Saturday, August 9, 2008

It Was Ten Years Ago Today, Vol II

Still coming down from the energy of the previous night's encore at Merriweather, we headed down to Virginia Beach, VA for the second summer in a row. Where the Merriweather Post Pavillion venue gains points for history and character, the Virginia Beach Ampitheater lacks heavily in both categories. It is yet another concrete and plastic corporate clone, one of many that seemed to pop up all over the country in the late 90s. It is indiscernable from Nissan pavillion, the former Polaris Ampitheater in Columbus, and the former Riverport Ampitheater in St. Louis. I would love to say that the lot scene made up for the surroundings, but not on this night. The cops-on-horseback security team was in full force breaking up any fun that was possibly being had on the premises.

With the show starting, as like for any other Phish show, all is forgotten about the pre-game and full attention is paid to the band and the music. With the sun still in the sky, we were not yet able to bathe in the glory of CK5. We had even better seats than Merriweather, closer and in the middle of the pavillion, and our location may even have been the best view that I ever had for the band (outside of any general admission shows at Hampton).

The whole concert was equally as great as the night before. This many years later I can't really tell you which one was played better. But what I can tell you is that this show featured my only Esther and one of only two YEMs I would see in 25 shows. I would see five Avenu Malkenus and only two YEMs. Go figure.

The distinct memories from this one are, like the night before, all about the encore. Phish chose this opportunity, the three-year anniversary of the death of Jerry Garcia, to pay tribute to their musical heroes, The Grateful Dead. Back in 1998, the comparisons between Phish and The Dead were at a fever pitch due to the rising popularity of the band in the wake of the flood of fans of the Grateful Dead flocking to them after Jerry's passing. Phish was known to play Dead covers in their earliest days in the mid-to-late eighties, but up to this point they had chosen not to play any Dead songs in their concerts for what must have been close to a decade. So when the opening notes of Terrapin Station began to ring out from the Languedoc, rather than reckless energy in the celebration of Sabotage of the night before, this encore was purely emotional. Phish hadn't chosen Fire on the Mountain or Not Fade Away, songs that would have been easier to pull off, they chose one of the Dead's masterpieces. A song where one bum note or flubbed lyric would have been readily apparent. A song that could have fallen apart midway through. That didn't happen though. The band put forth a beautiful rendition of a beautiful song that no one in the audience could have predicted and almost everyone relished. Many ended the prior night with their face dripping with sweat and many ended this night with their face dripping with tears. A fitting tribute to Jerry indeed.

After this concert, the musical interactions between Phish and the Dead could no longer be restrained. Next up was Trey and Page featuring as Phil's friends in April 1999 at the Warfield. In October 2000, Bob Weir appeared on stage with Phish at Shoreline Ampitheater. In more recent years, Trey has reappeared with Phil on stage and Phil has played Wolfman's Brother on occasion. I believe that the door to all of this was cracked open on 8/9/98, exactly ten years ago today.

Please join me in reliving this night of music and download/stream Phish at Virginia Beach Ampitheater from one decade ago, courtesy of

08-09-98 Virginia Beach Amphitheatre, Virginia Beach, VA

1: Punch You in the Eye*, Bathtub Gin, Lizards, The Moma Dance, Birds of a Feather, Esther, Roggae, Bouncing Around the Room, David Bowie (1:23)

2: **AC/DC Bag > Sparkle, Run Like an Antelope, Brian and Robert, Waste, Somewhere Over The Rainbow^, You Enjoy Myself, Frankenstein, Chalkdust Torture, Hello My Baby (1:22)

E: Terrapin Station+ (0:11)

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