7/21/98 - Desert Sky Pavillion, Phoenix, AZ

Woo hoo, my 30th Phish show since 92, and what a BOMB!  This was a Mike-fest
 like I've never heard!  The Phunk was thick, and the intensity was definitely up.
 Set 1
 AC/DC Bag, Fluffhead, Roget, TubeSparkleCavern, RelaxRun Like an Antelope
 Great way to open the first set with the Bag and Fluff - completely old-school, and
 with authority.
 AC/DC Bag was pretty standard, with Trey shredding the accelerated ending as well
 as ever.  Definitely not anything like that weird spacey version from 12/30/97.
 Fluffhead - Oh what a treat! I can't tell you how sweet it was to hear them playing this
 in the second song slot!  There were a couple spots during Fluff's Travels where Trey
 was a little off on the composed parts, but no worse than usual and nothing really
 glaring (unlike the horrible Divided Sky in Barcelona).  The ending, though?Ohmygawd,
 Trey was just ripping shit up, soloing with a ferocity I've never heard in this song before,
 for what seemed a good five minutes!  Very nice.
 Roget was nice to kick back to after the furious intensity of the Fluffhead.  This song
 has a pretty melody, but it's a little monotonous musically, and reminds me of a
 speeded up "Jesus Just Left Chicago" groove.
 Tube - I knew we'd be getting some Phunk eventually, and this song delivered.  Page
 got his extended clavinet workout, as is typical these days.  After a pause after the
 last verse ended "So stupendous, living in this tube", they started up another funk
 groove, which I assume is the new "Dayton" ending for the song.  It only lasted a
 couple of minutes before kindof segueing into?
 Sparkle - What can you say about Sparkle?  It kept the energy level up, as did?
 Cavern.  I'll say it again, the energy level was UP.
 Relax (or whatever it's called - I think "Frankie Says" is a stupid name) is a beautiful
 song.  I especially like the "Mind Left Body" groove that this has.
 Run Like an Antelope was solid, and always one of my favorites to close a first set.
 Definitely a nice, raging but predictable jam, and some extended playfulness in the
 Ry Ry Rocco section.  Not nearly as mind-bending as the Set 2 scorching Antelope
 we got at Desert Sky last year.
 Veerrry upbeat first set, with a couple of raging jams, and a couple of nice, mellow
 new tunes that I think most people dug.
 Now as for Set 2:
 Mike's Song - Simple - Bittersweet Motel?  Weekapaug Groove, Brian & Robert,
 Story of the Ghost - She Caught the Katy  Funky Bitch
 E:  Sleeping Monkey, Rocky Top
 Mike's Song opener - This is where Mike officially took over the show and made a
 believer out of thousands.  Mike was God-like in this set.  The jam was very thoroughly
 explored, with three completely distinct sections.  For a long while, the jam was pretty
 standard for a late 90's Mike's, then they kicked it down into a long funky section with
 lots of nice interplay between Page on the clav and Trey on the wah. Finally they
 kicked it back up to some serious raging, before going through the changes and right
 Simple - This might have been the most perfect Simple I've ever heard.  I kept thinking
 of the 12/6/96 Vegas one, as the jam was similar.  This one was even longer and more
 beautiful, though.  The interplay between guitar and piano as the jam slowly wound
 down was simply stunning. Gradually, this theme became more textural, until it kind
 of dissolved into some feedback/space, out of which emerged something completely
 unfamiliar, which I'll call?
 Bittersweet Motel - This was really short, with very little of anything except vocals and
 soft feedback, from what I remember.  Very few lyrics, too, which were repeated a few
 times, something to the effect of "Somewhere between Erie and Pittsburgh, you left me
 in Hell, Now I'm staying here at the Bittersweet Motel."  Weird.
 Weekapaug Groove emerged from the feedback with Mike laying down some serious
 stuff.  The jam started off with an extended clavinet workout, accompanied by some
 fantastic Gordon.  Overall, the jam never really wandered into any unexpected territory,
 just a consistent, extremely high-energy tempo with lots of bomb-dropping.  Right before
 they went into the chorus again, after Trey started back into the familiar Weekapaug
 chording, Mike laid down about 45 seconds or so of the sickest, most unreal bass-
 playing I've ever heard.  Standard ending, and then a full minute pause while everyone
 on stage and in the audience tried to catch their breath.  Whew!
 Brian & Robert - Sorry, but I HATE this song.  It's really bad, with absolutely no
 redeeming qualities that I can think of. Maybe the musical arrangement is sort of
 interesting, if you like the fact that it's all Mike (Trey plays nothing but feedback during
 this song).  I really hate the lyrics, though. Also, by this time it seemed like the vocals
 were too high in the mix and causing a lot of vibration and distortion.
 Story of the Ghost - Now we're talking.  I have mixed feelings about the new, much
 looser arrangement, but if anything it's eased the concerns I used to have that this
 would be the next FM radio "single".  The jam in this was just unbelievable, a raging
 monster, undeniably the highlight of the night.  Also, easily the most powerful jam I've
 *ever* heard in a Ghost.  The jam started out innocently enough, with a good seven or
 eight minutes of relatively mellow phunking.  Gradually, very gradually, the jam grew in
 intensity as Fish began to pick up the tempo and the groove that Mike was laying down
 got sicker and sicker.  It peaked with a seriously long section of all of them just freakin'
 RAGING, all out!  For a good five minutes or so, I felt like the whole place was going to
 spontaneously combust.  Hear this Ghost at ALL COSTS!  After the peak, the jam
 mellowed out some, with Fish and Mike continuing to lay down the Ghost groove while
 Page gave the Hammond B3 a little workout.  While this was going on, Trey walked over
 to Mike, a brief discussion ensued, and then they simultaneously changed to a different
 key without changing the tempo.  Turns out this was now?
 She Caught the Katy (or, "Mule to Ride", as it's called on some Taj Mahal albums.)
 Never, ever expected to hear Phish do this old blues tune.  Mike sang it, and frankly,
 I had a hard time adjusting to his rendition. (I'm really fond of Widespread Panic's
 version, actually.)  It was seriously phunky, almost the same flavor as a Ghost, with
 a brief standard blues guitar solo from Trey.  The ending flowed nicely right into?
 Funky Bitch - What an unusual way to end the set, with Mike singing two blues
 numbers.  As I said, Mike really took over tonight.  Nothing particularly remarkable
 about this Bitch, except that it was a strong way to conclude an outstanding second
 Sleeping Monkey - Right before they started this, Trey made some remark about how
 Fish wanted to do this song for some reason that had to do with his encore the previous
 night. Obviously a reference to the "Sexual Healing" in Ventura, which I would love to
 have seen! Did anyone get video? (I know that's illegal, so just tell me about it quietly ;^))
 During the part where Fishman stands up and sings the chorus by himself, he concluded
 the line "Why'd you send my monkey on the train?" with a deep gravelly two words -
 "Sexual Healing!"
 Rocky Top - Predictable followup to Sleeping Monkey (God I was hoping for Gyute!).
 Nevertheless an appropriate way to close the show, since we had not heard any
 bluegrass all night.
 In summary, I don't know about the rest of the Summer Tour so far, but if this was any
 indication, people on the east coast are in for some really powerful shows.  If I had to
 pick one descriptive word for this show, "powerful" is the one I'd pick.  Definitely a far
 cry from the summer shows I saw last year. Oh, and Mike Gordon fans rejoice - the
 man is definitely on top of his game!!
 Rob Winkler
 Tucson, AZ

Date: Sat, 30 Dec 2000 01:33:11 EST From: CGSkywlkr@aol.com To: dws@archive.phish.net Subject: 7-21-98 Journeying from the Sea & Sand, through the Desert is an experience. Following the West Coast run we find ourselves within Desert Sky ambiance once again... A true desert show. With us being in the desert at a Phish show, seems like being in an oasis... The venue, is casual and classy, the temperature is mild with lots of clouds. Our group was into taking some mushrooms for tonights show, the only show we had Mushy's for this tour, I mentioned that the word for mushy's in German is Pilz which is refrenced in Fluffhead as Powerfull Pilz, just a silly note... As we went inside I head others saying whose got my mushrooms, we were like what's up with the mushy vibe??? The show here last year was amazing, and lightning rocked the place at the end, so we were really excited about being here again with Phish... The AC/DC Bag opener seemed to acknowledge last years epic lightning show, then came Fluffhead, nice mushy connection, sweet! Roggae purred along, nice moment song, Tubin with a great jam extension, we were going tubin down the Salt River the next day, we called Tube in the lot beforehand because of this, so, so far the first set is connecting nicely. Sparkle is beautiful, especially with phriends, we were calling Cavern since ! ! Shoreline, because our friend forgot her shoes at one point, we said we haven't got it yet, it has to be tonight... and so it was, nice. Relax is very touching, Antelope, the Antelope from last year is priceless, nice to touch apon it again at Desert Sky, the part after the jam, is uniquely drawn out... Mikes Song pounded the 2nd set, with Simple bringing an insightfull feel to the show, Bittersweet emerged??? Into Weekapaug, the love vibe is again present, though with a slightly different feel which is explained by the encore, How does Phish do that? The B &R is nice, then GHOST, wow, a surprise at this point, Phish is giving out goodies tonight! She caught the Katy! Spellbound at this point... into Funki Bitch, The Girl sure is working her vibe! The Sleeping Monkey is soft and touching, Trey speaks of it being in contrast with the encore the night before. Weird night, great show! I got mee Sexual Healing afterwards this night.... Sweetness abounding, the Desert is a total Trip! ~ Peace ~ see ya in Alpine Valley, have fun in Texas.....
They never Dissapoint! Set 1: What a set. One of the best 1st sets that I have ever seen. AC/DC, Great opener with some excellent jamming. Got the crowd into a frenzy right away. Fluffhead, All that I can say is THANK YOU! Been waiting for this song for 4 years. Roget, 1st time hearing, pretty good Tube, Another bomb this early? Now I know I traveled from New Jersey for a good reason. Pretty short tube Sparkle, always pleases me when I see this one Cavern, Wow, what a set already the place was pumped Relax, new one, weak, but don't mind with all the bombs that have been played Antelope, Rocked the house apart Overall Set 1: More than what I was expecting, love when they throw the bombs, and that is exactly what they did. Set 2: There was no way that they could be better in set 2, but it was close. Mikes, Are the bombs ever going to end. The best Mikes jam that I have ever hear during this one. Simple, Cool, great song to see live gets me in the groove. Roget, WeeeeeaaaaaaK!!!! APAUG, wicked, was going nuts during this one. Brian and Robert, Enough new songs, This was the first time I heard all the new ones and I thought they sucked bad. Ghost, 1st time seeing live, solid but not the bomb song I thought it would be. Katy, Hads no clue about this song, pretty solid tune. Should have kept it in the vault. Funky Bitch, Cool, heard them soundcheck, so we were expecting it. Did't dissapoint. Encore: Sleeping Monkey, Rocky Top Excellent encore, always like to hear these tunes. Overall; AC/DC, Fluff, Tube, Cavern, Antelope, Mikes Groove Funky. You can't beat it. Once again thank you Phish. It was a damn good show and the 1st set was unbelievable. The best ac/dc bag I have ever heard and I just love Fluffhead anyway. I would only dispose of Sparkle. It was still well played but I could go w/out it. I relly like Roget know that Ive heard it a 2nd time and Antelope was special. The put a little extra into it. The whole 2nd set was a big "jam" fest. And the encore was great. Fishman sang with his saprano when the spotlight came on him. It was kind of amusing at the same time. Then they just pumped Rocky Top. Great show I have seen many Phish shows since my first at Kent State 11-12-94, but I have never seen such perfection as I witnessed in Phoenix. Every single note was perfect. The song selection was incredible, the jams were mind altering. I have never seen Mike take over a set like he did the second set in Phoenix. He owned the second set beginning it with a great "mike's song" and ending with a thumping version of Rocky top. I have been at every show this tour so far so I have seen them repeat many songs. I have seen Ghost like 6 or 7 times but never with the intensity like they played last night. The Moma Dance was missed. I had friends drive in from Texas and I really wanted then to hear it. I mean, hey, they've played it 4 out of 6 shows. Antelope was like nothing I have ever seen. This song literally separated my mind from my body. My call for the tour was Fluffhead and I got it in Phoenix. I fell on the ground in delight because I was on another planet during Fluff's Travels. Anyway, Phoenix was more than a rock concert. It was an experience- best show of the tour so far. Can't wait for Houston!! Forever sharin the groove, Michael Nathan BLDasLove@aol.com