7/1/94, Mann Music Center, Philadelphia, PA

review submisions to me at dws@www.phish.net or dws@gadiel.com

Date: Thu, 06 Jul 2000 20:17:36 -0400
From: "eswain@bellatlantic.net" eswain@bellatlantic.net
To: dws@archive.phish.net
Subject: REVIEW: 7/1/94 Philadelphia, PA
 
REVIEW: 7/1/94, Mann Music Center, Philadelphia, PA
 
    This show serves as direct counter-proof to those who claim Phish
was ^ALWAYS better back then.^
 
     It was my second show, after the wild and fun 5/2/93. I was hoping
that I^d get something even half as memorable as that one. Didn^t
happen. Maybe I^m bitter because it was the only show to which I took my
girlfriend (who is now my wife) and she was bored to tears and vowed
never to see Phish again. But the tapes confirm that the show was as
uninspired as I thought it was at the time.
 
     The setlist looks like something you^d kill for, but as you know
setlists never tell the whole story. This show was for the most part
devoid of passion, emotion and inventiveness. If I had to guess I would
chalk it up to burnout from the previous night in Richmond, where they
went crazy with YEM, Antelope and Harpua.
 
     The first set was unremittingly dull until toward the end. Runaway
Jim, Foam, Sample and NICU were all by the book. At the time Stash
probably suffered in my mind from comparison to the 5/2/93 version, but
the tapes show it never really took off. Mango was again unspectacular.
I was glad to hear It^s Ice. The tapes reveal a neat piano-based jam in
the middle, and a mellow segue into Tela. When I re-listened to this
recently I thought it was a moderate saving grace to the set. Then the
next day I popped in 6/11/94 and heard the EXACT same piano jam and
segue. So the highlight of the set so far was merely a repetition of
something that had worked before. Tela itself was standard. Then Julius
started and finally there was some real energy. Both Julius and the
following set-closing Suzie Greenberg had a good spark to them, and got
the crowd involved. But they were not enough to save what remains to
this day one of the worst sets I have ever heard, in person or on tape.
 
     The second set opened with Bowie, which provided the show^s lone
musical highlight. This rendition is danceable and intense. Toward the
end things got really fast and the four of them melded as one into a
raging jam, which today reminds me of the madness at the end of the
7/15/99 YEM. You would think this would kick-start a fine set, but that
didn^t happen. If I Could stuck to the script of the Hoist version, and
Fluffhead and DWD were nothing special. I had not heard TMWSIY -> Avenu
-> TMWSIY before this show and I was extremely bored at the time. In
retrospect it^s no worse than anything else here, just at the same level
of listlessness. Possum was next. I like my Possums raging, such as
4/16/92. This was a laid-back one and I was disappointed at the time.
The tapes show it to be a bit better than that, with a ^Voodoo Child
(Slight Return)^ tease coming as a surprise. But it was still not the
kick in the pants that this set needed. Fishman^s routine with Terrapin
was amusing, but it was merely a diversion and not particularly
memorable. Then they started Hood, which would be the last chance to
salvage the show. It was pleasant and fluid, like all versions at the
time. But it was not the exceptional performance we needed. A
perfunctory Cavern closed the set, and the energetic Rocky Top encore
was too little, too late.
 
     What bothers me most about this performance is how clinical it
sounds. Most songs are well-played but there is no inspiration and no
risk-taking, save the Bowie. This is probably the closest thing I have
ever heard to Phish going through the motions. There is nothing even
slightly memorable about it, save the Bowie. Worst of all on a personal
note, it was a factor in delaying my conversion from casual fan to
die-hard. I continued to see the band once a year when they came around
to Philly, but at the time there were plenty of other bands that held my
interest and I was not convinced that I should devote most of my
concertgoing dollars to multiple Phish shows. Not until fall ^97 did I
become the raving maniac of a fan that I am today.
 
     There is no reason to get the tapes unless you were at the show or
you collect all the good versions of Bowie.
 
     Unless you want to shut up that friend of yours who keeps telling
you they were ALWAYS better back then.
 
Erik Swain

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