A Show For Your Weekend: Independence Day ’99

(J. Pollock)

Now that there is a short break between Phish concerts, I suppose I need to return to the normal OPT schedule, albeit briefly.  Usually, I don’t like picking real popular shows for this column–who wants to read about or download a show they already know all about.  However, in the spirit of our upcoming Fourth of July celebration, I felt like I should pick a show that fit.

Phish played the Lakewood Amp in Atlanta Georgia on 7/4/99, the last half of a two-night stand.  The venue is home to two of my favorite shows: 6.15.95 and 7.23.97.  There was something in the sticky air during this Sunday-night show, because Phish’s playing was undoubtedly unique to this very show.

The playing is loose, very loose, and hypnotizing.  This show might be one of the best examples of ‘loose Phish’ that I’ve ever heard.  The jams flowed into the next song perfectly.  Nearly every bout the band had with improvisation for the night resulted in a perfect mesh of their instruments, rarely anyone taking a distinct lead in any one jam.

Set 1: My Soul, Ya Mar, Farmhouse, The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > AC/DC Bag, The Wedge, Vultures, I Didn’t Know, Fast Enough for You, David Bowie

Set 2: Ghost -> Slave to the Traffic Light, The Horse > Silent in the Morning > What’s the Use? Wilson > Mike’s Song > Sleeping Monkey > Weekapaug Groove

Encore: Carini > Meatstick Reprise

Encore 2: The Star Spangled Banner

I feel like this show wasn’t appreciated right after it was played nearly as it is now.  I didn’t fully appreciate it until a few years ago, actually.  Ever since it was played, I’ve had the show–I always knew that the Mike’s Groove was good and that the Slave might be my favorite version (might).  However, until a few years ago, I never understood the hype about the Ghost that preceded Slave.  I had heard it many times, but it never struck me as jaw-dropping.

Lakewood '99 (Phish.com)

On a rainy day in 2007, I was driving to work and this show came on.  I let Ghost begin, and the next thing I knew I was in this insane trance.  I had no recollection of driving for the past 6 minutes.  The Ghost jam, literally, had me high.  The jam is absolutely transcendent (no, I don’t use that word often).  During the soft-spoken jam, Trey followed a pattern that felt like he was riding a solar wind through space.  I can’t even describe the effect he was using, but it sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard him do before.  I am convinced that whatever series of notes Trey played truely rearranges brain cells.  It’s beautiful, it’s mesmerizing, it’s eerie.

The segue into Slave is one of the best transitions ever.  It definetly helps if you download (also at the bottom) the Shapiro release of the soundboard Ghost -> Slave and just replace the respective songs–wait till you hear how crisp the drums are.  The transition is amazing.  The way Fishman turns to Slave is one of the best things I’ve ever heard in music.  Then, obviously, one of the best Slaves in Phishtory ensued.  Trey’s effect before the peak is life-changing.  That’s the only way I can describe it.

Now that I’ve spend so much time describing the centerpiece that opened up the second set, let’s talk about a couple other of the free-flowing jams from the night.

Things were loose from the get-go.  The extended jam in Ya Mar set the table up nicely for what we were about to feast on.  The hypnotic jam lead to a digital delay jam from Trey–not like the NYE 95 one though, he used more basic, longer, loops over the rest of the band.

The Oh Kee Pa led to a very solid AC/DC Bag.  The gooey-thick jam gives way to an explosive fight with Trey’s guitar–trilling his way into the end.

The set closed with a beautiful version of David Bowie.  After some thick meshing, Fish picks up the tempo of the drums which set Trey into a new direction.  After some creative noodling, Trey switches into a series of tension-filled patterns, forcing the rest of the band to follow.  Instead of coming to a release from this tension, he instead looped the pattern and let it linger quietly underneath his playing.  Soon, Trey decides to kick it into high-gear–his fingers crawl down his fretboard to get properly placed for the explosive ending, and the rest is history.

The first version of What’s the Use? led to an extended and dark Wilson that teed us up for a sinister Mike’s Song.  With Sleeping Monkey sandwiched in between, the Groove came full circle when Weekapaug started.  Weekapaug sounds pretty basic at first, until Treys drops his funky wah pedal on us like it’s 1997 again.  The version is nearly 14-minutes.

I assume you have this show already; but, if you don’t, get it right now!


>>>DOWNLOAD the sbd Ghost -> Slave (this is a must-have addition)