Notes: This show marked the debut of Birds of a Feather and Frankie Says. After NICU, Trey commented on the brief “Island Tour,” remarking that the band was getting bored at home and wanted to play some shows. Stash was unfinished and contained Frankie Says quotes at its end. The final chord of Chalk Dust included a "Charge!" tease from Page. Sneakin' Sally did not contain a vocal jam. Twist included Star Trek theme teases from Mike. This show is available as an archival release on LivePhish.com.
This is the weakest of the four Island Tour shows, to my ears, but that's like being the wrinkliest hundred dollar bill. From Wolfman's Brother through Twist it's pure uncut early-1998 funkspace; the boys sound especially chuffed to be playing Sneakin' Sally again (first time since 12/30/97 - a pretty long two-show gap!) and the jam into the very first performance of Frankie Sez is a tasty minimalist dance workout. The first five songs of Set II run ten minutes apiece, then after the Frankie interlude (with its slightly awkward but certainly interesting segue) comes a divine 18-minute Twist. Talk about a strong showing for the band's newest material! The rest of the show is just gravy.
The first set, as if it must be said, is uniformly strong, like most Phish of its era.
This show got proper LivePhish treatment a few years ago, and is well worth the purchase. There's a nonnegligible portion of Phish fandom that considers the Island Tour the best and most consistent run of Phish's career, and if you like the band at all then you should give all four shows a listen or two. Or ten. Unlike, say, late 1999-2000 or summer 2004, the good stuff in the Island Tour is never ever boring, nor do you have to wade through soporific obligation-fulfilling tunes to get to the rock'n'roll freakouts. This is the total package, fat-free and fathoms deep.
(posted to rec.music.phish in April 1998 - part 1 of 4)
Now that we've had a week to mull over exactly what happened last weekend,
I am going to take the time to offer my thoughts on the Incredible Edible
Island Tour (as I see it, anyway.) Take these with a grain of salt, since
I don't know very much about Phish at all. I still like Character Zero.
First off it was great meeting so many new people, and meeting up with
those of you I knew already. Even moreso than on a normal tour.
Tube opener. 'Nuff said. Did they make it funky? - Yes, but not nearly
in the realm of some of the 'great Tubes,' ie 12/7/97 Dayton. It was
simply a great way to dive right back into the funk they obviously enjoyed
som much in '97. The highlight of set one is obviously the Stash. This
puppy was 20 minutes of great exploratory jamming. Horn was a nice treat,
but with Waste of Time and Chalkdust to close the set, it left something
to be desired (although, granted, the Chalkdust was a "better than
average" version). But, of course we were not let down, as one seldom is
Second set, once we passed Simple (which did have some good jamming) was
incredible. "Birds of a Feather" is a new tune that you will be hearing a
lot about, if you haven't already. This tune has been called "catchy" by
many, and it is, but only in the Halley's Comet sense. Not to imply in
any way that it sounds like a pop tune. But this tune is pure _meat_.
Wait till you hear it (and if you haven't yet you can download this set
from sugarmegs) - it's got a jam in the middle that rocks like none other
and begins and ends with the same crescendoing sixteenth-note
bullfighter-type riff. It was a treat to hear this song twice!
The segue from Wolfman's into Sneakin' Sally was incredible, making me
wonder if this was planned or not. Is Sally going to be a new standard?
We'll have to wait and see!
Roget, the other new tune, was strange and dark. You should be afraid of
it. I described it as "Circusy - Horror movie music."
The highlight of set two, imo (though it is hard to choose!) was the jam
after Twist Around. The lights came down behind the stage to create a
strange effect, and there was humming almost like a vocal jam (although
the instruments were still going.) It was some of the most frightening
stuff I'd ever seen Phish do. After that madness, a veritable Also Sprach
jam ensued, with Page being the only member holding them back from
launching into a full-out 2001 Jam.
The Gyute encore was a nice chunky and healthy end to a great "tour
opener" at about 12 minutes.
after possibly the best of year phish ever in '97, phish fans had some lofty hopes in '98. while, stylistically, phish moved a bit from the '97 sound, but that is what makes them great, always moving with their music. while they were some different, stylistically, it is hard to say that '98 was every bit as good as '97. if not as good, it is pretty damn close. anyway, i digress. these island tour shows still have a very heavy '97 feel, but they have moved a little away from that too. it's almost an "in between" run. now, you can really argue any of these shows are the best of the run, but for my money, i'll take this one.
tube, the first of four unconventional openers on the run, really burns in this slot. they have a nice funky middle section. trey and page get pretty deep in this one, but they still are not taking it out as far as they would in the next couple of years. mmgamoio keeps the energy up. this is one of my favorite bluegrass tunes they play. nice snappy version. the sloth and nicu you also keep the party jumping. both are well played, well executed. stash really takes off into a nice dark, rocking jam. this one finally drifts into horn. nice version. provides the first breather of the night. then trey lights up chalk dust torture to close out a very very strong first set.
punch, with the new funky intro, keeps the energy jumping. simple, imo, turned another corner in '98, and this is a great first one of the year. trey and page, once again, are very strong on this jam. birds debuts nicely here. it has the remain in light'esque sound that it seemed like phish was shooting for a lot in '97. this song breemed with potential right off the bat. wolfman's brother really takes off, as it usually did in around this time. trey navigates this one, and they really put on a thick funky jam. after a good 10-12 minutes, gordon and trey turn the corner on this jam and land oh so sweetly into sneaking sally. i love page's playing in this sneaking sally, especially right off the bat. this one is even a darker funkier jam than wolfman's brother. this jam slowly twist and turns into a spacier jam that leads into a very solid debut of frankie says. i feel like the rest of the set kind of peters out, but it is hard to keep up the momentum they rolling with through out this show. like the rest of the island shows, they encore strong, just like they open. a very sharp guyute really closes this one out in fine style.
this show just rips from start to finish. there is very little down time in either set. for good or ill, none of the jams go into that super exploratory realm, but every jam was played with extreme focus and precision. this can really be said for the other 3 nights too. there are a few more exploratory jams floating around in the rest of the run, but this is still my favorite. the flow of this flow just works so well.
I turned 21 on April 1st so I was looking forward to the best birthday party of my life. I won't go too much into how amazing the shows were since we all know that already. My show buddy Justin and I got twisted out of our minds for night one. Totally floored. Speaking of Twist, the Twist from night one is on my top 10 list of all time best Phish jams. Upon waking up in our hotel room on the 3rd, Justin tells me that he's as sick as a dog and has been puking and shitting his brains out all night. Turns out he caught the flu from his sister. We spent night two up in the seats since Justin didn't really have the strength to stand and he still had to visit the bathroom every 20min. There were a few times that he got tired of sitting and tried to dance a bit but he would eventually show the pain on his face and sit down again. We still laugh about him having to take a shit like 30 times at a Phish show. Doesn't get much more gross. What a trooper. Needless to say, night two was pretty tame for us and we were off to bed soon after the show. Justin had a good nights sleep and actually felt pretty good on the morning of the 4th so we started the drive up to Rhode Island.
Somewhere in Connecticut the clutch burnt out in Justin's car. Amazing fucking timing. We actually didn't even have tickets to that nights show but we did have 4 tickets to the 5th. Our plan was to try to trade a pair of the 5ths for 4ths. We pulled into the nearest town and sadly found out that our car couldn't possibly be ready for at least 2 days. We ended up staying in a motel near the garage and drank our sorrows away. At some point that night we were on the interstate throwing bottles at semi's....yeah, we were young and REALLY drunk. good times.
The next day we ran into some folks staying in the same motel that were nice enough to drive us to Providence for the show. The only problem was that they were continuing on to Boston and couldn't drive us back so we would have to find a ride back on our own. No problem...we still have 2 extra tickets to use as ride bait! SO....sorry this is dragging on....we find some nice, young hippy couple to agree to meet us after the show so that we could catch a ride with them back to our hotel. No problem, we sold them both tickets for $40, they were really happy, we were happy...everybody wins. After the show, Justin and I run over to our per-determined meeting spot and the nice young hippy couple isn't there. No problem...we wait...and wait....and wait....soon we start to realize that they are not gonna show. WTF. By this time it was getting pretty damn late and most people have gone home. We ask everyone we see and no one can help us out.
Finally this super drunk dude says we can ride with him. He's with 3 of his friends and they're all like
"Dude, we don't have enough room. They can't ride with us! It's out of the way!". Turns out that the guy owned the vehicle and he wasn't going to let us just stand there all night. The 6 of us pack into his Jeep Cherokee for the ride back to our hotel. His friends weren't very happy to have us packed in there with them. We got back to the motel fine, car was ready the next day and we shuffled back to Buffalo. I'm glad we saw 3 of the 4 shows that run but I'll never forget about the one we missed. Justin and I were chasing so many songs they played on the 4th.
I don't remember what that nice little hippy couple looks like but Justin says he'll never forget their faces and TO THIS DAY still looks for them on lot. I'd love to run into them.
My first show ever. I was 20 years old at the time, attending Virginia Tech. Two buddies and I drove from Blacksburg the day before, crashed in Connecticut for a few hours, then drove over to Long Island for the show. I'd listened to plenty of tapes so I had an idea of what to expect. But what I've learned from the Phish is that you don't just show up and it hits you. Or at least, that's not what happened to me. I had to pay attention. I had to watch the stage. I had to look at the lights. I had to keep track of what was going on.
I remember the Stash being powerful, as was the Simple and the Wolfmans. Right before they hit the first note in the second set, the guy next to me called PYITE. I didn't know how he knew that. But now I can do it about 75 percent of the time, and you get the best looks from the Noobs when you call it.
Everyone talks about the second night, which was legendary, for sure. But the banter before Birds, and to get a debut at my first show is something special I will always have.