hartford ’99


ph whalers hartford

not gonna lie. this is the clunker of the month. every tour has one, and it just so happens that it was my home town show. even with a 30 minute drowned to open set II, there isn’t much to take away from here. i’ve listened to this drowned 5-6 times this year and can never find anything redeeming about it. sometimes they just can’t get it together, but the phish live show is a high wire act and they can’t nail it every time.

the disjointed setlist didn’t seem to help. relistening to the whole show, there’s minimal flow between songs and most of these decisions can be charitably referred to as curious, at best.

in their defense, trey’s grandfather had just passed away and he had several family members in the audience for support (though i can’t help but wonder what they were thinking during that drowned- “these filthy hippies pay money to hear my nephew wank on guitar for half an hour?”).

so listen to the drowned if you’ve never heard it before and hopefully you can get more out of it than me, but in the meantime i’m going to use this opportunity to plug hartford, the city, new england’s rising star.

first, let’s take a look at the majestic hartford civic center, the very site where this show was played:

ph hcc collapse hartford

whoops- that picture is from 1978, when the building collapsed. from some snow. this is not the majestic civic center i grew up in, where i watched the whalers trade away their top prospects year after year and gripe about not having a proper arena to play in.

this is the civic center i know and love:

ph hcc reg hartford

alright- that’s the stuff! what a place. i know what you’re thinking, and no, i didn’t mistakenly link a picture of a rundown new jersey department store. that’s really it.

i can imagine your curiosity at how phish couldn’t motivate themselves to play a great show here. this concrete utopia surely would have inspired them to pull some magic out of their hats on this freezing december night, no? no. no it did not. they played their two sets and got the hell out of there.

we also have room -so much room- for activities. like canoeing. is this venice? no, it’s hartford:

ph canoe hartford

and look at this stately… state building:

ph ct capbldg hartford

bushnell park where, contrary to popular belief (or a rumor i passed on incessantly in middle school), the grateful dead did not share a bill with phish in the 90’s:

ph bushnellpark hartford

and here is a really funny blog that, sadly (no pun intended), is no longer around:


all kidding aside, i really do love hartford. the civic center is now the xl center and is much nicer than ever before, having had several renovations done over the last decade. phish even made up for this ’99 debacle last year by playing another sunday night show, one that smoked this time with great versions of golden age and 2001.

the infinity music hall opened a few months ago and while i have yet to see a show there i’ve heard nothing but great things. numerous bars and restaurants have opened -and more importantly, manage to stay open- as more and more people move to the downtown area into nice apartments and condos that have recently gone up.

hartford, and several other cities around connecticut, has always been important to bands like the grateful dead and even more so to phish, as the early support around new england was huge for the band in the early days. now bring back the whale!

download: drowned


ticket image courtesy of golgi project; setlist courtesy of phish dot net.

ph hart tic

Sunday, 12/12/1999

Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, CT

Set 1: Heavy Things, AC/DC Bag, Strange Design, Divided Sky, Beauty of My Dreams,Bug, Stash, Chalk Dust Torture[1]

Set 2: Drowned > Prince Caspian[2], The Squirming Coil, Makisupa Policeman > Run Like an Antelope

Encore: Runaway Jim

[1] Concluded with Trey paying his respects to his recently deceased grandfather.
[2] Unfinished.

Notes: Chalk Dust concluded with Trey paying his respects to his recently deceased grandfather. Caspian was unfinished.