, attached to 1998-08-08

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout August 8th, 1998 was the first night of a little Phish run I did with my good friend Jason. We had driven down from Ottawa in his 1993 Volkswagen Jetta, the back seat loaded to the roof with guitars, coolers, and camping gear. I remember the make and year of his car because at the time I had the exact same car in the exact same colour (black). Back then Jason and I lived across the street from each other and one morning I got in his car by mistake and almost drove it to work. That’s when we discovered that my key worked for his car and vice-versa, which came in very handy on this trip when Jason’s keys got locked in the car (twice).

Anyway, this show was in Baltimore (basically). It was my first (and to date only) time seeing a show at the rather impressive Merriweather Post Pavilion and I remember it well. The show had a lot of great jamming and a bunch of fun covers, like Sweet Jane and Sexual Healing. But the moment of the show for me, the very first thing I think of when I hear the word “Merriweather” (which admittedly isn’t too often) was the first nanosecond of the encore.

After closing the second set with Harry Hood (a personal fave) Phish came out for the encore all innocent and acting like they weren’t about to cover the best Beastie Boys song ever for the first time. Waving meekly at the crowd Trey strapped on his guitar and kicked into Sabotage and I swear to all that is holy, I was two feet off the ground before the second note was played.

And here’s the funny thing: I had never heard the song before.

All I knew was that I was hearing the greatest intro of all time and my body reacted with the speed and energy of a grasshopper on high alert. Then the scream came and I melted.

By this time the rest of the crowd had caught up with me and the band and we were all going completely ballistic. The place was raging above and beyond the energy of even the most oomphy Phish encore…heck, comparing it to any Phish encore I had seen before (or since, frankly) feels silly; this was a flat-out balls-to-the-wall musical force akin to Coltrane’s (or The Dead’s) wall of sound and it was astounding.

Best. Encore. Ever.

After the show Jason and I followed our map a long way down a country side road only to find that the State Park we were hoping to camp in had closed down. It was late and we were so far off the beaten path we decided to bunk down right there in the driveway of the shuttered park.

I suppose it was about 6am when the police knocked on the window. Without hardly a hello they got us up and out of the car and had Jason and I stand in the field across the road about a hundred feet from each other.

Can you believe they didn’t even bring us coffees?

Oh they searched and searched. Then they waited and waited while the K9 unit showed up, which took a while what with us being so far off down a country road. They finally showed up and the dog went through the car sniffing the prodigious amount of aromatic gear we had piled up in the back. He (or she – it was hard to tell) went around the whole car and checked everywhere except inside the trunk, which saved us a significant amount of time. I thought that was odd; I mean the guys (and their dog) were thorough. Eventually, almost reluctantly. the officers called us back over to our car.

Turns out the only thing the dog found was a bag of President’s Choice Decadent chocolate chip cookies, which he (she?) devoured. Apologizing about the cookies, the officers told us we were free to leave (they didn’t mention anything about us being free to go back to sleep) so we hopped into the car and attempted to speed off, only to instantly hear metallic banging and crashing behind the car.

I thought the trunk had fallen off or something, but in fact the cops had left our tin camping plates on the roof and they had fallen to the pavement as we pulled away. Jason jumped out to grab them (I was driving) and in doing so caught the top of his foot on a metal bracket under the dash that had formerly held a stereo EQ, cutting his foot quite badly.

Like a trouper he grabbed the plates and with a wave to the cops he hopped back in the car, put a napkin on his gushing wound and suggested I get us out of there. I did, we stopped at a 7-11 for coffees and Band-Aids and did the best we could do to stem the flow of Jason’s blood in the land of not-free health care. He certainly needed stitches, and he most certainly didn’t get them.

The Band-Aids worked about as well as the thin, tepid coffee did, but at least we got an early start on the day.



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