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!

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DOWNLOAD “MINER’S PICKS: LAID BACK FUNK ’98” < LINK

DOWNLOAD “MINER’S PICKS: LAID BACK FUNK ’98” < TORRENT LINK

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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)

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Hampton (S.Hanna)

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

  1. El Duderino Says:

    This is official…Cutler has been traded to the BEARS!!!!! Fuck Yes!!!!

  2. El Duderino Says:

    The gonna Kill That POOOR Woman!

  3. whole tour! Says:

    what about the pomeranian
    ?

  4. whole tour! Says:

    you want a toe? i can get you a toe!

  5. Mitch Says:

    This agression will not stand, man.

  6. Bandito Says:

    Lingonberry pancakes!

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    and so ends the storied Kyle Orton era

  8. El Duderino Says:

    Thank God Mr. Completely!!!

  9. guyforget Says:

    That and a pair of testicles….

  10. whole tour! Says:

    Donny: i am the walrus….

    lol

  11. guyforget Says:

    man, was really hoping the JETS would get that crybaby…..

  12. El Duderino Says:

    It’s a good day to be a Bears Fan IMO!

  13. Davey Says:

    I think Phish 3.0 is going to develop into a laid-back funky style. There were some tastes at Hampton. They got a little funky.

  14. wizzle1986 Says:

    da bears suck, go saints

  15. guyforget Says:

    Smokey, my friend, you are entering a world of pain.

  16. whole tour! Says:

    obviously your not a golfer….

  17. cottle Says:

    MARK IT ZERO!

  18. Mugician Says:

    My ipod with all my Phish just broke. I really hate ipods.

  19. Tubesteak Says:

    You guys seeing this??????

    http://www.aceticket.com/blog/04/02/phish-fenway-park-2009/

  20. whole tour! Says:

    my cd player in my car is a piece of crap and it stopped playing cds. So i’ve been pulling tapes out of the garage for rides in the car. I’m surprised that after 10+ years of sitting out in the garage exposed to the humidity, the tapes still sound great!

  21. themanatee Says:

    sugar mr poon? no, never never

  22. Mugician Says:

    This is actually concerning me. I was telling my friend the other day that I “used up all my good Karma” by getting those tickets through the lotto. She told me I was full of it.

    My guitar gear has mysteriously stopped working, and now my Ipod with all my practice music is completely fried.

    What the fuck is going on? AAAAHHH.

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    are you sure it’s fried? I’ve been able to reset iPods that seemed totally borked a couple times by following instructions online.

    @El D if the bears get Orlando Pace too then you’re really having a good day

    not a bears fan but I’ve felt bad for you guys recently

  24. Chalkdustin Says:

    @ Davey

    I think there’s a chance they’ll be featuring more funk in their music this time around too. The Undermind at Hampton is a perfect example. Downright groovy. But who knows.

  25. Mugician Says:

    Oh yeah. It’s TOTALLY fried. Like. Crushed, and fried.

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