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Link Monday, 07/20/1998
Ventura County Fairgrounds, Ventura, CA

Soundcheck: Jam

Set 1: GinBathtub Gin, Dirt > Poor Heart[1], Lawn Boy, MSOMy Sweet One, BOAFBirds of a Feather, ThemeTheme From the Bottom, Water in the Sky, MomaThe Moma Dance, SOAMeltSplit Open and Melt

Set 2: Drowned -> MakisupaMakisupa Policeman[2] > Maze, Sea and Sand, CaspianPrince Caspian > HoodHarry Hood

Encore: Sexual Healing[3] > HYHUHold Your Head Up, Halley'sHalley's Comet

[1] Several false endings, including a Free Bird-style ending.
[2] Long, atypical jam.
[3] Phish debut.

Teases:
· Free Bird tease in Poor Heart

Noteworthy Jams: Bathtub Gin, Prince Caspian (highly recommended), Halley's Comet

Average Song Gap: 18.67

Performers: Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon

Notes: Poor Heart featured several false endings, including a Free Bird-style ending. Makisupa included a long, atypical jam. Sea and Sand (first since NYE 1995, or 166 shows) was an appropriate choice, given the venue’s location near the beach. Sexual Healing made its Phish debut at this show with Fishman reading the lyrics off the back of a show poster. As delay loops built to end Halley’s Comet, the band left the stage one by one. The soundcheck's jam contained several quotes of Venus (Shocking Blue). This show was released as part of the Ventura box set.

Song Distribution:
4 Lawn Boy
3 The Story of the Ghost
2 Billy Breathes
2 Stash
1 Farmhouse
1 Rift
1 A Picture of Nectar

Songs by Debut Year:

This show was part of the "1998 Summer U.S. Tour."

MiguelSanchez , attached to 1998-07-20 Permalink
MiguelSanchez this is a great unsung hero of not only the summer tour but the west coast run. it gets a bit overshadowed by shoreline and the gorge, but this one is a doozey. it's got some damn fine jams, a fun debut, and a nice bring back.

the first set starts with a mighty fine bathtub gin. like a lot in '98, this is a really nice, extended, exploratory bathtub. this has a similar to feel to most of the other '98 versions, but like the other ones, this one has several interesting and unique twists and nuances. dirt is an early but well-deserved breather. poor heart picks things back up and they tack on a pretty funny start-stop ending. lawn boy, my sweet one, and birds are pretty straight forward. trey has some really nice playing in theme. water in the sky is alright, but they end this set in fine form. they get deep in the funk in moma dance, and melt really nails this one home.

then there is this fine 3 song opening run in the second set. drowned is a sure-fire winner in the opening slot, and they don't forget to rock this one out. after taking it for a nice little ride, they find themselves in a nice funky realm. this eventually leads to a nice makisupa, with an extended, spacey jam that eventually gives way to a red hot maze. this maze is a best of the year candidate. page brings the thunder and they trey matches them. well, it is time for a cool down. hell yeah, sea and sand. the first since nye 95, and this one is equally delicate. very nice placement of this gem. i'm not a caspian fan, but i love me some harry hood. this one is pretty standard. it's good. as the boys line up for the encore, they come out in "fishman formation." bike, love you, purple rain? ha! sexual healing. one of many summer break outs, and this one might be the funniest. after a quick run through hyhu, they finish this one up with a very fun halley's comet. after rocking for a bit, they work into a little digital delay loop that ends the show. good times!

this is a pretty loaded show, with some damn fine playing. also, there are some really nice copies of this show floating around. i've never been to this venue, but i hear it's kind of a shit hole. none the less, the boys always nail their shows here, see the '97 bowie>cities>bowie. as for this one, i would not say there are any jams as cool as that one, but as a whole, i think i like this one a touch better than the '97 show. either way, get them both!

highlights:
set 1:
bathtub gin, moma dance, melt

set 2:
drowned>makisupa>maze, sexual healing
Score: 5
MongoNugget , attached to 1998-07-20 Permalink
I don't do long song by song revue's of shows. I am just going to tell you that this was a gem! The venue itself was a dirt race track with the stage set up on the infield. Palm trees in the background and the beach a short walk from the venue it was a great place to be for sure. The band was very playful and themed the show around songs that have to do with water for a large section of the show. The jams were solid and inspired and the groove through the entire show had its claws in me and I was nothing more than a puppet. I had seen a handful of shows prior to this one, but this is the show that got me. I had made the mistake early on of comparing Phish to the Grateful Dead. It was this show that made me realize that Phish is Phish, and the Dead is the Dead and I took Phish for what they were. I finally surrendered to the phlow and found the true Phish experience. I have been a huge phan ever since and do not miss shows if I can help it.

Was this the best show ever? To me, YES! This show changed my life and so for me........this is the most epic, best show ever! Give it a listen and I know you will at least get a couple hours of great grooving out of it.

PEACE, LOVE, & Light to you all!

Greg is living in the tube
Score: 3
n00b100 , attached to 1998-07-20 Permalink
n00b100 It's hard not to like a set that gets started with a 20 minute Bathtub Gin; this Gin really hits a sweet groove halfway through, Trey alternating between mellifluous soloing and his usual rock-god tone and Mike laying down some really thick baselines, before the jam shifts into raucous funk mode and then cools out and finds its way back home. The rest of the set is just a set (although the Poor Heart is quite amusing - one almost imagines Trey limping off the stage draped in a cape), until the closing SOAM, a super-cool version that lopes along before Trey really pours on the nastiness in the second half of the jam. That's a lot of quality jamming to offer from a first set.

The second set's setlist is outright ridiculous, and though the band's performance doesn't quite live up to it, they still put on a damn good performance. Drowned doesn't leave its usual song structure, but the jam is molten lava, with Mike and Page's exceptional support work a real treat. As the jam cools down, Trey starts ripping off some trills, and we enter effects land before segueing into Makisupa, which does its Makisupa thing before the band whips up a thrillingly ambient coda (shades of the post-Walk Away jam from Fukuoka) and Fishman starts up Maze. Maze absolutely rips, Page shining with his solo work before moving over, Rover, and letting Trey take over (sorry, that sounded a lot better in my head), and then as Maze wraps up Page immediately rolls into Sea and Sand, and it's a sweet version, as perfectly placed as NYE '95's version. Caspian and Hood are nice listens, but the set's peak has already passed. Then comes the 20 minute encore - Fishman warbling through a charming, if insanely sloppy version of Sexual Healing (was it so hard to learn how to play the bridge?), and a Halley's Comet that hits one more relaxed funk groove (very, very gently suggesting the 11/22/97 definitive version at times) before a very cool ending where a digital delay loop plays as every instrument drops out, leaving the loop to close the show.

@MiguelSanchez sums it up quite nicely - the Gorge and Shoreline are more well known (rightly so with the Gorge show, of course), but this show has a dream second set setlist and some super jams, meaning that it should not be missed.
Score: 3
terms_of_the_dance , attached to 1998-07-20 Permalink
This was the first Phish show I ever heard. Set 2 with the encore was passed around the halls of my high school on one cassette tape for a few weeks in my junior year. I must've listened to it a hundred times. I had never heard anything like Drowned > Makisupa and all at once it seemed to open up a world of possibility for me.
Nothing has ever been the same since.
Score: 1
WayIFeel , attached to 1998-07-20 Permalink
WayIFeel The Split Open and Melt is a monster.
Score: 1
OFDhead , attached to 1998-07-20 Permalink
This was my second show which at first I really enjoyed but over time and now with many shows under my belt keep thinking back to that perfectly cool night right on the water at that dirt track taking in one of the best shows I attended. Perfectly sized venue next to the beach that can only be experienced in SOCAL. My favorite moment was the crazy display of light sticks during maze that was driven hard by the band. The band and the phans were on cue this night for sure.
Score: 0
coral_sand_below , attached to 1998-07-20 Permalink
coral_sand_below A Gin opener for the ages; the funky grooves the boys hit on this one are unlike anything I've heard thus far. I think this and 8/13/93 are my all time favorites. The rest of the show is pretty great, and probably the better of the two released on the recent Ventura box set. But oh that Gin...
Score: 0
rollingharrier , attached to 1998-07-20 Permalink
rollingharrier They were firing on all cylinders. Moma Dance, Drowned > Makisupa... .....sssssssSkunk.....Policeman > Maze, Cactus thundering away and SoCal to boot. Ohhhhh '97.
Score: -2

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