Phish Concludes Camp Oswego Festival On This Date In 1999
Phish wrapped up their two-day Camp Oswego festival on this date in 1999 at the Oswego County Airport in Volney, New York. The run might be remembered as much for the scorching hot weather as for the scorching hot music.
Camp Oswego differed from 1996’s Clifford Ball, 1997’s The Great Went and 1998’s Lemonwheel in that the two-night run came in the middle of tour. From the moment fans arrived through the end of the festival the temperatures were in the 90s and 100s, not to mention the air was thick with humidity. The festival’s mist tents were extremely popular and many attendees spent time in their cars with the A/C pumping during the days. Thankfully, the quartet delivered plenty of musical highlights for their sweltering devotees.
Phish opened the event with a jam chart-worthy version of “Tube” highlighted by Mike Gordon‘s slap bass. A run of “Boogie On Reggae Woman,” “Birds Of A Feather,” “Guelah Papyrus” and “My Sweet One” featured three tour debuts and Summer 1999 staple “Birds Of A Feather.” After “Roggae” came an incendiary “Tweezer” that spanned nearly 20 minutes and contained multiple explorations before the band transitioned into their first cover of The Mighty Diamonds’ “Have Mercy” since November 12, 1994 – a span of 335 shows. As if that wasn’t enough, the longest “Taste” up through that point and an explosive “Character Zero” ended the set.
The second set on Saturday, July 17 started with a guest appearance from Son Seals on “Funky Bitch” and “On My Knees.” A “Down With Disease” that contained plenty of otherworldly improv and a few minutes that dragged followed the blues great’s sit-in. Phish then strung together “Wolfman’s Brother” with impressive renditions of “Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley” and “Timber (Jerry The Mule)” before closing out the frame with “You Enjoy Myself” and the night with an encore of “The Squirming Coil” and “Tweezer Reprise.”
Sunday’s finale was a three-set affair that was checked off many of the boxes that make a Phish show great. The “Oswego Gin” in the first set, 35-minute pairing of “Runaway Jim” and “Free” in the second set and outstanding sequence of “Piper” and “Prince Caspian” in the third set were some of the best jams of the summer. For those seeking bust outs there was the first “Icculus” since October 31, 1995. And what an “Icculus” it was.
“Icculus” took place in the third set and emerged out of a “Catapult” that was sung over a heavy metal progression at the end of “Wilson.” Trey gave a speech that referenced an attempt to break a world record for the most people to pull off a choreographed dance during “Meatsick” in the second set and eventually the band landed on the same progression as Deep Purple’s “Smoke On The Water.” Anastasio stopped his narration to sing a bit of “Smoke On The Water” and then explained the Helping Friendly Book contains such tidbits as “Smoke On The Water” and Ted Nugent’s “Cat Scratch Fever” are “the same fucking song” After the 10-minute vamp, which featured a portion of The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You” thrown in for good measure, Phish finally plays the composed section of “Icculus” while the guitarist finishes his narration in honor of the man who wrote the Helping Friendly Book.
Phish were clearly having a blast despite the heat and followed the narration with a rare round of band introductions by Trey. Anastasio also introduced sound engineer Paul Languedoc and light designer Chris Kuroda ahead of just the quartet’s third cover of Bob Dylan’s “Quinn The Eskimo” since 1987. “Fluffhead” closed out the fifth and final set of Camp Oswego and like most versions from Summer Tour 1999 featured an extended “Fluff’s Arrival” segment, foreshadowing the jammed out “Fluff” that would be played a week later at Alpine Valley. Earlier in the night, Phish hosted their second collaboration of the weekend as the Del McCoury Band augmented the four-piece on “Back On The Train” “If You Need A Fool,” “I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome” and “Beauty Of My Dreams.” The wonderful weekend at Camp Oswego ended with a “Harry Hood” encore accompanied by fireworks.
Watch a mini-documentary about the Camp Oswego experience shared by thegreatboognish: