Phish Friday | Lemonwheel Highlights, Part II

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coventry sun

More sunny day jammin’…

This week, I thought I’d continue that “Lemonwheel Highlights” series I started a few weeks back. For part II, it’s time to highlight some gems from one of my favorite daytime sets: 8-16-98 – Lemonwheel, Day II.

Maybe I’m too focused on this whole ‘daytime vs. nighttime set’ thing, but I’ve always thought that Phish played differently according to the time of day and weather. A daytime set could often have an entirely different atmosphere than what they played in the dark. I don’t know, but there’s something about the first set of Lemonwheel, Day II, that is just perfect for a beautiful sunny day. Here are some of my favorites…

A lot of folks have “their” version of ‘Gin,” (as we’ve previously discussed). Although I’ve since heard some others that top this one, the Lemonwheel Gin is probably the first of the more epic versions of this tune to really catch my ear. I literally remember the moment it caught my ear. I had just re-grouped with Stanley T. at our new digs in Ithaca, NY, and he had this set playing on his stereo as background music to our conversation. Somewhere in the middle of this “Gin,” my ears suddenly shifted away from the conversation to a distinct and thematic riff that Trey was toying around with and would not let die (around the 8:20 mark). This riff is the centerpiece of a long ‘Acid Rock’ improv section, and later emerges a second time (at about 11:00), with Trey making some cool alterations on his wah pedal. Not to be missed is the perfection of Page McConnell’s piano accompaniment, which blasts into a full run up and down the entire set of keys (at about 10:29). Beautiful. Anytime I hear this “Gin,” there’s really nowhere else I’d rather be than amongst that crowd…in the sun…with a beer in hand…and a smile on my face.

The “Chairman of the Boards” superbly croons another great version of this tune, one that also features a surprisingly soulful bass breakdown by Mr. Gordon. I threw this one in just for shits and giggles because, no matter what, it’s always fun.

This segment is ‘Happy Phish’ at its finest. A bouncy “Ya Mar” with a light jam section that features some great rhythmic interplay between Trey and Fishman. It’s followed by a sparse outro that perfectly drops into the big opening rock chords of “AC/DC Bag.” This “Bag” never quite veers from the main theme and feel of the song. But towards the end, Trey drops a blistering guitar solo and they step up the energy a few levels to rock out the ending. This song really feels like a set-closer, but it’s not…and that’s a good thing.

I had a friend in college who LOVED this tune. He was a guitarist and really dug “Possum” because it featured Trey doing a lot of what he called “neat tricks.” He’s right. Possum does tend to feature a lot of fun little licks, bleeps, and other guitar tomfoolery from Mr. Anastasio. Not only does this version have plenty of “Trey’s tricks,” but it is also has some seriously long-winded blues-rock jamming. Every time you think they might finally end this tune and top off this set, they step it up yet another notch. That’s just about the perfect way to end a great sunny day set of rock and roll. Talk about energy. Wow.

All tracks courtesy of Nugs.net and best enjoyed with sun beating down and beer in hand

Have a great weekend!