10/15/98 - The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA I: Ghost*, Water in the Sky, Wolfman's Brother**, Gumbo***, David Bowie****, Robert and Brian^, Reba^^, Character Zero (85 min.) II: My Soul, Chalkdust Torture, Roggae, Moma Dance, Velvet Sea, Prince Caspian, Frankie Says (Relax), Birds of a Feather, Lawn Boy, Harry Hood (weird intro) (90min) E: Dirt, Limb by Limb (10 min.) * 15 min, tight, rocking ** with funky ambient jam *** long thick funk jam **** explosive and fiery, preceded by maze tease ^ intro of Trey talking about things Fishman hates (like HYYU), including the yellow lights which Chris then spotlighted on Fish for the whole song ^^ insane, tight, spacey, no whistling Much thanks to Marco and Betty, Kristen "Mean Mr. Mustard" of Lemuria and The Phish.Net
I can honestly say that it's been a long time since I had as good a time at a Phish show as I had last night. Not to say that my other recent Phish experiences haven't been great, because they have, but last night was so good that it made me feel six years younger. I mean, the atmosphere of that show was circa 92-93, and to me was a truly magical experience. The scene outside was not nearly as chaotic as many (your humble author included) had expected, with maybe 100 - 150 ticketless mostly confined to the parking lot of the nearby KFC, and keeping as low a profile as ticketless phans can. I even ran into a few souls there who weren't even looking for a Fillmore pass so much as they were looking for one of those many Halloween extra's that suddenly appeared once this show was announced. Once inside, an incredibly contagious electric excitement enveloped the entire building. Smiles, hugs and high five were in abundant display, and strangers were truly stopping strangers just to shake their hands. Kudos go out to a guy named Kane who bought everyone at the bar a tequila shot just as I was ordering up my first round of beers for the night -- if you happen to read this, Thanks man!! After my tequila shot I spied Mike milling around, and thanked him for doing this show. He was genuine with his "you're welcome" as he started to make a cellular phone call........I wonder who he called....? Anyway, the main room was very dimly lit, and people were just milling about, chatting, sipping their cocktails, meeting their neighbors and settling in as much as was possible given the aforementioned electric vibe permeating the place. The band hit the stage at a prompt (for them) 8:30ish and immediately kicked into Ghost. I gotta say -- at this point -- that particulars of many of the songs are somewhat lost on my brain, but I'll try to be as descriptive of the music as my memory will allow. Let me begin by saying that even though the setlist may not rock many boats, the performance of every song was on, and for me, right there. The jams were tight, flowing and incredibly beautiful. I can't think of one point during the night when I was let down by the music (except for when it ended!). The Ghost raged from the outset, and if I remember correctly seemed to flow right into Water In The Sky. I love this new version, and they seemed to be pretty psyched to be playing this one. The triple shot of Wolfman's, Gumbo, Bowie rocked the house and at certain points I realized that Phish no longer plays smaller venues simply because they've outgrown them, but because I'm not sure some of these smaller buildings are able to seismically take the force that this band creates. They quite literally blew the roof off the joint on more than one occasion, and the rockers of the evening (Character Zer0, My Soul, Chalkdust, Birds) absolutely smoked. Also on the fringes of being declared Rocked-Out-Tune-Of-The-Night was Caspian. The end jam crescendo-ed to a point that I've never heard Caspian take (although the Albany 97 version is a good indication of what it sounded like last night), and if every Caspian were to sound like this I think there's be many more Caspian supporters! Robert and Brian is a stunning new tune with hauntingly relevant lyrics for a good chunk of our culture and I just love this new song. The Reba. Ahhhhhhh what I can say about this Reba........the chase, the chill, and then,..............the disco ball. The jam was amazingly frenetic, energetic and just raged. I know many folks were hoping for something big to start the second set (author included), but the one, two punch of My Soul and Chalkdust just kicked serious ass! The lights during Chalkdust were amazing as Chris found the control to the chandeliers (see Charlie's review) and did this kind of wave thing as the chandeliers were quickly turned on and off in a manner that looked like a wave of light was flowing from the front of the room to the back (the Tevil really seemed to like this effect!!). I'd seen this done once before, at a Leftover Salmon show, and boy was I psyched to see it again! That stuff'll give a guy a big ole' shit-eating grin (and it did!). Roggae was a cool chill period after the two previous ragers, and then, The Moma. The boys did it again, in a manner of 15 minutes they turned that room into the rockingest place in The City (ala My Soul, Chalkdust) to the disco-ingest spot in town. People were *Getting Down* and the groove the band produced was pure ear candy. This may have been the musical highlight of the night for me, as it is the moment that my mind continually revisits this day after. Velvet Sea was sweet, matching the highs that to me it achieved at The Wheel, and I've already stated how I feel about the Caspian. Relax is the one tune I have no clear recollection of for the evening, and Birds again tested the foundation of that old, history-laden building on the corners of Geary and Fillmore. Lawn Boy was sweet, with Page -- with overwhelming approval from the crowd -- repeating his emphasis of the "moist green organic" lines like he did at The Wheel. The roll out of Harry was pure joy, and the bizarre opening segment must be heard. At the time I just thought it was just me that it sounded somewhat crazy, but reading these other reviews reveals that it really was an odd (yet *VERY* enjoyable) intro to Harry Hood.
. To me, this Hood was great, with an early fizzle of the jam, but a truly powerfulculmination leading into the "You can feel good, good about Hood" part, but, alas, no final "I feel good!". At first, especially with the Dirt, I thought the encore had the distinct feel of either an extended encore, or even a small third set. The Limb by Limb reinforced this feeling, but it was not to be. Limb by Limb was a great closer though, and I can think of worse things than being sent into a cool San Francisco fall evening with the wonderfully trippy chorus of that song going through the mind. They were indeed giving out posters and they either completely ran out or ran out of their currently supply one person in front of me, but I did score one of the cool bumper stickers. The sticker is yellow, and in big green print it says Phish at the Fillmore. In smaller print above that it reads "I've just come back from" (or something like that) and under it it says "It was nice". I thought that was freakinhilarious! Thanks to the Phish organization and the folks at the Fillmore for putting this show on, and also thanks to Ron Harris for scoring me my ticket. I'm a lucky man to have him as my bud! This is how cool this guy actually his: he called Bill Graham Presents in an attempt to sign over his entire voucher to myself and my wife as a wedding present, pretty damn cool, huh? Have a great Fall tour everybody, and I look forward to catching up with the circus in Vegas!! Mike
Well, after reading the two reviews posted today, I felt inspired to write my review. The Fillmore was filled with nothing but good vibes all night, a few cheezy people aside. I feared it would be too hot, or too crowded, but it was none of the above. Although the set lists did not contain any crazy shit that many people were anticipating, the jamming was dynamic, funky, and hard all night. The Bowie was fantastic....completely old school and tight. Reba was a highlight as well. As they busted into the jam, all lights turned off except a dull purple, blacklight haze over the stage. A spot light turned on the Fillmore disco ball, as tiny reflections spun around the room. Though spacey and a little evil for a minute, it twisted back to its traditional path and crescendoed to the delight of everyone. The Character Zero to end the set was unreal. I normally am not a big fan of this song, but I have never heard such a long intense jam as the played on this one. Trey took this to places you wouldn't believe. The second set was probably not what everyone expected or hoped for, but was well played with some intense jamming. Although we would have liked a crazier setlist, it was great to hear some of the new tunes which were well played with good jams. For those of you who are trying to gauge what it was like, Phish fans from the New York area will get this. It was like seeing them at the Capitol Theater in Portchester, NY in 1991 and 1992. But this was difficult for many of us to comprehend since so much has happened since then....the scene was very surreal. You had to keep looking around to believe you were really seeing Phish jamming in the Fillmore. I was only a little dissapointed in that they didn't really talk to the crowd to acknowledge this momentous occassion. Then again, they probably figured nothing needed to be said about jamming in a place as great as the Fillmore. Much thanks to Phish for such a treat. B. Sturmak San Francisco
Charlie Dirksen - email@example.com EXCITED!!? I had not been so excited before a Phish show since 10/31/94 Glens Falls! And I was not alone. It was the most difficult Phish ticket to score since the Third Ball on 6/6/96 (being blessed enough to get one was a miracle of sorts). But unlike that tiny Third Ball gig, which brought back memories of The Early Years in bars, this show's music celebrated the majesty of Phish's more recent musical trends in larger spaces: 1994 leap of faith exploration (Reba), 1995 full-band improvisation (Gumbo), 1996-98 space-funk-rock-groove (Ghost, Wolfman's). Only days before Phish celebrates 15 years of gigging, everything would be in focus, in alignment and in tune, much as it had been after the 12/31/95 Madison Square Garden show (though the music of tonight's show was not in the same league as much of the music on that legendary NYE). The pre-show scene outside the Fillmore was not the anarchic circus folks had predicted. Cops were not present, and only a handful of Fillmore security guards were around to tell people what to do (mostly to keep moving). There were only about 200 people outside when I arrived around 4pm. By the time I got in, at 6:45 or so, there were only around 300 people outside and 300 in. If ever there was a time to be amazed by the spectacle of desperate, pleading, ticketless fans, this was not the time. Things really weren't that bad at all outside. A special thank you to all of you who refrained from showing up ticketless. I am exhausted and wasn't going to make the effort to try to review this gig right now (2:30am), but I'm doing it for you, because I know what it is like to miss a potentially awe-inspiring show and await word on what went down. FWIW, the vast majority of the folks who showed up looking for tickets (maybe 200 or so, tops) were, naturally, that subset of our community that cares the least for the scene we create -- and leave behind -- at venues, i.e., wookies. But all were in rare, well-behaved form tonight, imo. One guy had a 1971 Nolan Ryan Topps baseball card which he offered to trade for an extra. (most people, though, were simply using 'ween tickets as tradebait) If you have never been to the Fillmore, it holds around 1200 people (or so they say). Red carpeted stairs greet you, and take you up into the warmth of a red carpeted, narrow, rectangular hall with walls adorned with gorgeous, framed pictures of some of the musicians who have played here (the Dead, Santana, etc.). The main room features a spacious, freshly polished, wooden dance floor bounded by modest, well-worn carpeting. Chandeliers hang tastefully from a high ceiling (with a disco ball in the center). A balcony stretches across the room's entire left (stage right) side. Five or so feet off the floor, a huge stage formidably fronts the room. The vibe as Phish took the stage (about 8:20pm) was unforgettably intense. People were beyond ecstatic, beyond euphoric, beyond enchanted (and beyond the average age of a typical Phish audience, in large part because of the significant number of friends and family of the band in attendance). Everyone was ready for ENLIGHTENMENT with the first notes the band played. The ZONE was already forming before the band would shoot spirits and souls even more heavenward with their music. I was reminded of the vibe before 10/31/94 Glens Falls, and before "The Other Ones" took the Warfield's stage earlier this year on June 4th. Not having the funds to catch Phish in Europe these last several years, I had not seen Phish play in such small room since my first show at the Paradise on 10/6/89. I was a jaded oldbie turned giddy fan boy for the occasion, hell-bent on having a good time, AND I DID HAVE A GREAT TIME, despite repeated elbowing in the ribs by savagely euphoric fan boys. And girls. Phish opened with a predictably powerful Ghost. It wasn't a monster like 7/3/97 Nuremberg, or a *RAGER* like most of the recent summer Ghosts, but the crowd loved it! It segued masterfully and wondrously into a lovely "Water in the Sky" (the upbeat, latest version). Wolfman's and Gumbo followed, and were the highlights of the first set, as I heard it. Although Wolfman's funked mightily away for the most part, it ended with a whimper. Gumbo, on the other hand, was awesome from start to finish, with an impressively unusual jam segment that you MUST hear for yourself. Easily one of my favorite versions and I'm looking forward to hearing it again! After Gumbo, Fish began rattling out Theme's opening, using the ride instead of the high-hat, but Trey gave him the Bowie signal, and Fish promptly started Bowie's hi-hat intro. Bowie's opening composed section wasn't as tight as you've often heard it, but the jam segment was short and sweet (reminded me of early versions). Brian & Robert mellowed out (but did not silence) the typically chatty San Francisco crowd. Trey commented before they launched into it that one of the many things Fish hates is "the yellow light." Trey asked Chris to keep the yellow light on Fish for the entire song ( Trey and Page were trying to hold back laughter at times during this non-serious version). Reba featured the only real "Type II" exploratory improv of the evening. After a somewhat sloppy opening segment, the jam began with help from THE DISCO BALL!! =^] The jam took a predictably Reba path for a long, long time (accompanied by the Disco Ball), with heavy noodling from Trey, until something Weird clicked in Trey's mind and he forced the groove into a disturbingly dark, twisted form. Definitely the only real "what the fuck!?" event of the evening, and not an especially pleasing one to my ears, either. It certainly won the award for The Most Queer Type II Jam of the night. No whistling ending... just a leap into a frightening Character Zero closer. Set break lasted about 40 minutes. We were treated to a CD's worth of the Afro-Cuban guitar stylings of Marc Ribot. The second set opened with passionate versions of My Soul and Chalk Dust, two of Phish's most basic songs. As Chalk Dust started, the crowd was so crazy with excitement that I thought people would begin slam dancing. I had been hoping for a more memorable Event to kick open the set. But these two typically great (blistering) Phish tunes clearly pleased most in attendance. Roget was beautiful and perfectly placed. I really needed a good melodious kick in the ass after what I thought were two LA TI DAH openers. It wasn't a flawless version, but it's one of my favorite Phish songs, and I was THRILLED! I also love Moma Dance, which came next, but unfortunately, Phish has apparently decided not to take this tune OUT THERE yet. This was a perfectly average Moma Dance. Sure it was funky, sure I loved it... but it didn't do anything different from almost all of the versions you have heard. Fans of Velvet Sea will probably really want to hear this version (Craig!). It was the first time I think I actually enjoyed hearing it *live*. Trey seemed *very* into the solo, and, if memory serves, it went on and on and on. I'm not sure how well it will come out on tape, though, because of the (typically) inconsiderate, chatty San Francisco crowd (yes, even at tonight's gig! I couldn't believe it!). Fuckerpants (aka Prince Caspian) was the highlight of the second set, easily, in my opinion. Fishman *KICKED* *OPEN* the jam segment with thunderous cymbal & tom work, and everyone else followed suit and played the most balls-to-the-wall version of Caspian **EVER**. Must-hear, even for folks who don't like Caspian. Floating on the waves?!? More like THRASHING! The soothing, gentle, mellifluous and charming Frankie Sez, another of my favorite Phish tunes, came next. Very strange placement. An enormous contrast to the Caspian. The placement of this version caught me off-guard and didn't sit with me too well. (btw, if you haven't heard the second set of 4/2/98 yet, with the Sneaking Sally->Frankie Sez, **GET IT**). Like Moma Dance earlier in the set, Birds of a Feather was basically played the same as it has been all year, with just a bit more of an EDGE to it. The jam segment sounded more like Chalk Dust than Crosseyed and Painless to me, this time, though. I'm hoping that they use this tune to go new and different places sometime. Soon. Lawn Boy was perfect for the intimate Fillmore, of course. Page sang very well, and all were amused. Mike took a solo. Harry Hood featured a very eccentric opening segment.. lots of toying around from Trey. It wasn't all that tight. The jam segment was.. was.. was.. Original. It opened with Trey briefly teasing Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man." Strangely and unfortunately, there was no long, Slave-like, bewildering crescendo/build in this version. Rather, Trey seemed to be fighting with ideas.. He'd start something and then change direction and then start something again and change direction. I felt that it was aimless and sad, but some folks seemed really into it. I had high hopes in its intro, and was disappointed that nothing even Typically Great (for Harry) seemed to materialize. The version also ended half-heartedly, and many, including Mike Gordon, didn't expect it to close the set. The encores (Dirt and Limb) were very unusual. As you might expect, since the band had already played for three hours, they weren't perfect versions. But given the circumstances, they were quite good I thought. The BALLS it took to close with Limb by Limb! Such a complex song, in six, so late in the show... but they ripped out an unusually fierce, somewhat chaotic and SOAM-like version. All things considered, the *vibe* and the *scene* of this show won more points than the music, in my opinion obviously. It was **wonderful** to be so close to the band members again. I have seen bands play the Fillmore for years now, and I never thought I would see Phish perform here. To look up and see them having a good time playing on that stage was the greatest highlight of the evening for me. I've been falling asleep at the keyboard more/less, but hope that I haven't put you to sleep. Even though the music could have been more tight and more magical, it was a beautiful, unforgettable evening overall. G'night and two cents, charlie p.s. An excellent Fillmore poster commemorating the evening was available for free post-show...
I was really let down. They started out good with thick funk and digital loops in Ghost. The band seemed energetic and nervous from the hype. The heavy funk stayed through the first half of the set. The first set finished strong and rockin', but Character Zero is a let down. My Soul and Chalkdust are great rockin' tunes, but it was downhill from there. I love Moma Dance also, but the set was surrounded by lame newer tunes. I don't really have high regards for the likes of Prince Caspian in concert. One or two of this type of song per show is acceptable. But the second set could've done without Roggae, Velvet Sea, Caspian, Relax, and Birds of a Feather (which I put in a category along with Character Zero and Sample; cheezy songs that Trey likes to "rock out to" and "get the crowd going") Lawnboy is always fun, but it couldn't save this set. And Hood has lost it's charm for me. Along with Slave, the second half of the jam is a bland, unoriginal jam that puts me to sleep. The encore was a kick in the teeth. Some of the stuff they've been doing lately in concert has been just what the doctor ordered; long, flowing, funk, funk, funk. But alot of their newer stuff is cheezy and commercial. This has been reflected in the crowds over the last couple years. Maybe my lowlight of the show was when a group of 2 guys and 2 girls huddled in a circle and bounced to Character Zero. I'm hoping LA and Vegas help change my spirits. Hans Erickson Mountain View, CA
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