My Least Favorite Show

Everyone has their favorite shows and particular nights that they enjoyed more than others. But what often strikes me as bizarre, is how some people in the Phish community habitually pick out all the “bad,” or unexciting, aspects of a show and obsessively discuss them ad, criticizing, to no end, the experience they love so dearly. Life is too short to focus on the negatives, so when one reads my reviews, I may not mention the lesser points of the show. Why waste anyone’s time harping on them? It makes no sense go me; very rarely are there not enough improvisational highlights to carry a show. But on one night along the course of Summer 2000, Phish played, what I still consider, the “worst show I’ve ever seen.”

Phish 2000 (pollstar)

Now, “worst” is quite a subjective word, and this is most definitely a subjective article, but for me, when Phish stopped in Raleigh, North Carolina on June 25, 2000, the show flat-out sucked. Don’t go getting hot and bothered if this was your first show and it meant the world to you – I’m glad. Not for me. And it had nothing to do with  my personal experience. In fact, the Sunday night show seemed less than crowded, and my friends and I had prime real estate in the flat handicap section on Page side. Security seemed completely chill, and after two smoking shows in Atlanta, (the previous featuring one of the year’s best jams in “Tweezer), the conditions were set for takeoff. But Phish tossed an air biscuit.

The first set faded in with a string of singles that read “NICU,” “Sample,” “Old Home Place.” Ho-hum. But many great Phish shows feature  song-based first sets, so who cared. The first glimpse of energy, “Punch You In the Eye,” was followed by another string of event-less songs, this time five. The only glimmer of hope in this run came via “Funky Bitch,” but Phish gave the song particularly sloppy treatment in a version that dragged rather than popped. As the band prepared for a set closer, nothing had, happened throughout the entire set.

Phish '09 (unknown)

But even the bunkest Phish shows have a musical peak, and Walnut Creek’s high-point came together in a vicious, set-closing “Split Open and Melt.” As if Phish turned on a dime, they focused their improvisational prowess in this multi-faceted exclamation. While the version did contain some early communicative speed bumps, it proved to be a scintillating version, especially in the context of this show. Moving through an early section of spacey grooves, Page took the melodic lead, as Mike and Trey followed along. Soon, the band connected in a menacing theme that remained firmly rooted to “Split.” Trey’s hard-edged offerings began to lead his cohorts further into into the unknown, slowly building out of the song’s natural groove, and bursting onto a more ethereal and melodic plane. Fully immersed in improv, Trey and Page came together, playing uplifting harmonies, while Mike and Fish chugged forth in a heavy groove. The entire band gradually drifted into darker waters, reconnecting to “Split’s” ending jam and taking it to the top. A high quality Phish jam, no doubt,  but little did we know that it would end the excitement of the show.

Polaris '00

Phish came out for the second set with a painfully generic “Jibboo,” a song that opened almost every other show that summer. I’m never one to care about repeats, but the band is gonna’ push a jam into most of their shows – be creative! Thus began the post-Japan era of 2000, when the band’s sense of adventure began a steep decline. Needless to say, this “Jibboo” went nowhere, possessing little, if any, musical dynamic. The band seemed to be going through the motions, each playing their own lines with little concern for creating a greater whole. They weren’t flubbing anything, but they weren’t doing anything interesting either; an incredibly sterile performance to say the least. And to follow up the less-than raging opener, a cool down with “Fast Enough For You.” Undoubtedly a gorgeous song which I hold dearly, it had no place batting second in set two, usurping a power hitter’s spot in the lineup.

Phish 2000 (unknown)

Then, the set-killing, thrash-grass of “Scent of A Mule” emanated from the stage. Laughing at this point, my friends and I wondered if the band was pulling some sort of joke on this evening. But, apparently, they weren’t. “Scent” can easily dominate a set with less-than-engaging music centered around the slow, extended “Muel Duel” between Page and Trey. Occasionally a cool segment emerges from said “duel,” but not on this night in 2000. Page and Trey traded intentionally slow and, ultimately, uneventful solos, sucking any energy from the pavilion. A tortuous segment of second-set nonsense, Trey continued the non-jam with a series of sparse effects that created a monotonous chunk in the middle of the second set. The band joined in the effect-laden texture before moving back into the slow, eastern-sounding build of “Mule.”

After an oddly placed interlude of “Meat,” the band revved up a mid-second set “Maze.” Hmmm. Apparently, the band had no intention of jamming on this evening. Once again, we’d have to settle for generic Page and Trey solos for the “improv” of the song. “Mazes” have their times and places, but this one, dropped randomly into the middle of a set that was going nowhere, did nothing but further that cause.

Hartford '09 (A.McCullogh)

And it wasn’t just the song choices. The band’s playing screamed of carelessness and laziness all night long, characteristics that seeped into their repertoire during this summer. On this night in Raleigh, the band’s primary objective seemed to be reaching the 11pm curfew, rather than creating any interesting music. Their music didn’t jump of the stage, it dragged along like a tired bulldog on a blazing hot day. Increasingly hit or miss, Phish shows of 2000 entered a new type of unpredictability. In retrospect, none of the shows seemed as sluggish live as they sound now, but the irony of Raleigh was the immediate consensus on the instant stinker.

Phish picked up the vibe at the end of the set, tacking on “What’s the Use? > Slave,” but the triumphant combination seemed wholly out of place with no musical fireworks to celebrate. The same lackluster playing that defined the night carried through the end of the set, and once the band stepped off stage, we were all ready to move on to the next show. Dropping the bizarre encore of “Uncle Pen,” “Bold As Love,” Phish faded into the evening.

We all go to shows for different reasons, and one man’s trash may be another man’s treasure, but this night in Raleigh couldn’t have done much for anyone. If you’ve read this site for any amount of time, you’ve probably picked up on my positive perspective on Phish, but I would call this show the only true disappointment in my time seeing the band. There just wasn’t enough meat to carry the show, and never before or since have I seen one so thin. I figured I’d write this piece at some point, but there you have it, my least favorite Phish show I’ve ever seen.

I: NICU, Sample in a Jar, Old Home Place, Punch You in the Eye, Water in the Sky, Funky Bitch, Horn, Heavy Things, Dirt, Split Open and Melt

II: Gotta Jibboo, Fast Enough For You, Scent of a Mule, Meat, Maze, What’s the Use, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Uncle Pen, Bold as Love


Audio Archive

AUDIO ARCHIVE UPDATE: Due to the diligent work of Phish Thoughts’ community member, Halcyon, the audio archive has been completely updated with every show that exists on this site! Included are the majority of both Trey and Mike’s winter tours under the newly-added “2010” tab. So scroll and scour the site no more! Head right over to Phish Thoughts’ Audio Archive for all your downloading needs, and have at it!


Jam of the Day:

Ghost” 6.15.00 I

An under-exposed first set gem from Phish’s first show in Osaka.




4.9.93 State Theatre, Minneapolis, MN < Torrent

4.9.93 State Theatre, Minneapolis, MN < Megaupload

State Theatre - Minneapolis, MN

This one goes out via reader request to the Phish Thoughts NCAA Tournament Challenge winner, Kaveh! Enjoy the trip down memory lane, my friend.

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Sparkle, Guelah Papyrus, Stash, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Maze, I Didn’t Know, It’s Ice, The Divided Sky, Cavern

II: Buried Alive, Suzy Greenberg, All Things Reconsidered, Llama, Mound, My Friend, My Friend, You Enjoy Myself, My Sweet One, Big Ball Jam > Hold Your Head Up > Love You > Hold Your Head Up, Possum

E: Sweet Adeline, Golgi Apparatus

Source: Unknown


541 Responses to “My Least Favorite Show”

  1. butter Says:

    thanks voopa , grabbed all that, just need the prince

  2. butter Says:

    haven’t spent a lot of time on here as of late….

    kinda “sayin my peace and get out”

  3. sumodie Says:


    excellent camera work, best ive seen to date of band

    SUPERIOR sound quality, just incredible, wow!

    biggest complaint: film is far too SHORT 8)

    im ready for the complete dvd box set

  4. jdub Says:

    Great to hear Sumodie, glad you had a great time.

    @Butter, 420 is a bit juvenile but what the hell, we all smoke weed why not give it a holiday. My wife has had about enough of seeing this black screen on my computer and phone. So I am probably heading for some reduced time as well, for my own good of course as it distracts the hell out of me.

    This GW show is growing into a big family shindig for me. My cousin and fiance are now on board. They have never seen the band. She is meant to be a mom and will be hawk with Caleb (giving me some potential space to enjoy what may be the show of the tour to that point) and he is a hip hop/rap fan turned mellow stoner, settled down, curious about this phish, adult. So hopefully we get to kick it family style in the northeast this summer.

  5. Mitch Says:

    back from phish 3D. go see it, you’ll have a good time. that’s all i’ll say til the 30th… unless we get another topic for it. if you dont go on the 30th, well… fair game i guess.

  6. jdub Says:

    Funny you should drop on Mitch, I just sent you something and then checked BB before I go lay my head down.

    Glad you enjoyed the movie.

    Cypress in the headphones is just straight up addictive.

  7. butter Says:

    cool Jdub, making it a family affair

    i just confirmed that my Dad and step Mom will see there first show at Alpine 2, we’ll grill burgers in the lot and have a good ‘ole time

    my brother will join me fro Chi thru Hershey for his 5,6, and 7th show’s,
    and join for us for both Alpine’s, so Sunday alpine he’ll be with his Mom + Dad and brother for his 9th show…..

    …oh and i better text back my lil bro….Happy 4:20 😉

  8. Mitch Says:

    good email jdub. i’ll hit you back soon when i have enough thoughts to gather. movie theatre was fun.

    my trip to the bathroom:
    girl working: this place smells like weeed everywhere
    dude in front of me: sorry
    we are in the pisser and he says “i left my airator at home”
    me: well we can get a toilet paper roll
    him: A SPOOF!

    then i laughed thinking how this dude is east coast cause he calls it that and our geographic discussion of the terms of those things.

    alright, dog needs a walk. later

  9. jdub Says:

    Peace and Goodnight Butter

    and blackboard….

  10. ChefBradford Says:

    Quiet night

    I’ve been watching some recent South Park

    it fucking sucks

  11. sumodie Says:

    Ahh, the haterade continues on the other board. Such a quiet night here on the BB, and I’m dying to share more PH3D thoughts, but will respect the ‘no spoilers’ wish.

    Anyone see the U2 3D film? Would love to hear contrasting thoughts between that film and this one when the time is right (not musically speaking, that is)

    Same company that produced PH3D made the DMB 3D film, which I didn’t read good things about (again, ignore the music). With lowered expectations, PH3D really was a feast for the eyes and ears.

    Mostly, the film leaves me with a serious craving to see the entire Exile set, not to mention the other 7 sets. Sure hope the same care goes into producing the remaining footage as was spent on the current film -Christmas 2010 maybe?

    How far would I drive to see PH3D? 3 hours, maybe 4 max.

    And now I’m left drooling for summer tour. Can’t believe I was considering seeing fewer shows than I’m currently planning to attend.

  12. sumodie Says:

    Anyone else hear that the April 30th PH3D shows will include a festival announcement? Or is this just another fake rumor?

    That said, Red Light seems on the ball when it comes to marketing. Can’t believe they’d let a smart marketing opportunity like PH3D pass them by without taking advantage of it. Please!

  13. ChefBradford Says:

    Thanks for your comments, sumo. Closest 3D airing to me is about 3.5 hours away

    “How far would I drive to see PH3D? 3 hours, maybe 4 max”

    I’m on the freakin’ fence, man!

  14. sumodie Says:

    @Chef: The Phish geek in me would likely do a 3.5 hr drive. Between the sound quality, professional camera work (I love the Clifford Ball dvd set, but the camera work on PH3D is way better), and feeling the joy jump off the screen is all so worth it.

    But then you’ll be left wanting more…. 8)

    I believe the film will play for a week, no more, so hopefully you’ll have a free day in that time period.


  15. zippyhybrid Says:

    I’ll chime in about Phish 3D…saw the Denver showing tonight.

    Sound was GREAT. Definitely remastered from the originally released SBDs, and the result is very nice. Camera work was good too. Very crisp video and you get to see a variety of perspectives – stage, closeups, crowd, etc.

    My only critiques are regarding the song selection…which I’ll leave out for “no spoilers” sake, but I will say the film highly emphasizes the *music* of Fest8, in case anyone is wondering how much other peripheral footage is included…it plays out like a concert for the most part.

    All in all, totally worth it in my opinion. Go see it if you can.

  16. Scott_Wise Says:

    I saw your headline and my mind immediately went to that Raleigh 2000 show.

Leave a Reply