To choose a favorite show from within the ever expanding catalog of live Phish shows requires one of two things: either an intimate knowledge spanning venues, playlists, recording quality, audience involvement, and on and on and on… or, nothing. It is completely acceptable to choose a favorite based solely on the fact that you were there or it reminds you of a nostalgic place and time.
The latest official release just happens to coincide with some of my earliest Phish concerts and in that respect, some of my favorite shows. Still a year before Trey becomes a serious loop-a-holic (which is fantastic) and a year or so after the chess-match shows of my brother’s day, the Hampton/Winston-Salem box set covers three consecutive nights, over eight hours of music, in which only one song was repeated: the all instrumental Black-Eyed Katy. BEK debuted just 9 days earlier and has only been played a total of 7 times over the years.
This suite is certainly not for beginners – those who are new to the scene will undoubtably prefer to start with a little Billy Breathes or Slip, Stitch & Pass, but for those who know how to both noodle and meatstick well, … … you probably already own this album. And while most of my collection consists of west-coast Phish, it is always nice to pad the middle years with east-coast gems such as the Hampton/Winston-Salem shows. Besides, where else are you going to find a 26 minute Haley’s Comet?