For this weekend’s download, I chose a show that is one of my favorites from 1999. Phish’s show at the Pan American Center in New Mexico on 9/22 is, I feel, often overlooked. The show boasts some of the most impressive playing, lined with highlights. There is little downtime in this very well-structured concert.
First off, it’s important to note that this show’s soundcheck features a shout out to OPT friend and Phish statistical whiz, David “ZZYZX” Steinberg. The NMSU mascot is the “Aggie”; Dave is a NMSU alum, and during the soundcheck Phish referenced his nickname by using the line “Timer is an Aggie too”.
Set 1: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Chalk Dust Torture, Guelah Papyrus, Axilla, My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own, Beauty of My Dreams, Bathtub Gin, Mozambique, Sand,Waste
Set 2: Gotta Jibboo, Ghost > Taste, Brian and Robert, Mike’s Song > Simple > Train Song, Weekapaug Groove
Encore: La Grange
The first set opens with an unusual choice: 2001. The arena quickly falls into a creepy funk. The 2001 is one of my favorite versions. After about ten minutes of space funk, Phish starts what would usually be the opening song, Chalk Dust Torture–a ripping version filled with a rollercoaster of peaks.
The real weight of the first set doesn’t show up until the end. The nearly 20-minute Bathtub Gin is one of my all-time favorites. The jam is one of the most unique sounding pieces of improvisation they have ever patched together. It comes to a peak, but not a tension/release peak. The entire jam is a pure hose jam coming from Trey–it’s so beautiful it’s hard to decide if you should dance or cry. The jam swells to a glorious hose-peak where you can hear the crowd cheering just from how locked in and perfect they are sounding. GET THIS JAM.
Next is Mozambique, the song that is known better for TAB’s take on it. This is one of the first/last times Phish had ever played it. It’s quite impressive, featuring interesting interplay with both Fish and Page. I sure wish they played this still.
The second-half of the show boasts an impressive Ghost that captures Phish’s 1999 style of jamming–it segues into a pretty version of Taste before settling down to catch a rest with Brian and Robert.
The Mike’s Song > Simple > Train Song, Weekapaug Groove was an interesting and welcome sandwich. While the Mike’s was impressive, the Groove is what takes the cake. The ‘Paug jam catches fire, and towards the end of the improv, Trey reprises the theme of the Gin jam–only at a much faster speed. Not many people catch this, so listen for it–I think it’s pretty obvious.
Conclusion: If anything, get this show for the life-changing Gin!