...For the Heart...
UIC Pavilion - Chicago
November 8, 1998
First Appeared in The Music Box, December 1998, Volume 5, #12
Written by John Metzger
Act II: Loaded
On the second night of their November three show run at Chicago's UIC Pavilion, Phish seemed extraordinarily tired. After spending the day at a book signing at Border's, they opened the show with a tame 10-song first set that found them back in a more playful, giddy role.
The band began the show with a stunning Taste that swirled around the cascading keyboards of Page McConnell. They then proceeded to load their musical cannon and blast through a series of songs that mixed up musical styles with a tongue-in-cheek hilarity.
Carini Had a Lumpy Head mixed a Led Zeppelin intensity with Frank Zappa's Willy the Pimp. Bassist Mike Gordon delivered a surreal interpretation of Elvis Presley's Love Me, and McConnell answered with a cover of Blues Image's Ride Captain Ride. The band also pulled out a comical Fee, and the rapid-fire bluegrass of Paul and Silas.
It wasn't until the end of the set that band seemed to find a groove into which they wanted to settle. Stash was an incredible high-point as the band delved into a low-key, jazz-oriented jam, which they slowly built in intensity. The tension grew into a churning mayhem amplified by the frenetic light show and eventually burst into total chaos before the song was drawn to its conclusion.
The second set was markedly more focused and amazingly intense. Chalkdust Torture kicked things off with a very Zappa-like jam. Jon Fishman's cymbal crashes punctuated the song as he locked into a rhythmic groove with McConnell's keyboards, giving the song a definitively jazzy undercurrent. This helped to spur Gordon and guitarist Trey Anastasio to carry the song to a blistering crescendo which crashed into the pulsing, chanting Meat. After two instrumental reprises of the song, the band took things to the next level.
The Velvet Underground's Rock 'n' Roll, fresh from Phish's Halloween cover of the Loaded album was pure amphetamine insanity. Anastasio pushed the song further and further to an acutely powerful, but seemingly unreachable climax. As the song dissolved into an empty, space-filled feedback, Gordon launched a bass solo that signaled the start of an uproarious Down with Disease.
After a brilliantly tender Wading in a Velvet Sea, the only mellow point of the set, the band catapulted into Run Like an Antelope with wild, reckless abandon. The song careened relentlessly, picking up momentum with each circular swing through the chords of the song. With fervent emotion, the band brought the song to a powerfully clamorous conclusion.
The encore? None other than a fitting cover of Jane's Addiction's Been Caught Stealing. Phish nailed the vocals with pinpoint accuracy, slammed the chords with rage and anger, and bounced on their trampolines for just plain fun. It was a rambunctious conclusion to a crazy show that only added to the intense addiction for more Phish. Fortunately, there was another concert in less than 24 hours.
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