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. bhizzle Says:

    and tony allen is…

  2. bhizzle Says:

    does anybone have a aud of this: 10/3/09 – The Gordo show at Buffalo he release?

  3. Mr.Palmer Says:

    PDX just got its Phish 3d viewing, all you PDX peep out there.

  4. Elihu Says:

    Bhizzle the $185 price for acl is the final (highest) price category I think, and the 3-day passes could sell out even before lineup is released, whenever that is. Then they usually release single day tix, but no guarantee on those. I can walk to the fest but still wouldn’t drop that much cash to see a bunch of mostly crappy (IMO) indie bands, or to see maybe MMW or ween do a 45 min set at 230 in the afternoon.

  5. sumodie Says:

    PH3D Reveah represent!!

    fyi, posters handed out after

    i wont be revealing spoilers,btw

    but i may report back on the emergent properties stemming from crowd interaction b/t me, my 40 neighbors, & PH3D 8)

    Complexity/Systems Theory rulez!

  6. butter Says:

    Mr. C – nice to see you back around

    great stuff today

  7. Gratefulcub Says:

    Which Sly album do I need to download tonight?

  8. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Can’t help you, cub. i’m sure there are some experts around somewhere.

  9. stitchstash Says:

    Way to go on the audio archive Halycon. Party Time! Excellent!

  10. DocGanz Says:

    @ Gratefulcub
    I’d go with “There’s a Riot Goin On”
    Their best imho.
    Great, great album

  11. ChefBradford Says:

    ACL lineup was released several months ago

  12. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    any reviews of the movie come in? idk what time they played today

  13. Stupendous Says:

    All I want to know about ph3d
    is how long, how was the sound
    and how was the vibe in the theater…
    The rest I will witness with the rest
    of us… Will it be playing for a while
    or is it just that night?

  14. ChefBradford Says:

    strike that

  15. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    itll be playing for 1 week and its 2 hours 20 minutes

  16. Phire on the Mountain Says:

    How was everyone’s 4/20? Mine was wonderful. Happy to be a part of such an extraordinary community.

  17. voopa Says:


    Found that Miriam Makeba album in FLAC, just so you know…

  18. Mr. Completely Says:

    “and tony allen is…”

    Tony Allen is, according to Brian Eno and Mr. Completely, the best drummer ever.

    He was Fela’s partner from when they started Afrika 70 together – the original Afrobeat project. Tony was the bandleader and did a lot of the arrangements. He was the first person to successfully fuse African rhythms with jazz drumming technique and is widely regarded as one of the most influential drummers in modern world history because of that.

    Later in the 70s Fela fell victim to ego and control issues and refused to share credit (or money) with Tony and others. The situation is a lot like what happened with James Brown and Maceo Parker, actually. Tony eventually left and has been pursuing his own career ever since.

    Fela re-formed a new band in the 80s called “Egypt ’80” and that’s the group that’s on that live recording. I have yet to really listen to any 80s Fela.

    The “golden age” of Fela Kuti afrobeat is generally held to be the “Zombie” era stuff from the mid to late 70s, which is all fiery revolutionary stuff, and very cool. But I prefer the earlier stuff even more, around ’73 or so.

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    a random modern Tony Allen solo track

  20. Dr. Pronoia Says:

    @ Silly – just saw your post from earlier. Proud of the Hill. Wish I coulda been there when things were so open…

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    I’ve never heard anyone with such a light touch but a bone-deep groove, and effortless swing on top of it…I love those feathery little bursts and the tiny hesitations and subtle accents…I could listen to Tony Allen play all day long…in fact today I pretty much did exactly that

  22. jdub Says:

    I have been surfing these intrawebs for a bit this evening and of course end up back here with the cypress after midnight reprise (does a 20 minute jam count as a reprise?) blazing the way. Figured I post something.

    Happy 420 to you Phire

    And Mr. C I am going to share some Fela/Tony with the son tomorrow. It is about time he done some african beats aside from not so african Paul Simon.

  23. Gavinsdad Says:

    @cub: seconding doc ganz. “there’s a riot going on” is THE sly album you want.

    Follow that up with Curtis mayfield live and then Donny Hathaway live and you’re good for a week.

    Latest strain: crab Rangoon

  24. voopa Says:

    Click my name for:

    Ernest Ranglin – Modern Answers to Old Problems
    (2000) vbr mp3 zip file

    …with Tony Allen, Courtney Pine, and a bunch of famous Nigerian musicians

    also up in there
    Upsetters – Eastwood Rides Again
    Prince – Xpectation
    Jimi – Valleys of Neptune

  25. butter Says:

    All this 4:20 stuff is too much

    back in my day everyday is 4:20 …:::::24…7…365

    the radio stations here in Sonoma County were hypin’ it, with commercials based around it

    the news channels covered it …my gosh am I getting old

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