, attached to 1999-12-17

Review by Anonymous

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

Hampton, Baby!
Of course, the atmosphere was festive and the anticipation was high. I had fun handing out candy canes to the folks waiting in front of me in the line to get in the Coliseum. Once inside, my husband Lyle and I found seats in our favorite place, which is straight back on the rail at the front of the balcony. Tonight we were a little over to Page's side. Amidst all of the balloons and glowrings, the vibe was kind of strange. I can't really explain it and quite possibly it was my altered state of consciousness, but it was almost a restlessness. It was as if we were expecting too much at Phish's first appearance in Hampton since the Hampton Comes Alive album was released just a few weeks earlier. If the Wave was any indicator, the crowd just wasn't into the whole Hampton scene. I was disappointed not to see many holiday costumes, though I saw several other interesting get-ups, most notably some girls with large, crazy sunglasses and feather boas, a guy dressed in a sort of pimp costume, a guy with a big beer mug hat and, of course, "Lawn Boy" (he's my favorite). Mostly, I was extra excited to be back aboard the Mothership!
Things kicked off with a nice "Piper". Though this tune is one of my favorites, it was nothing spectacular, but I thought it was a great way to greet Hampton. "Meat" was cool to hear and I loved the way they totally stopped as if the song was over, then started back up again. Those tricksters! "Sparkle" was nothing really new and exciting. Though I was hoping to hear it during the second set, "Jibboo" came along right when I needed it. This was my first live one. You gotta love that "Jibboo", ya know? And love it I do! The energy level was kept high with "PYITE", which was played very well, then "Circus" brought it down a notch. I thought "Circus" was completely appropriate for the evening and the venue. "Circus" as well as "WITS" are very pretty songs; the "filter out the Everglades" line got lots of cheers in anticipation of the upcoming Big Cypress New Year's Eve festival in Florida. "Twist" was a fun way to end the set. I like it better each time I hear it.
Yes, I am an old softie and I have a real hard time being critical of the band that has brought so much joy into my life, but I will say that the first set left me feeling lukewarm. "Jibboo" and "Twist" were the highlights for me. So, I reflected during the long set break and prepared myself for round two. I also got a kick out of a guy handing out Now and Laters to us chicks in the bathroom line. He was wearing some of those Halloween gross teeth (big, crooked and brown) and he kept telling us that they were not his real teeth. He was a hoot.
Set II started off super strong with a tight "Birds". Now we're talking! "Moma Dance" gave me one of those moments in time which I crave: I was having a ball looking around the room. As far as I could see, every single person was on their feet dancing like no one was watching. No milling about, no chitter-chatter, no sitting down with arms crossed, no worries about firing up the bowl, no worries about anything else at all"...just absolute focused groovin'. Shakin' it. Feelin' it. Lovin' it. Yeah! (For the record, the entire second night of Hampton would be that way.)
"Bug" was a fantastic first-hear for me and I totally fell in love with it. I should have been standing up and dancing, but all I could do was sit in my seat and watch in amazement. I could have sworn that the jam at the beginning was nothing more than an opportunity for a light solo. What a beautiful palette of colors! Too bad I was too busy staring at it to think about snapping a photo. Oh, well, it is forever engraved in my memory. What a beautiful song, that "Bug". It really spoke to me.
Unfortunately, "Jennifer Danced" out and broke the spell. I could see that the song has potential, but it hadn't reached it yet and I would have appreciated almost anything else at that moment. It was quite a buzz kill for me. Luckily, "Jennifer Dances" and then she goes away. Afterwards, there was much discussion onstage. What a long pause! I was convinced Trey was dragging it out on purpose just to tease us. Finally, "SOAMelt" started up and that groovy vibe was restored. Thank goodness! It think it's fair to say that this version covered some new ground in a spacey kind of way. "Character Zero" brought the set to a rocking close. I don't care what anyone else says, I'm always glad to hear that tune. An odd thing happened at the end of the song, though (at least from my vantage point on the balcony rail): Trey took his bow before anyone else and Mike (and maybe Page) seemed bewildered, like they had planned on playing one more. So, it was no surprise to me when Mike stepped up to the mic for song one of the encore.
"Home Place" is another rare treat for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was also delighted to hear "Squirming Coil" since I haven't in a while and I had been thinking throughout the evening that I needed to hear more of Page. "Loving Cup" was the right way to end the evening -  did I mention how terrific it was to be back in Hampton?
As usual, night one of Hampton left me jonesin' for night two. Once we strolled on back to the phabulous Fairfield Inn directly across the street, I was amazed at the complete lack of activity in and around the hotel after the show. Don't misunderstand, I enjoy a good raucous all-night blow-out as much as anyone else, but I mostly engage in quiet reflection after a show. It was just very nice not to be woken up in the middle of the night by a drum circle in the next room. I don't know if it was the "No Party Policy" we all signed upon check-in, strong police presence around the Coliseum or good behavior on the part of the fans. I'm going to say it was the latter, so I'll also say, "Thanks, everyone!" for a fantastic time in Hampton.


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