From: Jesse Appleman

12/31/96 The Fleetcenter, Boston, Mass 
Posted to 2-6-97

Benjy talked to me about the rating system I had come up with, and he had some very good points. From now on, I will rate any given Stash against any given Stash, rather than against an average Stash from that period.

My FM1's of this show are nice and crispy, I can even hear Mike! I will accept newbie grovels for this show, but make your request interesting or funny, because I can only dub for 5-6 people.

Critical Stats: Stash is in set I. It follows Cars Trucks Buses and precedes Horse/silent.

Everyone is very clear through the opening, although Trey mutes some of the beginning notes of the melody. The pace is nice and laid back (For more advice on being laid-back, consult the Small Hairy Beast-man's wise words before the 2/20/93 Terrapin). The song is normal sounding now, but it has a very clear feeling of the magical energy that any NYE show possesses. This isn't bullshit; just ask any experienced Phish fan and they will verify that there is an incredibly powerful energy that is present in even the lamest of songs on the night before Jan 1.

Lyrics at 1:40, definitely laid back, a little bit slower than usual. The Wail is at 2:01, followed closely by The Climb at 2:20. It is well executed except for a slightly fudged note by Trey at the beginning. The second lyrics segment starts at 4:03, and the first MSMN's come in at 4:22. We officially start the jam at 5:04.

MSMN fades out at 5:45. The beginning of the jam segment is very ear pleasing, but typically mellow. Page is comping very nicely here, almost taking control until Trey finds his first theme at 6:36. It's not a complicated theme, and is departed from at 6:50. Trey is in the middle/high regions of his 'doc. The soloing here doesn't sound very unusual for a Stash, but it is just so gratifying to listen to. It's that mysterious NYE energy, folks. The most basic, boring melody is *charged*. Still very quiet at 7:20.

The jam starts to build at 7:30, with Page chording more fully, creating a nice background with Fish and Mike. A slight speed up occurs (?) at 7:50. At 8:15 there is a subtle change, with Trey higher up on the 'doc. There is some really nice Trey/Page complementary work going on at 8:40, although this doesn't last long.

At 9:20 the jam definitely builds more, getting louder and more ominous. Trey is soloing faster now, going from high to low and back again several times. At 9:52 everyone is playing very nicely, interacting perfectly. 10:30 -- Trey does one of his signature climactic octave jumps that always provokes an audience response. Tension and release are the very essence of Stash, it's basic building block. Kinda like what the elements are to physical structures. It would be interesting to build a table of elements for Phish, but that's another thread...

The jam is definitely climactic at 10:45. This is a typical Stash but enjoyable nevertheless. Trey hits some atonal, "wrong" sounding notes at 11:10. At 11:15 we have strong tension building, building, building, building.. and... RELEASE at 11:28 with another crowd response. I can feel the MSMN segment coming closer. We have very, very atonal distorted tension building at 12:08 that is finally released at... 12:30. It is amazing how the tension/release process can repeatedly make thousands of people cheer who have no idea what the hell ten/rel is!

Trey is all over the 'doc at 12:30. The jam is very climactic, very powerful, but it has that *feeling* of being about to end (C'mon, you know that instinct that tells you that the climax of a song is about to come. Right before "You can feel good...", the three ascending chords that end Slave, or the abrupt stop of a Reba jam).

My instincts prove correct, with Trey returning to the MSMN melody at 3:12 and the MSMN singing at 3:17. Hmm... Trey usually solos fiercely over the singing here, but not this time. The music is actually calm here. End at 13:34. 

This one would be an average
Stash, but due to the NYE energy
that this had it gained a point or so.
I'm giving it a 6.0. 
Comments and criticism welcomed,