Archive for 1997

Weekend Nuggets: The Gorge ’97

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on March 28, 2009 by Mr.Miner


The Gorge

The Gorge

As the upcoming Gorge shows sold out yesterday, this weekend we will travel back in time to the summer of 1997 and Phish’s first visit to the venue.  Pulling into central Washington at the beginning of August, Phish was midway through their summer of deep funk and this translated beautifully to the open air beauty of The Gorge. The first night was darker and dancy, wile the second was celebratory and triumphant.  After this initial visit, Phish felt right at home at the best venue of the west coast.

8.2.97 The Gorge, George, Washington < LINK

8.2.97 The Gorge, George, Washington < TORRENT LINK

I: Theme From the Bottom, Ginseng Sullivan, Ghost, Dogs Stole Things, The Divided Sky, Wolfman’s Brother, Water in the Sky, Split Open and Melt

II: Down With Disease > Tweezer > Down with Disease > Johnny B. Goode, Sparkle, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Loving Cup, Tweezer Reprise

E: Harry Hood*

*Trey asks Chris [Kuroda] to turn the stage lights off; band jams in darkness to the stars.

Source: Schoeps CCM4>Sonosax>SV-MD1 (FOB)


8.3.97 The Gorge < LINK

8.3.97 The Gorge < TORRENT LINK

I: Bathtub Gin > Foam > Samson Variation, Dirt, Vultures, My Mind’s Got a Mind of Its Own, Twist, Jesus Just Left Chicago, Limb By Limb, Character Zero

II: Julius, Simple, Fluffhead, Lifeboy, Taste, Hello My Baby, Frankenstein

E: Bouncing Around the Room, Slave to the Traffic Light

Source: Schoeps MK5 (FOB)



2889100254_8494a287a8The Phish Thoughts Ticket Exchange has been updated for all the new shows!  We have opend up the board to the public- no longer will you need to email for a invite.  Please respect the board as this is a community resource to get aroud the sceondary ticket market.  Please respect the board and post carefully to make sure you are putting your info in the right place.  Any questions, please email!



“Gumbo” 7.17.98, The Gorge

Twelve Years Ago: 2.17.97

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 17, 2009 by Mr.Miner

phish-amsterdam-97Twelve years ago today, and four shows into 1997, the Phish created a monster.  In their second visit to Amsterdam, and their first to Paradiso, Phish played a second set that was not only musically superb, but pointed in the direction the band would head during the famed year.  It wasn’t until the Hamburg show in Germany on March 1st that the band say they “clicked” during the “Wolfman’s” jam, finally realizing the style of collaborative play they had sought.  Yet, this epic night in Amsterdam was like a neon street sign pointing in the direction of Hamburg.

Opening the second set with “The Squirming Coil,” the band built the piano outro directly into the amorphous intro of “Down With Disease.”  Throughout 1996, “Disease” had become a central jam vehicle, creating upbeat rock textures and extended feel-good excursions.  Sparked by the Clifford Ball’s third set version and strewn throughout Fall ’96, “Disease” had developed into a melodic Type I Phish anthem.  This version from Amsterdam would be vastly different.

2.17.97 Paradiso

2.17.97 Paradiso

The band sat in “Disease” territory for the first part of the jam, but as the improv progressed, some layers were pared away and the pace began to gradually slow.  When Fishman dropped his driving beat, things began to get quite interesting.  The entire band found themselves in a more spacious musical medium, allowing them to greatly alter their phrasings.  This segment first developed into a mid-tempo rendition that still held some ties to “Disease,” but that all ended at once.

As the band moved into one of the first extremely slowed down “Disease” jams, a trend that would dominate ’97, this music sounded different!   I vividly remember getting this tape and when listening to it for the first time, being staggered by the pace and patience of Phish’s playing.  This was the same band that wound up 1996 in Boston’s Fleet Center only two months earlier, but they sure sounded completely different.  This was the first early ’97  jam I heard that opened my ears to where the band was heading.  Mike was far more prominent in their slowed down grooves, while Trey played far more sparsely, accentuating the band’s rhythms.  The music seemed like molasses compared to the arena rock of late ’96, and it sounded amazing!

Paradiso 7.2.97 (M. Loertscher)

Paradiso 7.2.97 (M. Loertscher)

Careening down I-95 with a couple of friends, we sat in silent amazement as this analog uncovered the raw ’97 style for the first time.  The band brought the music to a creeping pace where every note offered by each member could be heard distinctly and meant something.  There was no high-speed layering, but a focus on completing the musical ideas that were started by each other.  As the jam hit a few rhythmic stops and starts along the way, listening to this tape was like rediscovering Phish.  Their improv just kept getting deeper and deeper, leaving any remnants of “Disease” far in their wake.

Right out of this dark and methodical jam, Phish seamlessly moved into the debut of “Lucy Had a Lumpy Head,” a song that seemed to fit congruently with their new style.  Far slower than most versions played in the future, the song was a revelation- a dark, eerie composition that catered to the new sound Phish was moving towards.  This wasn’t your happy-go-lucky-Phish; this was something wholly different.  After the band moved through the verses of their newest song, they briefly sat in the thickness before Trey initiated a soaring guitar lick that brought the jam in a totally different and triumphant direction.


Paradiso, Amsterdam

Leaving the song behind and embracing sublime adventure, Phish built this segment into a cathartic piece of music, complete with spontaneous melodic chants.   Before long, the band was back to a quicker place and carried a strong melodic theme that directed the jam.  Page commandeered the lead with his aggressive piano patterns, while the rest of the band created a dissonant backdrop for his work.  This was Phish in the process of discovering; taking risks with abandon and just creating.

Flowing through more overt psychedelic textures, the band naturally arrived at a chugging rhythm which transformed into yet another section of improv; one far closer to the groove-based sound the band was gradually uncovering.  Spanning several peaks and valleys of musical creativity, this surreal jam out of “Lucy” is must hear Phish- and was so revolutionary in its context.

17Accessing a far more mellow and transcendent realm in its final stage, this jam contained it all- a beautiful illustration of Phish at their best and on the brink of something huge.  Without any awkwardness whatsoever, the band transformed their gorgeous ambient creation into the beginning of “Taste.”

This “Taste” was phenomenal, carrying all the energy and momentum Phish had built over the course of the night; however, instead of focusing on the jam itself, I want to highlight one of the most masterful transitions in the band’s history.  As Phish built the song’s polyrhythmic patterns, it was clear that their musical brains were adhered tightly together.  Moving effortlessly through the soaring jam, the band prepared to approach the final ascent to the peak of the jam- and they were absolutely crushing it.  Building…building…building…the peak was imminent, as Trey hit  the melody signaling to his mates to enter the final stages.  Yet, instead of playing the shrill peak to “Taste,” Trey perfectly- and i mean perfectly- laid down the “Disease” lick at the peak of the jam, bringing them back to where this madness had begun.  The rest of the band moved triumphantly with him, reentering “Disease” immediately.  This was one of those spine-tingling Phish moments that my friends and I listened to at least 1000 times, often cheering in response, as if the band had just hit a home run.

1997-02-17gnPhish pulled off such a full-speed and wildly creative idea with absolute flawlessness it was almost too much to believe.  The perfect apex to an incredibly new-sounding set, Phish was off and running down the yellow brick road of 1997.  The final three songs-  “Suzy, “Caspian,” and “Sleeping Monkey”- were mere afterthoughts to the revolutionary playing that had preceded them.  This was only the beginning, but what a beginning it was!



2.17.97 Paradiso, Amsterdam, NL < LINK

I: Soul Shakedown Party*, The Divided Sky, Wilson, My Soul, Guyute, Timber Ho!, Billy Breathes, Llama, Bathtub Gin > Golgi Apparatus

II: The Squirming Coil > Down With Disease > Lucy Had a Lumpy Head* > Taste > Down With Disease, Suzy Greenberg, Prince Caspian

E: Sleeping Monkey, Rocky Top

*First time played




The Mothership

We are making quick progress in our quest to bring “No Spoilers” versions of the Hampton shows to anyone and everyone who can’t make it.  We have created a FAQ and all information related to this project will be hosted at  If you have any further questions, comments or suggestions, please email them to

If you are patient enough to stay off the grid, this will be the next best thing to being at Hampton.  You will experience the show in tape delay, but also in mystery, without knowing what Phish decided to bust out.  You can have a legitimate Phish party if you have enough like-minded friends!

Remember, bookmark !!  (This URL is subject to change; stay tuned!)



Paul @ Hampton '04

Paul @ Hampton '04

The rumor that has bounced around the Internet has been confirmed, Paul Languedoc will no longer be mixing sound for Phish.  Here is some recent correspondence between a Phish Thoughts reader (name removed) and Paul:

Hey Paul,

you’re probably getting a lot of this but the band wont be the same with out you. I hope your back to keep those boards consistent and the band pumping. They need you and most of all we need you! A band is like an instrument with out a main component it will never be the best! You know this better then anyone!

Thanks so much for the compliments, but I’m sorry to say I won’t be with the band on the upcoming dates. I had to move on a few years ago and I like very much what I’m doing now. It’s true that I’m getting a lot of this, nice to be appreciated.

Take care,

Paul L

Best of luck, Paul.  We will miss you.

Just keep making those guitars for Trey!

Weekend Nuggets: The Back of the Worm

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 14, 2009 by Mr.Miner


Paradisio 7.2.97

Paradisio 7.2.97

In the middle of their revolutionary Summer ’97 Europe run, Phish stopped for two nights in Amsterdam.  Following up their amazing show on 2.17.97, Phish brought the heat in the former church turned venue, The Paradiso.  Legend has it that during their weekend in the worlds psychedelic capitol, Trey had some “adventures” resulting in this stage banter:

Now be careful when you walk out of here tonight…because you don’t want to be swallowed up by one of those worms in the canal. You know those toilets on the side of the road here — don’t go in there — because you’ll get sucked down into the canal and be stuck all night riding along those giant worms….you might think I’m kidding around, but it happened to me last night and it was scary.

One can only imagine the antics that went into that story!  Nonetheless, “the back of the worm” became the theme of the weekend, as the phrase was repeated and catcalled by Trey and Fish throughout several jams during both shows.

"Wormtown jam" 7.2.97

"Wormtown jam" 7.2.97

The music over these two shows stellar was very illustrative of the changes the band was undertaking during their Europe run.  The first night started with an extended “Ghost” story, setting the laid back and funked-out tone for the stand.  Both second sets were perfectly flowing sets of improvisational Phish.

7.2 began quickly with a massive first set “Mike’s Sandwich,” while set two featured a 30-minute masterpiece in “Stash,” and a “Llama” that found its way into a jam that brought everyone onto the “back of the worm.”  This legendary set was capped with a double encore- taboot, taboot.  These shows were classic pieces of the Summer of 1997.

7.1.97 Paradisio, Amsterdam, NL < LINK

1997-07-01gnI: Ghost, Horn, Ya Mar, Limb By Limb, Ain’t Love Funny, I Saw It Again, Dirt, Reba, Dogs Stole Things

II: Jam* > Timber Ho!,  Bathtub Gin > Cities, Loving Cup, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: When the Circus Comes

*Fish alone on piano, then builds into a jam distinct from “Timber Ho!”

7.2.97 Paradisio, Amsterdam, NL < LINK

1997-07-02gnI: Mike’s Song > Simple > Maze, Strange Design, Ginseng Sullivan, Vultures, Water in the Sky, Weekapaug Groove

II: Jam > Stash > Llama > Worm Town Jam* > Wading in the Velvet Sea

E1: Free^

E2: David Bowie

*A jam on “Swing Town”  (Steve Miller tune) with dark vocals about “Back of the Worm.”  ^Band left stage after Free.



“Punch You In the Eye”


A Desert Antelope

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 9, 2009 by Mr.Miner

I was blindsided at the gym this weekend.  No, not by some musclehead in a roid rage, but by an aggressively improvisational “Antelope” that might as well have been on the cream and the clear.  I had been continuously working my way through a Phish playlist from a friend, and as I was finishing the cardio portion of my workout, the old school version of “Oblivious Fool” came on.  Not particularly suitable for working out, and an odd addition to the playlist altogether, I skipped directly to the next song-  Antelope.

gw2I didn’t bother to look at the date or anything, I just kept going.  Since I consider myself pretty well-versed in Phish, especially Phish highlights, I thought I’d figure out what I was listening to.  Yet, as the jam progressed, it was raging, and though I could tell it was from ’97 or ’98, it didn’t ring a bell.

During the late ’90s, Antelope’s jams generally remained within their predestined structure.  While there was never any lack of improvisational madness, Anetlope jams rarely went “way out” there, or really anywhere except where you thought they would go.  In no way is this a knock on the song; the same holds true for “Harry Hood” or “Slave.”  That’s just the way some Phish jams are.  There was no shortage of huge Antelope’s in the late ’90s, but the song didn’t necessarily possess the adventure it did in ’94 and ’95.  It’s just the way things were.  But this version blaring in my ears was different.

533239286_d84e190ab7As this mystery Antelope raged on, Trey annihilated the early jam with soaring evil licks, before moving into more intricate patterns of notes.  All the while, the band was knee deep in a heavy, sinister groove.  This music began moving in an alternate direction as Fish and Mike switched up the rhythm; less straight ahead than most Antelopes, and as I was doing sit-ups, my ears perked up and took notice of the diverging musical course.

Pretty quickly the improv got really dark and the entire band began jamming out of the song’s structure.  Entering a quiet and murky musical pond, Mike’s bass lines lead the way.  The music continued progressing “way out” of “Antelope” and into some insane Phish improv.  “What!?” I thought.  Quickly flipping over my iPod to see what I was listening to and why I wasn’t fully cognizant of this epic jam I was immediately foiled- no date, Damn!  I decided to ride it out.

Moving deeper in, the music got into some slower melodic places that do not really come out of Antelopes.  Straight up mystical, transcendent Phish- this was crazy!  It was like hearing a brand new Phish jam for the first time; and that hadn’t happened in eons.  The band built the jam into a faster affair with all members just shredding at insane speeds, gradually merging paths with the original course of the song.  As the band built towards the Antelope peak, the playing was particularly frenetic, yet beautifully coherent- one of those things that Phish does masterfully.  To an untrained ear, it sounds like cacophony, but when you hear what they are actually doing at the peak of an Antelope, it’s just absurd.

gw1The jam finally dropped into the post-peak funk at the seventeen minute mark to the monstrous roar of the crowd.  The band continued to heavily improvise throughout the “composed” ending, as they tended to to when they were feeling the flow.  This normally routine section became quite interesting with heavy effects from Page, Mike and Trey, and then they popped into the final chorus with more spunk than usual.  This was my new favorite Antelope, but what was it?  As I looked back at the playlist menu, it was listed under 7.29.97.  A ha! Desert Sky. I had a huge “Oh yeah!” moment, as I remembered the magnitude of this Antelope that batted second in set two.

I wasn’t at that Phoenix show, and for some reason, I hadn’t heard the jam since the late ’90s.  A pretty high key show to have just forgotten about, but aside for the first set “Gumbo,” I had.  That’s what’s so great about Phish- just when you think you’ve heard it all, you’ll hear a new jam that absolutely floors you.  There are just so many out there, and soon, there will be so many more.

LISTEN TO 7.29.97’s Antelope now! < LINK (Roll over link and press play)



7.29.97 Desert Sky Pavilion, Phoenix, AZ < LINK

1997-07-29mo1Here is the show you just read about, and I forgot about.  It’s a certain keeper from the Summer of ’97.  With one of the great “Gumbos,” a classic-sounding “Ghost,” an early, yet all-time great version of “Twist,” and of course the epic “Antelope,” this show was as hot as the weather it was played in.

I: Theme From the Bottom, Beauty of My Dreams, Gumbo, Dirt, Sparkle, Ghost, Swept Away > Steep > Loving Cup

II: Oblivious Fool, Run Like an Antelope, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Twist, Taste, Sample in a Jar, Rocky Top, The Squirming Coil

E: Possum



400799230152In honor of today’s topic, I wanted to highlight a community member’s effort to help save the North American Pronghorn Antelope.  The website, Antelope Gatefree Paradise, details the issues putting Antelope in danger and what you can do to help.  In addition, you can purchase the classic lot shirts and stickers with the famous “Antelope Crossing” logo under “Merchandise.”  All proceeds go to volunteer organizations actively working to save the Pronghorn Antelope.  You can help out and score one of the all-time classic Phish lot t-shirts all at the same time!

Weekend Nuggets: The Great Went

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on December 27, 2008 by Mr.Miner


phish-great-went97As we return from the holidays, let’s finish some unfinished business.  The last “Download Of the Day” was night one of The Great Went.  This weekend’s downloads complete all of the music that happened on this historic and memorable first trip to Limestone.  With magic dancing in the air, the feeling of complete isolation from society was enchanting.  Taking on a whole different feeling than The Clifford Ball, the sheer distance that people drove to get to the tip of America made Limestone feel like it belonged to us.  We had our own little Phish city in the middle of nowhere.  The Lemonwheel and IT would carry this tradition proudly, but there was nothing like the first time we stepped foot on Loring Air Force Base.  Relive the weekend in all its glory, including Kevin Shapiro’s broadcasts from the archives that we heard all weekend.  (I’ll put a link to night one in this post as well, for the convenience of having everything in one place.)

8.16.97 The Great Went, Limestone, ME SBD < LINK

8.17.97 The Great Went, Limestone, ME SBD < LINK

I: The Wedge, Beauty of My Dreams, Dogs Stole Things, Vultures, Water in the Sky > Maze, Bouncing Around the Room, Tweezer > Taste, Carolina

II: Down With Disease > Bathtub Gin > Uncle Pen, Also Sprach Zarathustra >Art Jam* > Harry Hood

III: Buffalo Bill > NICU, Weigh, Guyute, Dirt, Scent of a Mule# > Prince Caspian

E: When the Circus Comes > Tweezer Reprise^

*The band members take turns painting large designs at the side of the stage. Then, the crowd “carries” the pieces of this design to the side of the venue where it is assembled and hoisted for everyone to see onto a tower. This wood tower is tall and covered in painted plywood and has been built during the two shows.  As “Harry Hood” goes into its jam, Trey asks Chris to turn the lights off, and the band jams while the front section has a gigantic Glow Stick War. #No Muel Duel.  ^The entire art tower was burned to the ground.

8.16.97 Late Night “Disco Tent” < LINK

The Great Went Archives Radio Show < LINK



“2001 > Art Banter” 8.17.97

“Tweezer” Jam 8.17.97

The Night That Birds Took Flight

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on December 12, 2008 by Mr.Miner

As we stood outside The Grey Hall in Christiana, it was June 29th, and Phish was busy playing a marathon sound check for the fans who had congregated behind the back doors.  On the night before the first show of tour, plenty of fans had ventured out to Freetown Christiana for smokeables and found a whole lot more.  Able to clearly hear the band’s practice, “Roggae,” “Brian & Robert,” and “The Moma Dance,” all new songs, leaked out the intentionally opened barn doors.  With each previously unheard selection, excitement built for the forthcoming two weeks, while friendships blossomed.  Along with these new songs, Phish played the newly reworked “Limb By Limb” and the twice-played “Birds of a Feather,” among others.  Coming off of the Island Run, at the coolest venue ever, spirits were sky high for what the band had in store.

lightsThe band took periodic breaks from their extended warm-up session, occasionally slipping outside to chat with all of us that had found our way to the venue.  As Trey popped in and out, he was greeted with shit-eating grins and many questions from his loyal fans that made it to Scandinavia.  At some point during the conversation, the topic turned to the re-worked “Black-Eyed Katy” they had been rehearsing, complete with new vocals.  Trey explained that the band had listened to some of their shows after Fall’ 97, and began to create songs out of some of the jams they liked.  Clearly, “The Moma Dance” was a prime example of taking an instrumental and molding it onto a full-on song.  But what about others?  After Trey explained this process, I nervously interjected, “Was ‘Birds of a Feather’ a song that developed out jams from Albany?”  Without delving into specifics, Trey affirmed that “Birds” was indeed another song that had developed out of the band’s live improvisation at the end of ’97– and in that moment, it all became clear.

1997-12-12mo2Back on the penultimate day of Fall ’97, Phish set up shop at “The Knickerbocker” Arena for the last two shows of their epic tour.  One more two-night stand, and then this month of unmatchable memories would be over.  Per usual, the first night turned out to be the more exploratory, psychedelic, and “out-there” performance, while the last show was reserved for the “greatest hits” and crowd-pleasing, heavy-hitting dance grooves.  The 12.12 show in Albany, eleven years ago today, was a swan dive into the unknown- producing a show of heavy experimentation and a second set with few songs.  Tonight the band would delve into improvisation with no landing point in mind, attacking the universal mystery without the expectation of finding any answers.  Yet, through this exploration, not only was an aggressively adventurous set sculpted, but a new song was born as well.

206After opening set two with a scorching “I Saw It Again,” the band dropped into one of the year’s new songs that had yet to be fully explored, “Piper.”  A song that would come into its own over the next couple of years, thus far, it had been a perfect interlude of spinning melody, artistically placed in sets for its cathartic effect.  Tonight, however, things would be different. For the first time in its young life, “Piper” would be blown out of its conventional form, and its course set for the outer regions.  More akin to later versions of ’99 and ’00, the band used this “Piper” to get into some high-octane improv that had everyone trying to keep up.  Moving quickly and aggressively, the entire band left the song’s orbit and brought it into the stratosphere.  With Trey wailing masterfully, Gordon slamming lines down like his life depended on it, Fish keeping an insanely driving, yet changing beat, and Page added the missing pieces to the dissonant and harmonic puzzle, the band was 100% full-on raging.

photo - Jeffery

photo - Jeffery

About halfway through the twenty- minute ride, the band peeled away a lot of their distorted affects, and slowed the pace down ever so slightly, allowing more room for the music to breathe.  Soon, all members latched onto this more patient groove, utilizing the musical space to introduce new ideas.  Already immersed in an uptempo monsoon, Trey began to play some purposeful rhythm chords, altering the vibe of the jam, merging the outer-space psychedelia with a more percussive-rooted palate.  Throughout this part, Trey continued with said rhythm licks, and at the time, I, and many others, thought, “Llama?”  It certainly sounded like Trey was teasing the opening licks to the song amidst a texture that would fit perfectly.  Yet, each time one thought the band might actually make the move, the jam would all of a sudden launch back into maniacal madness, leaving any hint of “Llama” far behind.  The band was absolutely tearing the roof off “The Knick” with their audacious, break-neck playing.  Yet, within all of this insanity, the band was locked together, navigating as one, through the darkened galaxies of the night.  The communication present at the end of their month long stretch was untouchable, and the band soared through uncharted territory with ease, determination and focus.

As the wild “Piper” jam slowed down into “Swept Away > Steep > Prince Caspian,”  it seemed like the terrorizing part of the adventure had concluded.  However, the band was so infatuated with the music they had just finished playing, they wanted to go right back to the same place.  Following a colossal “Prince Caspian,” right as the jam usually ended with the post-solo metal chords, Phish decided that they weren’t finished- not even close.  Re-launching back into the jam that they had sat in during “Piper,” the band was off and sprinting again, right when everyone least expected it.  Following Trey’s lead, the band cannon-balled directly back into seething territory- and there were those “Llama” licks again!?

photo - Jason Pinsky

photo - Jason Pinsky

As you go back now and listen to these jams, you will hear them quite differently than you did back in 1997.  Amidst the “Piper,” and  the “Caspian” what you are hearing is the genesis of “Birds of a Feather.”  Those “Llama” teases turned out to be “Birds” licks, and the entire pace, beat, direction, and sound of this music represented the first incarnation of the “Birds of a Feather” jam– even though the song had yet to be written.  The monstrous improv that defined the second set of this dark show turned out to be the foundation for the band’s new song that would be found all over 1998; even on the radio as the band’s single from Story of the Ghost. The intro rhythm licks, the avalanche of drum beats, the searing psychedelia that would come to define the Birds jam- it was all there, strewn innocently about this massively improvisational set.

After the Island Run, when I first made the discovery of where I thought “Birds” came from, it was mere conjecture- but it sure sounded like the song!  I wondered if I was accurate in my thinking, and there was no better place to get confirmation of my theory then from Ernest himself.  On a surreal evening in Copenhagen, on the brink of two weeks that would change my life forever, my friend and I biked back through the canal-filled city to our hostel.  What a story we had to tell our other buddies, and we now knew when “Birds” was born-  12.12.97 in Albany, NY.

Happy 11th “Birdsday!”

DOWNLOAD 12.12.97 Albany, NY NOW! < LINK

I: Funky Bitch > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Camel Walk, Taste, Bouncing Around the Room, Tweezer > Train Song, Character Zero

II: I Saw It Again* > Piper*# > Swept Away > Steep, Prince Caspian* > Izabella, Tweezer Reprise

E: Guyute, Run Like An Antelope**

*With long jam not usually a part of the song  #With “Llama” teases; “Llama” teasing continued throughout the set **With “Buried Alive” teases



12.12.1995 Providence Civic Center, Providence, RI < LINK

Providence Civic Center

Providence Civic Center

Sticking with the theme of 12.12 anniversaries, here we have the under-the-radar Providence installment of December ’95.  Without a doubt, the largest highlight of the band’s second visit to the venue was the half-hour “Down With Disease” that anchored the six-song second set.  A true Phish odyssey, the band had begun to use Disease as a jam vehicle throughout the year, and this may be the crowning version (see also 6.26 SPAC). A first set Antelope and second set “Free” add some more improvisational spice to the late ’95 outing. Enjoy!

I: Ya Mar, Sample in a Jar, The Divided Sky, Lifeboy, Punch You in the Eye, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Run Like an Antelope, I’m Blue I’m Lonesome, The Squirming Coil

II: Free, Sparkle, Down With Disease > Lizards > Simple, Runaway Jim

E: Fire

Two Anniversaries: 12.11.97 & 12.11.99

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 11, 2008 by Mr.Miner

Today we find ourselves on the anniversary of a couple very Phishy shows.  In addition to the Cumberland County ’95 show (up for download yesterday), this date brought us two monsters in 1997 and in 1999.  These two shows, Rochester and Philly, were both instant fan favorites of their respective tours, and both are vibrant illustrations of where the band stood at that time. Happy 12.11! (Both shows are available for download below their setlist.)


phish1First, let’s circle back to a cold and dreary winter day in 1997.  Phish was on the brink of finishing their undeniably exciting and now legendary Fall tour.  On the heels of an epic weekend in the Midwest and a stop at State College, Phish pulled into the classic War Memorial Auditorium, a room that hosted the Dead on many occasions.  The show proved to fall right in to the pattern of colossal Fall ’97 outings, with one of the best second sets of the month

The show opened bursting at the seems with energy with the three song combo of  “Punch, Disease > Maze.”  Punch, one of the great openers in the band’s catalog, was a mere table-setter on this night for a phenomenal “Down With Disease”–  an excursion that firmly tore apart the thematic jam for ten minutes before getting into slowed down rhythms that quickly brought the music to a much deeper place.  It seemed quite apparent from moment one, that the band was tapped in on this evening.  As the jam developed, Trey began  soloing with a menacing musical scowl, while the entire band dropped into a sublime and patient groove around his lines.  This is stuff that you have to hear, and most everyone already has.  This Disease is a huge tour highlight mere minutes into the show.  The switch was flicked on, and would stay that way for the duration of the evening.

image-8089ac8843c311d7The jam’s delicate dance patterns brought the music to a slow and winding close, without a return to Disease, as the band seamlessly dripped into the intro to “Maze.” Bringing maniacal psychedelic madness into the mix, Phish took the energy already in the room, and channeled it directly into their improv, creating a forty minute set-opening segment of music that jumped off the stage and directly down your throat.  Allowing little time for warm up, the band reserved their mellower moments for the end of the set, decelerating with “Dirt, “Limb by Limb” and “Loving Cup,” before closing with a randomly placed “Rocky Top.”

2215350003_f5fd829beaThe improvisation continued in mind-bending fashion in the non-stop second set.  The band quickly upped the ante with a twenty-minute “Drowned” opener that was among the heaviest psychedelia dropped during the tour.  Beginning in completely shredding fashion, the band slammed their foot back on the gas pedal quickly after taking the stage for set two.  About halfway through this jam, the band gradually started to move away from the song’s progression into some straight Phish improv.  Moving from uptempo ferocity into distinctly slower and murkier textures, the jam all of a sudden became a lot more interesting.  For the duration of the song, the band would explore musical places of the dark and other.  With the patience and precision of a surgeon, they slowly created the perfect juxtaposition to the initial half of the jam.  With some crack Trey licks played over a thick groove, this jam soon morphed into a much more ambient affair, with loops and effects galore, as Trey continued to slowly sprawl his thoughts.

13699471image9b586be0479711d7Famously, this standout portion of improv beautifully weaved its way into Ween’s “Roses Are Free,” a performance made famous by Bittersweet Motel.  While few were familiar with the song on this evening, all would come to know it as sacred Phish territory in Nassau, merely four months from this debut.  The ending riff of the song proved a perfect launching point for the rare “Big Black Furry Creatures From Mars.”  The lights went dark with white strobes, and the band dove into the quirky Phish-metal composition.  Trey took it upon himself to run laps around the stage amidst the maddening music, lending a deranged and Phishy tone to the already standout show.  A version that lasted eight minutes, full of dissonant build and distorted climax, this was not your average BBFCFM!  As if the band had gone temporarily insane, the asylum’s jam morphed into a excessively slow and heavy groove, not unlike the ending of Axilla for a period of minutes.  Creating a dark and eerie musical palate, Phish reveled in forcing the crowd to the brink.  After a two-minute ending of beat-less distortion, the band dropped a meticulously placed Ghost.

Giving the crowd exactly what we needed, this highlight rendition of Ghost is among the upper echelon in a standout year.  Providing the show with a much needed release pf flowing Phish grooves, the band took the liberty to precisely rip the only true Fall ’97 funk jam of the night- something that made Rochester so unique.  A perfect “Disease Reprise” emerged out of this multi-dimensional psychedelic odyssey, artistically closing the musical ideas sparked at the beginning of the show.

I: Punch You in the Eye > Down With Disease > Maze, Dirt, Limb By Limb, Loving Cup, Rocky Top

II: Drowned  > Roses Are Free* > Big Black Furry Creature From Mars > Ghost > Down With Disease (Reprise) > Johnny B. Goode

E: Waste

*Ween cover, first time played

DOWNLOAD 12.11.97 Rochester SBD NOW! < LINK



The Spectrum

The Spectrum

As Phish came back to The Spectrum for the second consecutive night, in December of ’99, they had a little redeeming to do.  After a botched transition from “Have Mercy” back into “David Bowie” the night before, the band bailed on the idea and awkwardly moved into a Fishman interlude of “Cracklin’ Rosie,” all but killing the momentum of the set.  The band stumbled to the finish line with a quick and low-energy “Twist” and “Waste.”  Yet what a difference a night can make!

1999-12-11gn1999’s version of 12.11 was arguably the band’s strongest outing of their climactic December 1999 tour.  Opening with “Harry Hood” for the first time in almost ten years (1.20.90), the twenty-minute version let us know immediately that we were in we were in for a treat!  Obviously expecting something more chill to follow the huge Hood jam, Phish brought Mike’s.  Gotta’ love it!  Giving the Groove the full treatment, the band segued from the evil bombastic soup into Simple then Hydrogen before closing the segment with hugely climactic Weekapaug.  After a reflective moment in “When the Circus Come to Town,” the band leapt into Gordon’s rare, “Scent of a Mule”- all in the first set!  The Spectrum buzzed loudly during setbreak, with the feeling that set two would be other-worldly.  And it was.

pict0221In one of the tightest sets of 1999, Phish would destroy their classic Philly haunt with a frame of celebratory segues, creating a set of pure Phish dance madness.  If you liked to move at Phish shows, the Sally > Ghost > 2001 > Disease was as good as anything you had ever heard.  Packed to the hilt with dense Phish grooves and a huge ambient jam before a stellar 2001, this segment was as hot as anything that reared its head in ’99.  The Ghost and the 2001, individually, are up there in the top versions ever.  The infectious 2001 spun the Spectrum with the ease of the Globetrotters spinning Spaldings to “Sweet Georgia Brown.”  The entire segment totaled 55 minutes of pure Phish crack, and it was one of those sets that when over, you knew that you had been a witness to something special; that was what it was all about.

An incredibly well-played show that was comprised of virtually all improvisation, this one will always be remembered by all in attendance.  You can hear the crowd roaring all night on the recordings, responding to a completely full-on Phish experience.  This was a night of beauty in a the City of Brotherly Love, and arguably the greatest Phish show ever dropped in the building. (12.15.95 would be the only contender.)

I: Harry Hood, Mike’s Song > Simple > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, When the Circus Comes, Scent of a Mule, Cavern

II: Boogie On Reggae Woman > Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley > Ghost > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Down with Disease

E: Possum

DOWNLOAD 12.11.99 Philly NOW! < LINK



8.9.98 Virgina Beach Amphithatre, VA < LINK

VA Beach Amphitheatre

VA Beach Amphitheatre

There is nothing like a little slice of summer in the middle of December, and where better to grab it from than 1998?  This show has been requested a number of times, and is certainly worthy of all praise it receives.  The second set alone boasts Summer ’98’s best “AC/DC Bag,” a sick “Antelope,” and a mid-set “You Enjoy Myself.”  With two ninety-minute sets, you got your money’s worth out of this night in Virgina.  And to top it all off, “Terrapin Station” to honor the third anniversary of Jerry’s passing, and so much more.

I: Punch You in the Eye, Bathtub Gin, Lizards, The Moma Dance, Birds of a Feather, Esther, Roggae, Bouncing Around the Room, David Bowie

II: AC/DC Bag > Sparkle, Run Like an Antelope, Brian and Robert, Waste, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, You Enjoy Myself, Frankenstein, Chalkdust Torture, Hello My Baby

E: Terrapin Station

Stash > Hydrogen > Weekapaug

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 9, 2008 by Mr.Miner

Huh?  Yup.  It happened. Eleven years ago today at the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State, right along the high key tour of Fall ’97 .  While this majestic musical segment is buried within the first set of a oft-underrated show, it featured one of only several masterful “Stash”s in Fall ’97.  Overlooked due to the prominent focus on funk in Fall ’97, “Stash” absolutely blew up every single time it was played on tour.  Starting with Vegas’ twenty-minute epic, moving to the hyper-intense first set version from Winston-Salem, to Worcester’s mind-altering adventure, Cleveland’s massive second set opener, to this “Stash Groove” in Happy Valley; Stash’s five song campaign was truly epic.  Yet, today we shall focus on this first set oddity.

scan0002Having opened the show with a fluffy Mike’s, featuring copious light dance funk to get the party started, the band took an abrupt left turn into Chalk Dust as the jam wound down.  Since they didn’t move into a traditional interlude, it seemed as though the band would create a set-long Mike’s Groove sandwich, as they often did.  Hence, when the band dropped “Stash” after their blues-rock excursions into Chalk Dust and “My Soul,” no one thought anything of it (other than the routine 100 cc’s of adrenaline our brain was shot with by that opening lick.)

This version jumped into the fray immediately, as Mike led the troops into battle with strapping bass lines, complementing Trey’s solo which had begun firing before the jam dropped in earnest.  Taking zero time to get into the thick of things; as the vocal refrain ended, we were smack in the middle of deep Phish improv.  Page began with some tasteful jazzy accents, but the course of this version would see him pounding his piano like a madman.  As the jam entered the depths, the entire band began passing musical ideas around as easily as a spliff, while the jam built as if composed and practiced.  Oozing with ferociousness and furor, this version stands in maddening support of the “Stash”  ’97 candidacy.

1997-12-09gnYet, as the band twisted the music to a climax, they entered into the “Maybe so, maybe not” refrain only briefly, continuing the intense textures moving.  Within a flash, they band slid naturally into a spiritually-melodic segment fora short bit.  Literally coming out of nowhere, one couldn’t predict where we were headed.  As Phish settled to an ambient place, Fishman began the delicate drumbeat of Hydrogen as the rest of the band gradually fell into place one-by-one in what was a gorgeous transition.

A certain mind-fuck, the band brought Hydrogen out of something other than Mike’s for only the fourth time in their career. (The three previous times were out of Kung at the Roxy 2.20.93, out of Yerushalayim Shel Zahav at Holmdel, NJ on 7.2.94, and out of Simple at Raleigh 7.22.97.)  As they do, Phish had one again executed something we never saw coming to perfection.  As the melodies of Hydrogen rolled around the arena, you had to think Weekapaug was coming next to not only complete the Mike’s Groove, but also the first-ever “Stash Groove!”

107_0771And so it was.  Though the band stumbled momentarily, into the opening notes, once they got this Weekapaug grooving, it transformed into a centerpiece of the set.  A blistering thematic jam gave way to a rhythmic section that sounded like a hidden track off of Remain In Light.  Taking jams into percussive explorations became a hobby for the band during this tour, and this Weekapaug is a prime example of how far they took them.  What started in a grounded and grooving place took off into some militant and scorching improv that featured Trey at the helm, wailing out orders to the people.  Fishman kept the vessel rhythmically anchored in Weekapaug while the others steered the jam into more turbulent waters.  Finally landing ashore, back in the Weekapaug chorus, Phish had just completed yet another adventure into the universe; this one amidst a string of songs in the first set.  The unexpected had struck again.  Bring your head gear to Hampton and beyond, for all those left hooks that you can’t see coming, something tells me the unexpected will strike again.


(roll over links and click play)



5.28.94 Laguna Seca Raceway, Monterey, CA SBD < LINK

images1This classic spring ’94 show was the first of two at the Laguna Seca Daze Festival.  A relatively standard first set was upstaged by the second that brought two classic versions of “Tweezer” and “Reba,” the quintessential ’94 songs.  The entertaining show ended with a YEM that featured a visit from Les Claypool  for a bass duel with Gordeaux.  This soundboard captures the show vividly!

I: Rift, Sample in a Jar, Foam, Bouncing Around the Room, Stash, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, The Sloth, Maze, Cavern

II: Axilla [Part II], It’s Ice, Tweezer > Lifeboy, Reba, Fee > Llama, You Enjoy Myself*, Dueling Bass Jam*

E: Poor Heart

*With Les Claypool of Primus, on bass
NOTE: If there is ever a show you are searching for or jonesin’, drop me a line.  Thanks to Ginseng Jeff, I pretty much have em all.  Look forward to hearing from you!

What a Week It Was!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on November 18, 2008 by Mr.Miner

Sitting amidst the ongoing anniversary of one of Phish’s most revered tours, I can not help but broach the topic of Fall ’97.  A tour that featured too many outlandish highlights to list or describe, this month-long run remains a defining point in the band’s career.  Always revered for its infectious funk jams, Fall ’97 was so much more.  Some of the most impressive and psychedelic jams the band has ever played are lifted from this month long trek of musical nirvana.

Fall '97 Pass

Fall' 97 Pass

Yet, as we zoom in closer, we are amidst an even more impressive anniversary within the same tour.  The week-long stretch of 11.17 to 11.23 can make a strong case for the greatest week of Phish ever.  Beginning in Denver and ending in Winston-Salem, this seven day stretch represented the band at the top if their game, and contained many jams that deserve their own plaque in Phish’s Hall of Fame.  These shows are household names- Denver, Champaign, and Hampton ’97- hero’s from an age gone by.  Although sandwiched by continuous standout shows, when looking back over this epic week of music, the memories still leave the jaw resting comfortably on the floor below.

(11.16 &) 11.17: McNichols Arena, Denver, CO

Hot off the heels of their first visit to the E Center in Salt Lake City, Phish arrived in the Rocky Mountain State for two nights that would become forever immortalized.  The first night of this stand featured an impressive second set with the improvised opener of “Timber Ho!” that morphed into a vastly different musical palate favoring melody over darkness, before twisting into the crowd-favorite “Simple.”  A twenty-minute intense and inspiring Hood provided the other true highlight of the evening before they dusted off “David Bowie” as an encore for its first appearance of  the fall.

1997-11-17moBut whenever the term “Denver ’97” gets mentioned, visions of Tweezers and Ghosts begin to twirl in our heads.  While the first night was a great Phish show, the second night was one of legend.  When all was said and done, it would be the “Ghost” from first set of 11.17 that the band would incessantly listen to on their tour bus for the rest of the run, the show from 11.17 would be released as LIVE PHISH 11, and the sublime jamming throughout the night that would be talked about by fans forever.

phlive11Before the crowd even had a chance to get settled, Phish was dropping one of the best Tweezers of a Tweezer-heavy tour.  Opening the show, this funk odyssey grew into some certifiable Fall ’97 Phish crack.  As the grooves ended, the opening of “Reba” began.  “Tweezer, Reba?!”- that’s one way to open a show!  As the fugue opened the gates for the flood of colorful groove, the crowd soon found themselves floating in another huge Phish jam.  Quickly developing into an absurd first set, a mere breath of “Trainsong” gave way to the career-highlight version of “Ghost.”  The first fall appearance of the new Phish jam vehicle proved to be the one that Phish had been waiting to play since the song’s inception.  Transcending the raw Cow Funk that typified its summer incarnations, this “Ghost” took off into driving dance textures, fusing melody, harmony, and groove in a way the band had never done before, and rarely since.  This jam featured virtuoso playing by all four members, and truly created a whole greater than the sum of its parts.  This “Ghost” is characterized by the simultaneous and symbiotic combination of to-die-for groove and spiritual cathartic release.  Add some of Trey’s most inspired playing into the mix, and you’ve got one for the record books.  A legend in its own time, the Denver ’97 “Ghost” will properly put any pretenders to rest.

Barry Brecheisen

photo: Barry Brecheisen

And that’s all the first set!  Set break gave way to a unique exploration of uptempo Phish rock rhythms utilizing the random triumvirate of “Down With Disease,” “Olivia’s Pool,” and “Johnny B Goode.”  On a night like this, the band used any song to get directly into the thick of things, and the obvious example would be the jam out of “Johnny B. Goode,” as creative and psychedelic as anything they played all night.  Topping the stand with a monster YEM, the band littered the jam with the disgusting grooves that would soon define the era.

11.19.97 Assembly Hall, Champaign, IL

Assembly Hall, Champaign, IL

Assembly Hall, Champaign, IL

Stopping in the Midwest for one show on the way to Hampton, the magic from Denver was still oozing in Illinois.  The first “Bathtub Gin” of the fall kick started the the show with its second slot placement.  With a gorgeous meshing of piano, guitar, and bass, the band improvised amorphously as one throughout this rendition.  A tour highlight that is often forgotten due the abundance of tour highlights, this Gin’s ocean of vibrant waves eventually breaks down into some funk rhythms before picking up steam and segueing perfectly into “Llama.”  This Phishy juxtaposition of musical feels weighted the first half of the set, while the final combination of Fee > Meatstick > Antelope held down the end.   The band moved into a dreamy jam out of “Fee” in which Trey began to play the vocal melody of “Meatstick” (the song had only been sung once over a chugging jam in Lille, France over the summer).  The band soon hopped on board and played a mini three minute Meatstick jam, complete with barely discernible vocals, before delicately transitioning into a blistering set ending Antelope.

phishdestroysamericaPhish was on fire.  It didn’t matter what set it was, what song they were playing, they could do no wrong this week.  It was as if they were set on cruise control at 120 mph.  Communicating masterfully and effortlessly, the band was having so much fun at this point and it was so obvious.  Each night, each set was another odyssey.  You had to strap your seat belt tight because you simply never knew what was coming.  The new term of Fall ’97 was “four song set” as the band played several second sets of few heavily improvised pieces.  The second set of Champaign would be one of these sets.


photo: sypsyn

Coming out with no ambient build up, Fishman kicked right into the opening of 2001, transforming the venue into a futuristic dance hall for the next twenty minutes.  The first 2001 of such length since the revelation at the Great Went, this version had the perfect tempo to it, creating a wide-open spacescape of Phish grooves.  A personal favorite version, the band was so locked yet loose during this one, they truly nailed the essence of the cover in Champaign.  As this Hall of Fame version climaxed, it led right into another first-ballot inductee in “Wolfman’s Brother.”  Totaling a half-hour of spectacular playing, this version moved from the smoothest funk into more ambient realms before shifting into part two of the jam.  With an aggressive high speed chase through the Phish universe on the magic carpet of a  Crosseyed jam, the second segment of this jam is better suited for warfare then for casual listening.  Existing as some of the deepest and most impressive music to emerge from Wolfman’s in its career, this jam is the type of evidence I present when people claim Fall ’97 was all about the funk.

As the Wolfman’s wound into some slower rhythms, the band seamlessly slid into Makisupa.  An excessively dubbed out version would bring the all-star Phish jamming to a non-stop total of one hour.  While most Makisupas exist as a fun ganja reference with some token reggae rhythms, the band created something much more significant this time around.  Moving from dub into deep space, the band explored the beat-less realm as they created ethereal textures.  A smashing version of “Tatse” ended the set of distinctly “other” type of jamming.  As the crew packed their gear after the show, someone remembered to grab the vat of magic dust from backstage and put it on the bus for Hampton.

11.21 & 11.22 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA

hampton_outsideWhat more can be said about this weekend that hasn’t already been said.  The two shows that stamped the Phish logo on the Mothership would go down as two of the best in the history.  Below is the mini two-night review from the “Tour Stop: Hampton” post:

1997 would be a different story all together.  In the most epic Hampton installment ever, Phish gave a nod to the celestial portal by gracing it with it’s first two-night stand.  It would be over the 21st and 22nd of November that Hampton Coliseum would officially become Phish’s personal playground.  With two shows that were as good as any, on a tour that is sometimes overwhelming with all of its magnificent music, Phish threw down four sets for the ages that still live in legend today.  The first night, the deeper more truly psychedelic performance, gave way to one of the best Phish shows in history on the second night.  With the debut of the Stone’s “Emotional Rescue” to start the stand and jamming into an dark and nasty Split as the second song of the stand- Phish wasted no time in getting to business.  The three-song sequence of Ghost > AC/DC Bag > Slave comprised  the entire second set, less a Loving Cup closer.  This hour plus of straight Phish imrov is some of the most magical to come out of Fall ‘97.  Delving into various styles and textures, this jam sequence was a trek through Phish’s imagination and was brought to fruition by a poignant Slave.  Moving through funk, rock, and straight madness, this set was an archetypal “night one” of a two night stand- going deep with no regard for time or space, playing what comes.  A four song masterpiece, this second set left fans wondering what could possibly come out of the next night.

11.22.97.  The date needs no introduction.  The best Phish dance party ever thrown, a night with more grooves than a 33 rpm record, it is up there with the the band’s elite performances ever.  Starting with a supremely thick Fall ‘97  Mike’s Song, containing full band hints at Black-Eyed Katy, this show was off and running in no time.  Just after the massive Mike’s Groove ended with the last hits of Weekapaug, the rolling reggae intro of Harry Hood began.  Really!?  Now?!  Yes.  Really.  A phenomenal version of Hood left the crowd stunned and speechless for Train Song and Billy Breathes, before the set closed with the rocking combo of Frankenstein, Izabella.  After such an ludicrous first set, the crowd was left aglow, without words to describe what was unfolding.  One of the quietest set breaks ever gave way to one of the loudest sets of the band’s career.

Halley’s > Tweezer > Black Eyed Katy, Piper, Antelope.  The rest is history.  With utter command over the room, the band brought the audience through a clinic of Phish improvisation.  The most delicate and spiritually inspiring moments of the set came toward the end of the “best ever” Halley’s, while the band soon had the entire spaceship bouncing through the quintessential fall swamp funk of ‘97- Tweezer> Katy.  Pure Phish crack.  Not letting up for a second, the blistering combo of Piper, Antelope provided the musical balance to the molasses that had preceded.  Universally regarded as one of the best nights in the twenty years of Phish, you have all heard this one as much as I have.  From that night on, every trip back to Hampton would be significant, and marked on everyone’s calendar.

11.23.97: LJVM Coliseum, Winston-Salem, NC


The show after consensus classics are often overlooked, unless they become classics themselves! Having produced an unfathomable amount of standout music over the previous six nights, the seventh had them scheduled to play in Winston-Salem.  With just as much fired up enthusiasm, the band took the stage to follow up what many thought they could not follow up.  While the first frame was more conventional in composition, it did contain the fall’s most bombastic “Black-Eyed Katy,” one of the tour’s best versions of “Stash,” and a late set “Fluffhead,” ta boot.  But the best was yet to come.

072As the band geared up for their eighth set of the week, there seemed to be a limitless pot of inspiration they were drawing from as one majestic piece of music continued to flow right into another.  Seemingly trying to top themselves every single night, Phish set off into a 30+ minute excursion of “Bathtub Gin” that descended into some of the darkest, most psychedelic music all tour. Held cohesively by Fish’s insane break beat work, the band dove into some improvisation that could not have been created on any other night.  One of the most formidable segments from the tour, an argument could easily be made that this Gin was better than anything at Hampton.  Winding into some space improvisation, the band found themselves in the intro of Disease.  Providing a soaring heap of upbeat rock and roll, this jam seemed like a musical celebration of the majesty of the weekend, if not the entire week.  Not finished with their fun, the band masterfully wove their way from Disease into “Low Rider” back into Disease, completing the 50 minute non-stop journey from the beginning of the set.  This sequence symbolically marked the adventurous end of the week that was, as the band went on to close with “Bold As Love” and encore with a ridiculously shredding “Julius.”

As typified by this week of absolute magic, Fall ’97 had a unique sense of excitement and discovery from both the band and their fans as they collectively broke new ground nightly.  With monster jams and mega sets, Phish was improvising with an intensity not seen in almost two years.  While the shows of this historic week, and the tour,  were accented by heroic dosages of refined funk exploits, the tour was similarly characterized by overt psychedelia and abstract exploration.  All of these trends were visible during one of the band’s best weeks of playing in their career, and we celebrate it now, eleven years later.



11.19.97 Assembly Hall, Champaign, IL < LINK (missing Wolfman’s>Makisupa)


The Phish Book

The Phish Book

With the goal of getting this entire week up for download, here is the ridiculous Champaign show.  Denver’s first night was yesterday, and there is no reason to post an AUD of the Live Phish release from 11.17.  The Hampton shows are up on Weekend Nuggets, and I will get the Winston-Salem show up tomorrow.  ’97 doesn’t get much better than this folks.

I: Julius, Bathtub Gin > Llama, Dirt, Limb By Limb, Funky Bitch, Theme From the Bottom, Ginseng Sullivan, Fee > Meatstick > Run Like an Antelope

II: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Wolfman’s Brother* > Makisupa Policeman#, Taste

E: Possum

* “Crosseyed and Painless” jam  #With space jam

11.16.97: A Personal Memoir

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on November 17, 2008 by Mr.Miner

Part of the greatness of Phish tour is that mixed with all the majestic music, there were inevitably absurd episodes and hilarious experiences that live on to this day.  Combine the use of psychedelics, massive crowds of people, and the ambitious mission of getting to every show on time, and you had the recipe for some serious shenanigans.  Each year on the anniversary of that surreal weekend that was Denver ’97, I am always reminded of one such tale.

phish-denver-97The day after the E Center introduced the new concept of the four song second set with “Wolfman’s > Simple, Twist > Slave,” I set out for Denver.  The west coasters I did the first two shows with were headed home, and I was driving to Boulder to stay with a good friend I knew from growing up.  My friend- let’s call him “Leaguer”- was at school in Boulder and decided to come to the shows with me having never seen Phish.  Leaguer was the classic high school stoner- think Slater from Dazed and Confused with curly hair- but never got into any facet of “the scene.”  A sports fan through and through, live music just wasn’t his thing.  But a lover of any good time, it was not hard to convince him to test the waters of the Phish.

In order to fully appreciate this story, you need to fully appreciate Leaguer.  Basically, he is a total clown.  Someone who makes you laugh consistently with his witty and unique humor, he has even spent a stint as a stand up comedian.  He went to school at Boulder more to see the football team than for the mountains.  Distinctly an indoorsman, I’m not sure he ever skied in all his years at Boulder.  He is someone I knew from junior high and high school and was a second younger brother to me.  One of my best friends, the dude is straight comedy, and I was psyched to introduce him to my other world.  With him having now progressed into a hip, weight-lifting New York City metrosexual, we always think back on this night and laugh heartily.

Denver 1997 - photo:

We got to the show in time to find him a ticket and chill a bit before going in.  Leaguer had dabbled in psychedelics in his high school years, and we both figured that it would be fun to be elevated for his first Phish experience.  Not knowing their music at all or what he was in for, Leaguer was game- what the heck- you can’t have a bad time on mushrooms. Or so he thought.  We each crafted our one-eighth sandwich and chowed down.  Having just come from Vegas and Utah, I was bursting with enthusiastic anticipation to witness what would unfold over the next two nights.  And Leaguer was just psyched to join the ride.

db_phish41Before stubbing him down to the floor, we picked a spot to meet after the set in the random case that he got booted back to his section.  As we sat in our seats before the show, those eighths were beginning to overwhelmingly engage our minds.  In what seemed like an never-ending flash, the building was full and the lights went down.  I knew that Leaguer, having never been to a show, was nervous about not having a floor stub.  I told him to take my actual seat, as I was going to rage in the aisles.  We both thought that was a perfect plan, since no one would come claim his seat.  So Phish comes out and the show begins. “NICU,” “My Soul” and then boom- the second ever drop of “Black-Eyed Katy.”  As I was going huge, I glanced over at Leaguer and our plan had worked out and the rest of the row had filled in.

I can never quite understand the next event.  As the band chilled out with “Farmhouse,” a mustached security guard came down to clear the aisles on the floor.  As I used my Jedi Phish skills to slide over, pretend not to notice him, and reclaim my space in the aisle, I saw him look down Leaguer’s row.  Maybe Leaguer really looked like he didn’t belong there, because as we were beginning to trip balls and he was doing absolutely nothing, the security shined his light at him and asked him for his ticket.  No one else- just him- like a suspect picked out of a police line up.  As Leaguer visibly panicked, I was helpless to fix the situation.  Just before the guard escorted Leaguer off the floor, I made eye-contact with him, signifying we’d meet at our chosen point at set break.

photo - Antelope

photo: antelope

After a string of random songs ended the set, including two with a guest banjo player, I thought to myself, “Not the best ‘first set ever’ for Leaguer to see.  Apparently I didn’t know the half of it.  As I got to the seats in the lower bowl where we meeting, I spotted him and he didn’t look good.  Contradictorily, I was euphorically faced and ready for what would certainly be a huge second set.  As I approached him, he was clearly bugging- tripping far too hard in a totally foreign, overwhelming environment.  While it’s always fun to teeter, its no fun to fall off the the other side.  As I tried to calm him down, reminding him we were just at a concert on mushrooms, he was completely inconsolable.  I felt bad about the situation at hand, but also knew that he was totally fine in the scheme of things, giving the entire episode a certain comedic aspect.  As he sat there rocking back and forth, he peered up at me more than once asking, “Can we go home now?”  As I laughed at his propositions, he was too enraptured by his maddening world to hear any reason or logic.  The mere fact that it was Leaguer, and he had finally had come to see Phish, just made it the funniest thing to me.

The guys behind us noticed what was happening, and a dreaded hippie reached over and handed him a crystal, saying,”Hold this for a while.  It will help you.”  Without even knowing it, Leaguer grabbed it and continued rocking back and forth, desperately trying to gain control of an uncontrollable situation.  After a few minutes of my attempting to bring him back, he looked at the crystal in his hand with disdain and exclaimed, “What the fuck is this?” and handed it over to me knowing not where it came from.

tripping_ballsObviously staying with him for the second set, I settled in to watch from the seats.  Nothing i said could convince Leaguer that what was about to happen was going to change his reality into an Edenic state.  As the lights went down, I hopped into the aisle, and Leaguer stayed rocking in his seat as they opened up with “Timber Ho!.”  Transcending the song’s darker territory, the band took the music out into a blissfully symphonic place of melody and harmony- but it didn’t pull Leaguer out of his seat.  The roar of the crowd as the jam creatively segued into “Simple” caught his attention and he stood up for the first time since I’d seen him.  Remaining standing, he leaned over to me in the middle of the “Simple” jam, again asking if we could leave yet. I explained to him that we’d go home when the show was over, and that he should try to focus on the music.  Unable to focus on anything at all, he continued on in his discombobulated state.

Meanwhile, the band was creating a magnificent second set that would see a mid-set “Wilson”give way to a powerful, magical and driving twenty-minute “Harry Hood.”  As heavenly hallucinations flooded my mind, this set had me hooked, I was in the music and it was paradise.  Following the brilliant peak of the Hood jam, the band ended with the set with the screaming Hendrix textures of “Izabella.”  I am pretty sure that I saw Leaguer calming down for at least a few seconds during this one.

photo - wergert

photo: wergert

After the set, he still was out of sorts.  Explaining that there was only one more song, he dug in to make it through a huge and rare Bowie encore.  About halfway into the extended Bowie jam, Leaguer tapped me on the shoulder, pulling me out of my subconscious state.  He looked at me and said, “This is pretty good!”  Bursting with laughter, I gave him a nod and he ironically enjoyed and swayed to the second half of the jam.

As we drove the short way back to Boulder, Leaguer reclaimed his former identity and we discussed the events of the evening.  Confirming that he missed a really good show and laughing about everything, but mostly his reaction to the crystal, he kept saying that he couldn’t believe the amount of energy there was in the arena.  Having been to every sporting event in the book, he said it was incomparable.  Unfortunately, he decided to skip the next night, and never made it back to the Phish.  As I said before, it just wasn’t his thing.  But he will never forget his one Phishy evening in McNichols Arena.

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11.16.97 McNichols Arena, Denver, CO < LINK

McNichols Arena, Denver, CO

McNichols Arena, Denver, CO

The “other” Denver show, as the next night would become historic- this second set is a dark horse of Fall ’97.  It is outstanding.  Check it out.

I: NICU, My Soul, Black-Eyed Katy, Farmhouse, The Old Home Place, Billy Breathes, Cars Trucks Buses, Scent of a Mule*,  Poor Heart*, Taste, Hello My Baby

II: Timber Ho! > Simple, Wilson > Harry Hood, Izabella

E: David Bowie

*With Pete Wernick, aka “Dr. Banjo” on banjo