Possum was dedicated to its author, Jeff Holdsworth, and Fish’s band in high school, Frodo. Ramble On was played in honor of Fish seeing a Led Zeppelin concert at age eleven and contained Cocaine teases; Slave subsequently included Ramble On teases, as well as Those Were the Days teases from Trey and Mike. The Phish debut of Burning Down the House contained alternate lyrics ("Vernon down the house"). HYHU was teased in the banter between Burning Down the House and YEM. YEM included HYHU and Mission: Impossible theme teases. This show is available as an archival release on LivePhish.com.
Those Were the Days and Ramble On teases in Slave to the Traffic Light, Hold Your Head Up and Theme from Mission: Impossible teases in You Enjoy Myself, Cocaine tease in Ramble On
Debut Years (Average: 1990)

This show was part of the "1998 Summer U.S. Tour"

Show Reviews

, attached to 1998-08-12

Review by CraigSKnowlton

CraigSKnowlton During the summer after high school before heading off to college, my long-time Phish traveling companion, Devin Lacey, and I took a Greyhound bus from Port Authority in New York City to Syracuse for this show on our way to the Lemonwheel. We each had giant camping backpacks filled with gear, and in those pre-9/11 days security let us walk right into the venue, which was the center field of a harness-racing track.

The show began with a mean Mike sung "La Grange" into "Makisupa Policeman" where Trey woke up this morning 'Burning Down'--a double entendre, whose full meaning emerged during the encore. Fishman grew up nearby the venue, and Trey's onstage chat before "Possum" referred to him as the 'hometown boy' and quizzed the audience about Fish's high school band, Frodo. Trey also dedicated the song to the song's author and former Phish bandmate, Jeff Holdsworth. Devoted fans probably knew these fun facts before the show, but hearing the band banter about them onstage added a special nostalgia to the atmosphere. The spotlight fell on Fishman during "Roggae" and a rare mid-set, mid-Mike's Groove "Sleeping Monkey," but explosive cover songs and big jams defined the show as a highlight of summer 1998.

One of the goofy joys of being a Phish phan is sitting around a room compiling a wish list of the songs that, in an ideal world, the band would cover. As a classic rock obsessed eighteen-year old, Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On" topped my list. When Trey started this tune's soft opening licks and Page began to sing, the crowd went absolutely NUTS. Trey's guitar powered through Jimmy Page's fierce licks long past the well-memorized peaks of Zeppelin II's version before Page's piano tickling brought the jam into a mellow but driven exploration of the song's softer melody. Then they transitioned flawlessly into a gorgeous Set I closing "Slave to the Traffic Light."

The "Mike's Song" that opened Set II dropped into deep funk quickly with Trey's crunchy notes encircling Page's dark organ swirls. One of the show-making versions that haven't occurred in 3.0 yet, this song reached multiple peaks before slipping into a "Simple" that matches the delicacy of 2011 versions with a headier drive at the end that melted into ambience as Trey led the band into "Rift." The rest of the set balanced between hard-driven rock and calming classics, but the encore brought the moments that would stand out in every attendees' memory.

"Burning Down the House" fulfilled its title. Trey swapped "Vernon Down" for the true lyrics, but the band remained true to the rest of the Talking Heads classic, including the soaring keyboard-funk bridge. On an ordinary night, a one-off cover might seem sufficient, but this was 1998, and the audience sensed that the band wanted to keep the party going. After teasing Fish some more with "HYHU," Trey announced they'd play 'one more song that Fish wanted to do for his friends and family': YOU ENJOY MYSELF! This 'one more song' turned into a 20-minute monster with HYHU and Mission Impossible teases and an insane, Kuroda light's-driven 'whose your daddy' vocal jam.

The next day we headed north to Maine for the Lemonwheel excited for the festival craziness ahead but knowing that we'd, perhaps, experienced the summer tour's high water mark. In a year that I consider as the musical peak of the band's career, the experience of attending this show remains my favorite moment of the summer.
, attached to 1998-08-12

Review by IdRatherBeOnTour

IdRatherBeOnTour 1st of my current 46 shows. I can honestly say that before this show I wasn't a big fan of Phish. I knew a few songs by sound/name and when they opened with La Grange I couldn't believe my ears. They played this tune better than ZZ Top!! To make things even better for me they played Ramble On and Burning Down the House to a T, both of which are two of my favorites. My first YEM vocal jam with insane lights left me speechless. Walking in I thought I would hear only Phish songs and not have a clue as to what was going on. Well needless to say they blew my mind and I was hooked for life on the music of Phish.

"Woke up this morning, VERNNNNON DOWN!"
, attached to 1998-08-12

Review by uctweezer

uctweezer One additional note-- the lyrics of Ramble On are littered with Lord of the Rings references. Did the mention of Fishman's high school band, "Frodo", spur them to play the Zeppelin tune? Probably.
, attached to 1998-08-12

Review by oongowa

oongowa Looking back, I would consider the summer of 98 to be just about to the peak of my Phish obsession. I think the actual peak happened at Big Cypress since the shows I saw after then never quite felt the same. I know it’s cliché to say that Big Cypress was the best thing ever and that you can’t even bring it up when trying to compare runs or shows since it’s not a fair comparison, but for me, it’s the truth. When I look at the list of shows I’ve seen, I enjoyed just about every one of them up until Big Cypress and not so much after. Not saying that they were all bad, it was just a slow decline until the end. Anyways, my point is that during the Summer of 98, Phish, to me, was the best band on this planet and there was nowhere on earth I would rather be then at a Phish show (which of course still holds true, thankfully).

My friend Justin and I were lucky enough to attend 3 of the 4 Island shows in April and caught only Star Lake the night before Vernon before heading up to Maine for The Lemonwheel. We rented a 12 person van for the 8 of use making the trip up North. Needless to say, it was pretty packed. The venue was a horse race track with the stage at one end and bleachers along one side of the track. It was all GA and, correct me if I’m wrong, but besides the 2 previous festivals, there weren’t too many outside GA shows in those days. I really don’t remember that much about the show. What I do remember is being REALLY fucking excited about going up to Maine. I almost couldn’t wait for the show to be over so that we could get on the road. I clearly remember the La Grange opener and I decided on that day that every show should open with it. I still believe that (and what a fucking treat to hear it at SPAC this year). The Ramble On was such a great surprise and to this day I find it hard to believe that Phish ever covered it. Always has been and always will be one of my favorite Zeppelin songs…mostly because it’s about Frodo Baggins and I’m a dork. I clearly remember the Burning Down the House encore with people going absolutely BONKERS while Justin and I hovered around the back of the crowd so that we could get out of there and beat the traffic. When they started up YEM we both looked at each other and kind of shrugged our shoulders and walked back towards the stage.

That’s it for memories, now for the play back. The quality of these tapes are really great. Nice outdoor recording with no roof or other funny shit for sound to bounce off of. This is what a good FOB AUD sounds like kids. The first set is a lot of fun and you can tell that the band is having the time of their lives. Lots of laughter and joking around. You can see the sun setting and the pot smoke hovering in the air, feel that mystery gust of cool air blow across your face and see all the happy smiling faces surrounding you AND up on the stage. This was the last official show of what some people would say was one of their most fun tours ever. Different covers every night, endless energy, great playing, then throw in some 97 funk and the new ambient style and you’ve got yourself a fantastic recipe for a good time. Again, loved the Ramble On and the Slave was perfect. The Mike’s to open the second set was great to my ears, mostly since we don’t hear Mike’s like this anymore. The rest of the set doesn’t get exploratory or crazy but it’s a lot of fun, and it’s ok to have a nothing but fun Phish show. Some people might knock a show like this but I’ve always enjoyed them since you feel like the band isn’t pressured prove anything or crank out a 20min face melting jam, they’re relaxed and having fun, it’s like seeing them in someone’s back yard with friends. Give me a can of Old Milwaukee, a fucking lawn chair and fire up the grill. This is a back yard BBQ with Phish. Could it get any better?


Jibboo Crew
, attached to 1998-08-12

Review by tubescreamer

tubescreamer My First show. I thought I had felt IT before on tape, but I felt IT for the first time in the live setting during Slave. The band, the lights, the audience, all in unison, this was something even bigger than music. After the show, me and my buddy were wandering around when we came across a crowd. It was Trey and Mike in a golf cart. Everyone was shaking their hands, and I didn't feel like pushing through the crowd to do the same-- I remember thinking that this was a normal thing, and that I would say hi to them next time. I never saw them on a golf cart again, or post show again. I have regrets about once being a naive teenager on acid on phish tour, but those regrets are outweighed by how thankful I am to have once been a naive teenager on acid on phish tour.
, attached to 1998-08-12

Review by Frankster

Frankster Wow I can't believe no one has reviewed this one yet. This was one of the funnest and honestly most solid shows I've ever seen. From head to toe this rocks . . . literally! The setlist is old skool played with that beautiful summer 98 sound. Pick a song any song and you won't be disappointed. Mike's > Simple is the best I've ever seen or heard. I won't even give you my feed just go and get this tape!!! A strong show from a strong tour. By now you should know not to skip the last show before a festival but if you don't this one and last year at Darien prove this point quite well. Turn it up and rock out.
, attached to 1998-08-12

Review by beckenbauer

beckenbauer This show was such fun! Summer '98!!! I found a big puddle not far from in front of a speaker tower to get down in. The covers in this show were so awesome! The venue was really nice and open and the parking lot was a blast. I'm pretty sure I remember seeing Hypnotic Clambake playing in the lot. There was a guy near me and my gang who kept yelling at set break: "play us another!" "woo hoo!" "yeah!" "play us another!" repeatedly. He would throw cash up in the air and carry on about how this was all that life was. He was so happy. We kept gathering his money and giving it back to him only to have him throw it up in the air again. When the set started I'm sure his money was on the ground. No one was interested in his money. We were all about the music. He made his point well.
, attached to 1998-08-12

Review by pikepredator

pikepredator This show has some serious highlights. La Grange bustout is a great way to start a show. Ramble On>Slave . . . is just as good as it looks. At the time I was really impressed by how the Ramble On jam was phish + Ramble On, a great fusion of sounds. And the Vernon Down the House>YEM and banter encore business was a lot of fun. This had everything a tour closing show should have.

Including - most importantly - kick-ass jamming to start set II. I don't know why this Mike's doesn't get more props but I absolutely love it.

It starts out in tight, focused '98 Mike's territory. After a few minutes it starts to get a bit sparse/trance. Nice subdued groove going on, good band balance, no voice is dominating, everybody contributing. They start to approach the closing chords but quickly back away. Around the 10:00 mark trey announces that they're going to jam for a while, delay loops are issued and things get late night/dark swamp eerie.

Fish starts to drive them forward a bit, trey follows his lead, once again they begin the approach to the closing chords. but no, they take a sharp left back into the 98 funk. Tight shit around 13:30, I love this kind of phish. they ratchet up the chaos level, screaming can be heard on the AUDs at phishtracks. NOW they're going for the closing chords . . . no wait fishman shifts the vector once again. trey gets NASTY now. I love how phish can shift directions together so easily. fish has a little ASZ groove but trey's playing has an industrial feel. is this NIN? Crazy noises! and Bob Weaver says NOW it's time for the closing chords. unique mike's. Love it.

Simple is simple . . . for a while. but the darkness of the mike's rears it's head after a few minutes of typically delicate simple jamming and they find a dark bluesy groove. the change happens fast, Mike starts a simple 2-thump bass "groove" (barely), trey plays a blues lick, and the whole feel inverts. One of those *moments* at a phish show where you enter uncharted waters, similar to the post-piper jam on 04/03/98. this jam doesn't really go anywhere, juts hands out in the bluesy realm before a little space and then an abrupt >Rift.

rest of the set is typical tour-closing joy!!
, attached to 1998-08-12

Review by markah

markah What a show! An astonishing opener followed by delectable rarities, amusing banter, and great covers thickly layered throughout the first set. Not noted in the setlist, they play a "song" in-between Character Zero and Ramble On, or Trey announces it as a "song written by Fishman..." Fishman doesn't get the joke. The closing suite of Ramble On->Slave is among the most well-executed pieces of ephishemera.

The Mike's sounds like an airliner careening with is wings aching and groaning under the weight, and the next 30 minutes of Simple->Rift continues the magical flight through this fantastic dreamscape. End the encore...well, that's the part you love, right? And for good reason! Shout out to everyone who totally called the Talking Heads' cover, too.

Special shout out to @shapsio for giving this one the official treatment. Listening to this show now, 20 years later, it's like getting a fresh set of ears. And they are directly plugged into Mike's rig. Man, these sound fantastic.

After the show I remember still laughing at the Makisupa keyword, the "who's your daddy vocal jam," loving the jam out of Ramble On and how it reminded me of Dayton (just in the way it went into Slave), and thinking "Jeez...we have got such a long drive to Maine."
, attached to 1998-08-12

Review by fhqwhgads

fhqwhgads This show has a classic, stacked setlist, with Roggae and Character Zero the most recent originals played. I wonder if maybe Phish was trying to reserve some firepower for the ensuing Lemonwheel festival. It's a very bantery show (Trey "rambles on") and features a lot of covers. Not noted by the setlist team I hear a Ramblin' (get it?) Man tease at 7:58 in Simple. Simple also features a very sludgy jam that suggests both Spooky and Whole Lotta Love. The energy here is kind of spaced-out, though the Mike's Song is certainly jammed extensively and the Weekapaug features some of the "clattering Rube-Goldberg funk" mentioned by @waxbanks in a review of an entirely different show. The Ramble On cover is fun, with a miniature jam in between it and Slave to the Traffic Light, and Burning Down the House is funny. I like this show, but it's not one I'll probably come back to a lot, even with yesterday's archival release. Kind of how the 8/11/98 Runaway Jim looks better to me on paper while still being a great jam, the Mike's is the marquee jam here but it seems somewhat in and out of focus, perhaps because the concentration here is on the gag and the banter. 8/11/98, however, didn't run its gag into the ground (Bittersweet Motel, halfway between Erie and Pittsburgh) and it also featured quite a lot more lively playing, in my opinion.
, attached to 1998-08-12

Review by toddmanout

toddmanout On August 12th, 1998 I found myself in the latter half of a little entertainment run south of the (Canada/US) border courtesy of Phish and The Tragically Hip (though mostly Phish I suppose), a stretch that had proved to be high on the fun-scale and somewhat rife with technical difficulties, not the least of which was a nagging car problem that no amount of wishing and hoping could seem to remedy. Regardless, my friend Jason and I got everywhere we needed to go, including Vernon Downs, a harness racing track in New York that was hosting Phish on that fine summer evening.

Vernon is just outside of Syracuse, which happens to be hometown to the band’s drummer Jon Fishman and I remember a lot of attention being thrown onto the quirky percussionist throughout this show. There was a shoutout to Fishman’s high school cover band Frodo before they covered Zeppelin’s Ramble On and I seem to recall Trey trying to goad Fishman into singing some cheesy cover song (perhaps Sexual Healing*?) that he really didn’t want to sing to the point that it became an onstage argument, though it is possible that I’m mistaking that with another show or perhaps even dreamed it up entirely.

How could one know?

On the other hand, the internet does confirm that this concert was indeed littered with some killer cover songs that weren’t Sexual Healing, from the show-opening La Grange and the aforementioned Ramble On through a sweet second set Loving Cup and into the now-legendary encore of Burning Down the House, sung (of course) as “Vernon Down the House”. Not bad, huh? Covering ZZ Top, Zeppelin, The Stones, and the Talking Heads all in one show, and a bunch of tasty Phish too, like Makisupa, Slave, and a Mike’s>Weekapaug sandwich that had Simple, Rift, and Sleeping Monkey along with that Loving Cup all squished inside. For me it was all about the You Enjoy Myself that closed the concert. Back then YEM was hands-down my favourite Phish song and one I was always always always hoping to see, most especially as a show-ender. I just loved it when the last thing I heard was an extended whacked-out vocal jam.

Though really, when I think back at this show all I can think about are those cover songs (and the banter). Maybe Grumpy Billy Joel had a point when he jealously dismissed Phish as a “second-rate cover band” after their historic no-repeat thirteen-show run at Joel’s favoured venue Madison Square Garden.

Except for the “second-rate” part, of course.**

*Not that Marvin Gaye is cheesy, but Phish covering Marvin Gaye is certainly cheesy.

**Though thinking about the times that I actually did hear them cover Sexual Healing…maybe in select instances Joel has it righter than wronger?

, attached to 1998-08-12

Review by spreaditround

spreaditround PHISH, WEDNESDAY 08/12/1998
Vernon, NY

SET 1:

La Grange: Awesome opener, we had a blast getting down to this one. >

Makisupa Policeman: Nice little jam and loops, this show is off to a good start. >

Funky Bitch: Standard.

Possum: Perfect placement, standard version.

Roggae: Standard.

Character Zero: Standard.

Ramble On: We had heard that this was played at Alpine, so it was not a surprise, but we were very excited to see this played again. Very chill jam that has good length and slips so nicely into Slave. Would recommend! ->

Slave to the Traffic Light: Loved this one at the show and still do. Very solid with a great finale. Back then, I hoped to hear Slave at ever show I went to and was especially excited to get this on this particular day.

SET 2:

Mike's Song: Immersed in brooding and dark tones, as anticipated, this performance takes an intriguing turn, mellowing out significantly around the nine-minute mark. Trey initiates a series of loops, seamlessly guiding the band into a soothing jam. After reveling in this mellowness for a minute and a half, a shift occurs as Trey steers them back into a vigorous and hard-charging groove. The final four minutes are a spectacle in themselves – characterized by a muddy, grungy, and intense atmosphere. This rendition stands out as truly outstanding, showcasing a dynamic range of musical expressions. Easy all timer and highly recommended. >

Simple: Has a blues jam towards the end – pretty different for this tune and as such would recommend for the unique nature of it. >

Rift: Didn’t see that coming. Little sloppy.

Loving Cup: Standard. >

Sleeping Monkey: Standard. >

Weekapaug Groove: Standard.

The Squirming Coil: Lovely version, Page was great!


Burning Down the House[1] - This was so much fun!

You Enjoy Myself: Pretty standard YEM but Page’s Mission Impossible stuff was fun.

Summary: This show is one of my favorites that I have attended. Such a great vibe and big highlights throughout. Plus, the banter from the band was fun and camping across the street from the venue had it’s perks too. Big, big fan. Agree with the current rating on Phish.net of 4.595/5 (>50 ratings)/

Replay Value: Ramble On, Slave to the Traffic Light, Mike’s Song, Simple

[1] Phish debut; lyrics changed to "Vernon down the house."

Possum was dedicated to its author, Jeff Holdsworth, and Fish’s band in high school, Frodo. Ramble On was played in honor of Fish seeing a Led Zeppelin concert at age eleven and contained Cocaine teases; Slave subsequently included Ramble On teases, as well as Those Were the Days teases from Trey and Mike. The Phish debut of Burning Down the House contained alternate lyrics ("Vernon down the house"). HYHU was teased in the banter between Burning Down the House and YEM. YEM included HYHU and Mission: Impossible theme teases. This show is available as an archival release on LivePhish.com.
Ratings are currently offline.
Overall: 4.595/5 (>50 ratings)
Ramble On, Slave to the Traffic Light, Mike's Song, Simple, Loving Cup, You Enjoy Myself
Those Were the Days and Ramble On teases in Slave to the Traffic Light, Hold Your Head Up and Theme from Mission: Impossible teases in You Enjoy Myself, Cocaine tease in Ramble On
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