04 April 2008

Nedstalgia: 10 Years Ago

Not going to make a big to-do out of it or nothing, no uploads or digging up ticket stubs... but, I can't let the 10 year anniversary of the Phish Island Tour slip by without saying something. I guess the something I want to say is: best Phish ever. These four shows were, in my opinion, the Continental Divide of Phishtory: it was the summit, the culmination of the insanity of the Fall and winter of 1997 and it was all downhill from there. You've heard of Peak Oil and it scares the crap outta you, well this quartet of nasties from the nasty quartet was Peak Phish and it was scary good. If you were there, you know, it was the summit. I was at all four of 'em (making it an aren't-you-supposed-to-be-in-grad-school 9 out of the last 10 shows they played), lucky and/or skillful enough to be on the rail in "the spot" for 3 of them and chances are you were at least one of them yourself.

There's a reason Live Phish has released all of them for purchase, and you'd do right by picking these up (and I just saw that they're on sale to commemorate). Over the course of these four shows, Phish did it all almost to perfection. I'm not sure any band at any time was clicking the way these guys were that first week in April 1998. Everything anyone had ever loved about the band was on display: of course, the jams were sick and the funk was deep, but it was more than that. The band was getting restless in the studio/album mode they had spent that winter and so hastily threw together a quick four night run. The minute I saw the news about the shows I had that weird sensation start growing in the pit of my gut. I'm sure everyone felt that way -- the band was basically breaking down to their fans, saying "We miss you!" and we all responded with "we miss you, too!" The anticipation was through the roof, the energy was monumental and like it's always been with those guys, Phish fed on that and delivered.

A show-by-show analysis is useless, a list of highlights too close to just writing out the setlist with lots of exclamation points to be of any interest. Besides, hopefully you already know. Just listen to these shows. All four of 'em in a row... the banter in between songs; the silly way a mid-song stage intruder turned an "Antelope" into a goof and then fed a nasty "Carini" encore; four guys spontaneously generating art of the highest caliber; "Birds of a Feather" premiering like a burst of fireworks and then, by the second running, exploding in a full band jam that still gives me the chills; close your eyes and meditate yourself into a fugue state with the 2nd set from 4/4, quite possibly the bees knees of the whole Phish shebang; watch the Neddy-request-granted Reba from Nassau and marvel at the fact that this was already 10 years ago...

Looking back, I can only say "thank you." Thanks to the band for coming back out of hibernation to make this music, like they seemed predestined to do. Thanks even more to the music gods for putting me in the right place at the right time to witness it. Thanks to those who generated the technology that gives me the ability to watch, listen, remember and share.

Thanks for listening... enjoy!

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