, attached to 1997-12-02

Review by Lando_Lizards

Lando_Lizards It's been over 17 years since this show took place and it was my first Phish show. Since then, I've listened to this show more than any other show. So, I guess it's about time to review it.

I was a fan of Phish's music for about a year and a half before going to this show. I had listened to all of their studio albums released before the show as well as a healthy selection of shows on tape. I took (or dragged) my friend to the show with me. He was a Dead fan who had never heard Phish other than a couple of songs we listened to on the way to the show. In short, we were both unprepared for what we were about to experience. We bought tickets at the box office at about 7:00 and we got seats on Page side, about 12 rows up from the side of the stage.

Phish came out swinging. Buried Alive > DWD -> Makisupa, CDT. My friend and I didn't say a word to each other from the first note until the end of CDT. We were both blown away. To be honest, the show could have ended here and my noobish self would have still thought it was the best concert I'd ever seen up until that point. The energy in the Spectrum that was driven by the band was unbelievable and like nothing I had ever experienced before. Based on re-relistening to the show, the playing was solid in this opening segment but it doesn't really get too far out of the box. Just full of tight playing. Other highlights of the 1st set were Ghost > Divided Sky. Somehow, I had not heard Ghost before this and the funk did not disappoint. Divided Sky was a nice treat because I knew this song better than any other before walking into the show. Taste may not quite hold up that well against the great Tastes from '97 but I knew nothing about that at the time and I certainly loved it in the moment. The Star Spangled Banner was a Phishy way to end the 1st set.

At set break, we were extremely excited about what we had just seen and we anxiously waited to find out what they were going to do next. The reality of the situation was that I had no idea what this band was capable of. Lights out for set 2.

Mike's -> Simple -> Dog Faced Boy -> Ya Mar -> Weekapaug Groove. If you haven't listened to this sequence, set aside 65 minutes of your life to listen to what might be the best hour of music they have put together on stage.

Mike's Song is a multi-headed beast driven by Fishman who leads the band through darkness and funk before opening up room for machine gun Trey to take control. Simple is beautiful and I loved the Trey/Page duet. Dog Faced Boy is perfect for this Mike's Groove. It is a great landing pad after the monster Mike's -> Simple. I absolutely love how Fishman keeps the song a little more upbeat than usual. This is my favorite version of the song but mostly because of its placement in the set and how smoothly the band segues into and out of it. Ya Mar featured some fun lyrical changes since they spent that day with Page's grandfather (Grandpootie) who was in attendance. This might be why Page's solo was so inspired. Again, Fishman drives this Ya Mar into new territory and the band takes it for a rhythmic ride which leads to a segue that is smooth as butter. The band eases into Weekapaug with a slower groove than usual which features some downright dirty baselines from Mike. About half way through, Trey signals to the band that they are switching gears to a high energy, in-your-face, Trey-led shred fest before bringing it back to earth to finish off this glorious Mike's Groove.

Fishman is an absolute machine throughout the entire groove. I really think he is what makes this segment of music so great. All 4 of them are really locked in and playing at the top of their game, but Fishman really stands out. When the Mike's Groove ended my buddy turned to me and yelled, "This has to be the hardest working band that ever existed!" That quote has stuck with me for the past 17 years.

Bouncin' was a much needed cool down before a scorching Character Zero to end the set. The encore was just gravy on top.

12/2/97 at the Spectrum changed my perception of what a concert is.

Side note: My friend was glad I dragged him along and he became a Phish fan for life after that night.


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