, attached to 1998-10-03

Review by hornsbykid

hornsbykid This was a classic "Hey we should go" show. Two days before Farm Aid 98, we assembled a car of 5 people and set off for Chicago. My roommate at the time had a high school friend who lived in the city and offered to put us up for a couple nights. After a great summer tour we were all in for a road trip to see the boys, even if it wasn't going to be a full show. There obviously wasn't much of a lot scene as most of the people in attendance weren't there to see Phish. Upon walking into the venue it was clear that phans were a true minority of the vast audience. Weather is always tricky when you travel to a show. Although we had planned accordingly, we weren't quite prepared for just how cold it was that day. We had made the trip thinking that besides seeing phish we'd also get to check out Neil Young, Wilco and Brian Wilson (I was in a huge Beach Boys phase at this point, which was a bonus). What we hadn't counted on was, an entire day and evening in extremely frigid conditions. Huddled in the lawn among other people there to see Phish, we waited it out. Everyone was talking sit ins and it seemed likely we'd have at least one guest during the set. The consensus was on Neil, and the excitement grew as the lights dimmed. The band started out with a crisp and tight Birds that gave way to a slower more restrained moma. When farmhouse filled the 3 spot it began to feel like we were in for a "greatest hits" set. The band is well known for delivering a song heavy show at festivals, and Farm Aid 98 began that way. It wasn't until they made their way past the structured part of Jim that things took a turn past the expected.
As this evening's performance was broadcast on CMT, most people were either watching at home or have seen a recorded copy of this show. For most folks,the go to moment from Farm Aid is obviously the guitar duel between Trey and Neil Young on his classic track "Down by the River". One listen to the jam and it's easy to see why. More than just a "had to be there" moment. This jam stands the test of time. What's often overlooked however, is Trey's great work in the middle of Jim. Though not an all time great version the band builds a compelling frame for Trey to solo over and Neil to work his way in. By the time they finished the feedback transition into Down by the River, we were dead center in the lower pavilion and ready to go. Well worth the trip at this point Trey and Neil weaved leads back and forth and up and down as the band built up and tore down behind them. When Willie walked on stage 20 minutes later, it was all icing.
There were other acts following Phish but the one I remember best was John Mellencamp. For some reason he broke out a rap version of "Jack and Diana" and at that point we were headed for the doors.


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