, attached to 1996-12-06

Review by js300

js300 Whoever said '96 was boring?

In the history of stacked shows, this is right up there with the most stacked. Even with that Julius, Sparkle opening segment, we all know the greatness of Set II. Here we have a classic Mike's Groove with a heavily emotional centerpiece in Simple>Hood. This is when Mike's Groove could be a real statement, a group of songs that could be expected or unexpected but still worked together as a suite of music. This one isn't your classic combo, nor is it a bunch of greatest hits sandwiched between Mike's and 'Paug. It's a unique and unified group of songs, an inspired and ultimately moving chapter of the show. Obviously the big musical highlight.

And of course it gives you something to come back to that isn't the eye candy of an encore. This is probably what this show is most known for, with two thirds of Primus, a weirdly straight-timed Harpua, and every cheesy Vegas schtick they could fit in a half hour. It is, of course, great fun, and as a kid who owned the Vegas 96 CD, it was what I listened to the most (I particularly enjoyed the bass battle in Suzy between Mike and Les, where Mike is a bit low in the mix and Les proceeds to obliterate him with a creative and zany solo that only he could pull off).

But I also find myself returning to this first set time and time again. I mean, what a way to start a show! It doesn't fall into that "two second sets" lane, as many of these songs stay in the box and are often placed in the first set anyway. But boy do they pull out all the stops and tear them to shreds. The show begins in classic "we're going all around the world" fashion that screams energy, not lack of direction. We basically go from Hard Rock Cafe>Prog>Lightning Bluegrass>The Mothership Has Landed to start things off. The 2001 in particular is a personal favorite and certainly one of the earlier versions to push the theme into funkier, spatially exploratory terrain. Trey's playing contains a real melodic swag that's just infectious. I'd take a 2001 like this any day. The set's rounded out with a very solid YEM and one of those super satisfying Type I '96 Diseases that I love so much. The energy never falters.

Yeah, we're looking at a real heater here. Essentially three very well paced sets, this is obviously an all time classic. Don't sleep on the real meat of the show: keep that encore as a nice little dessert and treat yourself to the full three courses!


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