Darkness and light, opposite symbols that go to the very core of cultural mythology. The psychedelic journey often mirrors these poles, taking one from the eye of the beast to the most glorious, self-realizing peaks. Staring down the dark side in order to most clearly see the light of one’s new self. While Phish regularly condenses these introspective rites into three-hour sessions, on one occasion they had all night. In the swamps of Florida, on the brink of 2000, Phish finally had the setting to match their goal – an all-night affair with no restraints. In the Clifford Ball DVD extras, filmed in 1996, the band spoke of the “LG,” or the “Long Gig” they envisioned one day, where the band would just keep playing and playing, outlasting even the fans who stayed all night and beyond. They claimed it would happen; they’d get port-potties onstage, and one day they’d play their “Long Gig;” it was the ultimate goal. While the band exaggerated in typical fashion throughout the interview, the glimmer in their eyes told a different story. Through their goofy looks and hyperbole, one can see the sincerity behind their claims. They meant it. And finally, on December 31, 1999, Phish had their “LG.”
In their 1996 interview, Trey pondered what type of music the band would play after 60 or 70 hours straight. Well on this night, eight would have to be the test. And the results were other worldly. Producing jams that were connected by a certain ethereal quality, like a patient thread splicing together the band’s divine musical offerings. Without time constraints, and armed with their port-o-potty, Phish played as the spirit moved, extending jams as long as felt natural. While no single piece of music broke any record, (somewhat surprisingly), the night included many extended jams, first highlighted by the night’s opening features of “Disease,” “Bathtub Gin,” and a sublime “Twist > Caspian” which truly began to set the musical tone for the evening. Following next came one of the nights longer, thematic and defining jams, “Rock and Roll.”
The darkest chunk of the night kicked off with a scorching “Crosseyed,” which carried a melodic progression throughout the jam, and peaked with a percussive 40-minute apocalyptic grooves of “Sand > Quadraphonic Toppling,” bringing the many climactic late ’99 versions to an unquestionable head. Resolving this darkness with a multi-tiered “Slave,” the band commenced the jam without even a beat remaining until it became time to move. Phish let is all hang down on this night, playing a macrocosm of any regular show, we all finally had a place to be instead hallucinating in hotel rooms until the sun came up.
Perhaps the most connected piece of music came in the depths of the evening, as the band brought a reprise of “After Midnight” into one of the most hallowed musical passages of their career – set and setting considered. Powerful, soulful, music, channelled from the ether, where every note mattered as much as the next. The final peak of the night came as the sky began to turn a dark grey, foreshadowing the oncoming day. Phish sat into “Roses Are Free” for one of few times since their epic Nassau adventure in April ’98, but never had they again transcended the composition. But when they unshelved the song on the brink of dawn to bring in the millennium’s first sunrise, everyone knew this time would be different. Moving right out of the song into multi-faceted epic, the band passed through several planes of ambient, melodic, and, finally, deeply dark and churning music. The ultimate stage seemed as though the universe’s final plates were shifting into alignment for the onset of the new era.
Before the sun began to rise in earnest, the sky boasted stunning patterns of pink puffy clouds that nobody who witnessed will ever forget. Phish and the forces were at work again, this time collaborating on a soundtrack for the passage of time. And while that is what the entire night represented, the entry back into morning’s light boiled down to the second-only “Roses” jam.
And it was good.
Almost eight hours, or a lifetime later, Phish had finally done it. They had played their “LG.”
“The Long Gig” – Clifford Ball Extras, 1996
“Roses Are Free” 12.31.99 > 1.1.00
Here’s the epic piece that brought darkness into the dawn of the millennium, and a sampling of the newly circulating Cypress FOB source, taboot.
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
7.7.1999 Verizon Wireless Amp, Charlotte, NC < Megaupload
Continuing our tour of Summer 2010 venues, here’s Phish’s stop in Charlotte in the Summer of ’99. The second set really brings the heat with its 35 minute “2001 > Disease” and grows more abstract with some ambient sound-sculpting out of “My Left Toe.” After a guitar-driven “Bug,” a catalog of Phish grooves closes the night in one of the summers most infectious “YEMs.”
I: Back on the Train, What’s the Use?, Billy Breathes, My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own, Sneakin’ Sally through the Alley, Axilla, Rift, Wolfman’s Brother, Maze, Loving Cup
II: 2001 > Down with Disease, My Left Toe > Wading in the Velvet Sea > My Left Toe > Bug, You Enjoy Myself
E: Possum* > Funky Bitch*
*Derek Trucks on slide guitar
Source: Schoeps cmc6/mk4v > Lunatec V2 > Tascam DA-P1 (@ 48 kHz)Tags: 1996, 1999, Festivals, New Years