Tonight, Tuesday, March 30th, Phish will air the band’s April 4th, 1998 show in Providence, RI from the storied Island Tour as the 32nd episode of the ongoing archival webcast/cooking series, Dinner and a Movie. Tune in below at 8:30 p.m. ET and scroll down to follow along with our 4/4/98 Stream Companion.
Phish Dinner and a Movie Episode 32 – 4/4/98, Providence, RI [STREAM]
This 32nd installment of Dinner and a Movie follows last month’s showing of 2/22/19 in Riviera Maya, MX. Run down the list of all the past 32 Dinner and a Movies and their accompanying Stream Companions below:
Phish Dinner and a Movie – Past Episodes
Episode 32: 4/4/98, Providence, RI (Island Tour)
This month’s Dinner and a Movie beneficiary will be Northeast Organic Farming Association. All donations made via The WaterWheel Foundation will be split between their NY and RI chapters. Donate anytime here. The Northeast Organic Farming Association is an organization of farmers, consumers, gardeners, and environmentalists working together to promote organic farming and organic land care practices resulting in a sustainable regional food system that’s ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially just. For more information head here.
Ahead of tonight’s Providence 1998 Phish Dinner and a Movie stream, you can tune in to SiriusXM Phish Radio starting at 6:00 p.m. for a two-part takeover featuring Cincinnati Reds pitcher/noted Phish fan, Sean Doolittle. Following an interview with Ari Fink at six, Doolittle will serve as the host on a new episode of Crowd Control. For more information, head here. For those who miss it in real-time, Doolittle’s Crowd Control episode will air again this Saturday, April 3rd at 10:00 a.m. ET.
In terms of actual live Phish, we know roughly as much about the fate of this summer’s tour—currently still on the books after being rescheduled from 2020—as we did last time we checked in for a Dinner and a Movie Stream Companion. Trey Anastasio did give a local TV interview in which he referenced some nondescript plans in the works—”I can’t say specifics, but I have heard specifics. I have a secret”—but we’re still waiting as the pandemic picture continues to develop. What better way to pass that time than with a gem of a show from perhaps the most famous four-show run of the band’s career?
Let’s set the stage: Phish was fresh off an evolutionary year in 1997 during which the band increasingly incorporated new creative elements like minimalist “cow funk” and spacey improvisation derived from near-telepathic intra-band communication. The beginning of 1998 had been earmarked on the band’s calendar as a time to flesh out and rehearse the material for what would become Phish’s seventh studio album, 1998’s The Story of the Ghost, with touring set to resume in Europe in June.
After getting together to work on the new material, however, the eager band hatched a plan for a brief run of April shows. Announced on February 24th—just over a month before the run was due to begin—the brief jaunt would take Phish to Long Island on April 2nd and 3rd followed by Rhode Island on April 4th and 5th. Before long, the four-night stretch was being referred to as the “Island Tour.”
Of course, this run isn’t just known for its brief turnaround time or its cute name—the Island Tour is about the jams. Over the course of these four shows, the band turned in some of the finest Phish improv that fans had ever seen, taking both new selections and old staples out into creative, open-ended waters.
Tonight’s Phish Dinner and a Movie takes us back to the third of four Island Tour shows and the first of two at Providence Civic Center. The opening of 4/4/98 quickly displayed the band’s loose, creative mindset during the spring ’98 run. The show started at a running pace with an extended “Tweezer” jam but did not include the “Tweezer Reprise” that normally comes with it. Why? Well, the band had closed a “Tweezer”-less show with “Tweeprise” the previous night in Nassau, inverting the time-tested pairing in exciting fashion.
The spacey “Tweezer” gave way to a strong “Taste” grounded by a rock-solid Mike Gordon. After a brief “Bouncing Around The Room”, a scorching “Funky Bitch”, and a bouncy “Ginseng Sullivan”, “Limb By Limb” emerged as the first set’s next jam vehicle. A brief, tension-hoarding Type I jam eventually spilled into a “Lawn Boy” breather and a set-closing “Character Zero” rocker. Excellent playing all-around—a strong first set—but the real magic here came during the second frame.
It’s genuinely difficult to pick out a single highlight from set two on 4/4/98 in Providence. The entire set flows from standout jam to standout jam with remarkable fluidity. “Birds of a Feather”, the only song to be played twice during the Island Tour, started the second set after making its debut of 4/2/98 at Nassau Coliseum. Rumbling like a runaway train, this maniacal ride bubbled and boiled with sinister intensity throughout its 15-minute runtime.
Taking the flight even higher, the end of “BOAF” patiently oozed into a lengthy “2001” voyage. Next? “Brother”, with a big jam. After that? “Ghost”, with a big, slow, “radio un-friendly” funk jam and a smooth landing in “The Lizards”. Not enough jams? How about we close set two with a 15-minute “David Bowie”. Still not satisfied? Feels sorta greedy, but I guess we can throw in a 16-minute “Harry Hood” encore. Still not done? Okay, how about we come back and do it again tomorrow night.
It’s not difficult to ascertain why this show and tour are among the most celebrated the band has ever played. Exceptional musicianship, otherworldly group improvisation, and endless energy radiate from virtually every second of the recordings. If 1997 was a pivotal developmental year for Phish, Island Tour was the realization of that evolution, setting the band’s course for the rest of the century.
Tune in to episode 32 of Phish Dinner and a Movie featuring 4/4/98 in Providence, RI from Island Tour tonight at 8:30 p.m.
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Setlist: Phish | Providence Civic Center | Providence, RI | 4/4/98
Set One: Tweezer > Taste, Bouncing Around the Room, Funky Bitch, Ginseng Sullivan, Limb By Limb, Lawn Boy, Character Zero
Set Two: Birds of a Feather > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Brother, Ghost -> The Lizards, David Bowie
Encore: Harry Hood
 With short instrumental reprise.
2001 contained a Long Train Runnin’ tease from Trey and was unfinished. Brother included a brief Dave’s Energy Guide tease and was followed by a short instrumental reprise, which was announced as the “radio-friendly version.” Trey contrasted this with the normal version, which was deemed un-radio-friendly due to its length. Ghost, which Trey jokingly remarked was also not radio-friendly because it is long and slow, included an I Can’t Turn You Loose tease. This show is available as an archival release on LivePhish.com.