Loring Commerce Centre, Limestone, ME
Set 1: MakisupaMakisupa Policeman -> Harpua > CDTChalk Dust Torture, ThemeTheme From the Bottom > PYITEPunch You In the Eye > Ghost > GinsengGinseng Sullivan, YEMYou Enjoy Myself > Train Song > Character Zero, CoilThe Squirming Coil
 Picked up where the Clifford Ball Harpua left off.
 Intro performed a cappella with finger snaps.
 Trey altered lyrics to reference "Fishman sleeping in the daytime."
· What's the Use? tease in Theme From the Bottom
· Theme from The Odd Couple tease in Simple
· Theme from The Odd Couple tease in My Soul
· On Your Way Down tease in Halley's Comet
· Theme from The Odd Couple and Entrance of the Gladiators teases in Jam
Average Song Gap: 11.42
Notes: This was the first show of The Great Went festival. Harpua picked up where the Clifford Ball Harpua left off. After Chalk Dust, Trey remarked that the first three songs served as the soundcheck, which the band did not do before the show. Theme from the Bottom contained a brief What's the Use? tease from Trey. The jam out of Simple, the beginning of My Soul, and the jam before Slave included Odd Couple theme teases. The jam before Slave also contained an Entrance of the Gladiators tease. Halley’s Comet included On Your Way Down teases. The lyrics in Cities were changed to reference Fishman sleeping in the daytime. The Julius intro was partially performed a cappella with finger snaps. Funky Bitch featured a fireworks display behind the stage that culminated as the song ended. After the show, the members of Phish DJ’d under pseudonyms at a festival tent in what has become known as the “Disco Set.”
Songs by Debut Year:
This show was part of the "1997 Summer U.S. Tour."
There are four kinds of legendary concerts. There are shows that are renowned for their locale (e.g. Red Rocks or The Gorge), shows that get high praise for being a special event (Halloween or NYE), shows that are exalted for the band’s great playing, and the ever-popular great-looking setlist shows. If a show has two or three of these things going for it, it will be remembered forever. The Great Went was the extremely rare show that was legendary in every category.
I first knew that this was a bigger deal for Limestone than the Clifford Ball was for Plattsburgh. There were people parked on overpasses, looking on I-95, watching cars drive by below. Getting off of 95 in Houlton, I stopped in a gas station to see how people were handling the chaos. Everyone seemed to be having fun and enjoying themselves. I bought an ice cream bar and was told that it would take me four and a half hours to get there. That was a lie…by nearly an entire hour.
The first five miles of the drive went great (you know that I had to use the pun somewhere in this review), but then I was stopped. After about five minutes I got bored of sitting there and decided that it was time for auto tag. I got out of the car, ran to the one behind me, hit the hood and said, "Tag. You're it." I then looked in the car. It wasn't filled with Phish fans; rather it was a local mom with her kids. Beet red, I walked back to my car. About two minutes later, still stopped, one of the kids came up to my car, hit it and told me that I was it.
During the next half-hour, while we sat parked by the ironic "Reduced Speed Ahead" sign, I told the family about Phish. I played some tapes for them, and ended up giving them my spare copy of 12/31/96 III and a Mockingbird flyer. They gave me their address for tapes. However, I lost that sheet of paper. So guys, if you're reading this, I didn't mean to blow you off.
Traffic finally cleared up a bit and we were able to drive. Going through small town after small town watching the locals sitting in their yards and waving was amazing. I felt that we really were part of the show this time and it was our obligation to perform our tasks properly. The vendors had better have their best veggie burritos and T-shirts, the spinners must spin elegantly, the tapers should produce only A-1 quality tapes, and my timings would have to be perfect.
After an eternity of driving (I had flown into Boston that morning), being able to pick up Went Radio was a relief. I had been listening to the local station that had decided to play all Phish studio albums in shuffle play commercial-free all weekend, but it was getting old; hearing “Fluffhead” stop right before “Fluff's Travels” could begin was amusing though. On Went Radio, Mike revealed that he was singing “Ginseng Sullivan” wrong all these years. Did they fix the version they would play the next afternoon? Umm…no.
There was but one unfortunate occurrence at the Went, and that happened the first night. It rained. Hard. As a result there was a lot of mud throughout the next two days. I ruined a pair of shoes when I misjudged the wisdom of taking a shortcut. Other than that, and the expected high price of food…and the lack of portapotties, I had no complaints about the venue.
I went into the show early the first night to explore the Went Village. It was a lot more surreal than the Clifford Ball's village. The centerpiece was a station wagon, loaded down with suitcases, the Went's logo. The buildings included a free art booth, a bubble house (with mountains of soap bubbles), and a demolition derby between remote-controlled tiny household appliances. I was not the only one wandering the village — I ran into Mike doing the same. I couldn't believe that. Even with seventy-five thousand fans there, the band was still trying to hang out.
Outside of the village, there were other attractions. There was a corn maze with a castle in the middle. However, the corn wasn't quite high enough to make it interesting. There was the portapotty pavilion with a bathtub in the center. All in all, it appeared that they had outdone themselves again.
Around 4 PM, though, it appeared that my body wasn't going to cooperate. Sharp pains through my stomach suddenly appeared. I thought about the first-aid tent, but then I would miss part of the show. Fortunately, right before the show the pain went away. I didn't know it at the time, but this is the second time I had a kidney stone attack at a Phish show. Upon reflection, the thought of trying to get to a hospital from the middle of the show area is quite scary.
Allegedly at exactly 4:20, the band came on and opened with “Makisupa”. If I had noticed the time I would have been quite amused. As it was, my amusement began when the jam segued into the end of “Harpua”. No more would Phish be chastised for not finishing the Clifford Ball version; there just were a lot of songs played in the middle. “Chalk Dust” followed, at which point we were told that those songs were just the soundcheck (due to the lack of a formal one, allegedly due to a delay in the transit of the equipment from Darien).
Apparently they meant it. With the first three songs, this set lasted close to two hours. Most likely this was the longest set they ever played outside of some one-set shows (and 12/30/97, which was up there as well). While the length was impressive, it's the jams that are the thing. We would get those soon.
Second set opened with "Wolfman's". Earlier this summer I had foolishly assumed that the Gorge "Wolfman's" was the best that they ever had played or ever would play. They were just warming up. This version has an amazing jam that eventually evolves into "Simple". HmmmmR30;back-to-back jam songsR30;that works for me. The "Simple" jam had a long Odd Couple Theme tease. The transition between that and the "My Soul" intro was seamless. This is a beautiful segue. I know everyone hates this song, but I sure can't figure out why. I thought it just rocked. They came to a full stop and then started playing a jam that sounded like it was written by Snow White after being up for a week straight. Okay what's next? "Slave"?! No way! Finally they had to try to restore some sanity, but it was too late. It just wasn't meant for them to play a normal song this set; Mike couldn't remember any of the lines of "Rocky Top". Trey added to the amusement by loudly correcting Mike.
The third set has to be a letdown after that, right? Apparently not. The first "Halley's" since the Clifford Ball was to be our opener. This is a unique version of "Halley's Comet". The jam started out like the usual quick jam, but it kept going and going. It took an angry, almost heavy-metal turn that easily could have segued into "BBFCFM". Instead they invented a little vocal reprise, singing "I'm going down, to the central part of town." A happy little jam came out of this that slowed down and funked down until I suddenly realized I was going to get my first "Cities". Never mind the Slip Stitch and Pass version. This "Cities" just completely destroys it, not to mention TreyR17;s humorous lyrical substitution of "Fishman sleeps, sleeps in the daytime" and showing us where the "dry ice factory" was, by pointing out into the nothingness to the side of the stage. The funk went on and on until the jam started getting faster and faster and suddenly was Llama. At the time I thought this might have been the most exciting half-hour I had seen Phish perform. I had no idea how wrong that would be in a mere twenty-four hours.
The rest of the show is just magic.
1997 was arguably the best year for Wolfman's Brother, and this version is nearly on the same plane as the first 20 minutes of 11/30/97's masterpiece; the segue into Simple is old-fashioned full-band improvised songwriting, and if Trey inexplicably bobbles the Simple opening, what follows renders such a small matter wholly immaterial. The Simple jam builds to a soaring climax, then cools out to a weird full-band 'Odd Couple' jam, which naturally leads into My Soul. Which, in turn, they *slaughter*. The jam before Slave is charming, Slave is gorgeous, and Julius is Julius. It's the kind of second set we would've killed for in 2009, full of organically blended tunes and closely-observed improvisation.
The final set is weirdest of the three: Halley's simmers down into noisy sludge-rock, out of which bubbles another molasses-slow 1997 Cities (akin to 7/1 in a way). Midtempo dance rhythms congeal and blow up a la the colossal 8/17 version of 2001 - then the band accelerates into the rock'n'roll lightning storm known as Llama. That's 32 minutes of music right there, but the show's not over: after a restful Lawn Boy, an extended LxL brings band and audience back to the heavenly fields. It's the version I love best, a fleet intricate group improvisation that floats from raucous peak to delicate coda without any visible effort on the band's part. Awesome. And though Funky Bitch would get her finest showing (in 'Type II' jam finery) on 11/30/97, the brief set closer is just nasty fun.
What is there to say? Get this show.
In the three months between the Went and the start of Fall Tour, the boys found a way to interstellar spaceways they'd never even seen before, but the Went represents the perfection of an early pure strain of Phish funk, which was just beginning to diffuse and blend into the band's overall approach to improvisation. Phish hadn't yet uncovered the 'space jam' style that helped unify and elevate Fall '97, but they had the open-field summer spirit, a huge audience with a lot of time to kill, and a still-evolving formula for intricate but danceable polyrhythmic improvisation - which added up to a classic festival that bridged between Phish's spry mid-90's sounds and the dark mysticism of their pre-hiatus stuff.
(Sidebar: How does the Went compare to Lemonwheel? I'd say the Went is stronger front-to-back, but the ambient set at Lemonwheel is one of Phish's iconic achievements, a step beyond any previous set into a freely improvised musical realm and a prelude to the 'Long Set' at Big Cypress sixteen months later. The best moments of Lemonwheel, like the Gumbo that circulates in SBD form, are superb. But the Went was a more joyful time - more innocent, if that makes sense. Oddly enough, I'd take the IT festival over Lemonwheel too, modulo that ambient set; between the Tower Jam and the handful of long-but-controlled jams at IT (e.g. Chalkdust, Ghost, 46 Days, Waves) it's much much further-out than the 'wheel, though the 1998 festival probably shows more stylistic variety.)
Makisupa: You can all imagine the reaction from the crowd when the boys walk out at 4:20 and start playing Makisupa. Trey gives a little reminder that Phish can still pull out the locker room talk when he sings "Woke up in the morning...blue balls." A quick little jam takes us halfway into...
Harpua: the segue from Makisupa started Harpua at the point where Trey usually says "Look, the storm is gone" He didn't say it this time, but as the sun started to burn through the clouds everyone at the show thought it. They did the goldfish dog stuff and finished out the song in standard fashion. I had finally seen a complete Harpua! The fact that Phish played this song just shows that they really care about us fans and that they felt bad that the encore last year confused some people and left them with a bad taste in their mouths. Thanks guys!
Chalkdust: Was damn good, with the exception of some flubs by Trey. He apologized for these afterward, saying that they hadn't had a chance to do a soundcheck and that was it. There was definitely some GREAT jamming in here, if you can ignore the flubs, I heard the NC Chalkdust (must hear) from this summer on the way up, and I think this one is almost as good. Members of PLM will want to check this out!
Theme from the Bottom: Was jammed out nicely, with some tasty melodies in the jam. Not the best ever, and it ended in a piercing wail of feedback that lasted at least 3 minutes. Then...
Punch You in the Eye: Trey hit the opening chord on PYITE just as the feedback kicked out. It seemed like perfect timing. Then the feedback was back. They jammed over it a little bit (don't get excited the feedback was too annoying to enjoy it) and when the feedback kicked out the rest of the song went off without a hitch. At the end of the song, Trey gave everyone a welcome to the Went, said we were the biggest city in Portland, said Fishman was had been naked in the Portolet Piazza bathtub and that we were going to hear the story of the Ghost.
Ghost: This song, of all Phish songs, has the thickest groove. Dancing to it I felt like I was wading through molasses or the tar pits. The bass line just overpowers you and MAKES you move. Mike was spanking the bass like there was no tomorrow. There were times when I felt like they could easily go into Lucy. It's a sweet song, and it's only going to get better. Listen to an early Tweezer if you don't believe me.
Ginseng Sullivan: My favorite of the bluegrass tunes. I love to sing along to it. I could have sworn this was the end of the set. But no!
YEM: My first YEM!!! It was definitely unplanned; Trey walked around the stage to discuss it before they started up. Having waited 13 shows for my first YEM, I was in sheer ecstasy. It's like going on 13 dates with someone you really like, but not being able to kiss her. And boy are Phish great kissers! :-) Everyone was ON in this YEM. It wasn't the longest version around, but it had some DAMN fine jamming. Mike was LOUD and laying down the funk. Page was dancing on the keyboards (not literally). The tramps came out and Trey and Mike did some stunt moves. They were incredibly tight in the jam that follows the tramps section. It went on for a good 10 minutes. I really can't get over how tight it was. I just can't. I'll lose all faith in our esteemed YEM reviewer if it doesn't get at least an 8.5 (or A- or whatever you use for YEM, Charlie). Trey gets a little bit spacey over a hard, driving bassline. It kicks ass. The vocal jam is short and fits the mood of the last part of the jam PERFECTLY. One of the only vocal jams I've heard that has a steady beat to it.
Trainsong: Standard, non-acoustic version. I really like the imagery behind the lyrics of this song, and it was a welcome break from the funk.
Character Zero: A loud screaming rocker to close out the set, I thought. Apparently Page did was well, since he stood up to leave the stage. Trey would have none of that, however, and ran around the stage telling people what to play next.
Coil: followed, as if to "punish" Page for trying to leave early. It was beautiful as always, and the piano solo was a great way to wind down from the 2 hour first set!!! "Stick around" Page said as he finished his solo. I don't think anyone was planning on leaving after a set like that, which so obviously fed off of the tremendous energy of the crowd. I am firmly convinced that this set would have ended with Trey's comments at the end of PYITE if he hadn't felt the power of 60,000 people.
[Setbreak music: New Alison Krauss CD (the one where she looks like she is on Melrose Place as my girlfriend puts it)]
Wolfman's: Starts out as always, then headed into uncharted waters. I don't like to put "Jam" on setlists, but if it was ever justified, this might be the case. The other Wolfman's jams I have heard have seemed lacking in direction, but not this one. It was EPIC. You know how you get the FEELING of other jams in the Providence (12/29/94) Bowie like Hood and McGrupp, but they aren't quite teases? That is exactly what this Jam felt like. I get a YEM feeling, a DWD feeling, a Tweezer feeling. I think I may have to use the word HOSE, which I don't like to use lightly. This is one of those GLORIOUS moments in Phishstory. This Jam felt like it couldn't be improvised. It was just too perfect. You could tell that the Hey Hole exercises were paying off. The listening among the members of the band is unbelievable. At the end of the jam, Trey gives a slide up the neck of the Doc and kicks in with the riff to...
Simple: I love hearing this song at shows. It just tells me that the band LOVES what they are doing. Trey did the screaming guitar riff at the we've got be-bop part; I loved it. So, they get to the end of the lyrics, and here I am thinking that they are going to keep it pretty short because of the monster jam they just came out of. But no. They keep it going. Another tight jam. I'm looking at my friends in disbelief. They are looking at me in disbelief. The jam slows down a bit and Trey and Page start to fool with a familiar riff...
Odd Couple Jam: I couldn't quite place it at the time, but one of my friends filled me in at the end of the set. This wasn't an all-out playing of the theme song, but they just played with the riff and did crazy things with it. This was not necessarily a space jam, but it was a little out there. Then Trey starts to play...
My Soul: The intro to this song has Mike playing the Odd Couple theme still. Then the lyrics start up. All I have to say about this version of this song is that it is as far away from "lame" as almost anything I've ever heard. It ROCKS. It rocks HARD. If you think this song sucks, you obviously haven't heard this version. People were dancing like crazy. Sheer FUN.
"Off to the Carnival": Okay, so I named this myself. You know that part on the ALO tweezer where Trey uses some sort of weird effect to make his guitar sound have a circus-like feel? Well, this was about a 5 minute song that was played like this, and I felt sure that it would go into Esther (Hence the name). It's really tough to describe this, and I'll let you all hear it for yourselves.
Slave: Slave has usually played second fiddle to Hood in my book, but this version may have just changed my mind. I think it is safe to call this one of the best Slaves ever. An amazing build up; great guitar work from Trey.
Rocky Top: FAST!! This felt like it had to be the fastest Rocky Top ever. I'm not so sure anymore, listening to the tape, but it is still DAMN fast. And fun as always, if you enjoy bluegrass Phish like me.
Julius: Pretty standard, until they break it down into a quiet little jam for Trey to talk over. He says that they are going to play "a lot more strange and weird music for you" and "to not forget to go to the disco." (WHY DIDN'T I GO I'M SUCH AN IDIOT!!!!!) Then they get back into a normal Julius jam to close out the set.
[Setbreak music: Charlie Hunter Quartet "Natty Dread" (Buy this album!!!)]
Halley's Comet: I thought we got a great jam out of this song at the Clifford Ball. Well, the jam out of this Halley's puts that one to shame. It is, and you won't believe it until you hear the tapes, a Type II jam. They finish up with the chorus (I'm going down...) going over a dark jam rather than the real Halley's. Then the jam keeps going into...
Cities: I've only heard one other version of this song, from 3/1/97. Suffice it to say, this version blows that one out of the water. It is slower and funkier and way more improvised. Trey, when speaking of London says that "Fishman sleeps...he sleeps in the daytime" The lyrics seem to come out of nowhere on this song, which I find very cool. I didn't miss the symbolism about finding yourself a city to live in, either, because that's what we all did this weekend. The jam out of Cities starts to sound like...
Llama: After a neat segue, this is a pretty typical version of Llama. But the first two songs MORE than make up for one standard song.
Lawn Boy: Page stands up with the microphone and croons Barry Manilow style on this one. Hilarious! Mike then proceeds to sit down on his monitor and put his feet up for his solo. This is one thing I love about Phish. They can blow your mind one minute and have you ROTFLYAO in the next.
Limb by Limb: Having heard only one other version of this song, I can't make a comparison to other versions. However, it is a damn cool song with a fun jam in the middle.
Funky Bitch: This was a fairly standard Funky Bitch, but what made the song was the fireworks during it. Luckily I was in a position to see them. At this point in the show, I was loving life.
Contact: I'll always love this song. It was one of my first favorites. And it doesn't hurt that I really did wake up one morning in November and realize I loved my girlfriend :-) It was an amazing sight to see 60,000+ people waving their hands at the request of Trey and Mike.
Lovin' Cup: This is my friend's favorite cover song, and it was great to see his face light up when they started playing. I normally don't like it when people sing along at shows, but for this song we all had to. And it was a beautiful buzz.
I'll give my review of Sunday night in another post, but I just want to say right now that after this weekend, I have come to the conclusion that Phish is what IT is all about. They have their finger on the pulse of my existence. Their music transcends description, regardless of what I wrote here. Give your soul to Phish. It will be in good hands.
- A segue *into* Harpua, closing out the Clifford Ball's version;
- An extended and fiery Chalk Dust (pre-2012 through 2014, when extended CDTs were slowly becoming the rule instead of the exception) leading into an equally extended and fiery Theme;
- A Ghost that slides from its usual '97 funk into a thick and gruesome, plodding '03-style jam before opening up into some brief hose before chugging to a close;
- Your typical average-great '97 YEM (the first four highlights were in the *first set*, mind you);
- An absolutely superb 3-song sequence to kick off Set 2. Wolfman's moves into a very typical '97 funk space (think the 11/17 Tweezer), as Page heads to the organ and Trey plays some spartan notes, before the band moves into a dreamier and contemplative space and closes with a 70's-esque flourish, then picks up steam and segues into Simple, which books along before morphing into a goofy Odd Couple Theme jam (funny how that riff has stuck with Trey throughout the years, like a wackier Streets of Cairo), then grows dissonant and wanders into My Soul;
- A very odd little jamlet, almost sound-checky in its abstract nature, that gives way very naturally into Slave;
- ANOTHER crazy good 3-song sequence to kick off Set 3 (a candidate for their finest ever 3rd set). Halley's moves into a more Page-driven version of the usual Halley's jam before Trey hits on a nasty tone and things get dark and weird, then Fish kicks into a tasty groove and the band lands on a growly and thick blues/almost reggae jam. Cities emerges in this same weird tempo (think more 7/12/13 -> out of Tweezer and less 12/31/14 -> out of Theme), and they crank out a milkshake-thick funk groove, rather like something from the Lemonwheel soundcheck, before picking up the pace and making a natural move into Llama (!), which burns bright before petering out and giving way to Lawn Boy (!!);
- And, finally, a wonderful Limb by Limb that never really breaks free of its constraints, but instead of ending in the usual fashion goes into a swirling and powerful reprise, from which Funky Bitch comes in to end three exceptional sets of music.
The fact that a show this exceptionally strong *isn't even the best show of the year* should be more than enough to tell you that 1997 is, at the very least, one of Phish's peak years. Highest possible recommendation - you skip this show, available in tasty SBD, at your own peril.
We drove forever from university in Guelph, Ontario to get up there and really went through the ringer at the border b/c someone found rolling papers (but nothing else). I had not heard much Phish except for Junta, Rift and Billy Breathes but those were enough to know the band was amazing. I had not heard any live shows and did not know anything about the Phish lot scene. Needless to say, after this show I was hooked on the scene, the band, the whole works...
The tapes speak for themselves. My highlight would have to be the Halley's>Cities>Llama run from the 3rd set but it was a sweet day all around despite the mud and rain from the night before.
another local hanging out in the same area joked that she might have to move away after the festival ended, 'cuz this event had spoiled her for good & the town of limestone could never match something like this in a million years, lol (fortunately for her, the boys came back a couple of more times, so maybe she held off on that move for the time being ;D ).
this show was one of the "top shelf" shows i attended, but it was a bonus chatting it up with the locals....i was initially concerned what their perception of 60,000+ phish fans would be, but everyone i talked with was having a blast & wouldn't trade those two nights away for anything...
the 4:20/makisupa opener is very nice, and it leads into the 2nd half of the harpua from the clifford ball. this was a quasi surprise, but it really gave some closure... anyway, chalk dust finishes the "sound check." there are some flubs and miscues, but it is still pretty solid. theme gives the boys their first chance to dig deep, and they find some nice areas in theme. punch gets the funk thing going, and ghost really seals the deal. this is a nice funky ghost with some great page work in the jam. a very good yem appears to close the set before train, zero, and coil are tacked on.
wolfman's opens this set in grand fashion. this is a full on bad boy 97 funk wolfman's. this one is easily my favorite of the u.s. summer tour. fishman and gordon provide great rhythm and page and trey just funk wail over the top. eventually, it starts hitting a more rocking feel with a lovely simple. this one covers a lot of ground before hitting an odd couple jam driving it into my soul. this gives way to a nice spacey jam that serves as a lead into a mind blowing slave. trey just rips this one. rocky top is nice and snappy, and even julius has a few interesting twists that are worth checking out.
now, the 2nd set was good, but i think that i have to take the 3rd set. it's even better. halley's is a nice funky exploration that finally works its way into a low, nasty, dirty cities. of course, phish already slows this song down tremendously, compared to the talking heads version that is, but this one is sooooo much slower than that. it's almost comical how cool this one is. fishman and trey are particularly kicking on this one. now, as for "the jam factor," i might have to take the deer creek version from a week before over this one, but this has one gets very serous "weird points." the funk jam out of cities finally starts to pick up as the boys find themselves in a very hot llama. like the 2nd set though, i felt that this set was also quite front loaded. there were fireworks during funky bitch, but obviously, that does not carry over all that well on my ipod.
makisupa>harpua, pyite, ghost, yem
wolfman's>simple>my soul, slave