Summer Rage Sauce: Hershey ’96 – The Sleeper

This show doesn’t need much of an introduction. Most of you know about this show and love it, as I do. I ended up listening to the Reba on my ride to work this morning and felt compelled to write about it though. The show before the epic Clifford Ball may be one of the biggest sleeper shows of all time, aside from 11/02/1998 of course.

Hershey Park is a large venue; that, mixed with the fact that the Clifford Ball was just a couple days later, made attendance dismal, most skipping the show to go straight to the Ball. Phish, back when they used to make people pay for missing shows, decided to string together two of my favorite Phish sets of all time. The summer of ’96 was a special time. Aside from the obvious magnitude of Phish putting on their own festival, it represented Phish’s last stand as ‘old-school’ Phish.

Set 1: Wilson -> Jam > Down with Disease, Fee -> Poor Heart, Reba, The Mango Song> Gumbo, Stash, Hello My Baby

Set 2: Runaway Jim > You Enjoy Myself, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Cars Trucks Buses > Tweezer, Theme From the Bottom > Hold Your Head Up > Cracklin’ Rosie > Hold Your Head Up, Sample in a Jar > Tweezer Reprise

Encore: Julius

The improvised transition between the opening Wilson and Down with Disease raised people’s ears–something was sure to be special about to night. The Reba is one of my favorite versions of all time–Trey just snaps in it (like he’s supposed to).

Hershey 2010 Poster

As the sun set behind the stage and an orange hue tinted the crowd’s faces, Stash began. This, like Reba, is one of my all-time favorite versions. The tension/release jamming and the way Trey just snaps is wonderful. These are must-hear versions.

The Jim > YEM combo that the second set opens with is both unusual and stunning. The jams that both songs contain are stellar. The jam in both Jim and the Tweezer that comes mid-set, give hints of what’s to come with Phish’s fall tour–hinting at the grooves that will eventually develop into funk.