This was my 25th show, caught on a whim when fellow traders@umich member Josh Zelkowitz offered to drive me from Ann Arbor down to Dayton. The Nutter Center seemed like a a giant gymnasium -- a far cry from the Palace of Auburn Hills (home to the Detroit Pistons) that they'd played the night before.
Sometimes the band just fires on all cylinders and they're able to take each and every jam to the next level. On 12/7/97, they were doing just that and the stellar song choice (Tube!) simply enhanced the experience of seeing a band at their peak.
The Tube Jam>Slave is quite possibly as close to perfection as you will ever hear! The best moment, in my mind, is as the last chords of Slave subside, after what has just been an awe-inspiring set -- Trey says "Thanks, we're gonna take a break, and we'll be back...thank you very much." We suddenly realized that we still had a whole second set to look forward to!
Continuing to fuse the stellar song choice with inspired playing, Timber, Wolfman's>Boogie On opened the second set for a 25-minute excursion that sublimely captures the magical essence of Fall '97. As exploratory and psychedelic as Timber Ho was that night (there's a full 6.5 minutes of jamming in-between verses 1 and 2), the band did not disappoint as they utilized Wolfman's Brother (many a fan's choice for best song of Fall '97 -- it really opened up new territory and showcased their ability to bring the funk!) to get the room grooving. The segue into Boogie On Reggae Woman was one of those moments where people begin to realize that IT was happening (and not for the first time that night, either!!). One person at a time the feeling swept over the room as eyes bulged open, jaws hit the floor, and some just stopped and stared in disbelief. I, for one, did not realize the bustout of epic proportions that I was witnessing at the time, but I sure as hell knew the room was rocking.
The rest of the set, and the timely encore (12/8 happens to be the anniversary of John Lennon's murder) were really just icing. 12/7/97 Dayton lives in this fan's memory as undoubtedly the best show that had ever occurred up until that point -- and few have come close since.