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. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Sounds like a solid day, Phish…

    JG- Do it..

    Stumbled upon a Hendrix doc.. Love this stuff. True pioneer…


  2. Dorn76 Says:

    These rumors no longer coincide with any business trips. Guess its gloryholes and industrial size lube this Fall.

    Treme is a pretty good show.

  3. butter Says:

    MGM grand would be so sick

    Ins and outs, can go to your room or casino during show

  4. Jerome Garcia Says:

    It’ll be part of the negotiations…yeah I’m gonna need to have these days off thru yr end umkay…yeah.


  5. Random Poster...Nutbag Says:

    Seems appropriate based on some of today’s posts.


  6. sumodie Says:

    Lemonwheel soundcheck in my orange – apple lossless format

    FM broadcast source I posted on page 1

  7. Dorn76 Says:

    Can’t wait to hear the stories of wooks running amok at MGM, money lost, poops taken on casino floors, etc., during piss break tunes.

  8. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Sure miner posts the same dates I did a week ago and now everyone believes them

  9. RoosterPizza Says:

    My cousin just nought a house in Reno. The wheels are turning…

  10. little umbrellas Says:

    Ahh nope. Not everyone. 😉

  11. little umbrellas Says:

    Ra on the Radio.

  12. MiA Says:

    B’day show in The City would be perfect.

  13. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Did you get the worm MiA? Red red worm that is you early bird. Might I suggest the MPPiper http://phish.in/1998-08-08/piper

  14. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Looking into hitting the Integratron in the Joshua Tree area on Sun. Ummmm…sound bath…

  15. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Sup gang? Watching Despicable Me w the boy this AM. He is truly mesmerized. The minions are pretty brilliant.

    Sun Ra on tap for the day via WKCR as rec’d by Lilums.

    So glad westies will get some quality Phish this Fall.

    I am still distractingly amazed by the agility in Treys guitar work on that Bethel waves sndchk. Dude still has it. We’re talking bout practice… He will rise again to glory this summer.

    I also wandered onto that Mmmbop youtube vid yesterday. Fucking jokers.

    Hope this finds the BB massive well and rolling through the work week painlessly. 3 days of weekend on tap, should be sweet, Forecast is $$ for eastern LI.

  16. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Thanks for the reminder Spasm re Sun Ra. Giving Liquidity the top to bottom treatment as per lilum’s recommendation of a place to start.

  17. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Sun Ra’s Languidity rather

  18. Spasm Waiter Says:

    The Sun Ra talk reminds me of when I was at UVM and Michael Ray played at club Toast. I got there really early to set up mics etc… Nobody is there yet. Trey walks up to the bar to order 4 cocktails and looks at me to say hi. He basically says, “You are not going to want to miss this. It is going to be a trip! Etc, etc…” Sure enough, I hang around and he, Grippo, Stacey Starkweather, Michael Ray and band walk out in full sequin outfits, hats, etc.. They played some really fascinating shit laced with some pretty awesome playing by Trey and gang. That was really my first intro to the music of Sun Ra. I need to find those DATs. I believe my buddy in VT still has em in his basement.

  19. sumodie Says:

    Fuego cover art is by Spanish artist Paco Pomet, who just had a recent gallery exhibit in LA where both the Fuego cover and the special Fuego lithograph (the print at DryGoods with the pink smoke) were on display

    (I’m guessing Paco created the art first and then someone from Phish discovered his work…?)

    Check out his LA exhibit here:


    And Paco’s own website here:


  20. sumodie Says:

    Wow, Spasm, what a cool story!

    When was that? Looks like possibly 1994 or 1995:


  21. Jerome Garcia Says:

    That is awesome Spasmo. Thx for sharing.

    Not anywhere near the same thing but Austin has our own local Sun Ra band fronted by Topaz. The Golden Dawn Arkestra. Always a funky fusiony good time.

  22. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Jazz Fest After Dark review & photos. Enjoy.

  23. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Also I think I’m in love w/ Carly Meyers. Damn girl! Plays a mean bone as well. Had me in a trance w/ the way she moved around the stage at Publiq House during the Robert Walter’s 20th Congress show on Fri nt.


  24. Spasm Waiter Says:

    I am thinking that was 3/8/94. Need to check w my buddy who has the tapes but I am pretty sure.

  25. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    that’s pretty cool, spaz

    for the one phish performance of a Sun Ra tune, check out the in studio/radio show they did 04.26.94.

    Purple Dragon

    the whole set is mostly in the box (ripping Maze and solid Fluff though) but that take on Carefree is pretty damn great.

    and let’s not forget today is RMCH Ghost day!

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