There are a number of venues that come to mind when you think of excellent or memorable Phish shows. Venues that Phish simply owns. Hampton. MSG. Deer Creek. These are the kind of places that are on the “don’t miss this show” list. Another such venue has seen its share of legendary shows, a few in 1.0 and a few in 2.0, but none so far in 3.0. The Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York shared in the almost mythical Island Tour and lent itself to the monster Nassau Tweezer.
In the chaos before the Big Cypress “warm-up” tour in December and a run of July shows with a distinct sound, Phish put together a fall tour that saw many a highlight. Perhaps lost in the shuffle a bit was October 7, 1999 in Uniondale. Today on a “Show for Your Weekend” we take a look at that show which featured some key elements of 1999 Phish and a short portrait of the past as well.
Set 1: NICU > My Soul, Dirt, David Bowie, Frankie Says > Possum, When the Circus Comes, Gotta Jibboo, Fluffhead
Set 2: Boogie On Reggae Woman, Heavy Things, Tube, Back on the Train > Mike’s Song > McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Prince Caspian > Golgi Apparatus > Weekapaug Groove
Encore: Rocky Top > I Am Hydrogen > Julius
 Part of the Mike’s jam featured Trey on keys.
Kicking off a two-night stand on Long Island, Phish came out of the gate with a pair of fan favorites to get the party started on a high note. Quickly following the high tempo of NICU – with nothing getting the crowd going early like a “Play it Leo” – and bluesy, grand-heavy tone of My Soul, the band dipped down into the dark and played with the pace of things with Dirt, a nicely-extended Bowie and Frankie Says.
Patient playing from Trey and fantastic fill from Fish make this Bowie worth the price of admission. Somewherebetween “ahead of its time” (see whale-call-esque effects around 13 minutes) and “behind its time”, Bowie shines mid-set with a different vigor than it’s often place at the end of the line. Following this early 18+ minute jam, the band continues to play with the pace of the set, later pairing Possum and When the Circus Comes to Town ahead of ‘99/’00 favorite Gotta Jibboo and on-going favorite Fluffhead.
1999 was a great year for Boogie on Reggae Woman (See also 7/25 and 9/18). While this version doesn’t stretch the boundaries of improvisation or time, it does create a space for the band to set a tempo it’ll match throughout the set. After wading through the upbeat tone of Heavy Things, the punchy funk of Tube and relaxed progression of Back on the Train, the band launched into the true meat of the set: Mike’s Groove.
Both Mike’s and McGrupp feature inspired guitar work from Trey, accented by Page’s work on the keys, notably his solo in the latter. This pair found new attention at Creek ’12 1, and is something that follows a model similar – but obviously not as refined – to Tweezer > Lifeboy. Add Trey on mini-keys and you have an even more phenomenal 23 minutes of music. While the Caspian > Golgi portion of this Mike’s Groove may not look great on paper, the combo actually pairs well together here, with Caspian finding some interesting ground. A spirited, late-90’s Weekapaug brings the set to a close.
And on to the encore: Rocky Top > Hydrogen > Julius? According to the Phish.net, this Hydrogen was the first outside of Mike’s Groove proper in 1,184 shows and the first in the encore since May 23, 1990 or 895 shows. This little peak at the past helped cap off a raucous Fall ’99 show worthy of a listen as we enter Fall ’12. Perhaps Spring ’13 could bring a return of Nassau to the tour rotation? Only time will tell. Kudos to the tapers behind this recording for a quality product.