Tonight (Wednesday, September 30th), Phish will air their July 23rd, 1999 show at Polaris Amphitheater in Columbus, OH as the 26th episode of their ongoing archival webcast/cooking series, Dinner and a Movie. Tune in below at 8:30 p.m. ET and scroll down to follow along with our 7/23/99 Stream Companion.

Phish Dinner and a Movie Episode 26:  7/23/99, Polaris Amphitheater

This 26th edition of Dinner and a Movie marks the first new episode since the series shifted from a weekly schedule to a monthly schedule following the three-night Labor Day Weekend “Dicks-pectacular” celebration featuring episodes 23, 34, and 25. Browse through all the past Dinner and a Movie episodes and Stream Companions below.

Initially scheduled for last night in its customary Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. ET time slot, the band later pushed the stream back by a day so as not to draw attention away from the first Presidential debate last night. I think we can all agree that tonight’s viewing will be much less stressful. Pushing the stream back a day also puts it on Trey Anastasio’s 56th birthda, so, all together now: Happy birthday, Trey!

In the lead-up to tonight’s stream, SiriusXM Phish Radio will welcome Phish archivist Kevin Shapiro on the air to introduce and debut the latest addition to the official LivePhish archives. Tune in at 6 p.m. ET to find out which show they picked.

The first 25 episodes of Dinner and a Movie raised more than $650,000 for a variety of charities via The WaterWheel Foundation. This week’s Phish Dinner and a Movie beneficiary is the ACLU. Founded in 1920, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, multi-issue, public interest organization devoted to protecting the civil liberties of all people in the United States. Recognized as the nation’s premier public interest law firm, the ACLU works daily in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Democracy Comes Alive: A Virtual Festival To Get Out The Vote [Sat, Oct 3]

Tonight’s Dinner and a Movie show came at a critical moment in time for the rapidly growing Phish machine. As the band dove into a lengthy summer amphitheater tour—and even hosted a two-day “mini-fest” (i.e. no late-night set), Camp Oswego, just days before they arrived in Columbus for this performance—the team behind the scenes was getting desperate. The band had had big aspirations for a big Millennium blowout—from a Hawaiian destination event to a cruise (“A Band On Ship”)—for the better part of a year, but they were striking out with location after location for one reason or another. By early July, they still had no venue confirmed for New Year’s.

With just five months until the turn of the century, the Phish team finally locked in a venue—Florida’s Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation—and at tonight’s Dinner and a Movie show, Trey Anastasio finally began to spill the beans about the now-famous festival.

During a late-second set “Meatstick”, Anastasio took to the mic to deliver some good news and some bad news. The bad news: The band’s World Record attempt for “Most People Doing The Same Dance At The Same Time” (with “Meatstick”) at Camp Oswego had been unsuccessful. The good news: They’d have another chance.

“Sometime soon,” Trey mused, “Maybe on New Year’s Eve, we’re playing on New Year’s Eve in Florida, if you guys all come down [pause for cheers]. … New Year’s Eve is gonna be outdoors in Florida, and we’re gonna spread the gospel of the Meatstick starting now. So everybody’s got to learn the Meatstick. … The trick to breaking the world record is teaching the world the Meatstick.” A “Meatstick” dance lesson followed, including a demonstration from two unsuspecting fans in the front row.

meatstick dance

[via Phish.net]

At that foretold New Year’s Eve show a few months later, “Meatstick” figured prominently into the most famous Phish set of all time at Big Cypress—the all-nighter—where it served as the entrance music and thematic tentpole of the set’s opening gag and closed out that nearly seven-hour set as the sun rose on January 1st, 2000. While Phish didn’t break the “Meatstick” record at Big Cypress, as Trey mentioned they might on 7/23/99 in Columbus, they broke a few more significant ones—including becoming the largest concert on the planet on the final night of the 20th Century. I think we can still call Big Cypress a win.

Related: Choosing Our Own Religion: A Diary of Big Cypress & The Long Gig, Twenty Years Later

It’s amusing to drop into the origins and eventualities of Big Cypress by way of tonight’s Dinner and a Movie show. While we can now pinpoint this night at fans’ first introduction to perhaps the band’s greatest achievement, on that night in 1999, this probably just felt like more of Trey’s same obsession with preaching the Meatstick gospel throughout that year (the song was performed heavily throughout the tour). You can dive into the full story about the scrambling efforts to make Phish’s famous Millennium celebration a reality on Episode 1 of Osiris Media‘s fantastic podcast, After Midnight: Phish’s Big Cypress Festival.

We should probably talk about the rest of this show, too, and though we’ll be relatively brief here, there’s surely plenty to talk about. An energetic pairing of “Ya Mar” (with a single-note, staccato elongation toward the end) and “NICU” got the first set started, followed by a relatively rare cover of Jimmy Smith jazz instrumental, “Back At The Chicken Shack”. Out of the slower jazz staple, “Punch You In The Eye” made impact like, well, a punch to the eye. Added fun points for Trey briefly hopping in on Page McConnell‘s keys. The mix of faster and slower songs continued throughout the set as “Fast Enough For You” led into “Back On The Train” and “Strange Design” followed a big “David Bowie” before “Possum” brought the performance to setbreak.

The second set is the meat of this fantastic show, and for good reason. The nearly seventy-minute set featured just five songs and heaping helpings of sonically-diverse, red-hot improvisation en route to the aforementioned “Meatstick” and an appropriate set-closing cover of Jimi Hendrix‘s “Fire”. The encore renditions of “Bouncing Around The Room” and “Rocky Top” brimmed with energy, too.

I’m not even going to try to go into details on the first three songs of this second set. Let’s just say that, once “Ghost” starts, you’ll want to be buckled in for the next 50 or so minutes. There’s not a moment of the Ghost (17ish minutes) > “Free” (10ish minutes) > “Birds Of A Feather (25ish minutes) segment that you’d want to miss.

Tune in at 8:30 p.m. ET for the a “Meatstick” lesson, the first public mention of Big Cypress, three “Play it Leos,” and a five-song set of prime 1999 Phish.

Setlist: Phish | Polaris Amphitheatre | Columbus, OH | 7/23/99

Set One: Ya Mar, NICU, Back at the Chicken Shack > Punch You in the Eye[1], Fast Enough for You, Back on the Train, David Bowie, Strange Design, Possum

Set Two: Ghost -> Free > Birds of a Feather > Meatstick > Fire

Encore: Bouncing Around the Room > Rocky Top

[1] Trey played keys for part of PYITE.

Trey played keys for part of PYITE. During Meatstick, Trey talked about the band’s desire to teach fans the Meatstick Dance and break the world record. He then informed the crowd that the New Year’s Eve concert would be played in Florida. This show is available as an archival release on LivePhish.com.

 

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This week’s Dinner And A Movie features Phish’s July 23, 1999 show from Polaris Amphitheater in Columbus, OH. The full show will play this Wednesday, September 30 at 8:30PM ET at webcast.livephish.com. For the dinner portion of the evening, Phish HQ’s Betty Frost brings us enchiladas, a jicama/orange/cucumber/mint salad and apple fritters — recipes can be found at link in profile. This week’s beneficiary is @ACLU. Founded in 1920, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, multi-issue, public interest organization devoted to protecting the civil liberties of all people in the United States. Recognized as the nation’s premier public interest law firm, the ACLU works daily in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. For more information, visit http://www.aclu.org #phish #phishdinnerandamovie

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This Saturday, October 3rd, Phish drummer Jon Fishman will join 50+ other artists for Democracy Comes Alive, a one-day virtual music festival aimed at promoting voter participation in this year’s elections and beyond presented by Live For Live Music in partnership with HeadCount.

To secure your ticket to Democracy Comes Alive on October 3rd, check your voter registration status or donate to HeadCount at DemocracyComesAlive.com.

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