A Portrait of an Era

1091808964_1553For the past two weeks, I’ve been playing a game that has totally diversified my Phish listening. If you have the Phish On Demand app, and can get a speaker for your phone in your bathroom, you can play too! Before every shower, I hit the random show selector. No matter what show comes up, I choose one jam to listen to from that show for the duration of that shower. Several of these jams have been featured in my last couple playlists, but last night I hit the jackpot!

The random show selected was 8-14-98, Limestone, Maine. Your thought is correct, there was no show on that date. The app had pulled up the Lemonwheel soundcheck. I almost just hit the button again to select a real show, but staying true to the rules of my game—you can’t pass on a show—I decided to let it ride. I’ve never been one to listen to soundchecks all that much beyond The Bunny or live at a festival, and I had never heard any of this multi-tracked Lemonwheel affair. I selected the 20-minute jam and hopped in, not sure what to expect.

Lmnwhl Postcard (Pollock)

Lmnwhl Postcard (Pollock)

The tape cut in on a laidback bluesy, groove—nothing all too special. But after a couple minutes, the band dissolved into an ambient jam that clearly foreshadowed the late-night “Ring of Fire” jam in which they—essentially—debuted their next improvisational palette that would take them through the fall and beyond. This was a spectacular, and totally unexpected end-of-the-day soundtrack! And, boy, Phish sounded like they were at complete ease, clicking immediately into a gorgeous, emotive passage. But they weren’t just testing levels here, it was much more than that. This was the first time the band had stepped on stage at Limestone since The Great Went. They were re-acclimating themselves to the magical surroundings and reacquainting themselves with the spirits of the north woods. You can hear the guys’ awe and sense of majesty in their playing. They had reached the end of a long and winding summer tour that started six weeks earlier in Copenhagen, came stateside in Portland, Oregon, and wound its way to the northeast corner of America. The near-psychic connection the band had developed over this time is evident in the utter relaxation and collaborative nature of their jamming. And you wanna talk collaborative? Wait to hear what comes next.

1998-08-16moAfter coming to a natural pause, the band’s dripped into a quintessential, Summer ’98 funk groove that absolutely slays. At this point I’m dancing to some never-before heard ’98 Phish in my shower at 1:30 am—and fuckin’ loving it! This music transported me back in time instantly. They say that smells can evoke specific memories of a place in time, well so can chunky Phish grooves, because I felt like I was back at Limestone, 16 years ago. Comfortable and confident, the band sounded in their element, neck-deep in groove and playing to a wide open field.

This 22-minute jam truly represents a sonic portrait of 1998 Phish—a year when they had built on their raw funk of ’97, smoothed things out considerably and began to travel outwards via melodic, ambient-amoeba jamming. Two of the band’s signature sounds of the year are captured in this single soundcheck jam. And don’t let the word “soundcheck” throw you, this is the straight dope! Listen below.


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356 Responses to “A Portrait of an Era”

  1. vapebraham Says:

    re. classic jazz albums: Hank Mobley’s Soul Station — $$$


  2. MiA Says:


    Just in case you missed Lumpy’s girlfriend.

  3. little umbrellas Says:

    The Beach Boys – California Saga: Big Sur/California (Live in Hartford 1973)

  4. MiA Says:

    Great call.


  5. little umbrellas Says:

    Two songs which are new favs of mine. Both off of Wild Honey:

    The Beach Boys – Here Comes The Night (1967 Original)

    The Beach Boys – Darlin’ (Stereo Mix)

  6. little umbrellas Says:

    California Saga Studio version much better. ^good call

  7. marcoesq Says:

    Is that really Lumpy’s gf? Good work if so

  8. little umbrellas Says:

    Also for all any day time readers who don’t go for the read back. This radio program is going on for days. Repost:

  9. garretcorncob Says:

    Been spinning Pet Sounds a lot lately since the SLF grabbed me a crisp 180g vinyl copy for my birthday.

    Need to expand beyond Pet Sounds and Smile. Sounds like Wild Honey a good place to start?

    Guess I’ll make a project of expanding my Beach Boys and Kinks discographies.

  10. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Is that really Lumpy’s gf? Good work if so

    ^of course it is. She’s the RN from the hospital after he was taken out of Hollywood Bowl FBR’d to the max. Smooth talker Betty Crocker that lumpy is he scored her digits while be attended to. Now that is straight pimpin.

  11. marcoesq Says:

    Look at lumpy go. I guess I missed story about him going to hospital. Missing that Hood was well made up for by said nurse

  12. Gavinsdad Says:

    Exploring center city phila in my first week. Settled on afghan kebab house. This place doesn’t hold A candle to Bereket in NYC. Oh well.

    Listening to BeK from 11/28/98 Worcester. Mean show. If anyone cares that’s my kind of setlist (both sets)

  13. Kaveh Says:

    Hank Mobley’s Soul Station

    ^ Hank is one of my favorite jazz artists. Been looking for him on album, but for now the CD collection will work. “Workout” was my first introduction to him and I was hooked from there.

  14. little umbrellas Says:

    @Garrett, Wild Honey yes. But also have you heard Smiley Smile? It is the follow up to Pet Sounds and is by far their most ‘psychedelic’ album. Brian was triiippin. I love that record.

    Note: it’s Easy to accidentally pull up Smile (Brian Wilson’s 05 live remake), which is no good in comparison.

  15. little umbrellas Says:

    Oh shit, unnecessary post! I got excited and didn’t read your post correctly….
    So yes, check Wild Honey.

  16. Gavinsdad Says:

    ^along these lines, please seek out Grape Jam, by Moby Grape. Extended studio tomfoolery.

    Love smile sessions.

  17. marcoesq Says:

    11.29.98 too jammy. Who needs 3 20min songs in 1 set.

    Commencing that set right now.

  18. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    not to pick nits, but that BEK is 11.28.97

    and yes, that show is great from The Curtain>YEM opening to the My Soul encore.

    ::shifts listening to 11.28.97::

  19. marcoesq Says:

    Another great one. But by gdad’s mistype I found myself in the middle of a 20min Simple. Thanks bruh

  20. Kaveh Says:

    Lakewood Ghost -> Radio City Ghost -> Nassau Tweezer -> 11.18.97

    Great morning set list.

  21. Kaveh Says:

    ^ 11.28.97.

  22. MiA Says:

    You can easily play “Wild Honey” and nobody will know it’s the Beach Boys. Except very hip people.

    My neighbor in La Jolla used to crank it up on his deck. He also had a stained glass made of the cover that he hung over his garage door glass.

  23. marcoesq Says:

    Let’s get real


  24. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    hard to believe there aren’t any instances of Close Encounters of the Third Kind being teased in the nirvana section of YEM

  25. little umbrellas Says:

    @Gdad, since I’m pretty sure your the only other BB’er who is a Mammatus fan (/know who they are)… Had a good confirmation call yesterday on a gig. Sharing a bill with the Mammatus boys at Moe’s. Gonna get a recording. Those guys are really all about the live experience.

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