LivePhish on Friday reached into the archives to deliver Phish‘s September 29th, 1999 performance from Memphis, TN. Soundboard audio of the band’s one and only show at the Memphis Pyramid is available now on the streaming service.
Before Phish had a chance to play a single note, the audience beat them to the punch with an orchestrated rendition of “Happy Birthday” for guitarist Trey Anastasio who turned 35 the following day. After the crowd’s rousing performance, “Runaway Jim” opened a show for the first time since 11/14/97 in West Valley City, UT, per Phish.net.
A relatively-brief “Jim” segued into “Free”, which heard pre-recorded robotic murmurings in the jam that very well could have come from drummer Jon Fishman‘s modern-day pad of pre-recorded noises. Or maybe it was just Mike Gordon‘s bass talking. Phish then slowed things down a bit with a Wednesday night “Drive” as Page McConnell‘s grand piano guided the vehicle through a serene journey.
Up next, audiences got a “Taste” of things to come, with the song opening up into some minor improvisation. The band delivered a pair of quick hits with “Dirt” and “Nellie Kane” ahead of “Stash”. Another modest telling, the jam culminated with a full-band tease of “I Can’t Turn You Loose” by the Memphis Horns, the first location-specific reference of the evening.
Trey then took a moment to announce a contest, with the winner receiving four tickets and backstage passes to any show that year. All that person had to do was be the first one to visit the WaterWheel table and correctly identify what all of the songs played so far, with the exception of “Driver”, had in common (they were all in the key of D). The first set then wound down with “Theme From The Bottom”, which segued into a free-standing “Tweezer Reprise” to close out the frame.
During setbreak, Brad Sands announced the contest winner before Phish returned to the stage. Lighting off the second frame with the fourth-ever “Gotta Jibboo”, the jam found its way into “Also Sprach Zarathrustra”. This take on the instrumental made famous by Stanley Kubrick‘s 2001: A Space Odyssey is where 9/29/99 makes its bones, with the band tapping into the centuries-old mystery of the pyramid, connecting with the intergalactic forces inherent to the obelisk. As for the resulting 20-minute jam, I’m not saying it was aliens, but it was aliens.
Not to be outdone, “2001” segued into “Down With Disease” which would complete a nearly 45-minute segment of interrupted Phish jams. A post-jam breather came literally with “Billy Breathes” ahead of “Back On The Train”. The path to the end of set two was winding with excitement around each corner, as “Mike’s Song” would kick off an extensive series of segues through “Catapult”, “Kung”, and “I Didn’t Know”, finally ending with “Weekapaug Groove”.
Taking the Pyramid Arena stage for the final time—that is, unless they come back to play the Bass Pro Shop which assumed the old structure—Phish offered yet another geographic name-check with Talking Heads‘ “Cities”. Though the song already mentions Memphis, Trey took it a step further by altering the lyrics to “home of Elvis and Rendezvous BBQ.”
Full-show audio of Phish’s 9/29/99 show is available on LivePhish, as well as in the player below.
Phish – Pyramid Arena – Memphis, TN – 9/29/99
Setlist [via phish.net]: Phish | Pyramid Arena | Memphis, TN | 9/29/99
Set One: Runaway Jim > Free, Driver, Taste, Dirt, Nellie Kane, Stash, Theme From the Bottom > Tweezer Reprise
Set two: Gotta Jibboo > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Down with Disease, Billy Breathes, Back on the Train, Mike’s Song > Catapult > Mike’s Song > Kung > Mike’s Song > I Didn’t Know, Weekapaug Groove
Encore: Cities 
 Altered lyrics.
Stash ended with a full band I Can’t Turn You Loose tease. After Stash, Trey announced a contest where the winner would receive four tickets and backstage passes to any show in the next year and, jokingly, a date with Fish. The question centered on what all of the songs played in the first set, with the exception of Driver, had in common. The answer was that all songs were in the Key of D. Happy Birthday was also played (for Trey) during the contest announcement. Cities was an appropriate choice as an encore for Memphis, and Trey altered the lyrics a bit for the occasion.
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