This was my first long tour with Phish. At this point I had seen my first show back in 96 and a few shows during fall 97 (Philly and Penn State). I had missed all of 97 summer tour, including the Went, which I had tickets for but due to a last minute change of heart from the parents, I was denied the chance to drive with my neighbor up from Philly to Limestone.
So this was truly my first real tour experience and it is a key point in my life where I fully solidified what I would be doing for the years to come – listening, dissecting and obsessing over Phish.
This show is a bit overshadowed by what took place the night before where Phish dipped their toes into the Grateful Dead song book by playing “Terrapin Station” as a tribute to Jerry Garcia since it was the anniversary of his passing away. After years and years of trying to shake the Dead comparisons, of which there are very little musically, they dropped this in the encore at Virginia Beach, getting the fans all up in arms and buzzing about the bust out.
“Down With Disease” – Star Lake 98 DVD from Phish on Vimeo.
But this was a summer of covers even being officially deemed the “Summer of Covers” by fans as the band played a new cover every night. At Burgesstown they played more then one bust out cover, perhaps knowing they had a lot to live up to from the prior night. A big bust out for the old heads in the crowd was Little Feet’s “Time Loves a Hero” (1,000 show gap). But it was the opening that got the crowd grooving, Bob Marley’s “Trench Town Rock”. I have to admit as I usually do when it comes to Phish singing songs by artists who, well, can actually sing – the song kind of fell flat. But it’s often the novelty of your favorite band playing another one of your favorite bands songs that makes the whole experience worthwhile. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Phish’s singing when the song fits their tones, such is the case for covers of The Rolling Stones or Talking Heads.
As for the show as a whole, I mostly remember it for the epic “Runaway Jim” that starts out the second set. This monster clocks in at 35 minutes and meanders in many different experimental and ethereal directions, including a theatrical nod to West Side Story with a tease of “Maria” from Trey. Other highlights include a knock-your-socks-off “Maze” and a sublime “Reba”.
The DVD will be released on December 11th but you can pre-order right now and if you do, you’ll also receive a CD of other Star Lake gems that were hand picked by the archivist himself, Kevin Shapiro.