MSG Memoirs: “Carini > Wolfman’s”

12.29.98 - MSG

December 28th has often served as an appetizer for the musical main courses of the next three nights of holiday runs. But in 1998, the Phish came out on the first night at MSG locked and loaded, and in the second set dropped the filthiest jam sequence of the entire four-night fiesta. Almost a year to the day ago, Phish had played the first domestic “Carini” to the shock and delight of all on 12.30.97 in an encore for the ages. But when they unveiled the sinister anthem after a Fall ’98 tour that was laced with ambient-psychedelic jamming, they were playing with a beast of a different nature. Never had the band jammed on “Carini” other than its Amsterdam debut in which the band essentially turned on a dime and started a smoking but non-“Carini” themed segment that would become the a centerpiece of the set. But when they launched off the song on the first night at MSG in ’98, that would all change drastically.

Taking the jam out with a slow-paced, screaming psychedelia, the band sat into the song’s menacing textures for a solid period of time before seamlessly blending into a far more exploratory and abstract section. The band had experimented with ambient playing throughout their Fall Tour, but more often than not it was of the melodic variety. In this piece of music, however, the band’s Jedi-like powers turned to those of the Sith as they embarked on an eerie jaunt through the dark side of the universe. Layered and searing effects, methodical rhythms and filthy textures characterized the music as the band’s dove through this wormhole. And as they did, green worms—part of a choreographed performance art—crawled through the stage in a freaked-out illusion. And as the band settled down from their furiously evil, they slid into a slow and collaborative groove that emphasized the massive space in the music as much as each part of the rhythm. And the worms ate through the stage, these monstrous grooves ate through the brains of the audience in one of the frozen moments of the jam. Spilling from the outer realms of the cosmos into hard dance patterns, Phish had MSG rocking and the audience in awe. As the crunchy rhythms echoed through the spacious round room, the band had arrived at the landing point of one of their darkest jams of the season. And as these grooves came to a natural conclusion, without missing a beat, Page hit the intro to a slow-paced “Wolfman’s Brother.” Coming off such a profound musical journey, something hinted that this jam wouldn’t stay within straight funk.

12.28.98 - MSG (unknown)

Oozing into the jam at an infectious pace, the groove parade began with thick rhythms and beefy bass lines while Page and Trey collaborated up top. Increasing in dissonance as it progressed, this jam would be a natural continuation of the ominous jamming that had just concluded. The band toyed with the “Wolfman’s” theme amidst this heavy medium as Trey unleashed a variety of infectious licks. Growling with sonic size and intensity, the guys finally spilled out of the song’s rhythm with a series of licks that led Trey through a quicksand-like groove session. Again, the band was exploring the dark side of things with the spirit of Lewis and Clark. And in this section, Trey began a series of slinky leads that gave the larger-than-life dance session a melodic top half. This was sinister Phish crack in slow motion and it felt like being surrounded in musical molasses. Combining a eerie feel with a hard rhythmic focus, the band was creating some of their most engaging music of the year on the very first night of the New Year’s Run. Fishman altered his beat and the rest of the band followed along, creating an harrowing and danceable texture that spoke to the exact elements that I crave for in Phish music. Drifting from these patterns to a more ambient-drenched experiment, the methodical pocket and cymbal crashes never stopped as Trey and Page dug into space-aged effects that brought an enhanced sense of the occult back into play. Morphing into an experiment in sound and fury, Phish were letting it all hang out in this jam sequence in a way that they wouldn’t replicate for the rest of the run. And they wrapped up “Wolfman’s” with the most dissonant, abstract and engaging segments of music they had played all night.

And when the band brought the jam to silence after nearly forty minutes of the darkest and most exploratory music of the year—mind-fuck Phish at its finest—I exchanged glances of disbelief with several friends—this was why we were there! With a magnifying lens on the dark half of the psyche, Phish wove a tale of dark-themed danceable music of the likes that we had dreamed. Walking back to the hotel though the massive metropolis of the New York, we were floored. After a spectacular Fall ’98, for Phish to come out and drop such a piece on the first night of the New Year’s Run was staggering. Stemming from the first truly jammed out “Carini,” the band wove a blissful horror story of magnificent proportions. Though many fans favor the happier, uplifting side of Phish, for me, this was the ultimate type of throwdown—a sequence that wouldn’t be matched over the next three nights of music for me. Though each night provided spectacular moments of its own, I’ll never forget the sinister escapade and green worms of “Carini > Wolfman’s”—another untouchable piece of MSG lore.


Jam of the Day:

Carini > Wolfman’s Brother” 12.28.98 II

Check it out.



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361 Responses to “MSG Memoirs: “Carini > Wolfman’s””

  1. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Ohio voters defeat anti- union, collective bargaining law.

  2. Gavinsdad Says:

    That is some extraordinarily wack graffiti on that ticket. Just sayin.

  3. voopa Says:

    B+ Photoshop job, even for ’98

  4. Gavinsdad Says:

    Art school friend lettering and handstyle. Poop.

  5. Gavinsdad Says:

    Realizing that ALO contains much less weirdness than I thought I heard back in the later 90s. Tweez is bonkers but more choppy and searching than I thought. Tinges a distorted darkness throughout and playful. But many other cuts on there that are meh.

    Still a great Hood on ALO.

    A slip stitch revisit some point later this week.

  6. Gavinsdad Says:

    I’m forgetting the ALO yem but lately a little bearish on the old jam chestnut. Somebody best throw some off the wall YEMs at me. Dark horses please and please no “the vocal jam is siiiick” I don’t have any amyl nitrate here.

  7. stapes Says:

    The ALO Slave is pretty powerful, IMO.
    From a great all around show containing a huge Bowie. 11/26/94 I believe

  8. garretc Says:


    I feels ya on the YEM sentiments. I’ve been trying to go through and listen to the last handful of shows I have on my computer that I haven’t yet listened to, and it seems like at least 90% of them have a YEM, which is probably not a coincidence…

    I don’t feels ya, however, on the ALO Tweezer sentiments, although, to be frank, I’ve only given it one spin so far. Way darker than I expected, to the point that it took me a second to realize the sirens I was hearing were emergency vehicles outside, not part of the jam…

  9. Mike in Austin Says:

    Never quite got why Montana was on there.

  10. stapes Says:

    Isn’t Montana an excerpt from the bozeman tweezer

  11. garretc Says:


    Yes, but that fact, in and of itself, doesn’t seem sufficient cause for it’s inclusion…

  12. Gavinsdad Says:

    3.0 and the Riverport gin have me searching for naturally occurring multi themed jams that appear to be effortless (I.e. freaks of nature). Love it when they are in overdrive as opposed to theatrics or multipart wandering. Don’t get me wrong I looooove weird Phish. That’s core DNA stuff….but right now I’m digging flowier stuff.

    On the Yem front I’m not hating…just not seeking them out. A nice chunky bombastic one at MSG will help.

  13. garretc Says:

    Do you guys ever have moments where you suddenly realize what someone’s avatar picture actually is? Where every time you’ve seen it before you just write it off as too small to make out, and then one day: ta-da! You figure it out…

    Definitely just did that with Stapes’

  14. stapes Says:

    True garret.

    Just Phish being Phish it seems. Kinda like Rikers Mailbox on Hoist

  15. Gavinsdad Says:

    ALO tweez was on repeat when we drove from pnc to Oswego. No dr00gs for me back then…we needed something sinister and mindfucky to help with the all nite drive.

  16. Mike in Austin Says:

    It would be like taking 3 minutes out of Denver Ghost, putting it on an album and calling it “Colorado”

  17. stapes Says:


    Boise 99 Bag?

  18. Mike in Austin Says:

    Seems I lost my avatar.

    Gdad, what do you think of the 7/3/00 Gin?

  19. stapes Says:

    11/23/94 tweezer
    11/18/96 simple

  20. Mike in Austin Says:

    Funny part is I owned ALO for 3 months before really listening to it.

  21. stapes Says:

    There aren’t 3 minutes of that Ghost, if you’re talking 97, that I wouldn’t mind hearing over and over again.

    Good point MiA

  22. Gavinsdad Says:

    Right on stapes. I listened to that alot since the KP sbd project. Need to cage match it against the MSG 95 bag.

    Wonder if my BOAF with essence of storage will rear it’s head at MSG?

  23. garretc Says:

    Dang, Camden ’99 Chalkdust is money. Love where that jam ends up…

    Oh yeah, so my digital copy of Hampton Comes Alive (speaking of official live releases) is missing the second part of Mike’s song, between Mango and Ha Ha Ha. Is there any chance one of you kind folks could provide me with a replacement copy of that track?

    garretconour at gmail

  24. Gavinsdad Says:

    Actually never heard it Mia. Seen your prev mentions. On it.

    I got married sept 2000. Wedding prep hadn’t taken totally over…wondering why I skipped that Camden show…I did pnc and then me and my 2 friends went to Polaris for a little last hurrah.

  25. Mike in Austin Says:

    Gdad, it’s overshadowed by the PNC gin, but I think it’s got a lot of goodness to it.

    Wish there was a SBD of it.

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