first. A wonderful encore pairing to cap off a wonderful show. We left the show with visions of serpent deflectors and ribbon reflectors dancing in our head, and finished out the night cramming six people into our hotel room, none of whom wanted to go to sleep, and couldn't wait until morning came and we could hit up the Bob Evans across the street.


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