, attached to 1997-12-02

Review by n00b100

n00b100 The argument for Best Show of Fall '97 will continue for as long as people still care about either Phish or the Fall '97 tour; the argument of Most Underrated Show of Fall '97, in my humble estimation, should pretty much begin and end with the December 2nd Spectrum show (what *is* it about Phish in the Spectrum, anyway?). I truly believe that this show legitimately deserves to be considered one of the best shows of the whole tour, and is certainly on the shortlist of shows that have two stellar sets the whole way through.

Set I kicks off in fun fashion with Buried Alive, then leads into a sharp, if somewhat short, DWD that in turn segues directly into Makisupa Policeman. That Makisupa, as it turns out, is a breather for an absolutely ferocious Chalk Dust Torture, with an intense solo from Trey that earns a hearty cheer from the crowd. Ghost steps up next, and the band churns out a deliciously funky version that never quite hits Type II but will leave you bobbing your head all the same, until it leads nicely into Divided Sky. The rest of the set is perfectly fine, but the Buried Alive to Ghost sequence gives this first set an edge over many other first sets, even of Fall '97, where any first set could enter the pantheon on any given night.

The second set is a real treat, practically crying out for the LivePhish remaster treatment now that the major players of Fall '97 have seen official release. Kicking a set off with Mike's Song is always a good move, and this version is a multifaceted beast, rumbling along with a real dark intensity before opening up and letting some funkiness in, then cooling down for just a brief moment before really letting go and letting Trey do his thing. Let me tell you, this is one hell of a Mike's Song; I know this Weekapaug gets the plaudits, but I think Mike's is just as good. We then get the traditional segue into Simple (always the best way for Simple to appear, IMO), albeit not quite as smooth as a key change is necessary out of the Mike's jam, and Simple books along in its catchy way before, out of nowhere, the bottom drops out and Page and Trey have themselves a gorgeous duet, guitar and piano beautifully melding and spiraling in and out of each other before growing dissonant and slightly uncomfortable. There are better Simples, but none with an ending quite like this, and anyone that has not heard it needs to do so.

Then, out of the midst of the guitar/piano duet comes Dog Faced Boy, and it is a great version of an increasingly rare tune, charming and weirdly innocent (if that makes sense). And then, with joyful ease, the band rolls into Ya Mar, playing around with the lyrics ("he was an old grandpa/he was MY grandpa") before heading into a very rhythmic, spartan breakdown that bounces along and then gradually picks up intensity, spreading out in ways Ya Mar just doesn't usually do. And then, as though three glorious segues aren't enough, the band drops easily the best one of the night, as the Ya Mar jam slowly molds into Weekapaug Groove while retaining the jam's rhythmic base, giving us a Weekapaug that brims with funky goodness instead of the usual high-octane rockout it usually provides. And I do mean funky goodness - Mike really puts on a show with the booty-shaking lines he drops in the jam. That is, until about the 9 minute mark, when Trey suddenly decides "it's time to go interstellar in this bitch" and cranks the intensity up to 11 for a fiery rock jam, a much more palatable cousin to the 11/30 Wolfman's metal jam of doom (and then of soporific boredom), then gets things weird for a bit (dig the '80s Laser Floyd organ effects from Page!) before leading us into the usual Weekapaug closing section. This Weekapaug lives up to its bold-faced billing, and is the perfect capper to a glorious Mike's Groove, one of the best of the late 90s.

Final thought: I don't buy @Poster_Nutbag 's assertion that the last 4 songs drag this show down; if that were the case, 12/6/97 II (and not just 12/6/97 II) would immediately be disqualified from "best set ever" status. I like to think of Bouncing/Zero as a fun way to close what has been a heart-stopping second set, and Ginseng/Sample a charming encore that you don't NEED to listen to when you break this show out. And come on, we just had two fantastic sets dropped on us, how can they possibly be less epic just because they gave us some standard closer/encore fare and not a 25-minute Tweezer or something? At any rate, quibbles with closer songs aside, 12/2/97 serves as yet another reason why Fall '97 has entered into the stuff of legend - high class jams, massive servings of funk, powerful guitar declamations, astounding segues, perfectly placed bustouts, and sets that you never want to end.


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