Big Cypress Pt.1: Expectations

Ever since that Polaris show during July of ’99 when Trey announced the millennium show in Florida, the juices were flowing.  All alone, with 100,000 friends, in the Everglades to witness the passing of time to the soundtrack of Phish– what could possibly be better?  Soon it came out that Phish would play an all-night set for the entry into 2000, something that caused butterflies in my stomach as soon as I heard it.  “Were they serious?” I thought to myself.  That feeling that I got at the end of every show- that unquenchable jonesing for more- might finally be satiated with such an event.  Was this really happening?  It was, and the excitement began building directly upon leaving Polaris and heading on an all-night cannonball run to Alpine Valley.

Sunset 12.30.99

Sunset 12.30.99

All night!  The possibilities were endless, and my imagination began to run wild.  This was the event Phish was destined for, ever since their inception back in the eighties.  Staring down the millennium like the barrel of a rifle, Phish would step to the stage and never leave.  As Trey announced during the first set of the first day, there would be security around the stage to make sure the band members could not leave!  His joke only made my fantasies all the more vivid!  Phish was going to be the soundtrack to the most cosmic night we had ever experienced.  A journey into the unknown, the likes of which we had never seen.  All those shows throughout the year, all those years throughout the decades, they had all led up to this, the most monumental affair of Phish’s career.  But I had expectations.

This was the only Phish show I ever entered with expectations, and after 250+ shows at that point, I should have known better.  Yet, ever since the all-night set was announced, it was obvious to me what would happen.  It would be akin to The Lemonwheel’s ambient “Ring of Fire” jam– Phish would come out at midnight and play however the spirit moved them.  Yet, this ring of magic wouldn’t be one hour- but seven!  All fall I imagined this night as the ultimate psychedelic adventure of both my and Phish’s life; this is where our paths had led us.  I was sure that when they came out at midnight, there would be no songs, how could there be?  There would be no “Runaway Jim” or “Down With Disease” to wish us happy new year, just an amorphous beginning to a jam that would move organically for hours as the universe shifted from the 1900’s to the 2000’s.

phish-big-cypress-99-thumbIt was going to be colossal– I knew it in my heart.  This was what I had been waiting for my whole life, pure unadulterated Phish improvisation with absolutely zero musical reference points to know where we were headed.  No beginnings or ends, just music– universal spiritual music– the stuff that Phish did best.  We wouldn’t know how many hours had passed or how many more there were to go, we would be lost in the harnesses of the Phish with nothing but our collective imagination to move us.

Yes, it had to be.  The band would spend the first four sets of the festival playing all of their significant songs, and then come out at midnight and just play.  It was perfectly scripted in my head– I knew it to be true.  And during that first set, when Trey affirmed that the band would never leave the stage, even for a short break, I knew I was right.



And so it started.  The 30th.  After waiting in hours, or days, of traffic, we had just enough time to ditch our RVs and make it to the concert ground for the first set.  The Native American chants led by Chief Jim Billie made my personal predictions even stronger in my mind, harnessing the energy of the land’s true inhabitants; reaching into history to access the future.  It was all coming together.  The forces were aligned, and then came “Ghost.”  By dropping such a dark song in the midst of daylight, my only thought was, “Of course, they had to play some huge songs during the day, because there wasn’t gonna’ be any tomorrow night!”

The 30th proved everything I thought it would be- a show of massive proportions showcasing the darker side of Phish.  There came a bulbous festival combo of “Wilson > Curtain > Tweezer” to open set two, and a magical fifteen-minute “Harry Hood” and “Good Times, Bad Times” to close the set.  This was shaping up the be quite the night, and the third, and best, set was yet to come.

Big Cypress Boardwalk

Big Cypress Boardwalk

After two full sets, Phish sometimes came out for shortened third frame, but not this time, as the final segment of the day would be the most impressive.  Using two of their most divergent and popular songs, the band opened the night time with a fierce Chalk Dust and a “Moma Dance” that sounded larger than life, slowly booming through the speaker towers.  Without wasting anytime, Phish tore into a ripping mid-set Antelope that proved to be one of the highlights of the entire day.  After a quirky stop in “The Sloth” and a moment of reflection with “When the Circus Comes to Town,” Phish revved up one of the most belligerent Mike’s Grooves in memory.


12.30.99 III

It was the last “Mike’s Song” of the 1900’s and it sounded like a precursor to the apocalypse.  An excursion of the deepest and darkest, this Mike’s shook the festival and its audience to the very core, tapping into forces that seemed far larger and more powerful than anything we knew.  The music was slow, directed, and overwhelmingly menacing, as if it descended upon us from the heavens, delivering an ancient message of redemption.  The jam grew far darker and aggressive as it progressed, pulling everyone’s mind into one evil grooving stew.  Certainly the definitive jam of the evening, it was the ethos of this Mike’s that the 30th had always been about– the mysterious unknown and the terrorizing adventure into darkness.

As the band moved through the ferocious jam, the field, and the whole world, tremored in its monstrosity.  This was IT, this was the place where everything would go down, and night one could not have been scripted better.  Finishing off with transitions into Simple, Hydrogen, and Weekapaug, when this set ended, everyone had their world shot into perspective by the magnitude of the music.  With a Tweezer Reprise encore, the stage was set for what would surely be the most magnificent night of the band’s career.

To Be Continued Tomorrow….

phishbigcypressmapos0DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

12.30.99 Big Cypress Indian Reservation < LINK

The first night.

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15 Responses to “Big Cypress Pt.1: Expectations”

  1. c0wfunk Says:

    Do you remember how much smoke poured out over the stage during that Mike’s? It engulfed the giant stage and like the first 20 rows of heads

  2. Jeff Says:

    the smoke during Mike’s is my definitive memory from Day 1. Sick sick Mike’s. The Antelope and the Taste on Day 1 were dark nuggets as well.

  3. HSV 007 Says:

    The title line “Expectations” fits my Big Cypress memory to a tee Mr. Miner. We were close enough in the campground to hear soundcheck on day 1 & the “Timber Ho!” they warmed up with had the hair on my neck standing up hours before showtime. The Ghost & Moma Dance you mention are colossal specimens. Can’t wait for tomorrows post!

  4. John Campion Says:

    Anyone hear anything about a possible DVD of Cypress coming out? Also heard mumblings ablout a return to Big Cypress for NYE 2009

  5. Jerrydamule Says:

    I don’t know about you, Miner, but after the sunrise on New Year’s morning, when the PA began to whisper “here come’s the sun,” I was NOT satiated… au contraire, I was ready for another 7 hours of salad tossing.

  6. eric Says:

    Great article. This download comes at a perfect time considering I’m looking at a four flight this afternoon. 12/30/99 should treat me quite nicely.

  7. cason Says:

    remember when they went back into after midnight?!?!?!


    i was right on the rail in front of trey when they broke into velvet sea. there were definitely camera crews on stage taping the band and audience so i know the footage exists. i hope one day they will release it…

  8. Jonathan Says:

    I love reading your postings. I get so excited each day.
    It reminds me of the first time I listened to The Best of David Haselhoff on CD.
    Sweet, sweet music to my ears!

  9. waiting for full tour announcement Says:

    Hands down the greatest Phish experience EVER!! Got the gooseflesh just thinking about it. The vibe that weekend cannot be described with mere words alone. If you were there you know what i mean. Everyone there knew it was the absolute pinnacle of everything phish. Satisfied cannot even begin to express how satisfying this show was. The all night set was like being released into the ocean, set adrift on a seven hour raft…then as the sun came up it was like the raft finally hit shore again. Everyone’s life was changed forever.

  10. jon_hansen Says:

    I remember downloading both nights from Phishing Pole–a now defunct download site–and couldn’t get over the fact that it was 16 discs long! I’m really hoping for a Big Cypress Box set (DVD maybe?) in the future. I just don’t see how they couldn’t release something like that.

  11. guyforget Says:

    anybody remember the guy dressed like the old school Boston Celtics player with the afro? Or, is it one of you?!?!?!?!

  12. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^^ Larry Bird was at most big east coast shows throughout the late ’90s.

  13. axillalot Says:

    Great post as always miner. i still say those were 4 of the best days of my life.
    anyone remember the little pack of people dressed up as aliens? man they freaked me out about 4 in the morning! came out of nowhere!
    let’s go back for ’09/’10 . . .

  14. guyforget Says:

    Miner, thanks for the input. I was a Bird jersey, that’s great. He stood right in front of me all day on 12/30…

  15. JahManShitOnFly Says:

    most smoke in a mike’s since binghamton ’94. 😉

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