Twas the Night Before Hampton

As we enter the home stretch of the Christmas season, we also find ourselves on the anniversary of an amazing show in Raleigh on 12.16.99.  I thought I’d combine the two themes. (Read to the rhythm of “Twas the Night Before Christmas”)


Twas the night before Hampton, and Raleigh appeared,
Exploding in groove, and mind-bending cheer.
Wilson began and the ‘Dust followed up,
A raging beginning to start, sure enough.

The floor was wide open, the stands they were packed,
The wooks were all spun and the yuppies were jacked.
The tapers were taping, their mics were held high
As hallucinations danced in the sky.

Soon there was Lawn Boy, and then there was Limb,
Get Back, Roggae and a second-set Jim.
To close the first half were two beasts of the earth,
A Camel and Possum, both scribed by Holdsworth.

Set break had come and theatrics would follow,
Far greater than Hampton’s 18th or tomorrow.
This followed a trend, a pattern complete,
That the night before was quite often the heat!

There maybe less pressure, there maybe no nerves,
But on the eve of the big ones, Phish always threw curves.
Yet take history’s proof, don’t listen to me,
Take Vernon and Darien before Limestone, now see?

Like Boise pre-Shoreline, a path Phish did forge,
Just like Vancouver came ‘fore The Gorge.
The shows before New Year’s were always much thicker
With free-flowing jams, and clearly less liquor.

The hype for the big shows routinely allowed
For the band to surprise the night before’s crowd.
Calls would be made, and messages played,
“Don’t bother, stay home! You missed IT, I say!”

This night in Raleigh would be just the same,
With a second set reaching the top of their game.
The best “Sand” of the year, not counting the swamp
Commenced a dark set in which Phish would soon romp.

Thirty-minutes of groove from the stage emanated
While all of us dancing were feeling elated.
A brief stop in Mango and a wade in the sea,
Before Tweezer took over, and set us all free.

One to cherish and keep; that millennial sound,
With deep walls of texture, distorted and round.
Weaving through darkness, the jam crept along
When the band, out of nowhere, hit a triumphant song.

The music moved smoothly, to the top of a Slave,
Peaking the jam with improv so brave.
Nothing at Hampton would be quite like this,
Though it would contain its own share of bliss.

For two nights of fantastic Mothership spells,
All coming to Hampton would arrive with bells.
Happy to be there, as well they should be,
They all wished they’d made it down to Ra-leigh.

One of the best throughout all ninety-nine,
Hampton wouldn’t even enter that line.
With a sense of the moment, and a penchant for drama
While donning their magical music pajamas;

Phish touched the divine on the night before hype,
‘Ere the people dressed up came down the next night.
So next time you plan a trip to see Phish,
Leave an extra day early, and you won’t have to wish.


12-16-99 Reynolds Coliseum, Raleigh, NC

I: Wilson > Chalkdust Torture, Lawn Boy, Limb by Limb, Horn, Get Back On The Train, Roggae, Heavy Things, Camel Walk, Possum
II: Sand, The Mango Song, Wading in the Velvet Sea > Jam > Tweezer > Runaway Jim
E: Bittersweet Motel > Tweezer Reprise



6.15.95 Lakewood Amphitheatre, Atlanta, GA < LINK

A standout show from the psychedelic summer of ’95, this one comes off of the request wire.  A quality show from start to finish, a dark “Stash” and “Antelope” highlighted the first set.  The second set was a classic Summer ’95 odyssey.  Going excessively deep with a near half-hour Bowie, the darkness is resolved first with Theme, and finally with a magnificent Slave.  A beautifully patient jam, this one is the version I go to when I want to hear Slave at sunrise.

I: My Friend My Friend, Sparkle, AC/DC Bag, The Old Home Place, Taste, The Wedge, Stash, I Didn’t Know*, Fluffhead, Run Like An Antelope

II: My Sweet One, Ha Ha Ha > David Bowie, Strange Design, Theme From the Bottom, Scent of a Mule, Acoustic Army, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Bouncing Around the Room, Frankenstein

*With Fish on trombone, Mike on electric drill and Trey on megaphone.

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