, attached to 1998-08-08

Review by Anonymous

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

Traffic can sometimes be okay. If you're travelling on the high of a great show the night before, and expectations are high, you won't even notice the clock ticking away. I must add though, once the clock starts reading 7:35 p.m. and you are still sitting on the highway not knowing how much further you have to go once you get off at your exit, it can be quite unpleasant. Such was the case on this very hot evening in the state of Maryland.
My last Phish show in Maryland (in December of ‘97) was, to put it bluntly, a personal disaster. I will not go into it here, but I wanted to redeem myself and enjoy this show. Plus, hearing about the venue itself, and some past Dead shows here, I was filled with anticipation bordering on extreme impatience. After sitting on the highway not moving for close to ninety minutes, my car began to move closer to the exit, and I was eventually off and directed to…nowhere! I figured out I was to find my own parking space, so after a few minutes, I made my way to a Sears parking lot and followed the herd. "The herd" is definitely what I felt like, as the crowds had to walk slowly through woods, up hills, down hills, through more woods, and eventually to a roped area that would be the entrance.
My first thought upon entering the venue was of a summer camp. There were trees all over the place, and behind the lawn you could hang out on the hill amid trees and people. There was a barn at the top of the lawn, at the sight of which I immediately called the first set “Farmhouse”.
“The Wedge” opened the show maybe ten minutes after I found an area on the lawn from which I could see the stage. This is the quintessential Phish opener to me, perhaps because of the perfect placement at the Great Went the previous summer. “NICU” followed, and as usual got the crowd smiling, always a pleasure to see this early in a first set. The first funk of the evening came next in the shape of “Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley”. This version, although not the longest, is worth hearing as there is some serious, thick funk being laid down. Very similar to the one on Long Island in the spring, except this one eventually made its way to “Guyute”. The “Sally” ended with Trey playing the muted counting he normally plays to kick off “Guyute”, except he had some heavy delay on his guitar and played it for a bit longer than normal. Rocking as usual. I was unfamiliar with the next song, and learned it was “Ficus” at set break. Although not my favorite song, it was a fine addition to the many personal debuts I got in ‘98. My predicted “Farmhouse” was next, and I enjoyed it amidst the trees and hot weather. This song is great in the summer for me for some reason. “Possum” followed and was rocking as usual. I thought the set would end, when the band started playing another unfamiliar song to me. As soon as Page started singing I realized it was “Sweet Jane”. Perhaps a Halloween tease? Whatever it was, I was happy with it as a set closer.
Setbreak seemed longer than normal, which gave me time to explore and try to find my friend, who I was supposed to meet at Will Call at 6 p.m.. This proved a bad idea amongst the thousands of fans, so I settled on the hill behind the lawn. A guy plopped down on his back directly in front of me, and proceeded to "pull a Jimi Hendrix" (vomit while lying on your back). This was my cue to get back on the lawn.
“Cavern” opened the second set in a similar fashion to the version on the Island Tour in the spring, with Trey starting it. I love this song but enjoy it better at the end of a set. “Also Sprach Zarathustra” followed (another prediction of mine, because of the venue) and was, as usual, funky, visually amazing, and all-around fun. Not as great on tape as some versions, but always welcome in my opinion. A beautiful “Tela” was next. After seeing “Forbin”->”Mockingbird” the night prior, this was another great addition to my summer.
Before this show, I still was not sold on “Piper”; it just seemed very loud and cacophonous to me. I will also admit I was not paying much attention during the composed part this particular evening. What eventually happened in the jam, though, blew me away. Pure jamming, my first "big jam" of the summer so far actually. Immediately following the composed section they start building and building until a bomb goes off, and some rocking Type I jamming. Eventually they lock down a heavy groove thing for a few minutes with Trey busting out some funky licks with his effect made famous in ‘97 (see jam before Great Went “Gin”). Fishman keeps it interesting on the ride cymbal as Trey starts playing some great melodies that Page picks up immediately. This fades out as Fishman comes out from behind his drum set for my first “Sexual Healing”. This is the perfect song for him, and to hear the band sing the backups is hilarious.
What better way to close a solid show than with “Harry Hood”? Call me crazy, but I was never that big a fan of this song, but I always enjoy it when I'm there, and it always seems to end a great show. It's just not my favorite, kill me. I think I enjoy the band/audience bliss during this song more than the actual song.
A glowstick war started, and as usual, seemed useless after the one that took place at the Great Went the summer before. I had no idea what the encore would be, and given the, quite frankly, bizarre covers debuted this summer, I was ready for anything. I was not ready for “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys, though. I was very surprised, and even saw some people leaving! It was pretty funny to hear Trey screaming like a little kid. I'm a fan of the Beastie Boys, and I'm not sure what they would think of this, but it was definitely another surprise on what was a great Summer Tour.
Aside from the traffic and parking issues, this show had good song selection, a lot of covers, and a good vibe all around. Phish should make this a two-night Summer Tour venue.
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