Thursday, April 17, 2008

Today in Phishtory: 4.17.99 - Trey and Page Play with Phil & Friends

April 17th is a special day in Phistory. Earlier in the day, I wrote about the last show that Phish played in Las Vegas on 4.17.04. Now, I'm gonna write about another special moment in Phistory... 4.17.99.
4.17.99 Phil Lesh and Friends, Warfield Theatre, San Francisco, CA

Set 1: Dark Star > It's Up To You > Days Between > Dark Star > My Favorite Things, Mississippi 1/2 Step, Bird Song

Set 2: Terrapin Station > Down With Disease > Dark Star > Friend of the Devil, Casey Jones, Morning Dew, Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Bad > And We Bid You Goodnight

Encore: Box Of Rain
Download/listen to 4.17.99 (courtesy of

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In 1999, Phil Lesh had recovered from a liver transplant and was ready to play shows under Phil Lesh and Friends. He invited Trey and Page to play with him for a special three-night run at the Warfield Theatre. When Senor and I found out, we did everything we could to find tickets. We were hardcore Deadheads and Phish was our second favorite band. As Senor put it, "How fuckin' cool? Half of Phish playing Dead tunes with Phil Lesh!!!"

We could only score tickets for the final show on Saturday the 17th. We flew from NYC to San Francisco to see that one show. We stayed at a dive hotel on O'Farrell Street and got shitfaced. We scored bud at Buena Vista Park in the Haight earlier in the day. We dropped acid and lost our lighter. Senor went out to look for one and got propositioned by a hooker.

"You want a blowjob?" she asked.

"Nope. But if you have a lighter, I'll buy one off you."

She sold a used lighter to Senor for $2. We called it the Hooker Lighter for the rest of the trip.

Anyway, we had seats in the balcony and I was blown away by the energy in the Warfield. Ironically, a woman that I'd date in early 2001 happened to be at all three shows. She told me that the last show was the best of all three. We picked the right one to see.

They kicked off with a sick and heady massive sandwich of songs... Dark Star > It's Up To You > Days Between > Dark Star > My Favorite Things. My favorite part of the first set was the Birdsong closer with Page on vocals. Man, after I heard that I always wished that Phish would break out a Birdsong encore.

The drugs really kicked in during setbreak and I was out of my tits for the second set. The opened up with Terrapin that sent chills down my spine. Trey channeled Jerry Garcia. I got goosebumps then and even now as I wrote this with Terrapin streaming on my laptop.

The crowd went nuts when Lesh played the first few notes of Down with Disease. Two older Deadheads in front of me were baffled. They didn't know the song. One of them said to the other, "I think this is one of those Phish songs."

It was a sloppy version, but a cool version nonetheless. The heart and soul of the show was the three powerhouse songs... Friend of the Devil, Casey Jones , and Morning Dew. Trey inserted "Phil's in red" lyric during Casey Jones. I had forgotten that I rolled a monster joint and that we had not smoked it. I fired it up during Morning Dew and smoked out our entire section.

Overall, it was one of the best concert I have ever seen. Period. And I've caught the Dead and Phish for over 200 shows combined. Sometimes you get lucky with music and happen to be in the right place at the right time. That's part of the reason why people followed Phish and the Dead all over the planet because on any given night they can and will create magic and take you to a place that you have never been before. 4.17.99 was one of those magical evenings.

The lineup...

Trey Anastasio (Phish): Guitars, Vocals
Page McConnell (Phish): Grand Piano & Organ, Vocals
John Molo (Other Ones): Drums
Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead, Other Ones): Lead Bass, Vocals
Steve Kimock (Zero, SK&F, KVHW, Other Ones): Guitars

Side note... during the shows with Phil and Friends, Trey stood on stage left. Shortly after his stint with Phil and Friends, Trey and Mike switched up positions on stage. Mike took center and Trey stood off to the side. I can't help but wonder if his experiences on the side were the genesis of the switch with Mike. Of course, once Phish returned after their hiatus, they went back to the formation with Trey in the center.

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