Wolfman’s included a Take Me to the River jam. The Bowie intro included a Simpsons signal; Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, was reportedly in attendance. Bowie also contained a When Johnny Comes Marching Home tease from Mike. This show was released as part of the Ventura box set.
If nothing else you absolutely must hear this Bowie > Cities > Bowie, which is one of the tastiest jams of summer '97: totally seamless segues back and forth between a beautifully detailed Bowie and a zippy stateside take on the Talking Heads cover. As for the rest of the show, if you're new to the band you might be surprised to hear how lean the Wolfman's > Chalkdust is (none of the clattering Rube Goldberg stuff of modern Wolfmen here). And when Trey flips on the Leslie during Stash you might think you've slipped naked into some unfathomable jazz ocean - it's a spectacular rendition of that never-fail improvisatory showcase. Excellent show, highly recommended.
(Sidebar: for a full-dress 1997 Cities, see 8/10 Deer Creek (24 minutes of open-field magic), 7/1 Amsterdam, or (in a different vein) the scorching 6/20 Prague jam. For a close cousin of the Bowie jam, try the 7/23 Ghost, the loopy 7/5 Twist, or the much darker-hued 11/23 Stash > NICU, just one of that classic show's daring jams.)
on 7/30/97 in ventura, ca, phish put forth one of their all-time great jam sequences. beyond that though, they also brought west-coast phish fans their first taste of '97 phish. all four shows on this run, ventura, shoreline, and gorge x2, complimented each other well, giving west coast heads the full array of what phish was capable of.
well, you can tell phish is feeling a little funky right off the bat. nicu was quick and to the point, but it set the mood well. the boys had begun to tap into the potential that lied in wolfman's brother while in europe. obviously, they had not gotten to the point where they had played this song every 3 shows for years, so the exploration in this tune in '97 is still very fresh. this version is very patient and laid back. i feel like now they have some need to drive this to a fiery climax, which i often enjoy, but they were much more willing to sit on a groove here. eventually, they found themselves in a somewhat rocking jam that inventually came to a crash, before springing into a nice chalk dust. trey whips in a little funky rhythm guitar on this one, but otherwise, it is pretty straight forward. water in the sky was a nice up beat filler before the boys spread out again. they really give this stash a nice little ride. they veer away from the funk and find some nice dark spacey realms here before trey leads the band back into the meat of the song. while the jam factor goes down in the end of this set, weigh and cars trucks and buses are welcome additions. an early piper is a fun listen, but this song was still a couple months away from being a force to be reckoned with. not big zero fan, but if you like the song, this is a pretty decent take.
now for the meat of this show. u.s. fans were clamoring to get a look at the '97 overhaul of pyite, and they got a fine look on this evening. gordon and fish really sit on that punch groove while trey and page just dig deeper and deeper on the intro. eventually they bring this one to familiar territory. this pairs well with free, which like many songs in '97, was going through a bit of a transition. the mini drum set was gone, and this song now received the funk/blues treatment. they explore this one nicely, but i would not describe it as an all-time keeper. trey does take some nice leads in the middle section, but i think this one, more or less, sets us up for what's to come. after a spacier jam out of free, the boys start to dip into bowie. they throw some simpson's secret language fun in there for good measure, but after that, it's all business. after the bowie intro, they work some familiar territory before finding themselves in a quasi reggae'ish groove. gordon and page quickly turn the corner back into the more familiar bowie jam. now, the boys pace this one perfectly. the climb up this bowie is so patient. at no point does anyone rush through this dark meandering jam. as they appear to be moving into the bowie climax, trey finds a very melodic groove and latches on. it sounds familiar, but it doesn't. next thing you no, you are smack dab in cities. there were 3 versions of cities on this tour, and these versions all vary dramatically. deer creek's is more similar, at least at first, to hamburg's/slip stitch's. of course, they take that one places that weren't even imagined yet in hamburg. then the went's is the super slow funk/groove rendition. on the ventura take, the tone on trey's guitar is almost similar to his '87-'88 tone, giving this version almost a poppier feel. it is also a touch more uptempo. well, the fans certainly agree with the first north american cities since '94, and this works its way out of it's funky jam moving into the anticipated bowie coda. trey just burns through this section. after one of the best jams of the year moved through soooo many dark passages, i will say, the boys kind of phone it here from here. batr, uncle penn, caspian, and fire are well-executed, but aren't really high-light reel material. my soul had not been played to death yet, so it was a nice addition in the encore slot. despite a slightly weak ending, the best jam of the west coast run and one of the best of the year certainly is enough for a set to hang it's hat on!
if you like this show, check out the rest of this west coast run. shoreline features a little tribute to jerry g in weekapaugh and great versions of ghost, run away jim, yem, vultures, and mike's. the gorge night one features another best of the west jam contenders in the dwd>tweezer>johny b. segment. trey quotes night 2 of the gorge as his favorite show of the first half of this tour, but personally, it is my least favorite of the west coast run. although, twist>jjlc, fluff head, and simple are all very good.
"There's some good points, and some bad points."
I wanted to see a show at the Ventura County Fairgrounds because it was common stomping ground for the Grateful Dead. We were doing the entire tour, and this was one of the mellowest scenes. The energy felt very different from an East Coast show, with a crowd consisting of a much wider age range.
The fairgrounds are a track around a dirt field, which is not very popular with some fans. The stage was on the north side, while a large bleacher stand was on the south side. The stage was a simple platform with speaker stacks on both ends. There was no backdrop to the stage which is what makes the fairgrounds so special. Behind the stage is a breathtaking view of the mountains, with scattered trees in the foreground.
I decided to sit in the bleachers for this show, one of the best decisions I made all tour! Sitting near the top of the bleachers was a surreal experience. Not only could I enjoy the band in the lap of the mountains, I could look to the west and see a view of the Pacific Ocean! Watching the sun set over the beach and water during a Phish show is a very happy memory. The exhilaration of the venue's natural beauty was even beyond my Red Rocks experience in `96.
Reaching California turned out to be a major celebration for those of us on the bus who had traveled from the tour-opening show in Virginia Beach, VA. We had traveled from the Atlantic to the Pacific in only nine days! The band even rewarded us with the old-school cover of the Talking Heads' "Cities", sandwiched inside a warm and juicy "David Bowie". They had been playing "Cities" in Europe on the last two tours, but this was the first U.S. "Cities" in three years. Other tasty treats included the tour premieres of "Weigh" and Jimi Hendrix's "Fire".
I'll give this a go since I have been spinning these two discs non stop of late....
I love summer '97 (even though it lives in the shadow of Fall). Ton's of great loose adventure.
NICU serves as a nice opener. Fun version, if unspectacular.
Wolfman's is lean and funky. I believe one reviewer noted how deconstructed these versions were. Lot's of space making for a sparse funky jam. Great counter-point to the modern era's big full band climax versions. Awesome.
>Chalkdust, which is absolutely furious. They just don't play like this anymore (fast and fiery!!!). Not an indictment of today, just a compliment of yesteryear.
Water in the sky is ok.
Stash is absolutely immense. This version is incredible, with a chilled out Harry Hood type blissful middle section. Must hear version. I wasn't so familiar with it, but it immediately vaulted into a personal favorite.
Weigh > Piper is an awesome pair. Great version of Weigh and a classic slow build Piper.
CTB gives us a taste of '97 funky dance fun.
Zero rages to the finish line in fine form.
Overall set I: Really fine set. Stash is a seminole version in my honest opinion that just drips into that blissful jam, without lingering too long and slides back to the darkness!
Highlights: Wolfmans > CDT, Stash
PYITE kicks us off in summertime fashion. Nice version.
Free is slow and oozing and funky. I love this version, although it's pretty much in the box. Great playing by Trey, patient full band funk.
They go into a spacey jam segment and the high hat kicks in. Bowie is jazzy and covers a lot of ground, eventually finding a fast and funky jam (hooray for '97!!!) which slides perfectly into a supercharged Cities!!!
They blaze through Cities and effortlessly -> Bowie. The conclusion is absolute fire! Well it's like a half hour - so go grab that. It's canonical Phish.
Bouncing, Uncle Pen, Caspian > Fire finish out the set, which is a mediocre run to close it out.
My Soul is the encore, not much to say.
Overall set II: Well the big centerpiece jam is legendary. The opening pairing is also great. They just sort of run through the rest of the set, but it's hard to blame them.
Highlights: BOWIE -> CITIES -> BOWIE
Overall: 5/5 Great first set, with an amazing Stash. Great second set with an all time Bowie!
This is one of my favorite shows from 1997. An incredible Bowie>cities>Bowie. A fantastic Wolfmans>chalkdust. One of my favorite versions of Free. A really nice my soul and not a bad stash in there too. A great great show all around but that free Bowie cities Bowie is amazing top shelf phish and one of my favorite 45 minute stretches of music from 1997.
I don't know how much more I can add about this show the reviews above pretty much sums it up. This was my first show I remember driving from the Inland Valley with 2 friends of mine who also had never seen the band. I really didn't know what to expect. As I rolled into the lot it hit me that I found a new passion.
I have listened to Phish albums since like 1992 where my cousin introduced me to Junta. I was to young to travel to shows so I finally made it.
After a nice walk on the beach and through the lot we went into the show and picked a nice place up on the wall just below the bleachers.
Now on to the goodies
Band comes out they start up NICU wow what the hell is this I've never heard this before but liked the groove "what album is it on." Wolfmans now here is a song I have heard I know this one and holy funk I was sucked into it. and then of course here comes a chalkdust it was great 3 songs in people all around me groovin'.
So on goes the rest of the set I had heard everything other than the 2 new tunes Water In The Sky and Piper oh and of course the NICU. I was having a great time meeting and chatting with new people.
PYITE wow I thought know way they are going to play gamehendge I had heard Gamehendge before on the radio back at the University in Redlands when I worked at a gas station they had a radio station that played live Phish shows I believe from like 9-midnight on wednesdays or something like that so I had heard Gamehendge before. I used to bring my little portable boombox and blank tapes and tape the broadcast back then and it sucked because people would come and I would have a big metal register banging around also people talking. Made it hard to listen to those tpapes but, I had nothing else other than albums back then.
I knew it wasn't in order and soon realized it wasn't happening We go on through When I heard the Simpson Signal I couldn't figure out what was going on I had not ever been exposed to that before and never knew about it but, it was great and to hear that Matt Groening was there but, I had not seen him.
Anyways back to it Bowie was great I kind of got lost for a minute and then out comes this crazy riff I had heard before what was it KNOW WAY!!!! Cities OMG!!!!! man I knew this one and back into Bowie to finish off.
Ok so now this was really hitting me Bouncing and to the end of the show we go after that they played Fire to end a great night and was it Fire man oh man.
My Soul that was the first time I had heard that and really enjoyed it.
So after the show I knew I found something I was asking where the next show was and how I wanted to go so bad I should have but limited on cash so I didn't. I did however by my first Phish lot shirt with the little fish man on it.
So people you will not be disappointed in this show hope you all enjoy it as much as I have.
After this show is when I started doing B&P's to get copies of shows and stopped listening to those albums.
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