Soundcheck: Heavy Things, Meatstick
SET 1: Tweezer, Roses Are Free > Wilson > Maze, Brian and Robert, Tube > Rocky Top
SET 2: Boogie On Reggae Woman, Meatstick > Free > Bouncing Around the Room, Harry Hood > Frankenstein > Cavern
ENCORE: Contact > Tweezer Reprise
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Review by n00b100
I don't doubt that I haven't told you all anything you know already, but I still had to tell you anyway, because I'm about to go Option B on you and say that this is (IMO, of course) one of the great Phish shows, one of my personal favorites, and a show that I will probably keep stumping for official release as long as I remain a Phish fan. Sadly, with the release of the Boogie On on the last From The Archives, that seems entirely unlikely now (FTA will release songs from shows already released all the time, but have yet to go the opposite route); at least that jam, which pretty much everyone knows or should know is one of the year's finest, is now readily available in pristine sound. Thank goodness for small favors, I suppose.
By this point in their evolution Phish had smoothed out the darker, more razor-sharp edges of the Fall '97 funk sound, replacing it with more spaciness (or ambiance, if you want), and that is perfectly heard in the Tweezer here, a close relative to the brilliant 8/1/98 version. It's not the longest version in the world (although I don't think that's as big a deal as someone else might), but it locks into a really mellow, blissful groove right out of the "Uncle Ebenezer" verse and stays there all throughout. The Boogie On has already been touched on (I think the term "hose jam" fits quite nicely for it), and those two songs alone would put this show in some pretty strong company, but there's also a blissful Harry Hood that leads into an always welcome Frankenstein, a super funky Tube, and a really fun Roses > Wilson > Maze stretch in Set 1 to serve as icing on the cake. And there's Meatstick, but it can't all be perfect, right?
Whenever I think of 1999, The Year That Phish Forgot (even the big summer festival doesn't seem to get any love), the first thing that pops to mind is Big Cypress, the second thing is 12/11 (my pick for show of the year), and then 9/18, a very strong second place and the crown jewel of Fall 1999, maybe the greatest underrated tour of them all. And I wouldn't have thought about it at all without the spreadsheet. Thank you, Phish, and thank you, Kevin Hoy.