The Island Run Revisited

Retro Island Poster

Twelve years ago today, Phish wound up The Island Tour in Providence, Rhode Island; arguably the greatest four-night run of the late-90’s. Littered with masterful improvisation that expounded on ideas and musical styles hatched during the game-changing tour of Fall ’97, Phish upped the ante over these nights, crafting eight sets of that bled with powerful, mystical music that stood apart from anything before or after. From the first note of Nassau’s “Tube” to the final note of Providence’s funkified “Cavern,” these four shows built on the band’s new musical paradigm, extending their late-’97 peak right into April of ’98.

The band had just finished a Fall Tour and New Year’s Run of legend in 1997, an era that is still revered today. Phish shows had transformed into massive dance parties, as the band refined their raw over-sized grooves of summer into addictive, dance-adelic soundscapes, reaching deep into the cosmos. During the tour, each show entered a new realm of the unknown, as any song could turn into a groove clinic at any minute. But when the band came out for the stand-alone Island Run, they evolved yet again.

After a series of prolific practice sessions in March, in which the band developed over twelve new songs, Phish channeled their own enthusiasm into a four-show run, announced within a month of the shows, themselves! It seemed that the band’s attitude matched the community’s collective head space at the time – nobody could get enough – and everyone jonesed for more Phish! Without a mail order period, and tickets sold only through Ticketmaster, things were a go.

"Reba" 4.3.98 (Unkown)

Over these four shows, which can be read about in detail in this two-part series, the band emerged with an enhanced textured style of jamming, blending layers of sonic psychedelia with their patented style of groove. When an extended “Tube” kicked off the run, it became evident Phish was as exited as anyone to be in the venue. And when they unveiled one of the run’s superb jams only songs later in a first-set “Stash,” the band pushed the pedal to the metal from the moment they turned the ignition. Phish went on to play a stretch in the second set – “Wolfman’s > Sally > Frankie Sez > Twist” – that held up to, if not surpassed, anything we’d heard recently. But all that would be blown right out of the water the next night.

The date is one of Phish lore – 4.3.98. “Roses > Piper” – the only two words necessary to reference this defining night of the band’s career, a night that nobody would ever forget. After a smoking “Mike’s Groove,” with a heaping dose of molasses-funk to open the show, capped off with a “Crosseyed” and “Mozambique”-laced “Weekapaug,” the band, again, seemed to be chomping at the bit. But when the second set finished that would turn out to be an incredible understatement. In “Roses > Piper,” one of the greatest jams of the late ’90s, Phish morphed from ferocious grooves into a psychedelic magic carpet ride of the soul. A jam that many hold sacred to this day, Phish dropped a piece of music that defied imagination, entering the very fabric of the universe. Nearly 45-minutes after the set began, Phish ended this journey into the void by transitioning into “Loving Cup,” celebrating their return to earth. And then, as fate would have it, the famed stage jumper kicked the end of the show into high-gear with the bombastic, “Carini’s Gonna Get ‘Cha!”-“Antelope,” and subsequent three-song encore of “Carini > Halley’s > Reprise.” This was pure Phish energy, and almost everyone in the building left with their jaws dragging on the floor, having experienced everything they quested for in the live experience – and the run was only half over!

"2001" 4.4.98 (Unknown)

The drive to Providence was like a dream, and before anyone knew it, Phish opened night three with a twenty-minute, exploratory “Tweezer” to match Nassau’s closing “Reprise.” The second set of April 4 stood out immediately as another frame of pure musical mastery. Highlighted by a sublime excursion of “Birds > 2001 > Brother,” Phish followed up with a second half of the set that read “Ghost > Lizards, “Bowie;” “Hood” encore. Phish was firmly in the zone, like a four-headed King Midas, they could only weave musical tales of gold over these shows. “Birds > 2001 > Brother” stood out as the other most insane segment of the weekend next to “Roses > Piper,” boasting, arguably, best-ever versions of “Birds” and “2001,” and certainly the most compelling and gorgeous music to ever stem from “Brother.” The “Ghost” and “Hood” provide two more reasons why 4.4.98 is another date that needs no introduction.

"Down With Disease" 4.5.98 (Unknown)

Finally, Phish arrived at their final two sets, twelve years ago today. Each year, one can’t help but feel the energy of these shows when the calendar turns to early April; the experiences really do live eternally inside us. Starting the show with “Oh Kee Pa > YEM,” making the run’s four openers “Tube,” “Mike’s,” “Tweezer,” and “YEM”, the band annihilated my personal favorite version of their classic. Moving from a series of subconscious grooves into a compelling guitar narrative, the band never slowed down once, a microcosm of the four-night stand. Other final-night highlights included the first set “Gin > Cities,” and the set-ending “Split.” The second set focused on more celebratory music, centering on “Disease > Caspian, Yamar,” all played to their fullest potential, and then ended with the famed transitions of “Maze > Shafty” and “Possum > Funked Out Cavern.” Nobody, including the band, wanted the run to end. Phish’s music had reached a larger-than-live status; and the band channeled the magic of the universe as proficiently as ever over April 2-5, 1998. And anyone who was there will easily attest. Leaving Providence Civic Center that night, we all knew we had witnessed four all-world nights of Phish. And we all still know it today.

Happy Island Run Anniversary!


Read Full Reviews of The Island Run: Nassau & Providence


Jam of the Day:

Oh Kee Pa > YEM” 4.5.98 II

The Island Run “YEM.”




4.5.93 HUB Ballroom, Seattle, WA < Torrent

4.5.93 HUB Ballroom, Seattle, WA < Megaupload

April '93

Let’s take it back seventeen years to the day – Spring ’93, April 5th. Enjoy!

I: Llama, It’s Ice, Fee, Maze, Fluffhead, Paul and Silas, Stash, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird, David Bowie

II: Axilla, Poor Heart, Caravan, Punch You In the Eye, Tweezer, Glide, You Enjoy Myself, Hold Your Head Up > Cracklin’ Rosie > Hold Your Head Up, Tweezer Reprise

E: Carolina, Fire

Source: (FOB) Neumann km140 > Sonosax SX-M2 > Sony D-10 II pro (@48 kHz)


901 Responses to “The Island Run Revisited”

  1. EL Duderino Says:

    @ ChefBrad

    My go to Twist is the 12/06/97 Auburn Palace show.

    Tweezer > Twist > Izabella = Sublime

  2. fat bastard Says:

    marqo me tooo….where ya havin a drink b4 the game? i want to check out the bar “plumps last shot” in broad ripple

  3. neemor Says:

    Morning, all!

    Foul-if Miner doesn’t take that CMAC, I’d love a crack…

    Having just received the four night run on DVD from Mango, I was able to watch the shows in their entirety this past weekend.

    It’s amazing how far CK5 has come in such a short span of time. I was never blown away by the colors in 98-2000….I was more intrigued by his ability to play the band. Now it’s a full-on psychedelic mind explosion set to music….happened quickly.
    He’s a magician.
    Musically, I have nothing to add….we all know the importance of this run and the brilliance that lies within…

    Enjoy the beautiful weather, guys and girls….

  4. EL Duderino Says:

    Everything from 7/01/99 – 7/10/99 is very, very nice!

    Seen all of those!

  5. marcoesq Says:

    ^Chef, really dont know yet. Where you staying?

    I take off from Baltimore at 12:30, get into Indy at 2:50

  6. marcoesq Says:


    Where’s Broad Ripple?

  7. ColonelJoy Says:

    Way to beat a dead horse….Island Run…Island Run…just kidding…sick run it was…

  8. fat bastard Says:

    its 6 miles nrth of downtown, east of butler’s campus. cool neighborhood and that is Bobby Plump’s bar

  9. kenny powers Says:


    tell me that YEM is not one of the darkest, most serious YEMs ever. The jam section usually has a playful tone to it, but this one was no joke…dark stuff, in the best way. Even the end of the vocal jam has this hanuting quality…shivers I tell you! And a triumphant Theme to follow the insanity that preceeded it…

  10. marcoesq Says:

    Ok, sounds good

    I dont have a car, my dad will but not sure what time I’m meeting up with him

    You have email on your phone? Hit me up on email and I’ll call you when I land

    m h o y t 1 3 at g m a i l

  11. EL Duderino Says:

    @ AW

    I’m getting bulk/spam e-mails from your address trying to sell me cialis/viagra. I know it’s yours ‘cuz Kirsten and Tony’s e-mail addy’s are on there too.

  12. c0wfunk Says:

    seriously funky that yem is!! oh kee pah was a nice opener bustout and following it with YEM was a brilliant surprise – the jam is definitely minor keyed and darkness laced .. mcgrupp was also a nice first set surprise – it was my irc handle at the time and remains one of my favorite of the composed gamehenge tunes..

  13. fat bastard Says:

    coolio…go dogs!

  14. marcoesq Says:

    yeah boy, beat Duke!

  15. Stupendous Says:

    That Stash from the Island Run is so tribal and out of control,
    can’t imagine what it felt like to witness…

  16. kenny powers Says:

    yes Stupendous, that Stash is redic! It sounds like Trey’s guitar has tourettes during the build-up to the peak…like he’s stuttering and trying to contain the hose he’s about to unleash.

  17. kenny powers Says:

    not to mention Fishman’s woodblock tomfoolery.

  18. Stupendous Says:

    Safe to say that everyone there got hosed big time!!!

  19. Stupendous Says:

    I guess everybody is getting some rest from the stressful ticket fiasco on the weekend?…

  20. c0wfunk Says:

    the ticket fiasco has my stress only beginning. Still trying to figure how hte hell I’m getting to telluride

  21. neemor Says:

    neemor’s Boss: “neemor, can you turn that ‘twangy’ music down a little bit?”
    neemor: “Umm, this is the island YEM, big guy…the anniversary of this ‘twngy’ music is today…”
    nb: “I don’t care what…”
    n: :::interrupting:::”…you just keep your mouth shut and move along!”
    nb: :::stammering::: “but…but….but….”
    n: “That’s what I thought…..and by the way….what do you think you’re going to do without me when I go away for a month and see Phish everyday?”
    nb: :::sigh:::
    n: “better start thinking about that…”

  22. c0wfunk Says:

    lol neemor nice you got ’em right wher eyou want ’em

    yem = twangy? wtf

  23. nonoyolker Says:

    @ cow & marco – GREAT call on 7/10/99 Birds. Hell of a month for that tune. Just spun that gem again and karate kicked my office wall.

    GO BUTLER! Anyone know the line on this? An 5 beating a 1 is reminiscent of Villa-no-fun v G-town 25 yrs ago. Love to see it go down.

    Goddamn, I forgot how much I love the nice weather. Nicest time of the year in Boston. We are typically pricks because it is so friggin’ cold here. Come springtime – nicest people in the world. Everything is Bon, even in cubeland

  24. southbound Says:

    only a couple minutes into the nassau jam, Mike goes into the bass line he loves to recreate and play with even to this day. Is that just me or does anyone else catch that when they listen to other shows.

  25. Stupendous Says:

    I hear ya cow

    I just realized that me and my girl might have a potential trip to San Fran
    this summer….Its making me regret big time not putting in for the greek…
    not in the mood for hunting and paying extra…

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