, attached to 1998-08-06

Review by Shangho

Shangho The Circus Is The Place For Me.....Summer Tour Memories 1998

At a young age I was introduced to music and all of it's glory (my father was a big fan of "Prog Rock",ELP,King Crimson,Rush) so at the age of 16 when I heard my first Phish song I was immediately hooked.Never having been to a "real" concert (I used to sneak into clubs in Providence,R.I. to see Max Creek,but they were club shows) I had no idea what I was in for when at 17 I caught my first Phish experience at The Clifford Ball.The people,the setlists,the energy,it all produced a life changing sensory overload that I believe all Phans have experienced,however I was left wanting a bit.I had a great many friends who had spent years on Dead tour (I was lucky to be in the Lot for a couple North East shows,but never ended up with a ticket) and the prospect of travelling this great country of ours while catching a show every night was like a dream that existed just outside of my reach,until the summer of 98 arrived.I had worked 2 jobs all winter to save and through hard work and dilligence my older brother and two friends managed to line up tickets for Lakewood Amphitheatre all the way up the coast to the finale of The Lemonwheel!I've seen a ton of shows before this and after but that summer will always be special to me not just for the memories,but for the INCREDIBLE music that the boys dropped on us during that amazing stretch!This summer is known for the band playing a number of covers for the 1st time but this fact tends to overshadow some FANTASTIC playing all around!The week of travel leading up to Lakewood our little troop of travellers spent time in The Blue Ridge Mountains outside of Asheville and discussion led to the fact that "Vultures" was a song that we desperately wanted to see,and Lakewood delivered!!!It's a fairly standard version by comparison but the set is not!The Oh Kee Pah > Suzy opener is always a great way to kick off a show but I fell in love with the "new "songs that summer,in this case Roggae.I remember the lights perfectly matching the mood of this song.The rest of this show had more personal standouts,my 1st Billy Breathes,1st set Fluffhead,my 1st Birds of a Feather since The Island Tour,and a SICK Nicu > Caspian >Mango Song > DWD,but the shocker was the Running With The Devil in the encore!!!!The boys playing Van Halen???Crazy.The following Day saw a strange day of weather that started out with sunshine and heat,and an unexpected shower right before the first set prompting the boys to open with Water In The Sky and Drowned.I had grown accustomed to the 97' Water and Ghost so I was surprised by the then "New" arrangements and found myself really digging them!The Forben's > Mockingbird saw a narration by Trey about the lunar eclipse (that was clearly visible from the lawn at Walnut Creek),and this show's cover was a lovely 'Albuquerque" that found itself sandwiched between a scorching "Simple" and "Limb by Limb"!Next is the show that had us all discussing whether or not this was the tour standout or VA. Beach (which i'm SURE you all are familiar with!!).Merriwether Post Pavilion was,compared to the other outdoor sheds we had seen so far beautiful!!The landscaping outside the venue was meticulous and it surely seemed to be much smaller than the others,but this show saw MANY personal standouts that years later still find there way into my headphones regularly!"The Wedge"and "NICU"opener was a PERFECT way to start the show,but the real scorcher was "Sneaking Sally > Guyute"!!!This Sally starts slightly choppy but wastes no time picking up steam and barrelling into an amazing jam that is filled with ups and downs until finding it's way to "Guyute" (A song that in '98 was still not in regular rotation if memory serves").Next is my only "Fikus" and it's placement was great as it served to wind us down after that sick pairing!Now this brings us to the 2nd set.This set alone has ALWAYS stayed with me out of all of the shows before or after because of it's beginning!The "Cavern" opener alone is enough for me,but I personally regard this as the best Cavern I have EVER heard (Certainly up there with the 4/5/98 Providence Island Tour Version)!Trey begins with the guitar riff subtely,next Fish comes in like a freight train,Followed by Mike,and finally Page and after a measure Fish locks it all in by closing the high-hat!If you have'nt heard this version do yourself a favor and give it a listen!And frankly give the whole 1st section of the set a listen as the list is as follows "Cavern > 2001>Tela >Piper!!!We got 2 covers this show as Fish belted out the first east coast "Sexual Healing" and the encore featured the boy's first attempt at "Sabotage"!!!This show was so far the hidden jem of the eastern run!The next night went down in history for it's encore but truly the whole show was sick start to finish.We had all had the discussion that anytime "PYITE" opened a show it was destined to be great and this time did NOT disappoint!!!A 1st set "Gin","Lizards" and "Esther" had us believing the end would see a standard wind down but instead they closed it out with a monstrous "Bowie"!!!The second set was also great but the cannonball was this eve's cover of "Terrapin Station".Now for some personal history,when I was 10 years old my best friend lived across the street and his mother was a massive Dead fan.I had grown up listening to what my father liked and had never heard The Dead until one halloween on the way to the mall I heard "Terrapin Station" in her car.This brilliant composition pushed me to learn how to play music and shaped my outlook for the rest of my life,teaching me alot about composition that i later applied in my 6 year tenure as lead guitarist of R.I. based prog band ITW.It truly was my game changer,so to hear Trey open with that unforgettable riff?I have NEVER before or since seen an audience scream louder than they did that night in VA. on the 3 year anniversary of when Jerry passed.It was emotional and mind-blowing,truly.I'm going to skip Star Lake as it has been released (And I was DEATHLY ill for this show.I was there but was in a haze.),I will mention the cover "Trenchtown Rock"opener and the face melting Sloth,but moving on to Vernon Downs.The overnight stay in a hotel room payed off and refreshed us and Vernon was the last show before the tour-ending Lemonwheel which I will also skip as my 3rd Phish Festival is a story for another day.Vernon was a pleasant 2nd to last show as it was not an amphitheatre but rather a large Race Track with a big stage right in the middle.I had the great pleasure of chatting with Page before the show and was in high spirits.They kicked off with a great "La Grange > Makisupa >Funky Bitch (FB being a song that we'd seen ALOT of along with Mike's that summer,but never got sick of) and a great "Ramble On >Slave" to close the 1st set.So there was our cover for the night right?Weeell not quite,after a "Mike's >Simple >Rift pairing and a GREAT "Sleeping Monkey >Weekapaug" we got the TRUE cover of the night...The Talking Head's "Burning Down The House" (as well as the 2nd YEM encore during our trip) for the Encore!!!!!An exceptionally perfect song for the gents to cover with some lyrical wordplay ("Vernon Down The House!!!")!!All in all I feel that my brother,2 friends and myself truly could not have picked a better way to spend our summer.I've since settled down,gotten married,and had a lovely daughter,but will never forget my summer in paradise following around a timeless band on an epic journey.Hope you all enjoyed my story,be well Phamily! Shangho


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