Phish spent the early part of 1999 enjoying some time off and undertaking more individual projects. Trey embarked on his first solo tour, Fish toured with his various side projects, Trey and Page joined Phil Lesh for unprecedented Phil and Friends shows and Mike played with a variety of artists. In June, the band got together to practice as a group and prepare for summer tour. It was the first summer Phish hadn’t toured Europe since 1995. The band performed twenty-two shows in July, matching 1992 for the most shows played in that month. They also made their first visit to Japan, and shifted to a new stage setup for summer tour with Page staying on his side of the stage and Trey and Mike switching places leaving Trey at far stage left. The old setup was nearly a straight line across the stage with Fish and Page looking right at each other. Fish moved into a spot nestled behind Trey and Mike. Trey also added a synthesized keyboard that he had used during his solo tour that Spring. The summer tour began June 30th in Bonner Springs, Kansas.
Phish played their second show of the summer on July 1st at First American Music Center in Antioch, Tennessee. The band was joined during the first set by Jerry Douglas on dobro for a cover of Del McCoury’s song Beauty of My Dreams. Del’s son Ronnie McCoury (mandolin) and Tim O’Brien (fiddle and vocals) then joined Jerry and the band for several songs including Phish originals Roggae, Water in the Sky, Back on The Train and Poor Heart. Douglas would reunite with the band later in the year along with Bela Fleck to record The Inlaw Josie Wales for the album Farmhouse. The next shows were July 3rd and 4th at Lakewood Amphitheatre in Atlanta. The closing of set two on July 3rd featured an unusual combination of Contact with a segue into Little Drummer Boy. After Little Drummer Boy closed the set, the band left the stage. Minutes later, Fish returned to the stage to reprise the song for the encore while wearing a snare drum and singing the song. The rest of the band then reappeared with Page’s father, Dr. Jack McConnell, who joined Phish in a rousing rendition of Won’t You Come Home, Bill Bailey. They finished the encore with Harry Hood. Later that night, Fish and Mike joined Colonel Bruce Hampton and his band at Brandyhouse, a local bar. The Independence Day show the next night featured The Wedge and Vultures. I Didn’t Know showcased Fish on a triumphant vacuum solo while he showed off his special Stars and Stripes outfit. Set two opened with Ghost > Slave To The Traffic Light, and included the bizarre combination of Mike’s Song > Sleeping Monkey > Weekapaug Groove. The encore was Carini, during which the song’s namesake, drum tech Peter J. Carini, joined the band onstage to celebrate. The Meatstick was next, and for the first time friends and family joined the band and Page’s wife, Sofi, who was several months pregnant with their daughter Delia, in “The Meatstick Dance”. The dance was carefully taught to the participants by Trey and Mike backstage during set break. An a capella Star Spangled Banner closed the show as fireworks erupted overhead.
On July 5th, Mike sat in with The Derek Trucks Band at Macon, Georgia’s Fusion Fest. The tour resumed on July 7th in Charlotte, North Carolina after a couple days off. Phish was joined there by guest slide-guitarist Derek Trucks, currently playing with the Allman Brothers Band, for the second set opener, 2001, and for the encore of Possum and Funky Bitch. July 8th found the band returning to Virginia Beach Amphitheatre for the third year in a row. They opened set two with Birds of a Feather > If I Only Had a Brain before Mike and Trey put down their instruments and again instructed the crowd in the Meatstick dance. The set ended with Tube > Simple, which came to a close in a Squirming Coil-esque manner with Page playing his piano alone. The next night, Phish played Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland where they again performed the Meatstick (with dance) and closed the set with Mike’s Song > Twist > Weekapaug. Phish played Camden, New Jersey’s E Centre on July 10th. The 11th was a day off.
On the 12th and 13th, Phish played at The Tweeter Center (formerly Great Woods) in Mansfield, Massuchusetts. They opened the first show with two old favorites, Foreplay > Long Time, from the debut album from the local legends Boston. It had been nearly six years since they had performed this pair of Boston tunes. The July 13th show opened with a combination of NICU > The Curtain > Halley’s Comet > Roses are Free followed by NO2. Next came another two-night stand, this time at Holmdel, New Jersey’s PNC Bank Arts Center July 15th and 16th. The Meatstick theme continued, with the song and dance opening set two the first night. Split Open and Melt morphed into Kung and back into a jam that segued into Bouncing Around the Room. A stretched out version of Chalk Dust Torture, complete with Llama teases and solo Trey ending closed the set. The second set the following night featured dynamic playing and a special encore. Trey got the crowd going by teasing them into thinking Bruce Springsteen would be joining them, another local hero, Tom “the Boss” Marshall, made his triumphant entrance onstage for Phish’s premiere performance of Born To Run. The next two days consisted of Phish’s fourth self-produced outdoor gathering in as many years. Like Clifford Ball, The Great Went and Lemonwheel before it, the event at Oswego County Airport in Volney, New York, was held at an airfield with no pre-existing venue and with side performers and other attractions. In contrast to the previous three festivals, the Oswego shows did not have a name or a staged “stunt”. It did have a public square known as The Green which, unlike previous years, was available 24 hours because it was placed in the center of the campground. There was a side stage within The Green known as Echo Lodge which featured a full lineup of distinguished guests, including Del McCoury, Son Seals, The Slip, Bob Moses, Ozomatli, and others. Those acts performed for the campers, keeping them busy throughout the time when Phish was not onstage. The July 17th show featured Bathtub Gin, and second set opener Funky Bitch sung by the song’s author, Son Seals. Son put his own spin on Phish’s version of his song, treating the audience to some gritty Chicago Blues. Set two ended with Sneaking Sally Through the Alley, Timber Ho! and You Enjoy Myself. The audience retired to discos and campsites and returned the next day to an afternoon set and two evening sets of music. Members of the Del McCoury band, who had also performed at Echo lodge, joined Phish during the first set for renditions of Phish’s Back on the Train as well as bluegrass covers and Del’s song Beauty of My Dreams. Trey noted that Del’s version was “the way it was supposed to be done.” Set two began at sunset with Runaway Jim > Free. The attempt to break the world record for largest crowd doing a dance was next, with Meatstick followed by Guyute. The set closed with Llama during which Trey played his guitar behind his head ala Jimi Hendrix. Set three began with My Soul followed by a fiery rendition of Piper that eventually became the bed of the studio version on the album Farmhouse. July 17th closed with a nod to the past with Phish’s offerings of Wilson with a jam seguing into Catapult, which then flowed into Icculus. The song about the great god of Gamehendge showcased what Trey called the longest playing of a single chord (E), which began at the end of Wilson and continuing through Catapult. After introducing the band and finishing Icculus with teases of the Rolling Stones’ song Miss You, they finished the set with Quinn The Eskimo, Fluffhead and Harry Hood encore. Fireworks framed the stage for the second time that summer as the band departed.
On July 20th, Phish played Toronto’s Molson Amphitheatre, where they introduced a brand new cover, Led Zeppelin’s Misty Mountain Hop. On the 21st, they performed at Star Lake Amphitheatre near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They opened with AC/DC Bag into Cities and then played their first-ever cover of Pavement, Gold Soundz. The band played July 23rd at Polaris Amphitheatre in Columbus, Ohio. It was there that Trey first made mention of the anticipated Millennium Eve concert to take place in Florida. At the Alpine Valley show on July 24th, they played an encore of rarities consisting of Glide, Camel Walk, and the first electric rendition of Alumni Blues since April, 1994 (see TMIPH April 1994). On July 25th, the band moved on to Indiana’s Deer Creek Amphitheatre. They opened the first set there with Meat (the song’s first show-opening slot) followed by My Friend > My Left Toe > Whipping Post. Makisupa Policeman followed with Trey announcing Chris Kuroda’s (see TMIPH March, 1989) birthday and each band member taking a solo, eventually giving Chris a silent “light solo”. Set two on July 25 featured Fish’s first performance of Purple Rain in three years and closed with a Loving Cup encore. The U.S. summer tour ended the next night with the second Deer Creek show. The band and core crew immediately headed to catch their flight to Japan.
After a few travel days, Phish arrived at Niigata, Japan on July 29th for the Fuji Rock Festival and their first appearance in Asia. The festival site was scenic Mount Naeba, a ski area about an hour and a half bullet-train ride from Tokyo. The Fuji Rock Festival is Japan’s largest annual rock festival and Phish was the only act performing multiple sets. In an environment reminiscent of native Vermont, Phish performed seven sets over the next three days to a very warm reception from mostly Japanese fans. On July 30th, they began their appearance at the festival with a single afternoon set on the Green Stage. They continued with two sets at Field of Heaven, a special stage set apart for Phish and their audience that had a beautiful backdrop complete with waterfall and lavender trimming. Phish played two more sets at Field of Heaven on July 31st, featuring an inspiring 2001 > Bowie and an encore with guest Nawang Khechog who gave a translated speech about Tibet, music, freedom and Phish. Nawang played Tibetan Universal Horn while Fish accompanied him on vacum for a long chant/jam. Nawang remained onstage for Brian and Robert, which he had learned with Trey earlier that year at a joint Carnegie Hall performance. They closed the show and the month of July with Simple.
The last show of the summer was the third night at Field of Heaven on August 1st. After returning home from Japan, the band enjoyed the rest of the summer while preparing for the upcoming fall tour which started in September.