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. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    that ain’t no first set yem
    i don’t care what you tell me

  2. marcoesq Says:

    Getting hosed by Gin now. This set really is perfection, good work g diddy

    Set 2: Roses Are Free > Simple, Makisupa Policeman[4], Possum -> Wipe Out -> Possum, Bathtub Gin, You Enjoy Myself

  3. vapebraham Says:

    yusef lateef:


    The Centaur and the Phoenix. must hear.

  4. Sara Says:

    Sounds like you found quite a gem however a 27 minute long shower? Save the earth, man, and keep it shorter!

  5. ren Says:

    I put that ’97 Turkey Run on my phone last week!


    Prob one of my fav little mini runs eva!!! Thats the one where we showed up on lot found the guy with Cid who had already made his grip and handed us a white trash bag with a corner full of broken gels….uh yeah. Prob the craziest hotel parties that I can recall happened in Woosta those 2 nights

  6. Kaveh Says:

    Jezz…http://phish.in/1997-11-28…the Slave is great version….soaringly good stuff.

  7. MiA Says:

    ^great Woostah Gin. Almost every ’98 Gin is quality. Even Hampton

  8. lumpyhead Says:

    hey how’d y’all find that!?

    also word @ MiA moving here – would be great fit

  9. Dr Pronoia Says:

    Need 40-60 mins of bliss heavy jams, either a show segment or from different shows/eras

    Just need some pretty tunes for train home

    BB recs?

  10. Kaveh Says:

    @DrP: through this Piper on your list: http://phish.in/1999-10-02

  11. bob dylan Says:


    ^i’m only about 10 mins in but this is worth your time. all of you.

    even you. and you. and especially you.

  12. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    bob be foaming

    love that set and have the crispy sbd of it… somewhere…

  13. bob dylan Says:

    would like a soundboard of this please. and any other benevento/russo/gordon… anastasio too.

    mike and the italians.

  14. little umbrellas Says:

    The Centaur and the Phoenix. Ding! Ding! Ding!

  15. little umbrellas Says:

    B.Dylan^ . Just got home and peeping that link. Thanks

  16. vapebraham Says:

    lu: that album took me for a ride this afternoon. more accessible than Ra, but coming from a similar exploratory desire.

  17. vapebraham Says:

    basson, flute, flugelhorn, joe zawinul on piano. curtis fuller on bone. great album.

  18. vapebraham Says:

    make that “bassoon”

  19. ren Says:

    So who’s booked their room at the MGM yet???

    I just almost did

  20. Fly Says:

    Pro: SPAC Piper 6/19/04 32:40

  21. little umbrellas Says:

    RIP George Duke!!!

  22. Kaveh Says:

    Exceptional drum work by Fishman on this Hood, seriously:


  23. Kaveh Says:

    One from the boyz from today:


  24. MiA Says:

    Bummer. George Duke was awesome

  25. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    ok, do we have a Bo Diddley situation on our hands here?

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