The Island Run needs no introduction. Four shows that were spontaneously announced in the spring of ’98, because the band was teeming with creativity have become legend in the Phish community. Following the well-loved tours of Fall and New Years ’97, the band had a European jaunt planned for June—but they couldn’t wait that long. They wanted to play now. And the rest is history. As they began to blend a spacey ambiance into their funk stylings of ’97, Phish dropped, arguably, the greatest four-night run of their career in Nassau and Providence, resulting in timeless jams that sit amongst best of all-time.
In the modern era of Phish, beginning at Hampton’s comeback in ‘09, fan-created, jewel-quality, cloisonné pins have emerged as collector’s items of choice. From Gamehendge characters to song representations and from original art to classic logo-rip offs, pins are everywhere on the scene today, taking almost all focus away from lot t-shirts while reducing the hype about posters. Fans rock these pins on hats, shirts, bags and any number of other places. Additionally, collectors have pin boards on which they display their collection. More easily viewable than twenty five posters that are still in tubes in the closet, and retailing for less money, Phish pins have become all the rage in 3.0
After I published my book last winter, I decided to think up some pins. Though people had created pins to represent all things Phishy, I decided to take the idea a step further and develop pins that creatively represented historic jams in Phish history. And what better place to start with than The Island Run? Within days I had four designs in mind, but I also had a problem— I didn’t know the first thing about how to make a pin! As fate would have it, in reaching out to the pin community, a kind soul connected me with one of the original and most respected pin making teams in the scene, MYFE. Designs.
Just before the Hampton 2009 reunion, MYFE. Designs was part of the team that launched the first pin of the 3.0 era; the pin that ‘started it all.’ Since then, MYFE. has grown into one of, if not the most, respected pin companies in the scene. Anchored by a two-man team of Tanner Council and Mike “Monk” Cavagnino, MYFE. is known for their thoughtful creative process that has produced some of the highest quality and most sought after pins in the scene today.
Thus, it is with great pride that I announce the first MYFE./Miner collaboration—a four-piece limited edition collectors set representing my favorite jams from each night of The Island Run. Each set of pins comes fixed in it’s own custom-built collector’s case—a free-standing, crystal-clear, plexi-glass tower—that perfectly displays the artwork and detail on both the front and back of these pins. No expense was spared in getting these pieces up to showcase status for your collection. Below you can read about why I chose each jam, and the design process that went into each pin. These collector sets are available for purchase for $80 from MYFE.’s site, and go on sale very soon—as in later today!
(Note: Photos do not accurately reflect the color and detail of the pins.)
“Twist” 4.2.98 II, Nassau Coliseum
Coming late in the second set of The Island Run’s opening show, this “Twist” jam elevated in full, giving us the first true sense that something greater was at work. What started as an outrageous Phish concert had turned into a completely sublime experience. Fusing groove and melody in way never truly done before or since, this version of “Twist” grew a life of its own, enveloping the minds of the unsuspecting Nassau audience. Part and parcel of this unforgettable jam, was Chris Kuroda’s one-of-a-kind lighting display. As “Twist” reached a higher plane, Kuroda blanketed the venue with moving, narrow white beams of light, creating an overwhelmingly, extra-terrestrial feel. As the futuristic music with this alien lighting display, a powerfully cathartic moment crystallized; a moment so surreal that if you were there, you’ll never forget the Nassau “Twist.”
Design: When thinking of a design to represent this “Twist,” Kuroda’s indelible lighting display immediately came to mind. I wanted to convey the way the beams took over our visual field while we danced to this divine music. Initially, I sketched this design from memory, but then, on a call with MYFE., we decided to look at the actual YouTube clip from the show. Instead of going with my original sketch, we paused the video at the exact moment that I had attempted to draw. Capturing a screen shot of the lights, precisely as they were during the jam, MYFE.—vectored a proof directly from the image, assuring an accurate reproduction of the scene. After considering different materials and accouterments to accentuate the lights on the actual pin, we decided that sticking true to the white beams, lined with simple black nickel, would be the classiest call. Complete with seven “cut-outs,” 4.2.98’s “Twist” is the first pin in the commemorative series.
Hailed by many fans—including myself—as their favorite jam of all time, “Roses -> Piper” is a household term in any Phishy abode. Covering the gamut from seductive grooves to deep-space, sound sculptures and everywhere in between, “Roses -> Piper” has come to define the astounding capabilities of Phish for an entire generation. Kicking off the second set, this timeless pairing covered 45 minutes of the greatest improv you’ll ever hear. April 3, 1998—a night that will always live in infamy—is eternally synonymous with this unparalleled jam. Read more about this “Roses -> Piper” here.
Design: This was the first pin I designed when sitting down last winter. I wanted to create something that would aesthetically do justice to my favorite sequence of Phish music. The first image that came to mind was a worm (“Piper, Piper the red, red worm) slithering through roses, conveying the interconnectedness of this life-changing sequence. But there needed to be a sense of place, so I printed and traced an image of Nassau Coliseum and laid it behind the first piece of paper with the worm and roses. I then traced my entire design onto a single piece of paper. When I got together with MYFE., we all agreed that there was nothing that needed to be changed with this design. With some slight cleaning up of the leaves and roses, and some re-angling of the worm’s curves, this pin represents the original, hand-drawn design.
Phish debuted “Birds of a Feather” during The Island Run’s first show at Nassau. But when they opened Saturday night’s second set with “Birds” in Providence, only two days later, the jam exploded into one of the highlights of the four shows. Blending spacier textures —sounds that would come to define 1998—into the rock jam, Phish pushed the envelope in this hybrid experiment. To say the interplay within this “Birds” is airtight would be a gross understatement. Carving a ferocious and forward-looking jam out of the brand new song, it felt as though the band was looking to top themselves for a third straight night. Finally returning to the last verse after a profound journey, Trey hit the final chord of the song with a delay effect that immediately morphed into the beginning of “2001.”
Crafting an alien-like ambiance before liftoff, with Fish’s snare hit, Phish spun into one of the elite versions of “2001” ever played. Carrying a white-hot intensity, a break-neck pace, and layered with droves of loops and effects, this version launched into the stratosphere, setting a new standard of what was possible from the one-time, three-minute funk cover. If you love Trey solos over “2001,” this is the version you’ve been looking for you’re whole life. If you’re a groove junkie like me, this version never fails to provide that magical fix. This is one of the best. Interestingly, the band never passed through the second theme of the “2001,” instead, breaking the groove down into a percussive vocal jam before starting “Brother.” Clocking in at over half hour of infectious improv, the pairing of “Birds > 2001” is but another timeless paring of Island Run lore.
Design: This pin underwent the most change from original sketch to final product. Before I was in touch with MYFE., I had a simplistic drawing of birds flying through space, but after a long call one night, we decided to incorporate the iconography of Stanley Kubrick’s film “2001: A Space Odyssey,” where the music originated. After re-watching “2001” the next night, I loved our idea of birds flocking around the Monolith—the mysterious, extra-terrestrial object that brought higher consciousness to the apes at “The Dawn of Man,” and to species throughout the universe. When confronted with the Monolith, apes, men, and other species—literally—flocked around the object, providing the ideal image for the birds in the pin. At the end another call, we randomly pulled up an old movie poster for “2001” that only portrayed the astronaut helmet used by the main character, Dave. We quickly thought of putting the entire scene within the visor of the space helmet—as if the astronaut was viewing the birds and the Monolith. This was the answer. And it came out perfect.
Despite the fun of the deep funk jam that brought “Possum” into “Cavern” at the end of this show, the most impressive music of the Island Run’s final night came right at the beginning. Rolling with the momentum of the past few nights, Phish came out and played one of my favorite versions of “You Enjoy Myself” in history. Taken entirely by surprise, the audience erupted as the band dropped into “YEM” out of “The Oh Kee Pah Ceremony” for the only time in their career! This move signified a rabid band ready to tear apart the Civic Center once again, and what a way to get the party started! Moving into a totally original jam, laced with sinful whole-band groove, Phish needed no time to warm up on this night. Playing incredibly expressive leads, Trey sounded as if he was narrating a story rather than playing a guitar solo. An original collaboration of rhythmic acrobatics, there is no other version out there that sounds like The Island “YEM.”
Design: The original sketch of this pin had a trampoline over Rhode Island with the letters of “O-h K-e-e P-a-h” bouncing off surface of the tramp. But when MYFE. completed the first rounds of the proofs, such an obvious image didn’t hold up to our other three designs. One night I had an idea: instead of spelling out “Oh Kee Pah”—both literally and figuratively—we’d include images of all the elements that comprised the band’s infamous, collegiate rites of passage. We’ll let you do the detective work from here. With a star marking Providence on the state of Rhode Island, this pin balances the sense of place present in 4.3’s “Roses > Piper” pin.
Tags: 1998, Culture, Miner's Picks