Night three of the Florida mini-tour brings us to Miami Beach. I can’t help but think that Phish should have scheduled their shows in Florida for mid-March instead of the end of February to tap into the spring break crowd, but what do I know about tour routing? Also, considering the size of the crowds at their later Florida shows, like 12/31/99, I think they did just fine for themselves regardless. Set 1 opens with “Buried Alive” and the recording fades in about halfway through the song. The recording is much better tonight and about par for the tour; no incessant buzzing or clipping like the recording for 2/23. After “Buried Alive” we get our nightly “Poor Heart,” which has been played at well over half the shows this tour, and an early-set “Cavern.” Besides for some minor timing issues in “Buried Alive” this all sounds well-played. “Maze” follows this opening sequence and while both solos are good I wouldn’t describe either as face-melting. I also can’t give an edge to either Page or Trey tonight, they both generate about the same amount of excitement in their solos. A good but not great “Maze.”
“Forbin’s > Mockingbird” is up next and features a fairly standard narration about traveling to Gamehendge and asking Icculus for the Helping Friendly Book, though the bit about the room slowly tilting upside down and the crowd hanging from the ceiling is fun if not a bit vertigo-inducing if you try to visualize it yourself. Out of “Mockingbird” we get “Rift” and “Stash,” two of many repeats from the last show that we hear tonight. “Stash” has been experimented with a bit more than usual at its last outings but those were both in the second set, and I’m curious to see if the song’s return to the first half neuters that experimentation. Thankfully it does not, and the “Stash” hot streak continues. The jam gets going by ~5:20 and by 6:00 Trey is cooking with lots of shredding and quick, complex runs of notes that build up excitement. There’s also better than usual accompaniment from Mike tonight. I feel like the best “Stash” jams continuously push at the boundaries of the song and sound like they could fall apart at any moment, even if the song never actually breaks through or falls apart, and this “Stash” definitely has that anarchic quality. By 7:15 Trey brings us through a number of peaks, each more exciting than the last. The tape cuts out at the end of the song (~9:20) just as they return to the “Maybe so, maybe not” refrain, probably in order to flip the tape. Despite this technical annoyance this is another great “Stash” with a few minutes of quality improvisation.
The tape cuts back in time for a standard “Bouncing” that leads into “I Didn’t Know.” Trey notes that Fishman’s parents are in attendance tonight and that Fishman’s “love-drenched” trombone solo will be played in dedication to his mom. “Bowie” closes out the set. The intro is relatively contained tonight at less than two minutes, despite both a Secret Language signal and a tease of the Jeopardy! theme. The jam itself is fairly typical for “Bowie” at the time though it does lead into a satisfying peak. As a whole this set starts a bit slow but between the narration, the “Stash” jam, and the “Bowie,” everything from “Forbin’s” on is entertaining and it’s a solid set overall.
I apologize in advance for a shorter recap of normal for the second set, I have a bit less time than normal. It’s not the most memorable or exciting set of the tour though, so I shouldn’t miss much. “Suzy” has been used often as an opener on this tour, but usually opening the first, not the second. The band sounds a bit loose and off for the first part of the song but pull it together by the end of the song. “It’s Ice” takes its familiar 2-slot and sounds fine. This segues into “Sparkle” and “Wilson.” The breakdown at ~3:20 in “Wilson” is a bit unusual as it features almost no playing from anyone, just a couple stray notes from Trey. It almost sounds like a mistake. They snap right into the “You Enjoy Myself” intro out of the end of “Wilson,” which sounds really tight. “YEM” feels a bit concise tonight with no segment being stretched out much. Trey’s solo starts at 10:30 and instead of breaking things down like he has often on this tour he builds right up into an early peak around ~13:30. The drums and bass segment starts at 13:50 and goes for a good couple of minutes. It’s well-played but nothing about this “YEM” really stood out to me.
“Uncle Pen” provides a bluegrass interlude and then we’re off into the “Big Ball Jam.” “Fast Enough for You” seems like an odd choice coming out of the anarchic “Big Ball Jam” initially but provides a nice cool-down at this point of the set. Fishman takes the opportunity during his Henrietta segment banter to thank his parents for coming down from Syracuse (!) for the show before telling us that his mother “taught him everything he knows” about vacuums and will be taking the vacuum solo during “If I Only Had a Brain.” The vacuum solo actually sounds pretty similar to one of Fishman’s solos, though Trey thanks the guest at the end of the segment so I’m guessing she actually did perform it. “Golgi” and “Big Black Furry Creatures from Mars” close the set. “BBFCFM” strikes me as a really odd vibe to end the set on (something I feel like they did at another show this tour), but so it goes. “Amazing Grace” and a fiery “Good Times Bad Times” ends the show. There’s some significant tape issues during “GTBT” that sounds like the tape was running out of space.
There’s nothing really bad about the second set; everything is competently played except for a few minor issues and the flow is decent. However, for someone who has listened to the tour up to this point there’s nothing really new or noteworthy about it either. “YEM” is really the only song to contain significant amounts of improvisation and even there it’s kept concise. I’d actually give the edge to the first set in this show, which is unusual even for the time. So not a bad show overall, but hopefully the next will have a bit more of a spark to it.
- Show rating: 3/5
- Highlights: “Stash”
- Phish.net setlist
- First set length: ~73 mins.
- Second set length: 80 mins.
- This is the first and last time Phish performed at the Cameo Theatre.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “If I Only Had a Brain,” returning after a fourteen show absence (2/7/93).
- The best represented studio album is Rift (5 songs).