, attached to 1997-07-22

Review by Anonymous

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

This show is, by far, the shortest I have ever seen and is one of the shortest I have ever heard on tape. If anyone complains about it, though, I will hunt them down and force them to listen to Fishman impersonating James Brown covering Hanson for hours upon end!
The night before was the U.S. tour opener in Virginia Beach. I was staying at a house in Nag's Head for the weekend, partying down with some fellow fans. One of them had taped the two July Amsterdam shows, so we all got a chance to hear some of the new songs and get prepared. I drove to Raleigh from Nag's Head with those two shows, as well as the night before, lingering in my head.
Pressed up against the gates, I listened to the soundcheck. I knew this would be my last show until the fall, so I wanted it to be a great one. I left a few hours later far from disappointed! I had decided to go to this show at the last minute, so I was on the lawn while my friends were all in the reserved seats. I had found a patch of grass in the front of the lawn near an awesome couple from Texas and a guy named Travis who was at his first show. Prophetically, Travis's last name was Rainwater. We talked and laughed and waited for the show to start.
Honestly, though, the first set was pretty unremarkable. The "Runaway Jim" opener was a surprising call, especially given the monster "Jim" in Raleigh during the summer of 1995. My friend Brian swears he saw Trey pour some water on his hands and rub them together, as if to "wash his hands" of that epic jam. I've heard people corroborate this story, so maybe it happened. The "Stash" was nice, and I knew that Fishman's "Footsteps" poem from the Schvice had been turned into a song. Since I thought (and still think) it was a poignant poem, I was glad to hear it. Somewhere about this time is when the rain that had been steadily falling turned into an all-out downpour.
As the band launched into "Taste", we were trying to find ways to stay dry. Travis' girlfriend had some sort of blanket, which had been stretched out over us until it was too soaked to do any good. That's when the thunder and lightning kicked in. Listen to the tapes; the crackles are unmistakable! For a moment, I thought about leaving"...hell, I love Phish shows but I certainly didn't want to get electrocuted at one! The lightning crashed down on all sides of the amphitheater, and I realized that I probably had a better chance getting hit while walking to my car than I did standing with thousands of other people!
So, I started to pay attention to the "Taste" jam, and it was simply electrifying. Each crash of thunder and burst of lightning brought a frenzied scream from the crowd, which seemed to further excite the band and deepen the jam. When it ended ten minutes later, I had been hosed in both the literal and metaphoric sense.
I have to say that this is the only show I have ever seen where set break was actually fifteen minutes. Who knows, maybe the band realized how bad the weather was and wanted to finish the show before anyone got hurt. We out on the lawn didn't seem to care anymore, though. Since we were all wet and muddy to begin with, rounds of mudsliding began. It became an all-out pigpen party, and everyone was loving it.
Words can't do the second set justice. All I can do is advise you to get a tape and listen for yourself. The "Disease" starts out really shaky but the set from there is basically flawless. The segue from "Disease" into "Mike's" is perhaps the best, most fluid, most inventive segue the band has ever pulled off. The "Hydrogen" was a treat, and the "Weekapaug" was an all-out dancefest in the mud.
I was excited to hear "When the Circus Comes", and thought it was a sweet way to bring us back to earth after an ethereal show. Little did I realize that we'd get a "Harry Hood" after it to cap an excellent set! Personally, I say get the second set at any cost and have someone throw on the first-set "Taste" as filler. And, if you've got good ears and want goose bumps, pay close attention to the roar of the crowd as they realize that the band is about to break into "Mike's" from "Disease". If you listen closely, you can hear me"...cold, wet, tired, and loving every second of it.


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