After a summer of touring the U.S. and their first performances in Japan (see TMIPH July 1999), Phish took a few weeks to relax before hitting the road again. They were returning to amphitheaters and pavilions with multiple-night stays in some cities. September and October made up the first stage of a two-part fall tour. The band would return to the road that December to finish up the touring season before heading south for their Millennium Celebration in Florida.
Before they headed out, the band paid homage to old friend and Lighting Designer Chris Kuroda (see TMIPH March 1989), who married Rhia Jaenkel on September 4th. The ceremony and reception took place outdoors in Stowe, Vermont with music provided by the Chrome Cowboys and friends. Between Chrome Cowboys sets, Phish took the stage for a short set consisting of YaMar, Poor Heart, Funky Bitch, Back on the Train, Water in the Sky and Possum. At the urging of the band, Chris joined them on vocals for Possum.
Soon after celebrating the Kurodas’ nuptials, Phish flew to British Columbia, meeting the equipment and crew who were already assembled at Vancouver’s GM Place for technical rehearsals. They opened the fall tour there on September 9th with the instrumental Mozambique (a/k/a Third Tube), a song that had been debuted during Trey’s Eight Foot Fluorescent Tubes performance in April of 1998. Set two featured the unveiling of two more new songs, The Inlaw Josie Wales and First Tube, which also had its origin with the Eight Foot Fluorescent Tubes. On September 10th and 11th, Phish returned to The Gorge amphitheater on Washington’s Columbia River (see TMIPH August 1997) and on the 12th, they played at Portland Meadows in Portland, Oregon. They opened the Portland show with First Tube in its now-traditional spot. Poor Heart and Mozambique followed it. The show ended with the unique combination of 2001 segued into You Enjoy Myself. After a day off, the tour resumed at Boise State University in Idaho, where the band played the BSU Pavilion. The Boise show is recalled fondly for the second set which began with Peaches en Regalia > AC/DC Bag during which the latter was stretched to vast musical boundaries.
The next evening, while the crew was traveling and setting up for the upcoming Shoreline shows, Mike joined local friends the Jazz Mandolin Project for a guest appearance at Last Day Saloon in San Francisco. Phish played the next two nights at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California. By the time they took the stage at Shoreline, the tour had hit its stride, with the band tearing through a first set of material that included Carini and their first rendition of On Your Way Down since August of 1989. Set two of the September 16th show opened with 2001, Mike’s Groove and the encore with special guest guitarist Warren Haynes was a jammed-out Misty Mountain Hop. During set two of the September 17th show, Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh became the first member of that band ever to join Phish onstage, lending a second bass to YEM. Phil came onstage following Road Manager, Brad Sands who laid down three instead of the usual two mini-trampolines. Having rehearsed the coreographed YEM tramps segment, Phil made every effort to match Trey and Mike’s moves. Phil eventually focused his feet on the ground and energy on his bass (Note to Phil: strap bass on shoulder before attempting acrobatics) as the song transformed into a melodic bass duet during which Phil and Mike traded licks until beginning Wolfman’s Brother. Wolfman’s segued into Phish’s first performance of Cold Rain and Snow. Lesh remained onstage while Warren Haynes rejoined the band on guitar for the encore, a spirited cover of the Dead’s Viola Lee Blues to top off the double-header. Things picked back up on September 18th with a show at Coors Amphitheatre in Chula Vista, California. There, Phish settled into a groove for an excursion built upon Boogie On Reggae Woman, which opened the second set. Like AC/DC Bag in Boise a week earlier, Boogie On grew steadily away from the song beneath it, stretching out in myriad directions before the band returned to its structure. The following night, NICU opened the second set, which also showcased the first Gotta Jibboo of the fall tour. Twist opened set two and a double encore of Guyute followed by Character Zero closed the Irvine show. After the show, the band and crew traveled through the night to Arizona for a day off. Some of the band members used the opportunity to visit with old friend and Aquarium Rescue Unit alumnus Apt. Q-258 (Jeff Sipe) who was in town to perform with Leftover Salmon that night at Tucson’s Rialto Theatre, Trey joined them on a second guitar and vocals for a few songs, including a cover of The Band’s Shape I’m In.
On September 21st, Phish performed at Pima County Fairgrounds in Tucson. The first set there featured Split Open and Melt, followed by Drowned and I Didn’t Know. Reba and Axis: Bold as Love made up the unique encore. September 22nd found Phish at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico where they fashioned a special soundcheck for Tour Manager Richard “Dickie Scotland” Glasgow, who received his degree there at New Mexico State University. The encore that night was an appropriate LaGrange as the tour rolled south into Texas. The first of two Texas shows followed at South Park Meadows in the capital Austin on September 24th. There, the band played a seamless second set opening with Peaches en Regalia > Possum and continuing with Lizards and Sand > Misty Mountain Hop. Boogie On Reggae Woman and Chalk Dust Torture comprised the encore. After playing the next night at Woodlands Pavilion in Houston, Phish moved on to Lakefront Arena in New Orleans. The band opened the show on the 26th with their first performance of Rolling Stones’ Sweet Virginia. Later in the set, New Orleans trumpeter Michael Ray and Tim Greene (on sax) joined the band for Cars Trucks Buses, Funky Bitch, Mozambique and Cavern.
The tour resumed on September 28th in Pelham, Alabama at Oak Mountain Amphitheatre. Pelham’s first set featured a hot opening combination of Wolfman’s Brother, Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley and Tube. Set two highlights included Tweezer, a Sweet Home Alabama-infused performance of YEM and an encore consisting of Halley’s Comet and Tweezer (reprise).
The last show of September took place on the 29th at The Pyramid, a pyramid-shaped arena in Memphis, Tennessee. The band opened the first set of Trey’s birthday show with Runaway Jim segued into Free. Between sets, a contest was held to see who could guess what all the songs in the preceding set had in common. The contest was won by none other than “Doug Nug” of Gainesville, Florida. Doug’s name was announced after he determined that all the songs in the set were in the key of D. After an announcement of Doug’s good fortune (winning a pair of tickets and passes to any show in 1999) set two got rolling with 2001 followed by Down With Disease. The set concluded with the band weaving Mike’s Song into Catapult, Kung and I Didn’t Know before dropping into Weekapaug Groove. The fall tour continued through the midwest, ending with back-to-back shows in Albany. The band spent the following month preparing to hit the road again that December for the latter leg of their fall tour.