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. Mitch Says:

    Miner, I thought copy/paste would make me have to get approval again, but then again you are here again… then again, you are here so you can approve it.

    R1, are you stalking me?? email me at and we can talk specifics. Anyway, living in NYC

  2. Mitch Says:

    **Phish Thoughts Gathering**
    I know we are still a couple months away but I thought we should make some plans to do meet ups in different cities. If you have a cool place that would be fun to meet at and have a few beers in your local area, post it here and we can make an ophishal spot.
    I suggest for the Jones Beach shows (June 3, night before) the Astoria Beer Garden. It’s easy to get to, right off the train, outdoors and has good beers.
    Check it out and let me know what you guys think. This place can hold a lot of people and its always a good time to drink beer in the warm summer nights outdoors. (which cant always happen in NYC)

  3. Dr SF Jones Says:

    There is a jam band based out of Denver led by former James Brown guitarist Damon Wood, (1998-2006), called , “Harmonious Junk”.
    A must see if you are in the region.

    This band did a Dark Side Halloween cover a few years ago with Wizard Of Oz playing on a screen behind them.

  4. Mitch Says:

    SOAM – false, not mitch cumstein… but that cracked me up here at work

  5. Mr.Miner Says:

    @SOAM- Love the Fletch humor!!

    In terms of searching for shows, for the time being, you can use the “Search Window” at the top right of the home page. Type in a date like this “11.11.1995” and you should find a post that has that shows as the Download of the Day. I’m working on streamlining this onto one page…

    Again, thanks for the initial donations, keep em coming- would love to be able to cover costs and make this truly a community based and community supported place. We have big plans for the site that will be implemented over the next bit….stay tuned and thanks again!

  6. Mr.Miner Says:

    I like the Idea of having a gathering on an off day- show days are too hectic…

  7. dyda Says:

    small world dr sf. i’m going to see ‘the machine’ (a floyd cover band) tomorrow at mr. small’s (millvale, pa). the only other time i saw them was at the ic light amphitheatre (station square [defunct but being rebuilt soon] – phish played there 7.18.93) a couple years back and they did a ‘dark side’ cover with ‘wizard of oz’ playing on a screen behind them. it synched up pretty well until ‘great gig’ which they did an interesting thing to since they didn’t have a backing female vocalist. they did the normal piano intro but then went into the ‘celestial voices’ segment of ‘saucerful of secrets’ and the sync was messed up from then out but it was still neat to see the munchkins, yellow brick road and whatnot…

  8. Dr SF Jones Says:

    @ Miner-
    Thanks for the tips.

    You are on are on the right Chevy Chase track, but Mitch Comstein was kicked out of school for night putting… putting at night… with the teenage daughter of the dean.

  9. dyda Says:

    speaking of cover bands, anyone have an opinion on ‘strange design’? i’ve not seen them myself but am aware of their existence.

  10. Mitch Says:

    I figure the day before is better because nobody wants to meed mid day in Astoria (queens) to then go out to long island.

    Beer Garden is a blast and weather permitting is great to be outside drinking cold beverages. Everyone come a day early to jones!

    Super easy, takes 15 mins from manhattan on the train and is 2 min walk from the train stop.

  11. RamblinOnMyMind Says:

    Miner – I’ve never commented on the board here but I’ve been coming here and downloading stuff since this past summer, so I want to help out. Could you give us an idea of what kind of costs you incur with hosting on amazon, etc? I have absolutely no idea how any of that stuff works, so I don’t know what kind of donation would be appropriate given my daily use.

    @DC Thanks for the Baby Huey recommendation

  12. A_Glide Says:

    Off days are travel days. I say just meet up and cheers a beer in the lot @ 3:30 and then go your seperate way.

  13. Mr.Miner Says:

    @ Ramble- hosting costs for Amazon for the amount of download this site serves turns out to be several hundred dollars a month….

  14. Mr.Miner Says:

    And any donation helps- for real!!

  15. voopa Says:

    Wow! That’s some big bucks. I have an unlimited storage/bandwidth contract with Lunarpages that only costs about $5/mo. Never really hammered it, so I don’t know just how robust it is, but they have been around for a while, and my website’s always up…they may get pissy about the music files tho, even if they are legal. You may want to check this as an option if you haven’t already.

  16. old dude Says:

    SOAM, speaking of Fenway, confirmed:
    (at least by aceticket’s authoritay)

  17. Mitch Says:


    First show of the summer, assuming fenway is fake. Even if fenway is real, there are 3 days off between to meet up. Plenty of time for a meet and greet. Be there or be square.

  18. shpongleyez Says:

    Love the Mitch Cumstein reference, but that’s Caddyshack, Miner.

    Night putting, just putting at night…

  19. Mr.Miner Says:


    Hey could I borrow your towel, my car just hit a water buffalo.

  20. DC Says:

    @ Completely

    I totally forgot about that everyone here has heard all those Baby Huey beats before

    all the hip-hop dj’s and producers in the 80’s and 90’s could not get enough of this album

    his cover of mighty-mighty is off the hook

    i got an original on Curtom from a junkie friend that needed some cash that day.

    I think these are worth hundreds for originals in good condition

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    By moving to 100% torrents we should be able to reduce Miner’s costs a lot. The bandwidth gets split up between everyone who keeps sharing the files so by doing that you are literally reducing the load he has to carry.

    @DC yea thats one of the most heavily sampled albums of all time

  22. Read Icculus Says:

    …Summer of 98 was killer………so many highlights. How about the Terrapin Station encore at Va Beach….that show also had a very nice Esther……

  23. Frankie Says:

    That 8.3 Gumbo is the best! God i love PHISH! Yaaaah man! 😀

  24. El Duderino Says:

    Too many experts not enough opinions…LOL!

  25. Bandito Says:

    Nothing is fucked here, Dude.

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