Ten Years Ago At Oswego

phish-oswego-99-distanteTen years ago today, we made our way into Oswego County Airport in Volney, NY for Phish’s only mid-tour festival of their career.  As the band was  churning out an excellent summer of shows, this weekend stop looked very promising.  Over two sweltering days in upstate New York, Phish played set after set of quality music in easily the most overlooked festival to date.  Yet as the idyllic weekend was all but over, with only one set left to go, nobody knew that the best was yet to come.

As Phish opened the third set with “My Soul, ” we seemed to be heading for one of the band’s quintessential anti-climaxes.  But as “Piper” started, everyone turned an open ear to the massive stacks, curious what might become of the airport-sized version.  And with a paved airstrip to dance on for the only festival ever, we were ready for anything.  As the intro started, the band seemed very deliberate in their playing, taking things incredibly slow as they built the song’s opening.  This mellow introduction developed into focused piece of improv with real intentionality behind the band’s playing, forming some engaging contours before the song kicked in.

Fall '99 (Jay Blakesburg)

Fall '99 (J. Blakesburg)

The lyrics finally came at the five minute mark after the band laid down a substantial musical framework.  Moving through the composition, the actual “song” felt like a mere passage- a puzzle piece in a much larger musical adventure.  Within a couple of minutes, the band was out of the song and neck deep in some of the most redonkulous, full-on psychedelia you’ll hear from Phish.  In your face- roaring out of the speaker towers- the band challenged our psyches with some of the heaviest, all-out improv of the summer.  Beneath the layers of textures and dissonance, Mike was absolutely killing it with unique bass lines that kept the jam rhythmically dynamic while the band annihilated the festival-sized piece.

3.16.09 (J.Kravitz)

3.16.09 (J.Kravitz)

Sprinting and screaming, Trey was off to the races with break-neck leads and searing sheets of sound, as the band’s “millennial” sound continued to emerge.   Playing as if possessed by Lucifer himself, Trey continued with some of his darkest, and most overwhelming, playing of the year.  With a brief rhythmic breakdown, the band took a lone breath before diving right back into their maddening psychedelia.  As intense as any Phish jam you’ll ever hear, this “Piper” continued growing through many sections of bombastically shredding improv.

6.21.09 (D.Vann)

6.21.09 (D.Vann)

Fishman altered the feel of things deep into the jam as he initiated a series of up-tempo breakbeats, pulling the band into a unique pattern of grooves. This “breakbeat-funk” flowed easily between band members, as their musical reaction time had become negligible.  Completely connected, fifteen minutes in, the band was like an amoeba, stretching as one and never losing their whole.  Trey then began to solo over this sparser groove, like he was narrating an animated tale with his quick and expressive phrasing.  As his story finished, the band converged briefly into some collective mid-tempo, patterns, but Fishman decided he would keep things ratcheted up, and the band hopped back onboard, opening the vault one more time for another section of full-on improv.

2216142728_9531a10c4b_mAs the band dripped into “Caspian” after the half-hour odyssey, it was one of those moments when you opened your eyes to find your jaw on the ground and everything around you slightly different than before.  You couldn’t help but get completely lost in the maniacal music that was dropped on your dome; there was no space for thoughts.  You had to take a minute to reconcile what just happened with your reality, but when everything finally lined up- you realized that you’d just lived a dream.

Piper” 7.18.99 III

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Jam of the Day:

Split Open and Melt” 12.4.99 Cincy, OH

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A snarling version from the outstanding run of December ’99, this “Split” ventures into some severe psychedelia.  This is one of those versions you need to listen to a couple times to fully appreciate.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

7.1.1998 Den Gra Hal, Christiania, Copenhagen < TORRENT

7.1.1998 Den Gra Hal, Christiania, Copenhagen < MEGAUPLOAD

phish-copenhagen-98This download comes from multiple reader requests after its “Tweezer > 2001″ odyssey was posted last week.  The second show of Phish’s Europe ’98 tour showcased one of the summer’s defining jam segments in the aforementioned second set highlight, but also featured the second-ever “Moma” in which they botched the lyrics and dove into a fifteen minute funk jam- probably my favorite version.  Don’t sleep on the first set combo of “Disease > Dog-Faced > Piper” or the “Hood “encore either!  Enjoy the summer weekend with this one pumping through your speakers.

I: NICU, Sample in a Jar, My Mind’s Got a Mind of It’s Own, The Moma Dance, Down with Disease > Dog-Faced Boy > Piper, Waste, Chalk Dust Torture

II: Tweezer > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Loving Cup, My Soul, Sweet Adeline

E: Harry Hood

Source: unknown

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298 Responses to “Ten Years Ago At Oswego”

  1. Shafty Says:

    Drugs on the scene
    80s-96- Acid, Shrooms, kind beer, ganga
    97-99- Acid, Shrooms, kind beer, dank, X, pharmies,
    Then it all exploded.

    I’m being called

  2. bearito Says:

    Gorge arrived today!

  3. Mugician Says:

    I haven’t even gotten my email.

  4. Cakes Says:

    Got my email on the 8th…

    tix havent arrived

  5. Lifeboy Says:

    Just got the word – Gorge tix have shipped. Can’t wait! First shows of 09 for me. Saw my first shows in Atlanta 99 and have been completely hooked ever since. I got to see a couple of shows in each tour of 99 and agree that the buildup to BC was incredible. The “Mike’s” from BC, as everyone noted the other day, was like a spaceship lifting off. I’ve been listening to the Gorge “Tweezer” from 03 a lot. To me it seems a definite precursor to the full band buildups in some of the jams from this year. I’ll be smiling no matter what they play, I am looking forward to the sunset when the stage looks like it’s floating in an abyss.

  6. butter Says:

    no mail orders here yet.

  7. butter Says:

    “among phans i always thought it came down to heavy pharmies at the most…”
    ^^ wishful thinking…
    lol “at heavy pharmies at the most”…was wondering if we were talking about the same band

  8. butter Says:

    Oswego was really fun besides my good bro gettin snacked by NY’s finest and doin’ 6 months. (i know , don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time) I felt like shit going on to the next shows, but the show must go on. All these memories are coming back now that Phish has returned. I recall having a hottie with me in my camper that i picked up in Camden and she was wearing a see-thru net dress with no underwear around the festival. (classy) Our honeymoon included the Toronto show and Niagara Falls. Never saw her again after the Pa show.

  9. lot rat Says:

    Anyoone catch Caribou Union at O-O-O-O-Oswego…

    They were 2 cars over and were heckled relentlessly. They had no interest in the band or the scene, bought tix just to play the back of the runway 1/2 miles from stage. They had no idea wat they were in for….

    It was so fuckin hot there, 88 and muggy at 830am….toughest festival weatherwise…(once you were there it didnt rain at coventry-but the mud yeah that sucked too…)

    Red Rocks is coming….

  10. lot rat Says:

    Oswego was really fun besides my good bro gettin snacked by NY’s finest and doin’ 6 months. (i know , don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time) I felt like shit going on to the next shows, but the show must go on. All these memories are coming back now that Phish has returned. I recall having a hottie with me in my camper that i picked up in Camden and she was wearing a see-thru net dress with no underwear around the festival. (classy) Our honeymoon included the Toronto show and Niagara Falls. Never saw her again after the Pa show.

    Thats hardcore….levin the bro in the clink for mid summer tour poon tang. You own the lot.

  11. lot rat Says:

    Gorge tix will be given away for sure…many people will eat shit for getting these shoreline-gorge tix, just not a thick enough fan base in these parts.

    Cant wait for RR (3&4) Shoreline, and the Gorge….a tour I once dreamed about…just gotta fly it this time.

  12. lot rat Says:

    Anyone in SF hitting the Phish Phry at the J&B next weekend?

    Dank Nugs Galore.

  13. butter Says:

    Yea his bail was really high, so he basically had 2 choices, be bailed, and run forever, or face the music. He decided to face the music and just stay in there and start gettin credit for time served. He actually lucked out , just gettin 6 months. It turned out to be the right move. All is well that ends well.

  14. butter Says:

    Yea, Im flyin’ it too…def a west dream tour!!
    what’s the phish phry?

  15. lot rat Says:

    Take over a bar in potrero hill, crank phish tunes from 9-2 or until the authorities tell its over. puff nugs on the back deck. only been to 1-2 a few years back….should be a good time with a west coast run on the way

  16. butter Says:

    sweet what day is it? the bar is called J+B’s? I’m nor cal.

  17. lot rat Says:

    J&B Club in Portrero Hill section of SF. July 25th…norcal=big area

    near SF?

  18. lot rat Says:

    Sat…sorry

  19. butter Says:

    I’m sonoma, but i actually have a room in a house in the sunset.

  20. butter Says:

    goodnight lot rat…maybe see you at the phry, thanks!

  21. lot rat Says:

    Just moved into a house in the sunset (16th/Rivera). Raging the fog with steelheads and Grand Daddy…I work in Sonoma/Napa…where u at if your not gone….

  22. Robear Says:

    the Halley’s from Portland, ME in December ’99 is one of my favorite jams I caught live. The ‘jim’ encore a few nights later, also a highlight. I’ll never forget the ’2001′ at Hampton with the ‘Do you feel’ teases.

    Miner, how about the ‘Mike’s” from 11/16/94 at Hill Auditorium?

  23. Aintmike Says:

    Most significant memory at Oswego was right before the 3rd set My Soul opener, my friends and I were all chilling sitting or laying down on the runway waiting for the show to start. All the sudden, this guy reaches down by my friend’s head, grabs a giant wad of cash and hands it to her saying, “I thought you might need this” thinking it was hers. Before we knew what had happened, the guy was gone and the opening notes to “My Soul” were bumping through the crowd. Tallying up the cash, it came to $430, so we split it up amongst the 6 of us had one of the happiest “My Soul” dances ever. Still feel bad for the person that probably lost all of thier cash, but whaddaya gonna do, post on the lost and found board? Thanks mysterious hippie philanthropist!

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