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. Prince Nabby Says:

    That’s right! You’d better not contradict me!

  2. ChefBradford Says:

    Whateva, I do what I want!

  3. Prince Nabby Says:

    I willed you to say that Chef. You have no control at all. muahhhhhahahahaha!

  4. ChefBradford Says:

    *Sighs, kicks dust, mumbles*…i’m m’own man…

  5. beepaphone Says:

    Report from Indianapolis:

    So we all love Butler, especially those of us (including me) from the north side of Indy.

    Great game. Watched it amongst thousands of people all crammed into Broad Ripple bars and cheered for the home team.

    When we lost, there was this old school, cinematographic slow clap that went down. Beautiful.

    Regardless of the loss, this will go down as one of the great moments in Indiana Basketball history.

    That Butler team has turned the entire state of Indiana – Purdue and IU fans alike, into Bulldog fans.

    But anyways, GO PHiSH!

  6. beepaphone Says:

    Also, cub FTW, re: NCAA B-ball on p-34

    I like that kid

  7. Prince Nabby Says:

    OK, g’night all!

  8. ChefBradford Says:

    Some jackass “friend” of mine on Facebook (former coworker, now high school coach) is gloating about there not being a “sequel to Hoosiers”. Asshole

    and we’re in fucking Louisiana, where most of the good high school athletic departments recruit illegally and encourage steroid use

  9. beepaphone Says:

    I don’t care what they say…Hayward was 1 inch on a jumpshot away from creating the next “Hoosiers” and that was close enough for our state. Never seen so much pride in a loss.

    We still hate Duke though, if it’s any consolation.

  10. ChefBradford Says:

    Aha! I made you do that, Prince nabby!

    Telepathy baby!

  11. ChefBradford Says:

    That was an awesome shot, even if he didn’t make it. I didn’t think it was going to hit the backboard, let alone the fucking rim

  12. beepaphone Says:


    What a stud either way. Can’t wait to watch Butler next season.

    Boilermakers are gonna be hot too.

    Gonna be a good year for Indiana Basketball

  13. beepaphone Says:

    Kaveh, congrats.

    Duke beat my Boilers, and then my hometown Bulldogs. Takes talent for the run your team made.

    Singler got lucky though 😉

  14. ChefBradford Says:

    “never seen so much pride in a loss”

    it’s not quite the same, but my senior year of high school, our football team made it to the state finals (Tennessee), and not only was it an incredibly close game (came down to a field goal), the ref’s calls were all open to debate, making it an even sharper competition. We lost (open to debate of course 8)), but we were still so proud

  15. bigjig Says:

    @beepahone- thats right we were one knee away from a an all indiana final!! Didn’t realize there were other boilers here besides butter and I. What a great game, gotta say duke sure got the better end of some of those calls and that was expected.

  16. bigjig Says:

    and Duke still sucks!

  17. beepaphone Says:

    Nice, Chef

    … I think of the debate over calls like that as comparable to debates as to weather or not Zoubek is legitimately a freak of nature.

  18. beepaphone Says:

    @ bigjig , what year?

  19. ChefBradford Says:

    Ha, yeah, but ask anyone from my high school that year (anyone who remembers, anyway), and they’ll probably say we were robbed because of a few calls. I’m not well versed in football, so I couldn’t really say, but a couple of those calls were def questionable, but it comes down, eventually, to perspective and point of view

    Which is what a Phish show/song/jam/etc comes down to

    -wanted to make a legitimate connection

  20. ChefBradford Says:

    is Zoubek the seven footer?

  21. beepaphone Says:

    llfa @ chef.

    Thanks for keeping it a Phish board. I get sidetracked for sporting events. Forgive me, Miner. Only Phish Talk and the occasional World Cup rant from beep from here on out.

    Yes, Zoubek is the freak.

  22. ChefBradford Says:

    Yeah, see, I don’t generally get sidetracked for sporting events. It’s always a Phish board, anyway

    I’m out. Peace and later, all, and to anyone searching out tickets, best of luck

  23. bigjig Says:

    01 six years usually equals doctor, but for me it just meant six years of extended vacation ie liberal arts

  24. beepaphone Says:

    PU liberal Arts here too…Cheers

  25. Mr.Miner Says:

    Hayward was 1 inch on a jumpshot away from creating the next “Hoosiers”
    ^ so true, such a sick shot. He got it way up in the air too.

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