It is no secret that most Phish fans consider the band’s finest, or at least most grand, performances were heard over the 1999 New Year’s Eve run at Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation in Florida. Even the band members themselves have hinted that those shows may have been the pinnacle of their storied history. Phish-heads have been clamoring for years that the organization needs to release legitimate soundboard copies of those epic NYE shows, and although those cries have so far proven fruitless the band has decided to deliver the next best thing by offering up the first official show from that ambitious 1999 fall tour.
Those millennium concerts concluded the end of a magnificent fall tour that saw the band in exceptional playing form. They were tight, yet very exploratory in their jamming and had a decent arsenal of newer songs and cover material being performed nightly. This newly released concert, performed in mid-December at an old basketball arena in Raleigh, North Carolina, is prime evidence of just how fluid and dynamic the band was playing leading up to Big Cypress.
The energy can be heard (and almost felt) from the opening chants of “Wilson” to the closing fireball of the always welcome “Tweezer Reprise”. In between, the fearless foursome delivered a fantastic show full of spot-on arrangements and otherworldly improvisation. First set highlights included outstanding presentations of “Chalkdust Torture”, “Roggae”, “Back on the Train”, and a peppy set-ending “Possum”. As with most Phish concerts the meat of the show really came during the second set. The band opened up with a twenty-three minute version of “Sand” complete with an eerie, mind-bending jam that makes this a must-hear gem. Superior renditions of the fan favorites “Tweezer” and “Runaway Jim” anchored the rest of this superb set.
Technological advances in the better part of the last decade have allowed fans to download copies of Phish concerts almost immediately afterwards via the band’s Live Phish wing. Fans are able to obtain copies or stream recent tours and relive that magic right away. And considering how great the band has been playing over the last few tours, sometimes we forget how dominant this band was in the 90s. Plenty of soundboard bootlegs of early shows have been in circulation for years, and the band has been slowly releasing other archived shows from that decade as well. However for various reasons not many clean copies of the underrated ’99 tour exist, so fans should be excited to finally get an official release showcasing the band during this choice era.
This release can be purchased for download at livephish.com and the LivePhish App