, attached to 1999-07-03

Review by TimberCarini

TimberCarini Are we headed down the wrong path?

The first of two shows in Atlanta, Georgia was built on a solid setlist, fun gags (Fishman as Little Drummer Boy and Page's dad with a kazoo), and a handful of good jams.... but the new ambient jam based songs from the newly released Siket Disc were missing and so were the spacey transitions and ambient accented jams that will grow to define the year.

In 3.0 Phish shows we have grown to expect short takes on Tube, Gumbo, Free, Mike's Song and AC/DC Bag, but that is not how it used to be... or even how it should be today. Some versions of those songs from 1999 have achieved legendary status (the 7/23/99 Free as a prime example), but even the seemingly pedestrian takes from 1999 out-muscle the best versions of these tunes since 2009.

Case-in-point - the highlights from this show aren't even highlight versions of these songs in 1999 but would probably be on some of the "best of 3.0" jams lists oft created by bloggers and phans today - had this show been dropped sometime in the last three years.

SET 1
"Here we go!" Trey sets up and drops a jagged, piercing loop from his Boomerang as the band gets ready for.... Chalkdust Torture. It seems to announce the intent to steer towards the ambient jam mood everyone was expecting, but it quickly is resolved by a standard-but-fiery CDT. The Gumbo from this show is a great example of the ole adage "they don't make em like they used to." This is a funky, extracted take without the modern piano outro. As platforms for greater things, the Gumbo and Tube from the first set of this show provide the much needed opportunity for Phish to get loose early - an aspect lost from most modern Phish shows. This version of Taste also lends itself to some creative space, but nothing too far outside the norm. Lost in this space is the space itself. Trey seems to be filling all the holes and plugging the gaps with riffs and chords, instead of letting the music breathe. The ambient backdrops and mechanical loops of '99 are missing, and the show as a whole suffers from this loss.... the song selection in this first set certainly lent itself to some great opportunities for exploration.

SET 2: The Twist > Piper is the bread and butter of this show for any ambient tinged jam segment, and honestly it still falls a little short. A funky MOMA Dance and a seething Antelope provide other highlights in an otherwise forgettable first night in Atlanta, while the Harry Hood encore does end the show on a positive note.... going into the 4th of July, the fireworks were yet to be displayed.

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