The August 9, 1998 encore at Virginia Beach Amp eclipses the entire show: Terrapin Station. While the encore was a truly epic, we really need to finally talk about the rest of this great concert. With two very solid sets that feature great flow, albeit unusual song placement, this show provided a great vacation sandwiched between two great shows, Merriweather and Star Lake.
PYITE opened in traditional form before dropping a 15+ minute rendition of Bathtub Gin. This Gin hoses the crowd off with some euphoric soloing via Big Red. The Lizards that followed proved to everyone that Phish was going for some serious playing on this particular night–it’s not often Lizards comes in in the three-spot. The strong version of the Gamehendge favorite was followed by an even stronger version of Moma Dance. Four songs deep, and Phish has already covered most styles of their playing.
Set 1: Punch You In the Eye, Bathtub Gin, The Lizards, The Moma Dance, Birds of a Feather, Esther, Roggae, Bouncing Around the Room, David Bowie
Set 2: AC/DC Bag > Sparkle, Run Like an Antelope, Brian and Robert, Waste -> Somewhere Over the Rainbow > You Enjoy Myself > Frankenstein > Chalk Dust Torture, Hello My Baby
Encore: Terrapin Station
After the mid-set Birds of a Feather (with some excellent soloing and control by Trey), the band allowed us to catch our breath with Esther, Roggae, and Bouncing. The first half went out with a bang after the sun had finally set. David Bowie showcased Trey’s soft, but not quiet, tone that we have been discussing so much here on OPT lately. Trey plays a rollercoaster of notes before launching into the ending.
The second half gets to a start with the intent of getting this sweaty crowd even more drenched. The typical AC/DC Bag jam quickly dissolves into wah-pedal-happy funk with Page soloing atop. Eventually, Trey bursts out to rock more before segueing this 14 minute monster into Sparkle.
When Antelope emerges anywhere but as a set-closer, you know they want to play. This Antelope is one of the best. Trey gets furious–at one point, Trey brings the blazing jam to a slow and punctuated stop before Fish POPS and they all perfectly launch back into the improvisational chaos. Unfortueately, Fish missed the cue where they wall snapped into the end segment of the song. They all helped Fish recover; in fact, it helped ignite some added improvisation. Trey stretched out the ‘reggae’ theme and eventually they did some stop/start jamming, with Trey speaking the “rye rye Rocco” lyrics within the instrumental breaks. Very impressive and fun stuff indeed.
After a slow break in the set, Phish squeezes three unexpected songs together: Waste -> Somewhere Over the Rainbow > YEM. The last time the band played Rainbow was almost exactly two years earlier on August 13. Unfortunately the YEM jam may have been the weakest point in the show. The YEM jam takes the funk direction and sinks very slowly. Instead of the jam bursting into a blazing finish, it just flutters into the vocal jam.
Frankenstein had everyone thinking it was the end of the second set before the band threw another setlist curve ball with the CDT closer.
Then, of course, the encore. To commemorate the 3rd anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s passing, Trey delicately began the opening notes to Terrapin Station. The crowd absolutely flipped out for nearly four minutes. It’s one of the loudest crowd reactions recorded at any Phish show. I was hoping for the second version at Telluride this past summer 🙁