, attached to 1998-11-13

Review by Anonymous

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

Friday the 13th. What a spooky day. Nothing is supposed to go right and you just might be in danger of getting hacked to bits by a machete-wielding, hockey-masked, pissed off summer camper who just doesn't seem to want to die.
However, such a day in Phish world could only mean one thing: one crazy show. Surely the band would realize the significance of this day and do something special. After this show I learned not to get my hopes up.
The two-hour drive to Cleveland went by for the most part uneventful, with my buddies Matt, Mike, and Jaremy, along with myself, excited to get to the lot. Fall Tour isn't much like Summer Tour as far as the lot scene is concerned. Instead of being condensed into an amphitheater's parking lot, since most venues on the Fall Tour are located in big cities, concert goers are forced to park in different lots, each of which are separate from each other and each of which costs a different amount to park in. I was lucky enough to park in a lot on Prospect St. about four blocks away from the venue. Luckily this lot was also a block away from Shakedown, which just so happened to be overflowing from the next parking lot and into the street and up and down the sidewalk across from the venue. Superb purchases were abundant and after making several, my crew and I headed back to the car to get away from the cold November air before heading into the show.
Finally it was time for us to head in and find our seats. We walked to the venue and stood in line to get frisked. As I was waiting for my turn, the security guard called up the kid in front of me. This kids was acting super shady and as the guard was frisking him he kept pulling his jacket back down over his waist and reaching for his back. I could see the guard getting a little worried as the kid kept reaching around for the back of his jeans. Finally the cop decided he wasn't going to wait to see what that kid might pull out from the back of his jeans. He turned him around and lifted up his jacket, exposing the kids' brand new bubbler, a really nice pipe way too big to be trying to bring into a show. I think the cop realized how much that thing was worth because instead of taking it he just told the kid to go put it away and come back.
I'm really not a fan of seeing Phish indoors. It's always too hot, the bathroom lines are too long, the halls are too hard to maneuver, and there are no jumbotrons. The CSU Convocation Center is no different; however, at least we scored some good seats. Granted we were in the bleeders, but we were directly in front of the stage so we had a nice view. The house lights finally went down as Phish took the stage. Surprisingly they weren't met with an overwhelmingly warm response. The band kicked off the show with about as much warmth as they kicked into a lackluster "Chalk Dust Torture". This version was kind of sloppy and didn't really have much to offer. The "Wolfman's Brother" that followed was a different story. The band funked this "Brother" out for a good twenty minutes and showcased some very inspired jamming. Later set lists would have a "Mind Left Body Jam" listed as taking place within "Wolfman's," but I'm not sure how much validity there is to that claim.
Phish followed the explosive "Wolfman's" with an average pairing of "Roggae" and "Ginseng Sullivan", and then broke into an entertaining version of "It's Ice". This would be the final version until the year 2000 and it was by no means a letdown. Each part was flawless and at one point Fishman climbed on top of his drum throne, stood there, and did the mashed potato.
The next song, "Cars Trucks Buses" is always a fun instrumental and although it didn't break any new ground it was still good to hear. Next up was "Farmhouse" and at this point in its existence it was still a rarity for the most part, so it was a real treat to hear it. As far as Phish's country numbers are concerned, "Water In The Sky" should have been left alone and should still be played like it was back in 1997. "The Sloth" brought the lukewarm first set to a simmer before "Antelope" brought it to a boil. The band was doing some serious jamming during this song, and the audience was really loving it. The band seemed to take notice, or at least Trey did, as he switched up the lyrics and said something to the effect of, "set the deer shift for this side of the hole." Whatever Trey. It's still not sure what was said for sure; possibly instead of "hole" it was "hall", making reference to the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame. Regardless, for the first time all night both the band and the audience seemed to be having a really good time. "Wolfman's" and "It's Ice" stood out as the first set highlights and as the house lights came back on, intermission was met with the collective hope that the band would really bring the thunder in the next set.
Since I knew what kind of confusion was going on in the hallway that surrounded the venue, I stayed in my seat through set break. I was glad I did since by the time Matt and Jaremy made it back to the seats after their excursion, the house lights went down, leaving them no time to eat their pizza and hotdog.
As the band took the stage it seemed as though spirits were high. The band joked about how Carini showed up for work late that day since he had gotten so drunk at the Flats the night before. Kuroda shined a spotlight to the side of the stage, lighting Carini up and Trey announced that Mike thought they should leave the lights like that the whole set. After the banter Mike lead the band into the intro to "Down With Disease". The band worked its way through the tune before they embraced the jam and really spread their wings. A huge jam ensued, one that really got the second set moving and for the most part made up for the averageness of Set I. After "Disease" ended Trey started up "Sample In A Jar". It was by no means the greatest Sample ever, but things could have been worse. Afterwards we were treated to a beautiful rendition of "Dirt". This song is absolutely fantastic and this early version was superb, complete with an emotionally moving guitar solo.
This show was taking place not too long after Story Of The Ghost had been released and, if you may recall, "Birds Of A Feather" actually made it onto the radio as the album's single. I knew it was inevitable that they'd play it tonight, and they did. The version wasn't bad at all and after hearing it live I actually grew to enjoy it. An excellent jam springboard. The SOTG theme kept itself alive as the band brought forth "Meat". The funk was hitting hard and heavy and the band stretched this way out and ended up repeating the digital loop section several times. As the audience let out a deafening cheer of approval, Fishman started in with a wonderfully placed "Harry Hood" to end the set. "Hood" was pretty much your standard version, which is fine by me. The band worked the parts nicely; however, when they settled into the mellow blissful jam Kuroda blacked out the stage, allowing the fans to wage an interrupted glowstick war. Although it had potential to be huge, this war was pretty small; however, the gesture was still nice. The band sent us into the night after Kuroda shined the bright white lights on the stage as Page belted out the words to "Good Times/ Bad Times". What an extremely appropriate encore.


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