The Laid Back Funk of Summer ’98

Hampton (A.Kuroda)

Hampton (A.Kuroda)

As Phish progressed through their career, each tour seemed to add a new element to their music.  Constantly evolving their sound, the band kept fans engaged not only with new songs and new jams, but new styles of playing.  In ’93 they peaked all that had come before with the ferocious “speedjazz” era. In ’94 their jamming grew far more exploratory and adventurous, combined with the aggression of a wild hyena.  ’95 brought extended abstract spacescapes in the summer and moved into blistering tight arena rock in the fall.  1996 was a year of transition, moving from their style of Fall ’95 towards whole-band groove, and in 1997 this transition was completed.  With the rawest funk grooves coming in the summer, Fall ’97 brought a refined James Brown-esque disco-funk into the mix, living symbiotically with outlandish psychedelia.  Phish never grew complacent with their music, and never stopped pushing themselves out of their comfort zone into different milieus.

Hampton (M.Yates)

Hampton (M.Yates)

As 1997 came to a close, the community was on cloud nine, having just finished one of the outstanding years in Phish history- yet what laid ahead?  First came the Island Run, which was a sublime aberration all to its own.  And after a brief stint in Europe, the band returned to the west coast to showcase their new summer style.  If we traced the rhythmic playing of the band from raw to refined, this summer represented a nuanced shift to a slower and beefier relaxed style of jamming.  Congruent with the feeling of summer, Phish engaged in plentiful sessions of patient funk grooves.  While many people remember the summer of ’98 for all of the one-time covers busted out by Phish, the band’s primary focus of the season was creating thick textures that blossomed in the summer air.

Starting off in Portland, OR, they made no bones about what the central theme of the tour would be, opening with “Wolfman’s,” followed two songs later by the first stateside “Moma Dance.”  This focus would emerge more obviously in the second set with the now-famous segment of “Tweezer > California Love > Tweezer > Free, Meat.”  The funk was deep; the funk was relaxed; the funk was infectious- and this would be the overwhelming trend for the rest of Summer ’98.

Hampton (T.Caine)

Hampton (T.Caine)

In a summer that oozed fun, Phish seemed to have a ball creating sweltering dance sessions amidst their favorite songs.  The enthusiasm was contagious, as every night brought addictive fun and more surprises.  The Summer ’98 sound featured prominent, yet slowed-down, lead bass lines from Gordon, favoring a soft and round tone- our ears were bouncing on trampolines all night.  The pace of the tour’s definitive improv was brought to a far slower tempo.  Trey utilized tar-thick wah-grooves all summer long to rhythmically and delicately dance around Mike’s patterns.  Also guiding the band with danceable leads, Trey was focused on rhythmic playing for the whole tour.  Page shied from his piano in favor of more textured sounds that enhanced their funk canvas.  The clavinet and the Fender Rhodes grew more prominent in his sound.  Fishman held down an incredibly deep pocket with Gordon, and was a band leader within this beat focused era.

Hampton (S.Hanna)

Hampton (S.Hanna)

The laid back music of ’98s summer tour supported the concept of Phish as maestro mood matchers- always fitting their music to their locale.  The improv discussed herein would have never taken place indoors during a fall tour- that wasn’t the place for this type of music.  The amphitheatres and open-air venues that made up the summer circuit allowed the slower music to bellow across the crowd, especially in the roofless venues.  When playing these stops- like Portland Meadows, The Gorge, and Sandstone- the sound dynamic coaxed the band to delve into even slower tempos.  Each night, as the sun set, you could be sure that you’d be dancing to some seriously thick Phish for most of the night, and the tour took on a character of its own.

Throughout this summer, the band played incredibly well together, forming cohesive jams all over the place.  Even if their improv wasn’t always straight-laced groove, there was always a certain rhythmic quality that marked their playing.  In one of Phish’s most well-loved tours,  you knew that every show would bring a different dance party centered around this style.

Upper Page Side (S.Hanna)

Upper Page Side (S.Hanna)

Some of the highlights from this tour that defined this playing were the aforementioned “Tweezer > Free” from Portland, the Shoreline “YEM,” the Austin “Tweezer,” the Deer Creek “Gumbo,” the Merriweather “Sneakin’ Sally, and the Lemonwheel “Gumbo.” And those are just some of the most significant episodes.  When aurally perusing the entire tour, this pattern of laid back funk clearly emerges.  And, naturally, as the summer was coming to a close, the band began to drift into more layered, ambient style, foreshadowing their musical evolution of the upcoming fall.

To chronicle Phish’s very own “Summer of Love,” I have selected one representative jam from every US show during this special era of Phish. Totaling over seven hours of music from Summer ’98, this collection should keep the grooves going until the break of dawn.   Chronologically combined into one compilation, I present to you “Miner’s Picks: Laid Back Funk ’98.”  There are a few song repeats, due to the band’s song rotation over the summer. (And I forgot to add the Deer Creek “Gumbo!” It will be linked below.) The tracks and download links are below.  Relax, kick back, and enjoy!






1-4. “Tweezer > California Love > Tweezer > Free” 7.15, Portland, OR

5. “Reba” 7.16, The Gorge, WA

6. “Gumbo” 7.17, The Gorge, WA

7. “YEM” 7.19, Shoreline, CA

8. “Bathtub Gin” 7.20, Ventura, CA

9,10. “Ghost > She Caught The Katy” 7.21, Phoenix, AZ

11,12. “Wolfman’s > 2001” 7.24, Houston, TX

13. “Tweezer” 7.25, Austin, TX

14. “YEM” 7.26, Dallas, TX

15. “The Moma Dance” 7.28, Bonner Springs, KS

16. “Tube” 7.29, Riverport, MO

17,18. “Curtain > Free” 7.31, Columbus, OH

19. “Mike’s Song” 8.1, Alpine Valley, WI

20. “Ghost” 8.2, Deer Creek, IN

21. “Halley’s Comet” 8.3, Deer Creek, IN (Forgot the “Gumbo!”)

22. “Wolfman’s” 8.6, Atlanta, GA

23. “Ghost” 8.7, Raleigh, NC

24. “Sneakin’ Sally” 8.8, Merriweather Post, MD

25. “YEM” 8.9, Va.Beach, VA

26,27. “Wolfman’s > Time Loves a Hero” 8.11, Star Lake, PA

28. “YEM” 8.12, Vernon Downs, NY

29,30. “Gumbo > Sanity” 8.15, The Lemonwheel

31. “2001” 8.16, The Lemonwheel

(32.) “Gumbo” 8.3, Deer Creek, IN (Right Click, Save As, or listen)


Hampton (S.Hanna)

Tags: ,

193 Responses to “The Laid Back Funk of Summer ’98”

  1. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Chad – torrenting is incredibly easy once you get it set up, and setting it up is generally not hard. I am sure we have a lot of expert torrent users here on this site that can help troubleshoot any issues you may have.

    Basically you need a torrent “client” program. µTorrent ( is a fine one. There are others people here might like more, I have used several, but that one is fine. The Mac version is a “beta” release but I have been using it at home for awhile and it works ok. One great thing about µTorrent is that it has a little setup wizard that makes sure the technical settings (like opening port thru firewall and correctly setting max speeds) are right without you having to spend 4 hours learning what all that stuff means. So for that reason it’s great when you’re getting started.

    Once you have that set up, you just click on a “torrent” link and download a .torrent file. It’s real small and doesn’t contain the music, it’s a marker. The torrent client grabs that file and uses it to go out and find everyone out there with the files you’re looking for, then starts downloading them bit by bit. When it says “complete,” your files are ready.

    When you’re downloading mp3s that’s basically it. For FLAC files (lossless) there’s another decoding step but that’s not relevant here. But if you set that part up you can start getting shows from and the various private torrent sites.

    The only other real important thing to understand is that you are also uploading to other people. It’s truly “sharing.” So it’s important to leave your client running after you finish the download. Your “share ratio” is the ratio between how much you’ve DL’d and how much you’ve uploaded back. For the system to work well it’s important to keep a share ratio well above 1.0 – keeping it above 2.0 marks you as one of the Good Guys. On the private torrent trackers, good share ratio is mandatory and enforced. But all you have to do is leave it running overnight for a few days.

  2. Bandito Says:

    This tour was definitely funky. I remember seeing Moma 3 out of 4 shows and not even caring about it being repeated because the funk was just sooooo thick and gooey. That Tweezer->Cali Love->Tweezer is really nice, and the 2001 from the Gorge? Yum.

  3. hawkinbj Says:

    @elbows: it’s merely a college-issued ID that has stuck 😉

    Invitations sent to all who inquired (first page of comments)

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    i knew a girl who was hawkin’ bjs in the lot

    beat you to it SOAM

  5. whole tour! Says:

    is there anyway we could download each track individually like the deer creek ‘gumbo’?

  6. Mr.Miner Says:


    Thanks again AK!

  7. AlexanderK Says:

    Hey guys– Fixed the links. Enjoy!

  8. Mr.Miner Says:

    Thanks for the initial donations folks! They mean a lot and will help keep Phish Thoughts moving forward!

  9. bhizzle Says:

    Just finished listening to that Ramble On > Slave from Vernon Downs. Fishman’s high school band, “Frodo”, supposively wrote Ramble On, according to Trey. Also, is that Page singing those lyrics?

  10. Asher Says:

    Great stuff Mr. M. Summer ’98 is one of my faves no doubt. I did Polaris > Lemonwheel. This tour really exemplifies so much of the great things about Phish. Anything could and did happen that Summer.

    I had a Phish dream last night. For some reason they were playing Murfreesboro, TN and there were plenty of tickets left at the show. The only problem was the guy selling tickets was a total douche and wouldn’t let anyone buy any. But he kept me and a small crowd of people waiting around his ticket table because he gave the impression that at some point he might decide to sell us some. He even went so far as to try to trick me by trying to sell me old tickets for Phish shows that had happened there in the past. I didn’t fall for it and the ticket guy kind of laughed it off. It was so frustrating because this ticket guy was such an asshole but everyone had to be nice to him because he had all the tickets and MIGHT sell them at some point. It was so frustrating!! On second thought I guess this was a Phish nightmare.

  11. hawkinbj Says:

    well put btw Mr. Completely – that’s exactly what torrenting is about

  12. SOAM Says:

    what lot-thats hot?

    bj fever

  13. voopa Says:

    re: FLAC files. Foobar2000 will play them with a plugin; no need to convert.

  14. Mr.Miner Says:

    Reminder: Links to “Miner’s Picks: Summer Funk “’98 are all up and running- I see about 300 people tried to get it while it was broken this am, so come back and download away!

  15. SOAM Says:

    I survived the days inn nitrous raid on 3-7-09.

    Colors, Colors- Colors-Colors

    The female midget wookie nitrous scout turned out to be an undercover narc. Keep your eyes peeled this summer. You have been alerted-spread the word-on the down low of course.

  16. El Duderino Says:

    Nitrous is for babies! Kiddies stay home!

  17. Bandito Says:

    Never trust a female midget wookie.

  18. whole tour! Says:

    i’m trying to download to my ps3 since my computer is broken. the link to all files is too big for ps3. if there is a way to grab each track like the deer creek gumbo, it would be very cool. thanks

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    On topic: the funk era from ’97-98 is what got me back in to Phish. I had foolishly stopped going to shows after ’92 due to general burnout and change of musical interests towards bluegrass and jazz. But my taper buddy started feeding me shows starting with the ’97 Gorge gems posted here not long ago and I was immediately into the new sound. By the time 98 came around I was convinced.

    With all due respect to ’93-’95, the era from 10-31-96 (the true birth of the funk) through the Millenium show stands for me as the high point of the long Phish arc. Fall 97 stands above everything for me, but these are just great great great great shows.

    I do like listening to most shows all the way through at least once, but I really appreciate the Picks. I like ’em a lot. I do the same thing with Dead eras and tours – I have mixes for Brent era, Bruce era, several late 70s mixes, several early 70’s mixes, etc. It’s just a different way to listen to music. Sometimes I want to hear the Dark Star without the Me & My Uncle, or the Ghost without the Sparkle, if you know what I mean.

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    @voopa true but you need to convert to play on iPod or burn CDs.

    wow, it’s been a long time since I burned a CD!

  21. AlexanderK Says:

    Mr. Completely–

    Can you please send me an email when you have time? Just click on my name and use the contact form. Thanks!


  22. elbows Says:

    hawkinbj: right on…thought it referred to Hawkeye and BJ from MASH…guess I outed myself as a dork.

    Asher: intense dream, man. Ever read THE Castle by Franz Kafka? There is a famous scene in that book that strongly resembles your dream. Your dream sounds like a nice metaphor for the ticket-clusterfuck we are currently experiencing.

    Mr. Miner: Thanks again.

  23. DC Says:

    not trying to be negative here, but….

    I could not help but laught at the line
    “James Brown-esque disco-funk into the mix”

    White boy hippie psychedlic funk yes,
    but comparing to the godfather probably a little bit of a stretch
    somewhat sacrilege if you take a listen to JB’s 60’s early 70’s era live band

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    @DC word

    love Phish funk but true late 60’s/early 70s funk is of another breed
    the JBs
    P-Funk (pre disco era)
    the original Meters
    Curtis Mayfield
    Sly Stone
    that’s without even scraping the surface. Like comparing Phish bluegrass tunes to the real deal – I love it when they play acoustic but it’s nothing like the real deal – which is part of the appeal, I like the fusiony blend of styles as much as the pure.

    I would bet one million dollars the guys in the band would say the same thing

  25. DC Says:


    I know you are a Curtis fan so you should check out the Baby Huey and the Babysitters on Curtom

    produced by Curtis himself this is late 60’s Gary, IN hard soul at its finest

    Huey overdosed right around Jimmy and Janis, but this album is some of the hardest psychedllic rock influenced funk-soul you will ever here.
    one of my favorite albums start to finish you will be blown away if you have never heard it

Leave a Reply