, attached to 1999-12-31

Review by waxbanks

waxbanks (part 1 of 2)

Most mid-period Phish fans who've heard this show love it. If you're not a fan of Phish's spacey late-90's improv, you might find it a bit samey; e.g. the last 20(!!) minutes of Roses Are Free head back to ground that'd already been adequately covered (you might say) by the last 10 minutes of Rock'n'Roll and the 15-minute 'Quadrophonic Topplings' jam and even the last six minutes of the *show-opening* Disease jam. That's a lot of twinkling ambient-textured psychedelia to sit through in one listen. If you're in the right mood, on the other hand, or happen to enjoy that sort of thing, you might call NYE '99 the canonical Phish show. Trey memorably thought so - he came offstage with Fishman thinking the band was done for good, and a little more than nine months after this night it was. It took them a decade to fully recover and regroup after this spiritual/musical peak.

Both camps have it, I think. The ferocious concentration and intensity of '97 were gone by this point in the band's arc, as was the larking bounce of 1998, but there's a miniaturist's precision to the sound-assembly and quiet interplay nonetheless. By late '99 the ambient excursions of fall '98 has started to integrate fully into the band's sound; even the driving rhythmic songs here start with Trey piling sonic sediment atop the rhythm bed, and the great guitar declamations are more rare than ever.


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