, attached to 2004-08-12

Review by macbergleton

macbergleton As is often the case, I remember this show best for some of its context--I brought my mom and little brother to their first show, we got out of the car and promptly saw a Phish mafia fight break out (welcome to the hippy show, mom!); the 30 hrs of traffic to follow en route to Coventry.

This show seemed to take much of oscillating polarity of the 2.0 era to the extreme. The setlist is as good as any you'll find during that stretch. In the show, the first set was fiery. Blistering playing. Sloppy. Wild transitions, but the setlist felt somewhat forced--like they "needed" to drop a great show. Phish is at their best when the music plays them, but alas the tables were turned for this particular night. Fortunately, when 4 of the most talented rock musicians ever to grace a stage together are the ones pushing the music, there are some real heights. Although the Ghost and Maze->catapult sandwich brought some highlights, the second set caught the greatest benefit.

Piper, always a guarantee in 2.0, was it's usual magical steamroller of itself. It's here I'd note that the night was pretty humid and their sound was dirtier than I had heard it...ever. I've always wondered whether the humidity was playing into that extra fuzzy, grungy, feedback-y sound. Sneakin Sally at one moment had perfect harmonies and at the next a rather flat and rushed jam into..Cavern!? Cool. Again, loud, dirty, sloppy. As were the Limb and Julius, and Rock and Roll that followed. The show just kept pushing. As others have mentioned the Scents was truly special. I'll note that not every night would such an ambient and feedback-laden jam work here. But this was the moment that the band stepped back and really saw what this night was. And finally the tension, excitement, anxiety, and the oppressive humidity blended into a primordial musical stew which seemed to echo from one instrument to the next. Yes, this was something that could only happen with this band; something that we'd all be missing all too soon. And just as perfect as the jam was that they walked off in a loop of echoing ambience. No fiery closer tonight folks. That last passage said it all. In case you were wondering, mom's mind was blown at this point. I believe her exact words were "Wow! Is that normal?"

At that time I was sure that it was all just a warmup for what would be the greatest goodbye in music history. Well, can't always be right...


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