The Daily Ghost #38 08/16/1998 Loring Commerce Center at Loring Air Force Base, Limestone, ME (Lemonwheel Festival Night 2)
Background (Ghost Position: Set 2 of 3 – Song 3 of 9)
In the second of three sets Ghost makes an appearance at Lemonwheel. Positioned early in the second set this Ghost has room to grow and goes a route that at this time we had rarely seen in Ghost. No segues with this Ghost.
Composed Section (0:00-4:53)
Trey calls out to the band “Ghost”? Some loops start up and then Mike’s bass starts to build. Fish sets the tempo nice and slow, as the Ghost begins to build up to the lyrics. The solo section begins with the slow pace and gets a little bit more juice when Mike enters the picture.
The pause gets a ton of applause and Fish starts making noises into the mic. After that? Hit mute…I am warning you. One of the worst drop ins yet. The song sounds like it almost comes to a halt, it is so bad. If the crowd knew that was coming, they might have taken back their applause.
The Drift Away Jam (4:54-18:24)
The slow pace carries over into the beginning jam. Mike plays a lick similar to “Story of the Ghost” section while Trey releases a couple of loops.
Mike at about the 5:30 mark takes the lead with a cool “da dum da dum da dum” rhythm. It certainly sounds like this Ghost is going be a super funk superstar. Mike is bringing it and Trey has some funk riffs going.
At about the 6:00 mark though, Fish drops the bottom from underneath. Instead of the funk party it looked like was coming, we end up traveling down into the wormhole. A minimalist groove breaks out with Fish providing a slow track for the band to move on.
From this point on, the jam is what I and many others call a “sway” jam. When this style of jam breaks out, a lot of bowls get lit up, and you sway back and forth. It is a repetitive patient style jam. It is hard to write a review and talk about, due to the lack of changes.
I don’t dislike this style of jamming by any means. When I am at a show it can be quite enjoyable. A chance to gather your thoughts and drift away. The things you often think about during a jam like this can be astonishing. I have thoughts about friends, family, work, other Phish shows, people around me, nature, Vlade Divac, if my car will make it to the next show, if I can find my car after the show, what I could sell on lot to make money, grilled cheese, how awful Golden Anniversary Beer is, Icculus, the fact I seem to see “Sample in a Jar” at every show I go to, Giraffes, and how good the girl in front of me looks.
Most of the time, I think about how much I love being at shows and how much the band means to me. These jams are really moments of reflection for myself. When no band member grabs my ear and runs with it, my mind takes over. I have often just taken in the surroundings around me during a jam like this and just smiled. I look around, breathe the night air, watch Kuroda do his work, and just let go of reality. These tend to be some of my favorite moments from a show.
The actual music is fairly simple. Fish varies between a few different slow paced beats. Mike creates a backbone that supports the rest of the jam. Trey leads, but it is certainly the opposite of machine gun Trey. Instead, he is lost in the moment using the guitar as extension of whatever thoughts are going around upstairs for Big Red. Page fills in the gaps that develop but never really digs in deep.
Other than that you wont get a lot of technical break down from me on this Ghost jam. I believe a jam like this is not meant to be broken down piece by piece like I usually do. Instead it is more of a vibe the band creates, with itself and then the audience. A blissful sway jam like this is meant to be felt and experienced. Not over-analyzed and critiqued.
I will say Trey ends with some great Hendrix Style notes during the outro of this Ghost. Trey and Fish are the highlights of this version, although the jam never changes much, they do some great things.
I wrote what I thought during this Lemonwheel’s Ghost. I appreciate it for the uniqueness, during the summer of 1998. Where the other summer Ghosts followed a pattern of funk groove, build, peak…Lemonwheel is a big abyss to let our thoughts drift away. That being said, as much as I appreciate it, and enjoy these style jams at shows, it doesn’t do a ton for my own personal taste. I appreciate the subtleties and the fact the band has to be on the same level to make a jam like this happen. Stack it next to any of the other summer ’98 versions that have distinct changes however, and I will choose any one of those.