lyric changed to "bask in morning sickness."
 Began as Rocky Top.
 Original, alternate lyrics.
Silent's lyrics were changed to "bask in morning sickness." Character Zero and 2001 were unfinished. Trey teased Super Bad in 2001. Poor Heart began as Rocky Top. Cavern included some of the original, alternate lyrics.
Dan's got it right: this is a gem. It feels weird to say DOWNLOAD THIS NOW about nearly every single show of Fall '97, but it's hard to find fault with any of Phish's music of that period - even the noble failures and mixed successes (cf. 11/29 Jim). This distended, wholly unexpected Character Zero jam is typical of that time: raging guitar rock that seems to exhaust itself and transform into some unforeseen, unforeseeable thing according to rules not inherited or preconceived but invented on the spot. There's funk here, sure (from note one of Tweezer!), but also a dizzying Ya Mar, another cavernous indoor Caspian, a spotlit PYITE late in the second set...
The boys were taking formal and stylistic risks aplenty then (starting with Trey's attempts to abdicate onstage leadership!), but playing also with open-hearted fluency and empathy, integrating their decade-old musical tricks and nerd-rock games with brand new dance-pop expressivity. They were still more aggressive and complicated and outright weird than the Dead, but the chaotic/algorithmic noise had smoothed out into accessible post-techno dance music. 1995's roar had faded; the ambient textures of 1998-99 hadn't yet oozed in. Damn, it was a great time for Phish fandom.
It's enough to say: This show is on par with the rest of the best.
So I'll say it again. If you have any interest in Phish, you can feel safe downloading Fall Tour 1997 in its entirety. It's bold, polymorphous, rainbow-coloured music, populist but not pop. It's...well, it's fucking great. Yeah.
This was, for me, a very special night. It was my ninth show. I hadn't seen the band since the 1996 New Years Run, which was a terribly disappointing affair. I'd only been going since Spring 1994 at this point, was a bit soured on the band, and was telling myself this was a "last chance" moment for them to win me back. There had been rumors floating around that something had changed, but, as anyone who was around in those days will remember, it took a while to get the tapes so I hadn't heard a thing. Needless to say, it took just a few minutes of the Tweezer for the rumors to start making sense and I was back in the fold by setbreak. This Tweezer remains, to this day, probably my second favorite among Tweezers I've seen. (Number one? 12/28/95, of course--which always gets overshadowed by 12/2/95.)
Listen carefully through the head: there's a moment in between two of the verses where Mike hangs a C# for a few bars. This may be my favorite note that Mike has ever played: terribly out of place and with beautiful intention--the whole song seems to tilt for a moment and then, as he cracks back into A minor, everything pulls back into place.
Upon relistening, this is a show of moments (most mentioned already here) that never quite seems to hang together. Both sets start amazingly well (and the first set ends amazingly well) but there are moments in the middle of both that sputter. Still, there was a special sense of freewheelingness throughout, which is admirable and somehow missing these days. In 1997, if only barely, Phish simply was; at some point Phish got trapped in being Phish.
Earlier on this tour is my favorite Fish fills of all time, in the SLC Wolfman's. I think it's right after "This isn't who it would be." An innocuous little snare roll, a closing hi-hat, and then, after a pause, a single snare punch that seems to stop my heart for a second every time. It seems to me a hallmark of his newfound ability to play loose.
Is it telling that I can't remember Page or Trey moments quite as vividly?
Anyone who has made live music into a lifestyle choice has secrets. Not secrets like "Can you guess where all my money goes?" or "What do I do every weekend?" The answers to those questions are obvious enough and anyone who has more than a passing acquaintance with a concert junkie doesn't wonder why he or she can't make it to that party when there's a show in town. The secrets I'm talking about are those really personal nights, those nights in smoky rooms that no one else thinks about, but that you know were something special. The Hartford show from `97 is one of those secrets.
This show is understandably underrated. It took place the night before Thanksgiving and was the first show of the northeastern leg of Fall Tour, the southern leg having ended two nights earlier in North Carolina. Also, it preceded the famous Worcester run that boasts myriad highlights, not the least of which was the epic "Runaway Jam" that was literally and metaphorically the centerpiece of all three nights. Nonetheless, Hartford remains one of my most enjoyable evenings of music.
The "Tweezer" opener was the perfect way to send your mind spiraling into a different universe and was a solid showcase for the funk inferno that scorched all of that tour. While the remainder of the set was very song-oriented, it did sport a great "Gumbo" and one of my favorite "McGrupp"s ever. I remember having this relaxing haze drop over me during that set.
The second set opened with a short, spacey jam, foreshadowing the place where Phish's funk would land by Summer Tour `98, into a monster "Character Zero". It was one of those songs that just wouldn't quit, and after squirming in all sorts of directions the Worm found its way to a nice "2001". A fairly long (but focused) version, the end seemed particularly momentous, and led into the only "Cities" of the tour. The crowd was particularly pleased to hear this very tight version, as Slip Stitch and Pass had just come out. The tune was in rotation in the U.S., but only sporadically. A real treat for those in attendance. The jam didn't stop there, though. The slip into "Ya Mar" set off cheers from the crowd who got a huge dose of the start/stop full funk treatment. And then into an oddly placed "PYITE", followed by a "Caspian". The set closed with a "Rocky Top" intro into "Poor Heart" and the full framing effect of a "Tweezer Reprise". The closure that a reprise affords is always nice, but is particularly potent when it bookends an entire show. The "Cavern" encore had the original "Turned the blade back on the bitch" lyrics, although Trey must've decided to use them right then because they were rushed, as though he missed a beat.
Amazing stuff, obviously. 11/26 is a standard above-avg Fall '97 show. Though, I think I would give this one 4/5 stars, especially when looking at the EASY 5-STAR shows surrounding it (Hamptons, NC, Worcester). I don't feel a need to give a full review here, as quite a few others have already touched on mostly everything from this show, so just some quick notes for those skimming through...
The Tweeze opener is big but doesn't sit as high as the other great ones from that tour (11/17, 12/6). Rather, I think it's on par with the Island Tour 4/4 opener - tons of sick funk morphing then growing into big arena rock and settling into stop/start or space. Perfect opener, but nothing out of the ordinary for the tour. Some more great funk in Gumbo, of course, but a smaller serving than the big bowls from the summer. Always love McGrupp; Melt is nice, pretty average though, similar to the Hampton take; Taste is intense, as was the case for the entire year with the tune. 2nd set means MORE FUNK in 2001>Cities, mix of very tight then loose playing. A bit more fun for the crowd with YaMar>Punch. Caspian serves as the big arena rocker to counter the opening rock from Tweeze, bringing the show closer to its end. Goofiness ensues with the RockyHeart mashup. Reprise fire. Cavern is unusual as well, as it features an alternate lyrics/hard rock section and an ATC tease. Definitely a fun(ky) & rocking show, but I'd still give it 4/5 (which isn't really a huge step down, considering I wouldn't give any show from the tour less than 4 stars / maaaybe the opener 11/13 which still has a Top 5 Stash all time, or 12/5 but even that one had a unique 2nd set)...
What I left out above and what I mostly wanted to point out with this post, however, was the lack of mention of Character Zero in the Noteworthy Jams section. TBH, that is the biggest "highlight" of the night to take away; that is, this is the unique marker for this show. Lots of standard/avg Fall '97 material throughout the show, no question, but nothing they haven't done before in that tour or months leading up to it. This is the standout tune that people should recognize from this show, as it's the most unique version to date. I'm barring those versions that feature guests (Gullotti, Perazzo, Grippo, etc) because I wouldn't say those break far from the tune proper. Now, this one doesn't go completely Type 2, but it definitely stretches a bit and tries to break free from the pre-97 shackles.
To sum it up: Char0 starts with a couple minutes of space almost like they'd planned on rocketing into 2001 before Trey starts up; I'd say the rocking section goes faaar harder than some other Zero's from the tour; then there's a segment at about 13min where they bring down the heat on a lower-key groove while Trey uses his pitch shifter(?); they soon lock into a unique hard-rock riff (~15min) and ride it for a few min (oddly similar to Foxey Lady, no? am i the only one? lots of Jimi in Trey's soul during those shows); MORE FYF ROCK & WAH ACTION, never gets old for me; Page on the organ; Trey starts adding eerie looping effects as Mike puts this one to sleep with some odd basslines. Finally, Fishman---->>>> into 2001 with a very solid segue. I know it's not a top 15, or maybe even top 20?, jam from the tour. I just wanted to make notice of this standout version just to give a bit more credit to the band's ability in that period to turn ANY song upside down/inside out during that period (as if more credit is actually needed, CHYA RIGHT). Bet you never thought anyone would get this excited about Zero.....
Welp, there's my two cents. Clear your schedule for the next couple weeks, download the whole tour ASAP, let it envelope your entire life/being/soul, dwell on it, dwell in it, dwell around it, REFLECT, rinse, repeat, reverse, rewind, recalibrate, rejuvenate, TRANSCEND . . . . . .
Just to add to some of the above comments Taste is top shelf. 2nd set is extremely seguey and sometimes the experiment paid off (->2001) and sometimes it isn't as clean (->Yamar) but it works out, even if you were a little freaked out.
Character Zero could not have been more random. The fact that it opened the 2nd set. Or the fact that they stretched it for about 21mins!
Overall almost everything is played top notch. I would say this is one of those rare shows where the 1st set is better then the 2nd. But that's "just like my opinion man".
This was one of my first handful of shows (somewhere in the 4-5 range I'd guess), and I remembered it being an absolute heater. A tour buddy kept copious notes and set lists, and I recall him scribbling furiously during all of the briefs pauses or segues.
This Tweezer begins in a slow, methodically funky bounce, and slowly ramps up to some soaring riffs and beautiful vamping, closing with some gentle delay loops and strumming that bring us into shore after the storm that preceded it.
And then there's the rest of the show, with one of my favorite McGrupps, my absolute favorite Taste, my absolute favorite Character Zero (love the opener slot), a dance party disco 2001, AND THEN a grooved out Cities, AND THEN a mid set PYITE (!!), AND THEN a smoking (!) Caspian, and your non-standard Reprise to close the second set.
Its interesting to see how this show stacks up in the ratings against some of the other heavy hitters of the era, or even some of the top ranked 3.0 shows. I haven't seen or heard anything like this show since a few hints here and there on 10/31/14, but I think the all time rating is held back a bit by the absolute insanity that was Fall '97 overall. Ah well, the tapes are just as good as I remember that night to be!
In light of my 16-year Phish-a-versarry yesterday (thanks .net!), I thought I'd give this show a re-listen. This was my first show and my first tapes. I wore these out, but oddly, only a few songs sounded familiar when I booted up the Phishtracks app last night.
1st person memories: I was 15, there with my girlfriend who was decidedly not into it, and I was mostly into smoking cigars that looked like twigs. I must have been insufferable to those around me. Extra kudos to the grown man who was very happy to smoke me up without pause.
Upon the re-listen: The PhishTracks aud recording sounds just like my tapes, albeit without the breakdown caused by 50 or so listens, and probably with a higher-gen pedigree. Treys guitar swells and fills the recording; some EQ tweaking on my ancient stereo made the other instruments clearer. For me, this is one of those times that the recording itself is part of the experience; a SBD release of this show would be too much of a good thing, like pulling the curtain back on the Wizard. Or redoing the original Star Wars.
Tweezer is slow to build to anything interesting, but once it does, it sets the pattern for the rest of the night's jamming: requisite funk, and a guitar-driven steady groove that is straining against Trey's concerted efforts to play less notes. '97 was not simply cow funk. "Groove" might be a more apt description. Anyway, the highlight for me (due mostly to nostalgia) is Dirt... it's beautiful and melancholy. Gumbo is well-delivered and features a neat little deconstructed jam that breaks down to one chord, then two. Melt follows the night's groove-centered jamming style but does reach back into some earlier 90's-style Melt madness, just a bit.
Set 2 starts with a rather monstrous Character Zero, jamming in the style of the evening, and delivering in a big way. A segue (sortof) into 2001 makes the first half of this set just about everything I want from Phish. The rest of the set, while fun and well-delivered (except the big flubs in Cavern), are a cooldown, as far as I'm concerned.
4/5, and if I were to attend this show tomorrow as a long-time Phan, I'd be happy. My hero didn't disappoint upon a relisten, though I'm certainly still not changing my vote for my favorite attended show-- 4/4/98, my 2nd.
Tweezer ->Sparkle was a nice way to open,but the true hight light of this set is the Gumbo->My Soul.Great contributions by everyone on this and set the page for what was to come. A nice Melt,Mcrupp and a solid Taste brought the set to a close.
A little jam started the set and I was thinkin'a 2001,but when those 1st notes of Zero rang out I had a feeling we were goin'for a ride on the back of the worm.Did we ever,Character Zero was about 20min.long and segued into a very,very funkifed 2001.2001->Cities was another jaw drop.then a seamless segue into YaMar,which had that extra umf to it.BAM,Punch You not one downer so far,Poor heart was cool as it started as Rocky top and cavern had the original lyrics .
This was my homeboy John's 1st show and fitting it being in Hartford...me (going to school in VT) and my buddy Chris (going to school in Ithaca) picked John up in New Britain @ CCSU w/ a couple hours to spare...they both wanted some booze so instead of waiting twenty mins til we got to the lot John said he knew a place that would sell to him around the corner...I doubted it seeing as though Chris was the only one who looked remotely close to 21 out of the three of us, but John said no problem...we pulled up...I could see an old man through the window...we pulled away a bit....John went in and as sure as shit is usually brown he came out w/ some Soco to mix for the show...Chris had managed not to kill us as he and his new buddy Drew took nitrous hits from a cracker in the front seat on I-84 the whole ride up...wtf?...we got there w/ some time to find our high school and new college friends in the lot...partied some and made it in to our seats on the floor...stubbed my new buddy Micah down (as well as my hack crew from C'bury) and proceeded to taunt the cops as we danced behind them up and down the aisle...the music was amazing...my 2nd show at the Civic Center...Phish tore it up and delivered us quite a Punch all throughout the night...thanks to all...John was safely returned to his brother's apt. in H'ford and Chris and I safely made it back to Woodbury to gear up for more "college" and then Rochester...read that review! haha
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