After seeing the band once in December of the prior year, 1998 was my most active year, seeing them on 3 different tours. Beginning with the Island Tour (2 shows), this is when I really got into the band. I can easily mark this as the turning point for me. The summer had 3 shows which includes my first festival, Lemonwheel. The fall tour was crazy, seeing the band in Albany, driving to Long Island for Thanksgiving and then a 3-night run in Worcester which included 2 nights sleeping in the car.
This is the day that Zelda: The Ocarina of Time came out on the N64 and, being a huge Zelda fan, I got myself a copy of the game, but did not play it.
This evening was the Phish show and then a long drive down to Long Island for Thanksgiving. The band opened with one of my favorite tunes, and by this point I'd seen them 5 times so I was becoming very familiar with their other material. Our seats weren't too great but both sets opened with good songs and in what would become a trend, they finished a set with a Led Zeppelin cover...something that happened every trip to Albany in all my years seeing them.
I recall Piper being a good version but nowhere near as good as the Island Tour version earlier in the year.
After the show we would hit the road going south. Stacy passed out promptly and I made the trip in almost record time...or this could've been the record. I did it once in 3 hours, once in 2:56...Not bad for a 210-mile trip!
We got to my friend Mat's house a little after 3 and of course we decided to test out Zelda. Played till about 6:30, slept till about 9:30 and started playing again. It was a really cool Thanksgiving that year, both Mat and Stacy spent it w/ my family and I remember it being one of the better ones. The following morning Stacy and I were to leave to go up north. Stacy wasn't feeling well and we got a late start.....
Set I: (1:19)
| Punch You in the Eye
Set II: (1:14)
| Also Sprach Zarathustra ->
The late start meant that we would arrive late to this show, always a bummer. Instead of parking on the streets and walking, we opted for the parking garage and the $15 fee. In retrospect, that parking fee was probably half of the money we had for the entire weekend, pretty ridiculous actually. After parking and running in, we entered with the band playing Carini. Another song that I was introduced to on the Island Tour, this version wasn't nearly as good IMO and we found our seats as it ended. It's too bad we missed the first few songs as they're good and the remainder of the set was average. However, The version of Reba will stick in my mind as it was one of the only ones to actually live up to the studio version. This is the only song in which I prefer the album version over most live performances. The solo bit is just one of my favorites and live it's never quite as good. Well, tonight I thought it was and was really into the performance. The rest of the set was just ok.
Set 2 contained a few unfamiliar songs which was cool. This also introduced Wipe Out which would be reprised throughout the night and also 2 nights later, much to the fan's delight! There were some cool jams this set and any time Antelope finishes a show you can expect an excited crowd.
After this show ended it was time to find a place to sleep. To be honest, I'm not 100% where we were stayed this night. Obviously it was in the car, but where we parked I'm not sure. I believe it was just on the side of the road. Being close to December it was pretty cold and I can't say my little Plymouth Horizon was very comfortable....
Set I: (1:23)
| Funky Bitch
| Ya Mar
Set II: (1:18)
| Buried Alive
| Wading in the Velvet Sea
We woke feeling pretty nasty and had a full day to do pretty much nothing. We got bagels, just about the only thing we ate the entire time.
Before the show today we went to the mall which was near the venue. The place was packed w/ fans and we even heard someone page Suzy Greenberg, which garnered a long cheer from people all around.
Tonight's show wasn't as good, IMO. The first set was just ok but the second set had some good segues and one of my favorite songs, Timber (Jerry)!
After the show we found a parking lot and begged the watchman to let us stay. He agreed under the terms that we leave the lot by 7am. I recall the view from where we were, all the way in the back of the lot. It was raised a little bit and we could see the entire parking lot from where we were.
Set I: (1:16)
Set II: (1:19)
| Sample in a Jar
Glowstick war during break before encore.
Around 8:30am he came knocking and woke us. We went off on our way.
The car stank...already it had been 2 shows and 2 nights without showering. So, we decided to explore the town. I can't be sure of the order, but I recall 3 different stops.
One was a McDonalds. Stacy and I both hit the rest rooms of this relatively quiet fast food chain. My hair was a mess, I was sticky, smelly from all the smoke and was just a mess overall. I opted to wash my hair and most of my body in the sink. Halfway through washing my hair, someone entered the bathroom, saw me, and turned around. It was actually quite amusing! It was nice to have a bath of sorts, but the return to the car was horrendous as the stink remained.
We stopped at a small store with wood floors. I can't remember the name, though it will come back to me one day. Here is where Stacy saw this tear drop amber necklace that she fell in love with. It cost a bunch (for us, anything was a lot), but I remembered it and got a business card. Soon after I contacted them and ordered this for Xmas/Birthday. She positively loved it!
The owner was a nice woman who offered to show me the way of Reiki (sp?). I remember sitting in a chair and her moving her hands over me feeling the spirit or whatever. If you know me, you know I don't believe in anything, so it was kinda ridiculous, but it was something to do and we had positively NOTHING going on....so we went along with it.
Tonight's show was great, but we were definitely tired. This was the longest stretch of shows I would ever see of the band and the lack of proper bed and bath was evident. The end of the first set had Seth Yacovene playing guitar with the band. A big man, they played about 20 minutes of the blues and it was the first time I saw Trey share the stage with someone like this. The solos were great and their rendition of Layla was phenomenal.
Roses are Free began the next set, a mere 6 minutes compared to the legendary 30+ minute version from earlier this year. The first half was ok, but 40 minutes comprised both Bathtub Gin and YEM, so clearly there was some jamming in there and I recall this as being a great show. The Wipeout reprise was sweet, once again from 2 nights prior.
Initially the plan was to stay the night again if need be, but we had literally no desire to stick around and sleep in that car again. Just getting back to it filled our gullets with bile. It Reeked! So, being excited from the energy of the night, we opted to turn around and head back to Albany to complete the near week-long, 3 city trip.
Set I: (1:14)
02:44 | Paul and Silas (*)
Set II: (1:25)
06:22 | Roses are Free ->
08:39 | Roggae
*With alternate lyrics ("Cuffs were tight, shoulder sore, all night long") dealing with an incident between Paul Languedoc and the Worcester police that took place after the previous night's show.
We were pretty broke at this point and the fall tour would almost bankrupt us. However, we were not going to miss this festival and the Vernon Downs show would be our first outdoor Phish gig.
Set I: (1:10)
| La Grange
| Mike's Song >
| Burning Down the House (+)
Apparently this show was close to Fishman's hometown (Syracuse), and they were urging him to sing a song.
My first festival and perhaps the most memorable one. I can remember very few negative things about this weekend. One was the long ATM line that we waited in, another was the traffic and the little car accident on the way home. Oh, and we lost our keys during the Ambient Jam which was the source of my biggest panic in life.
However in virtually every other way this weekend was utterly perfect and awe-inspiring. One of those magical weekends that you will simply never forget.
Lemonwheel Day I
09:54 | Mike's Song >
Set II: (1:25)
06:54 | The Wedge >
Set III: (III + e = 1:20)
| NICU >
06:59 | Halley's Comet >
Set IV: (0:55)
53:27 | Ambient Jam (+)
* "By request, for a little boy named Sam."
Lemonwheel Day II
03:43 | Ginseng Sullivan
Set II: (1:41)
18:49| Down With Disease ->
Set III: (0:55)
| Sabotage ->
| Harry Hood (*)
* With glowstick war.
Since these shows were at Nassau Coliseum, the drive from my family's house was minimal and we were able to leave pretty late and still arrive with plenty of time. I don't recall if I was home for any other particular reason outside of Phish as I was still in school then, but I suppose it doesn't matter much.
The first set was pretty cool, but mainly focused on shorter, more structured songs. The Sloth, the LONG Stash and the extended Chalk Dust were the highlights.
The second set began w/ the only song I recognized, Punch You in the Eye. This would become one of my favorite Phish tunes for some time. This led into 10-minute versions of Simple and Birds of a Feather, the first time the band had played that song. Next up were a nice series of segues, all lengthy and jammed out. This is probably what left the biggest impression on me. To this day their jams are my favorite.
I believe Frankie Says was known as Relax for some time as we didn't know the title. The last few songs were just ok, though Guyute floored me as it's a pretty crazy song.
After leaving the first night, I didn't really think it could get much better. However, as I will inevitably rant about this show forever, I was quite wrong.
08:39 | Tube
09:56 | Punch You in the Eye
11:09 | Guyute
* Unfinished - middle jam extended, into Horn.
I'm fairly certain this is the night we jumped over the barrier and got onto the floor, as did several hundred other fans. The first set was good, not amazing though as some songs really aren't my thing (Old Home Place for instance). However, the moment the 2nd set began, everything changed. A 30-minute Roses are Free kicked it all off. The song is cool, but the lengthy jam that ensued was the turning point I mentioned above. It was *perfect*. The whole jam was incredible and like the set as a whole, it remains in my "top sets/jams ever" listing, even though I've never compiled one. I'd never heard Piper before, and it immediately became one of Stacy's favorite songs. As the whole second set was a long segue, the transition was awesome and right out of the 35 minute jam, we were involved in such an exciting song. Everyone dropped out except Page who did a short solo before moving into Loving Cup. This was another I'd never heard and while it's still not one of my favorites, the place was going wild as any recording will indicate. The Antelope that followed was simply one of the most energetic I've ever seen. By this point, the roar of the crowd was far beyond intense and the 4 song second set was completed with Stacy jumping up and down non-stop.
I've read reviews that said this set was nothing exceptional, but I urge any fan/collector to grab it and see if it's just me. More than simply my newfound enthusiasm, after numerous listens, I still rave about it.
The encore had yet another new song for me, Carini. This is still the best version I've found and it was obvious that the band was having fun playing it. After the painfully repetitive Halley's Comet, a glorious Tweeprise rounded out a Tweezer-less show.
Ok, I'll stop raving now and will give the setlist:
| Mike's Song ->
| Roses are Free ->
| Carini (+) >
* With jam over band "ooo"ing - basically a "Crosseyed and Painless" jam without the actual vocals.