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Link Sunday, 11/23/1997
Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Winston-Salem, NC

Soundcheck: Back at the Chicken Shack

Set 1: My Soul, ThemeTheme From the Bottom > BEKBlack-Eyed Katy, Sparkle, Twist > Stash[1] -> NICU, Fluffhead > Character Zero

Set 2: GinBathtub Gin[1] -> DwDDown with Disease -> Low Rider -> DwDDown with Disease, Bold As Love

Encore: Julius

[1] Unfinished.

Teases:
· Can't You Hear Me Knocking tease in Down with Disease

Noteworthy Jams: Theme From the Bottom, Twist, Stash (highly recommended), Bathtub Gin, Julius

Average Song Gap: 22.47

Performers: Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon

Notes: Disease contained a Can't You Hear Me Knocking tease. Stash and Bathtub Gin were unfinished. This show was released as part of the Hampton/Winston-Salem '97 boxed set.

Song Distribution:
2 Billy Breathes
2 Stash
2 Hoist
1 Farmhouse
1 Rift
1 A Picture of Nectar
1 Lawn Boy
1 Junta

Songs by Debut Year:

This show was part of the "1997 Fall Tour (a.k.a. Phish Destroys America)."

waxbanks , attached to 1997-11-23 Permalink
waxbanks This show is overshadowed by the two weekend nights in Hampton, but can be talked about in the same breath. While this concert lacks that one revelatory cut like the 11/22 Halley's jam, 11/23's best-ever BEK and year's-best Stash > NICU set up an obscene 50-minute Gin > Disease > Low Rider > DISEEEEASE that constitutes the bulk of Set II (and is a longer run of true segues than anything from Hampton). You could uncharitably call the Gin monochromatic, but the more diplomatic rendering is 'patient' - and the Disease Reprise just turns the whole thing into liquid gold anyhow. Still, don't overlook the first set 'cause you're hung up on the Gin/Disease nastiness: BEK is a candidate for best Trey solo of the year (I pick 12/30's Taste, but...) and it's a wonder that this downright *evil* version of Stash didn't accidentally summon some demon creature. Or maybe it did - that'd explain what went down in Hartford, anyhow.
Score: 8
, attached to 1997-11-23 Permalink
(Published in the second edition of The Phish Companion...)

I arrived in Winston-Salem with my friend, Tom, about three hours before show time. We got lost on our way to the Coliseum and wound up taking some back roads into the parking lot.
The lot scene was a lot different than most that I have experienced. I didn't see a single nitrous tank (thank goodness!). There was a great amount of fun going on, though. I bought a grilled cheese sandwich from some guys from Auburn and stopped for a minute to check out the newlywed couple that was taking in their first show as husband and wife; the groom was still wearing his tuxedo! We checked out the drum circles and a few other musicians, as well as some bootleg T-shirts. I finally saw and met Antelope Greg, which was fun.
We didn't even try for the floor; I had a feeling that it would be way too chaotic. We settled into the section where the Greenpeace table was on Fishman's side and got ready for the show. As with most Phish concerts, I ran into some friends that I haven't seen in a while. The atmosphere was electric and the crowd was pumped. No doubt, those in attendance who weren't at Hampton had been briefed on how awesome the shows were, so everyone's expectations were high.
On to the show"..."My Soul" opened up and was fun. Long solos and a good warm-up. Theme was next, and I will never get sick of this song. Typically great "Theme" jam, which built nicely. At the end of "Theme", during the "wall of noise," Trey walked around the stage and signaled something to Mike and Fish. Out of the dissonance they broke into this fat, groovy jam that I figured had to be "Black-Eyed Katy".
Wow! I can't say anything else about this song. I'd like to say that it has "great potential" but it is already starting to realize it! "Sparkle" followed. Even though it wasn't my first choice of a song, it kept the crowd in a frenzy. A strong, solid "Twist Around" (my first) came next. I like this song a lot; anyone else get the feeling that it would sound awesome with horns?
Here is where the set took a huge left turn. The boys broke into "Stash", but it was more like the "`Stash of Death'," or the "Great Black `Stash'." The jam was more evil and dark and brooding than anything I have ever heard this band play. They played a bit with tempos and textures but always managed to maintain a strong, evil, dark theme. At one point, they were all locked into a group-groove jam and Chris turned off all of the lights except for a real thick purple. Slowly, he threw on some bright yellow darts behind them, which pierced through the purple veil. It was at this moment that I stopped dancing, shook my head, and realized once again that this band will never cease to amaze me, musically or visually.
After a while, Trey started strumming some familiar chords. I screamed out "NICU!" but Trey didn't seem to hear me! He hit the chords a few more times and I started to give up, figuring it was merely a tease. The band locked in, though, and segued beautifully into an outstandingly tight "NICU". "Fluffhead" followed. I hate to say it, but this was a pretty bad "Fluffhead". The entire composed section between "Clod" and "Bundle of Joy" was flubbed awfully. They made up for it with an awfully strong "Arrival," though, which Trey majestically tore through. At this point, I figured the set was over, but they treated us to a nice "Character Zero" to close.
The second set, though, was the absolute meat. I was hoping for a "2001" opener for my friend Tom, but I was more than glad to hear "Bathtub Gin". The jam will knock those liquor bottles off of your shelves! The jam started out like a normal "Gin" jam for several minutes until Fishman challenged the band and kicked in the tempo. The jam rose into a frenzy and went on for a long time. I wish I could describe it, but I probably couldn't do it justice. Rather than feature a lot of individual soloing, it featured band-based chordal jamming that played with tempo and a bit of syncopation. At one point, the style and situation were perfect for a segue into "Crosseyed and Painless", but it didn't happen.
The jam started to dissolve and Trey cued up Mike. Out of the fuzz came the "Disease" bass line. This "Disease" smoked as well! Again, the jam was very band-based as opposed to individually dominated. Out of the jam came the "Low Rider" theme in a different key than the original version. I figured it was just a nice tease and it made me smile, but Trey started singing! Then he stopped and cued up Fishman, who swung his mic around and picked up the vocals. After the "take a little trip" lyrics, the band launched into a "Low Rider" jam. From there, Trey started picking up the tempo, and we were suddenly back into the swirling "Disease" ending jam! They stretched it out for another few minutes and then told us they were on their way.
How could they top this? "Bold as Love"! Good-gawd! Chris's lights didn't disappoint, matching the lyrics of the song with bright, punchy colors. I'll never forget the smile that came over my face when those yellow lights came up during the second verse, and then the bright rainbow appeared over the stage. Beautiful vocals from Page and some searing guitar work from Trey closed out the second set.
The "Julius" encore was rocking. I think this song is the perfect encore; it keeps everyone dancing and sends everyone home with a smile. As usual, Trey kicked ass and slowly brought the jam up to infinite levels of happy soloing, and I left with a huge smile on my face. There was a group of fans on the floor and in the bottom seats off Page's side, and Trey looked like he was playing directly to them.
On the way out, we were stuck in a huge traffic jam. Suddenly, we saw the street that we had taken on the way in"...the "wrong" way! It turned out to be a great find, because there was no one else on it. We zipped out of the traffic and started on our way home, quite fulfilled after another stellar show.
Score: 6
MiguelSanchez , attached to 1997-11-23 Permalink
MiguelSanchez this one is a doozey. i acturally like it better than either night of hampton. there are some damn fine moments in hampton, but this second set really takes the cake.

the "over playing" of my soul is about the only thing one could complain about when it comes to fall 97 shows. this one is pretty solid. theme works well before squaring off on a damn good be katy. this should cycle this one back in every now and then. sure, moma dance shows up every third show or so, but there were some subtle differences. sparkle gets the crows going before a nice chill twist around gets funk machine rolling. then they rifle off a mean, dark stash. this one is a doozey. trey's playing is really sharp here. this segues nicely into nicu. a jumbled fluff head leads into a firey zero to close the set.

here is where this show really takes off. this gin is a monster. in my opinion, it's up there in my top 3 with worcester 95 and murat 93. granted, it's 3rd out of the 3, but that is some heady company. this gin is more of the rocking variety. they stick in gin territory for the first little bit, but once they start cruising, they don't look back. this eventually drifts into a lovely down with disease. this one starts out rocking before finding some very nice funky realms. low rider makes a brief appearance, before diving back into down with disease. axis and julius and solid but straight forward closers.

overall, this is one of my favorites from this tour; right up there with and in some cases surpassing my favorite shows of the tour, auburn hills, dayton, hampton, utah, etc. the gin jam is what really makes this one. after that monster everything else is gravy, including a down with disease jam that could have been the marquee highlight of almost any other show. the boys were not wiped out after hampton, as many assumed they would be. in fact, i think with a lot of heads skipping this show, they went out to try give something extra special to those that made it out.

highlights:

set 1:
be katy, stash>nicu

set 2:
gin-dwd, yes the whole thing
Score: 3
Cheard , attached to 1997-11-23 Permalink
Not sure why going to see phish and moe on the same block in winston-salem is so negative. Why -2?
Score: 2
papadance , attached to 1997-11-23 Permalink
Great review above. During Julius Trey was looking at someone. There was a girl up on some guys shoulders. She was pretty hot and seemed to be turned on. Trey rocked that chick's world with his guitar solo for about 8 minutes. I swear he got her off all over the back of that dudes head. Unreal. He never took his eyes off of her.
Score: 1
Cheard , attached to 1997-11-23 Permalink
Anyone else go to Ziggy's across the street and see moe. after this show? Fun night.
Score: 1
nopotatoes , attached to 1997-11-23 Permalink
Nice strong 1st set. The other comments about BEK are valid...some of the tastiest lead licks you'll ever hear Trey dig in on. The band clearly enjoyed playing the song, especially since it was played the night before at Hampton. Would love to see Moma dissolve back to BEK someday. The peaks are really phenomenal in this version. Stash of Death is a pretty accurate description of the evil that came along and then morphed into NICU. Even as NICU is starting up, Trey has the main lick going and the rest of the band is allowing the evil from Stash linger and slowly fade out instead of having a harsh stumble between songs...a true segue without any awkwardness.

I was amazed by the 2nd set throwdown at this show. Being about 5 people deep from the front of the stage and watching Trey stare at the ceiling while shredding this Gin will always be one of the highlights of my Phish experiences. Don't know how he didn't kill his Wah pedal from the workout he gave that thing. This will always be my favorite 2nd set that I've ever seen. As a guitarist, I've never seen anything else like it. The DWD was fantastic and the build into the DWD reprise jam coming out of Low Rider was especially tasty. They didn't rush any of it and the natural pacing was really nice with the added treat of the additional speed at the end.

I would love to see this show released as a soundboard someday. There's got to be so much more nuance in the layers of sound being created than the AUDs can reveal. Fish's drumming was breakneck speed and had to be to keep pace with Trey's shredding. Mike set up a solid bedrock and Page had such nice piano washes all the way around this show, especially the jams. If there's a show that should be a top contender for LP release, this is my vote.

I remember an article from Rolling Stone on the top 100 guitarists in 2003 and a segment where Trey talked about listening to Hendrix's Machine Gun every night before the shows on this tour. If you listen to this Gin and DWD, then the Machine Gun influence can definitely be heard all over it. In hindsight this show is almost Trey's homage to Hendrix. Amazing.
Score: 1
kipmat , attached to 1997-11-23 Permalink
kipmat I'm glad to see the glowing reviews of this show that have already been posted. IMO, this show is the best of the three that saw release on the Hampton/WS '97 box set (heresy!), and gives 11/17 good competition for best show of the tour. Theme and Twist are overlooked gems in the first set, and the performance of BEK is a vast improvement over the Hampton and Vegas versions, although it would be topped on it's next performance in Worcester. As for the second set, I could use words like "hot", "impeccable", "triumphant", "perfection", but really, you get the point by now.

I love how, during the intro to Julius, Trey stops to listen to the crowd clapping on the off-beat, then begins playing the guitar line so the crowd is clapping on the down-beat! What a great band, what a show.
Score: 1
HighNote , attached to 1997-11-23 Permalink
HighNote The 15+ min Soundcheck Jam is a very worthwhile listen of spacey exploratory jamming and can be found on Hampton/Winston-Salem '97.
Score: 1
n00b100 , attached to 1997-11-23 Permalink
n00b100 So if you somehow DON'T think 11/22 is the best Fall '97 show, there are a few acceptable (IMO) alternatives - 11/17, with its incredible 1st set and underrated 2nd set; 12/6, depending on how much one life-altering set overcomes the fact that the other set is *just fine* and nothing more; 12/2, which is gaining steam historically as a great show; and this show, which was officially released for a reason (well, a reason other than "it's the show the day after 11/22"), and was beloved by Fall '97 connoisseurs even before it got the remaster treatment.* I'd take 11/17 out of those choices, but would certainly not fault anyone who goes with this show; it is a bona-fide classic.

The first set doesn't really get going until BEK, a chunky slice of funkiness (w/rocket-fueled Trey solo) that I actually like as a Fall '97-only number, as we all think of Fall '97 as the funk tour and this is as pure a distillation of Phish's style that tour as you could ever want. After Sparkle and a low-key Twist, Stash immediately dives into the shadows and finds a really powerful, claustrophobic groove (Page's piano playing here is phenomenal), Trey's guitar actually taking on a race-car engine tone as the jam reaches its conclusion and opens up to let the music breathe a little. This jam isn't as multifaceted or plain epic as 7/2's definitive version, but it's easily one of the best ever, and the segue into NICU is a true surprise and a great burst of sunshine. The rest of the set is fine (although who doesn't like a 1st-set Fluffhead?), but the BEK and Twist/Stash/NICU make this an upper-echelon 1st set.

Gin opens up the 2nd set, and the Gin stays in Type I (albeit very well-played Type I) territory until things start speeding up, Page heads over to the organ, and Trey starts really piling on the wah-wahed riffs. The jam never gets out there, but the compressed energy is palpable as Trey really takes over and starts cranking out some real nastiness. Much like the Set I Stash, this jam is not for the faint of heart; it manages the neat trick of staying in a certain musical range but exploring every bit of that range for all it's worth. As the jam finally cools down, Page starts playing some high notes, Trey works some loops, and Mike's bass tone starts suggesting DWD.

And that is exactly what we get, a DWD that gives us some upbeat jamming out of the gate, then speeds up and gives Page another opportunity to take the lead, before out of nowhere Low Rider makes an appearance, Trey starting to sing before handing the vocals to Fish, a neat bustout in the middle of what had been a fine jam up to that point. The Low Rider jam then opens up and gets even funkier, then returns to rocking out and works its way back into DWD, just a glorious segue in a year where glorious segues were being handed out like a rapper handing out demo CDs. Bold as Love and Julius close out a tremendous set - maybe it doesn't explore as many areas as other sets, but the jamming here is top-notch and the set flows in a manner to rival any other Fall '97 show.

I would not go as far as to say this show is better than 11/22, but it's definitely the 2nd-best show of the run, and a strong contender for show of the year. The second set, in particular, is intense and should be heard as soon as you can get your hands on it.

* Why not 12/7, a show that can actually boast two consistent sets the whole way through? Because, to me, "consistent" is the key word - there is some astounding music in 12/7, but the actual sets never really go to another level the way 11/17 I or this second set do. I love 12/7 and listen to it constantly, so I hope you can appreciate how hard it is for me to say that.
Score: 1
ucpete , attached to 1997-11-23 Permalink
ucpete You know you're listening to a Fall '97 show when you're lost in the middle of a profound, mind-bending jam -- and then it hits you:

You haven't even gotten to the second set yet.
Score: 1
MiguelSanchez , attached to 1997-11-23 Permalink
MiguelSanchez this one is a doozey. i acturally like it better than either night of hampton. there are some damn fine moments in hampton, but this second set really takes the cake.

the "over playing" of my soul is about the only thing one could complain about when it comes to fall 97 shows. this one is pretty solid. theme works well before squaring off on a damn good be katy. this should cycle this one back in every now and then. sure, moma dance shows up every third show or so, but there were some subtle differences. sparkle gets the crows going before a nice chill twist around gets funk machine rolling. then they rifle off a mean, dark stash. this one is a doozey. trey's playing is really sharp here. this segues nicely into nicu. a jumbled fluff head leads into a firey zero to close the set.

here is where this show really takes off. this gin is a monster. in my opinion, it's up there in my top 3 with worcester 95 and murat 93. granted, it's 3rd out of the 3, but that is some heady company. this gin is more of the rocking variety. they stick in gin territory for the first little bit, but once they start cruising, they don't look back. this eventually drifts into a lovely down with disease. this one starts out rocking before finding some very nice funky realms. low rider makes a brief appearance, before diving back into down with disease. axis and julius and solid but straight forward closers.

overall, this is one of my favorites from this tour; right up there with and in some cases surpassing my favorite shows of the tour, auburn hills, dayton, hampton, utah, etc. the gin jam is what really makes this one. after that monster everything else is gravy, including a down with disease jam that could have been the marquee highlight of almost any other show. the boys were not wiped out after hampton, as many assumed they would be. in fact, i think with a lot of heads skipping this show, they went out to try give something extra special to those that made it out.

highlights:

set 1:
be katy, stash>nicu

set 2:
gin-dwd, yes the whole thing
Score: 0
powerful_pills , attached to 1997-11-23 Permalink
powerful_pills This is my dark horse pick for best show all tour. I might go as far as to say set 2 is my all-time favorite Phish set. It's hard to leave anything out of the highlights, but if I were forced to limit it to 4 songs each:

Set 1 highlights: theme > BEK (Trey is so zoned in on this), stash, fluffhead

Set 2 highlights: Gin -> DWD-> Low Rider -> Down with Disease

Scalding hot show
Score: 0
sprobeck , attached to 1997-11-23 Permalink
What stands out to me the most about this show is the Down With Disease which is absolutely stellar! The proceedings end with an explosive Bold as Love and Julius.
Score: 0

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