The latest Phish live archival release features a show the quartet played ahead of their 1998 festival, the Lemonwheel. Phish’s August 12, 1998 performance took place within the Vernon Downs racetrack in Vernon, New York near drummer Jon Fishman’s hometown of Syracuse. Today, an official recording of the concert has been made available for purchase via LivePhish.com and streaming for LivePhish+ subscribers. For now, an advertisement for the forthcoming release appears on the LivePhish front page.
Highlights are plentiful at the last non-festival performance of a run some fans have dubbed the “Jukebox Tour,” due to all the covers Phish debuted over the course of the tour including Jane’s Addiction’s “Been Caught Stealing,” The Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane,” Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On,” Bob Marley’s “Trench Town Rock,” Van Halen’s “Runnin’ With The Devil,” the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” Smashing Pumpkins’ “Rhinoceros” and others including the band’s historic rendition of “Terrapin Station” by the Grateful Dead in Virginia Beach on August 9, 1998. Phish’s first and only concert at Vernon Downs featured the debut cover of yet another classic rock radio staple, but that’s just one of the many standout moments which took place on August 12, 1998.
Phish kicked off the wonderful concert with a run of oldies: a cover of ZZ Top’s “La Grange” followed by their own “Makisupa Policeman,” Son Seals’ “Funky Bitch” and a tune written by former guitarist Jeff Holdsworth: “Possum.” The band was in a talkative mood throughout the evening, as Trey made constant reference to Fish’s high school days and shouted out Holdsworth who would go on to reunite with his mates for a sit-in on December 1, 2003 in Albany. Vernon’s first set ends with a high point of the year if not era, the second ever cover of “Ramble On” which gave way to a gorgeous jam that linked the song to “Slave To The Traffic Light.” Anastasio fit in “Ramble On” teases in fine fashion during “Slave.”
The second set was a monster “Mike’s Groove” followed by “The Squirming Coil.” Phish fit a stellar “Simple,” the title track from 1993’s Rift, a cover of “Loving Cup” and “Sleeping Monkey” within “Mike’s Song” and “Weekapaug Groove.” For the encore, Phish bid farewell with what stands as a one-and-done cover of Talking Heads’ “Burning Down The House.” Of course, the band had fun and changed “Burning” to “Vernon.”
Head here to purchase Vernon Downs ’98, a selection the author of this article is extremely happy with:
[Hat Tip – @MotionlessSleep]