Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Summer Tour 1998 recap by: Charlie Horse

Hey Friends,
So I'm feeling inclined to do this, as this is the 10 year anniversary of perhaps the greatest week in my life. It's a long email, take the time to read it. There's some great downlaods in here too, so don't pass up owning these shows.
Summer Tour 98 was just an all around perfect experience. As we started off in Columbia, MD at Merriweather, I think we knew what was in store for the rest of the week. I think that it was 2 days before the show that John Capasso managed to cough up my extra ticket. So on Saturday morning, 8/8/98, Adam, Paul, and myself hoofed it down to MD. We got to the parking lot, and Paul and Adam bought their tickets from a scalper standing at the entrance. I remember they paid the guy a whopping $55 per ticket, which these days is cheap and below face. Needless to say, we were in. I think we were lucky to have found that scalper, as it seemed NOBODY had a ticket to this show.
The show itself is just phenomenal, and we all had a blast. There is a picture that I probably still have somewhere of the three of us, and our faces are melted. I swear. It's funny how Merriweather still to this day goes down as one of the greatest shows phish ever played. What's even better, somehow a soundboard of this show leaked. If you'd like to download it, here it is:

Enjoy that show. Rarely does a time come along where such an incredible recording gets released.
The following days were blissful for me. I remember sitting on Andrew's front porch just in awe about how amazing that show was. I'll never forget the day I "Got It" with Phish in Albany of 97. Merriweather was like the second coming of "getting it" for me. I guess you really can't experience something like that from a recording. It stretched far beyond the show itself. It was the start to an amazing week of shows that came along with a few bumps in the road.
Fast forward to 8/12/98. Vernon Downs. We left Closter early that morning. I took out $250 from an ATM, and left my damn card in the machine. Restricting me to $250 to get through the tour. I guess at the time when things were less expensive, we could pull off such a task. Upon arriving at Vernon Downs, we came upon a LONG line of traffic to get into the venue. Of course, as we were overly excited 18 year olds, Paul and Adam wanted to sit on the hood of the truck, while I drove in the traffic. For a regular show, I'd say this was a ridiculous amount of traffic.
I'll never forget this. I put a tape in the player, AC/DC Bag is blasting. Adam and Paul on the hood of the car...the sun is shining and the windows are down. Things couldn't be more perfect, when in my window enters a damn bee. Being that I'd only driven a car a handful of times at that point, I didn't realize that as I was swatting at the bee, I had taken my foot off the brakes, and the car was rolling. Next thing I know I felt a BANG and Look up only to see Adam and Paul looking at me like I'm a total fucking retard through the windshield. That's right, I rear ended the vehicle in front of us. Oh, and speaking of feeling like a retard, it was a short bus....full of retarded kids.
We sat on the side of the road for a good 2 hours. The cops finally showed up and wrote out a police report. The crazy redneck driving the bus was trying to point out damage that just didn't exist. Finally, the officer told me to just go on the bus and apologize to the kids. It was pretty traumatic having to step on a bus and apologize to a bunch of kids who really didn't know what was happening in the first place. But I did it. Whew
So I guess we hit our first bump in the road. Needless to say, Vernon Downs was yet another EXCELLENT show, and incredible experience on top of that. Best Slave ever? Download the show here:

That night we met up with Jeff Gorsky and crew. Good times. But the next day it was off to Limestone. I guess there's not much to say about amount of driving we did. I mean this place was just SO far away, as we all know. We camped out yet another night. I'll never forget the guy from that camp site telling us that Phish had signed on to do a festival in Limestone for 2 more summers after that one. Could you imagine?
Either way, the next day we got up, and drove a bit more, and got in the line. I guess it was our first time in a line for a festival. We were all very excited, but Paul was so excited that he got out of the car to mingle with the crowd, as Paul likes to do. The line into the Lemonwheel would stop for 15 minutes, and then move a quarter mile. Paul was maybe 20 to 30 cars behind us, when of course the line started to move. We didn't know where Paul was, so of course, we just kept moving. Can't keep the crowd waiting I guess. Just as we're approaching our next stop point, I notice Paul in the side view mirror of the QX4 just running. Birkenstocks in hand, the boy was Forrest Gump. He finally caught up to us, and within a few hours, we were in. However, in a few hours we also hit paul's bump in the road.
Basically, Paul started the first annual, "Fuck myself up at a festival" tradition, which was followed by other injuries at other festivals, such as him burning his finger prints off grabbing the top of a lantern (Why?). He came over at some point just limping. I guess it was running barefoot on hot pavement that caused his feet to blister. We were all pretty shocked. I guess had we known what was in store for future festivals, we probably wouldn't have been very surprised.
It didn't help that we were a good half hour walk from the concert venue. I'll never forget how badly my feet hurt after that festival. But needless to say, Phish capped off their summer tour in grand fashion. The boys were on point, and the festival was overall just an amazing experience all together. My first Festival. Also, it was Andrew's birthday, and if I recall correctly, his first shows? Either way, it was an unbeatable experience. It was SO FREAKIN COLD AT NIGHT THOUGH!! No festival that followed held up the vibe that the Lemonwheel did. I can't speak for the two prior to that one, but I never missed one after that. The music was incredible these two nights. And of course you can download them here:

The music ends, as it always did. The next morning was an interesting one, as Adam's backpack had been stolen from the tent. In that backpack were the key's to the QX4. So we had to somehow get on the horn with a locksmith and get key codes from Adam's mom. How the hell did we even get cell service up there??? It was fucking 1998? Ten years later I don't get service in my apartment in MIDTOWN! Grrr
Finally I think it was Paul who managed to find Adam's ransacked backpack behind a tent about 15 yards away. His money was gone, but they keys remained. Paul and I get in the truck and start bombing down the now empty runway to where Adam was with the locksmith. I'll never forget the feeling of "THANK GOD WE'RE GOING HOME!" So I guess that was bump in the road #3.
We couldn't make it home in Just one night. We stopped at some motel along the way. We decided we all wanted to get lobster since we were in maine. So there were about 12 of us at a table in some random sea food joint. One of the Gorsky Crew smuggled in a bottle of rum, so of course, we ordered 12 cokes. When the waitress brought out the tray full of cokes, she managed to lose her grip and dropped them all over Adam. He was soaked. I guess this was the final bump in the road. I'll never forget the look on Adam's face as he looked up at the waitress and said his first words, "I'll have your biggest lobster please." Adam's meal got comped and we were all on our way the following morning.
We made it home in one piece, however, I don't think life could ever be the same after such an experience. And I guess what I'm getting at is that it was probably the best time of my life. In many ways I knew it was at the time. I had my closest friends with me, and we had some amazing shows to top it off. It was never the same after that. Sure we all had fun, but more people started jumping on the wagon. And while it was fun with them too, it wasn't the perfect mix that I think we all had that summer.
I'm happy that 10 years down the line I can honestly say this was the best time I've ever had in my life. Really nothing can beat it. We had the world to ourselves, in the transition between graduating high school and starting college. If I could turn the clock back, I'd do it again in a heart beat. I'm just happy I had you guys to share in the experience.
Happy Anniversary Best Week EVER
::Cue "Wonder Years" Music::


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