, attached to 1997-08-10

Review by nichobert

nichobert I have a different perspective on the second half of the 2nd set that doesn't view it as an inter--band power struggle with 17 minutes of "nothing going on"

Cities is absolutely excellent, the Ramble On-Esque jam towards the end is the sound of summer boiled down into 5 beautiful, breezy minutes. The drop into GTBT is a trip if you think you're hearing Ramble On, but it fits in perfectly. The biggest hiccup of the set in my opinion is that Trey seemed to think they were going to ride the breakbeat of the "I know what it means to be alone!" segment out into a funky jam, a slight miscommunication ensues but they recover nicely. Fish is throwing down some awesome beats, Trey unleashes some scintillating evil riffs and eventually the theremin kicks in. Lke most theremin jams, they get into some cool spaces that don't sound much like normal Phish. Great stuff.

Now for the bone of contention.

In 1997, Fishmans suit and lack of mums and vacuum was viewed as an expression of a maturing band who wasn't into shenanigans. Forget Europe and all the batshit crazy stuff that happened there, forget Walfredo and Rock A William. Fishman wore a suit and had no time for jokes!
So in the middle of maybe the 2nd weirdest set of the US Tour up until that point (va beach 2, though this one out-weirdos it eventually), Trey abandons his guitar about 12 minutes into GTBT, goes to steal suited up Fish's drums and Fish won't let him! This doesn't feel like a stunt to people? Or a James Brownian tension heightener before the greeziest man in show biz takes center stage? Nevermind that the Rotation Jam sounds totally awesome. It was all in fun! Rock A William makes its US debut and absolutely SLAYS. I'd take this over a vacuum solo 100/100 times.
The other 60% of "dead time" in the set is even more excellent. One of, if not THE longest Bowie intros ever, complete with an old school digital delay loop jam dragged out and twisted into a psychedelic masterpiece.

Don't sleep on this show. It's different, and that's what we see them for, isn't it? There's nothing like the Pranksters 4 days later bringing the show to a staggering halt for awhile. Just crazy improvisation bursting out of what is basically a 3.5 song set.

I'd give this show a 4.5/5 on any scale. One of the most unique second sets ever, one that proves that Phish didn't have to lose their sense of humor in order to lose themselves in the improv. And didn't need to skimp on the jams in order to have good gimmicky fun.


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