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)

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

  1. Frankie Says:

    It’s cow-funk and they’re the only ones playing it! 😀

  2. whole tour! Says:

    on bittersweet motel the movie…either trey or fish come off stage at the went and say:

    ‘that was great, kinda like james brown on his worst night’

  3. DC Says:

    another funk not to miss

    Ike and Tina the Gospel Album (1974)

    recorded by mostly just Ike and sung by Ike and Tina this is gospel like you have never heard it

    fatty synth lines, killer grooves, and strong vocals make this a not to miss album

    recorded in their in house studio during the height of addiction and abuse this album is the shit

  4. SOAM Says:

    Duerdino-I know an “adult” who does nitrous hits with his cornhole-He doesn’t encourage the “kiddies” to hit it that way but still….some adults dig it-others prefer a rail the size of their arm or a cap the size of their mushroom head or a fatty the size of john holmes’ unit-ain’t no kid and play there Dino.

  5. Mr.Miner Says:

    in referring to James Brown- I meant all of his funk licks taht Trey incorporated into his repertoire during Fall ’97…

  6. snigglebeach Says:

    Mr. Completely, can u follow that post up a little bit u seem to understand this well.

    I have no problems with Miner’s downloads, but now that i can get stuff from E-Tree with the U-torrent, those come Flac, which i don’t really understand.

    I just use WIndows Media Player, and it found them and i can listen, but i can’t pause or skip back or ahead, or burn them for my car.

    I used to think i was computer savy, but listening to u guys, I’m way behind.


  7. DC Says:

    I thought you were using it more of a metaphor for “the funkiest shit you had ever heard”

    Did not think you really thought they funked as hard… I was just joking

    do disagree with the Trey lick line

    his 97 playin is heavy in the wah pedal def not something you hear in the early JB’s
    a little bit in the early 70’s era stuff but not what he is known must for

    I’d say the heavy wah pedal has more of s Pfunk influence which is much heavier guitar driven music anyway

    JB’s were all about the horns

  8. Mr.Miner Says:

    I don’t think Phish music was “funk” per se ; it was far more interesting

  9. Mr.Miner Says:

    cow funk 😉 (as said above)

    Not dissing on the Godfather

  10. Frankie Says:

    FLACs are compressed audio files. You need to convert them to .wav to burn a cd with them. Google “flac converter for windows” and you’ll be able to put you FLAC files in there and it will convert them for you. I’m on mac so i don’t have one specifically but maybe others can point you out to a good one…

  11. DC Says:

    agree Miner although funk jams had been occurring since the beginning and were more heavy starting in 2005 the sound that emerged summer 2007 was hard to put a category on

    it was slower then most funk
    was very wah heavy
    and extremely psychedellic

    pretty much inventing a new groove that was a package of several influences and very unique to Phish, good shit

  12. voopa Says:


    Trader’s Little Helper will convert lossless files (FLAC and SHN) for ya.

  13. Mr.Miner Says:

    agreed DC, but we are talking ’97 right? 😉

  14. Frankie Says:

    I have nothing good to say about the 2007 Phish sound… nothing! 🙂

  15. guyforget Says:

    i think 2007 sounded great, no matter where i heard them. jukebox, ipod, car, etc..

  16. Mitch Says:

    miner, did you ever approve my comment from like 9:30 this morn (6:30 your time)

    I wanna get some gatherings for this summer before the show, I’m thinking beer garden before Jones

  17. Mitch Says:

    crap, went back to page 1 and it was there…


  18. A_Glide Says:

    ^ sorry brah, 2006 destroyed 2007.

  19. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ you can always copy/paste your post again on this page

  20. R1 Says:

    ^Mitch – where are you from? And more to the point, what’s your last name?

  21. Dr SF Jones Says:

    Hey Admin Guys….
    Pretty old to Phish, but pretty new to downloading stuff. I know Miner has a serious catalog and has posted tons of shows. Is there any way for you to set up a direct search link on this site to find a particular show? i.e- i am looking for 11.11.11 , punch that in and……

    (i am back to the future)

  22. SOAM Says:

    Mitch Cumstein

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Miner – I get what you mean, without splitting stylistic hairs, its the choppy funk rhythm guitar licks over thumping groove. Phish trying to play exactly like other band would be unthinkable and boring…their constantly changing fusion is where it’s at…and the use of deep funk groove as basis for building a psychedelic rock crescendo is pure genius.

    but if you dig the funk it’s worth a dig into the catalog of the hardcore oldschool predisco stuff.

    @DC I have heard of Baby Huey but only because that album is so heavily sampled in hiphop, I will check it out. Any Curtis produced thing is worth a check…among other strengths he is IMO the greatest funk/soul horn arranger of all time, yes including the JBs and everyone else…his horn lines are mindblowing

    @sniggle – Frankies explanation is right, you get the FLAC files via torrent, then uncompress them with another tool, resulting in AIFF or WAV files you can burn to disk or MP3ify or whatever. Like voopa I use TLH on this Windows machine, at home on Mac I use xAct, both are bulletproof free apps.

    This page is not well maintained but nonetheless has useful links:

  24. SOAM Says:

    Bob Weir and Hanson blew the roof off…Made Derek and the Dominoes look like DMB/SCI

  25. SOAM Says:

    How about DMB retire forever and Phish does three nights at Fenway.

    you have to serve the music-

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