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”

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  1. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    have a good holiday everyone.

    i havent seen many shows, though the worst was fenway.

    although, ive always had my least favorite of phish’s live release choices, namely Hampton Comes Alive, Brooklyn 04, and Vegas 2000, save their brief moments of good phish.

  2. Exree Hipp Says:

    Thanks for the post today. I have wondered about the worst show I’ve ever seen a few times but I have been unnaturally blessed in the shows I’ve caught in my show-going career. My first show was 12/30/93 (!), and I followed that up with 12/11/95, The Clifford Ball, and 12/30/96 & 12/31/96. Great Went, Worcester 97, MSG Holiday 97, Island Tour Providence, Lemonwheel… Pretty unstoppable run of shows there.

    I saw four shows in Fall 2000 that have been pretty poorly reviewed, but I hadn’t seen the boys in so long I was psyched throughout. Albany both, second night Great Woods, and Hershey. I caught 6 shows in 2009 and had a great time at each.

    The least excited I’ve been during a show was definitely 12/30/96, which just underwhelmed me throughout, as does much of Fall 96. I think my take on that show was similar to what Miner describes here, just feeling like nothing exciting was going to happen that night.

  3. Exree Hipp Says:

    But yeah, don’t get me started on Live Phish’s official releases… Their selection and non-selections drive me nuts.

    Cypress, Summer ’95, Hampton and Worcester 97, 12/6/97, 12/30/93, Fall&Winter ’99…

    I really want more mastered compilation discs like Road To Vegas and Left Nuts. That, to me, is where these things shine. More of the A Live One and From The Archives model, please.

  4. okpblog Says:

    The only show I missed from summer 2000. The band clearly hungover from two hot(and botched) shows in Atlanta.

    Curiuos of your thoughts on the 6.24.00 Tweezer?

  5. Willowed Says:

    Wasn’t expecting this today but i’m cool with it!
    Thanks for the read Miner!

    Haly – thanks for updating the archive. Much appreciated by this community member.

    Thanks to both of you!!!

  6. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    But Phish tossed an air biscuit.

    so phish farted in our collective general direction? 😯
    glad I missed that one!

    sometimes it is good to get out the bad. it helps to cleanse the soul. now let’s all go get baned and celebrate the good with Phish 3D sneak previews tonight!

  7. jdub Says:

    I don’t have worst show. I guess Coventry but that is what it is.

    Thanks Halcy and Miner for updating the archive! What a helping, friendly resource.

    Let’s go go for post #420 at that time with a group toke.

  8. Willowed Says:

    Last time Miner posted a slightly negative post. I do not recall the title, the day on the BB was a little weird. I am sure some of you recall.
    Let’s make this a great day!!
    My stinker show:
    Let me preface this by saying the reason why I call it “my” stinker is because I ate way too much L. Rough night. I amde it thru but it was a struggle.
    Hartford 12/12/1999
    I have relistened and this show just wasn’t for me (it does have some moments though)

    Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, CT
    Set 1: Heavy Things, AC/DC Bag, Strange Design, The Divided Sky, Beauty of My Dreams, Bug, Stash, Chalk Dust Torture[1]

    Set 2: Drowned > Prince Caspian, The Squirming Coil, Makisupa Policeman > Run Like an Antelope

    Encore: Runaway Jim

  9. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    My worst show ever: 10.26.96 – Charlotte Coliseum (just days before The Omni’s Remain in Light Halloween throw-down). The reasons are much the same as Miner’s. Glad to know that I am not along in having such a thought.

    My best phish show ever: 6.15.10 – nTelos Pavilion, Portsmouth VA (i.e., the next one for me).

  10. thefuriousmitten Says:

    Why no audio from the show? It would be great to hear that Mule and just how sluggish it is! btw, I love that song, but I do understand how some people would find it a set killer.

  11. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    Oh, and @ Willowed – I think Miner picked a day that everyone can be happy with, regardless of the nature of his AOTD (article of the day).

    Happy 4/20 everyone.

  12. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I’m pretty psyched about the day that I have ahead of me.

    Early to Rise>
    Head Down and Workin’>
    Five Guys*>
    Field Trip>
    Reverse Commute**>
    RV Reunion>
    The Re-Up***>
    It’s 4:20 Somewhere>

    *Tasty Lunch Jam
    **Racin’ to Reveah Jam
    ***Herrer teases

  13. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    oh, and we’ll encore with “And We Bid You Goodnight” today.

  14. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    Love me some Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Very Tasty Lunch Jam indeed.

  15. SillyWilly Says:

    Good morning, all!

    4-20 will have to go uncelebrated for me. bummer.

    too much work. too little funds. no bane.

    so keep me in your smoky prayers.

  16. JerZ Says:

    Oddly enough, Raleigh was the only show that I skipped in 2000. It had been a while since I saw my home town kids back in Jersey, so I went right back to NJ after the Atlanta shows so I could have a couple of days to party with my boys before my hometown shows that year. It sounds like I made a solid choice.

  17. jdub Says:

    T3, Looks like you are in for an intense second set that will go down multiple roads while culminating in a wildly unique closer that will elevate the smokey room into multi dimensional planes.

  18. tela'smuff Says:

    that does look like a snoozer. i’ve collected the entire 2000 Summer and this one for sure doesn’t stack up. the first set is an absolute snoozer.

    “Horn, Heavy Things, Dirt,” – while each of those songs at the right time can be amazing, and i like them all, it was nothing but a earful of fail this night.

    it’s hard for me to pick the worst Phish show I’ve attended. Musically, 11-24-95 seemed to be the one that stuck out the most for me. I know the Maze was smokin, an dlookin back at the setlist, it had lots to be admired, but that night it wasn’t hittin me.

    the overall worst i’ve been to, and that includes music and crowd, was 6/20/09, first night of Alpine. that show just did not inspire. Waves>Sample to open second set???

  19. zzyzx Says:

    You can thank me for the “What’s the Use?” I was 10th row and was calling for it 😉

    And yeah, it wasn’t a very good show – I saw most of that tour and only Antioch, the Atlanta Tweezer, the Camden Jibboo, and the Columbus DWD->Have Mercy fake out stand out outside of the Deer Creek wackiness – but nowhere near as bad as 4/15/04 or the horror that was 7/17/92

  20. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    it may have been in my subconcious but i chose to listen to 6.15.00 Ghost this morning anyway, and was just about to write a comment about it, not realizing it was td’s JOTD.


    well its great.

  21. bhizzle Says:

    Odd topic fo sho. Never thought you were capable, but….

    I’ve been fortunate. I have never not enjoyed a show, granted I’m limited to maybe two dozen or so. I’ve never had a pooper. Actually there was that one SPAC show were my lady at the time got too drunk and I had to babysit her in the car all night. But that was no fault of the Phish’s.

    Halcy….thanks for helping out our boy Miner.

  22. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    the DWD from the same 6.15 show is fucking loopy too. great ride. cool show.

  23. ma Says:

    morning all,

    well then, you can thank or blame me for “water in the sky”..

    good pav seats trey side….it was extremely HOT and uncomfortable that day…for about 20 minutes, i borrowed someone’s ( thank you) water mister with the fan and was spraying our entire section while groovin.

    it felt soooo good…i can remember filling it up twice until eventually my arm got tired from holding it up above my head.

    looking through the MIST, i noticed trey staring at our section….he was intrigued.

    next song, water in the sky….i’ll never forget that connection.

  24. whole tour! Says:

    good thing the raleigh show is BEFORE the atlanta shows this year, because history tends to show that they often use the raleigh show after an atlanta show as a place to be hungover. Same thing happened in Raleigh 2003 w/ mike being sick from a long night of partying w/ Col. Bruce in Atlanta.

    Hopefully this won’t be an issue now that they are sober?

    They no doubt save the fireworks for atlanta. 6-24-00 tweezer was EPIC.

  25. pagesidehighschool Says:

    i think hampton 04 was my biggest bust, second set was a kick in the dick.
    But…….. It is hitler’s birthday, and you know what that means……
    Smoke weed every day.

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