CoreStates Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA
 Trey/Page musical duet.
 Fun play on the actual lyrics.
· Crosseyed and Painless tease in Ya Mar
Average Song Gap: 18.5
Notes: Disease was unfinished. Simple featured a Trey/Page musical duet. Ya Mar included a fun play on the actual lyrics and a Crosseyed and Painless tease. Dog Faced Boy was played for the first time since August 12, 1996 (109 shows).
Songs by Debut Year:
This show was part of the "1997 Fall Tour (a.k.a. Phish Destroys America)."
Set I kicks off in fun fashion with Buried Alive, then leads into a sharp, if somewhat short, DWD that in turn segues directly into Makisupa Policeman. That Makisupa, as it turns out, is a breather for an absolutely ferocious Chalk Dust Torture, with an intense solo from Trey that earns a hearty cheer from the crowd. Ghost steps up next, and the band churns out a deliciously funky version that never quite hits Type II but will leave you bobbing your head all the same, until it leads nicely into Divided Sky. The rest of the set is perfectly fine, but the Buried Alive to Ghost sequence gives this first set an edge over many other first sets, even of Fall '97, where any first set could enter the pantheon on any given night.
The second set is a real treat, practically crying out for the LivePhish remaster treatment now that the major players of Fall '97 have seen official release. Kicking a set off with Mike's Song is always a good move, and this version is a multifaceted beast, rumbling along with a real dark intensity before opening up and letting some funkiness in, then cooling down for just a brief moment before really letting go and letting Trey do his thing. Let me tell you, this is one hell of a Mike's Song; I know this Weekapaug gets the plaudits, but I think Mike's is just as good. We then get the traditional segue into Simple (always the best way for Simple to appear, IMO), albeit not quite as smooth as a key change is necessary out of the Mike's jam, and Simple books along in its catchy way before, out of nowhere, the bottom drops out and Page and Trey have themselves a gorgeous duet, guitar and piano beautifully melding and spiraling in and out of each other before growing dissonant and slightly uncomfortable. There are better Simples, but none with an ending quite like this, and anyone that has not heard it needs to do so.
Then, out of the midst of the guitar/piano duet comes Dog Faced Boy, and it is a great version of an increasingly rare tune, charming and weirdly innocent (if that makes sense). And then, with joyful ease, the band rolls into Ya Mar, playing around with the lyrics ("he was an old grandpa/he was MY grandpa") before heading into a very rhythmic, spartan breakdown that bounces along and then gradually picks up intensity, spreading out in ways Ya Mar just doesn't usually do. And then, as though three glorious segues aren't enough, the band drops easily the best one of the night, as the Ya Mar jam slowly molds into Weekapaug Groove while retaining the jam's rhythmic base, giving us a Weekapaug that brims with funky goodness instead of the usual high-octane rockout it usually provides. And I do mean funky goodness - Mike really puts on a show with the booty-shaking lines he drops in the jam. That is, until about the 9 minute mark, when Trey suddenly decides "it's time to go interstellar in this bitch" and cranks the intensity up to 11 for a fiery rock jam, a much more palatable cousin to the 11/30 Wolfman's metal jam of doom (and then of soporific boredom), then gets things weird for a bit (dig the '80s Laser Floyd organ effects from Page!) before leading us into the usual Weekapaug closing section. This Weekapaug lives up to its bold-faced billing, and is the perfect capper to a glorious Mike's Groove, one of the best of the late 90s.
Final thought: I don't buy @Poster_Nutbag 's assertion that the last 4 songs drag this show down; if that were the case, 12/6/97 II (and not just 12/6/97 II) would immediately be disqualified from "best set ever" status. I like to think of Bouncing/Zero as a fun way to close what has been a heart-stopping second set, and Ginseng/Sample a charming encore that you don't NEED to listen to when you break this show out. And come on, we just had two fantastic sets dropped on us, how can they possibly be less epic just because they gave us some standard closer/encore fare and not a 25-minute Tweezer or something? At any rate, quibbles with closer songs aside, 12/2/97 serves as yet another reason why Fall '97 has entered into the stuff of legend - high class jams, massive servings of funk, powerful guitar declamations, astounding segues, perfectly placed bustouts, and sets that you never want to end.
The opening set is average for the tour and anchored by a ripping Chalk Dust Torture, a thoroughly funky and enjoyable Ghost, and the only Divided Sky of the tour. This Ghost contains breakdown jamming similar to that of the Worcester (11/28) Ghost, but not quite as good.
The second set is absolutely filthy, boasting one of the best Mike's Grooves of all time. Mike's Song itself is ferocious, featuring that angry funk that permeated through the song during this period. The following Simple is a beauty as Page and Trey take a duet. Simple's outro slides into an uplifting take on Dog Faced Boy, as opposed to 11/14/95's version which comes out of a menacing Stash. Ya Mar comes next via a smooth segue. This Ya Mar bares little resemblance to a typical Ya Mar jam and the segue into Weekapaug is amazing, one of the smoothest transitions you'll ever hear. Weekapaug starts out very funky, but eventually becomes a raging, Trey-led jam. This Weekapaug is among the best, plain and simple. Bouncing Around the Room and Character Zero are just thrown in there as a bonus on top of the hour of awesome improvisation that preceded it. Ginseng Sullivan, my favorite of the bluegrass covers, (I seem to review a lot of shows with Ginseng Sullivan in them, coincidence?) and Sample seal the deal.
This second set is one of the best sets of the tour and must-hear. The first set is average-great Phish from this period and still well worth checking out.
First set highlights: Ripping version of Chalkdust. Although late 90's versions tend to remain shorter, they give Trey a lot of freedom to shred and he doesn't disappoint here. Same concept with Down with Disease. I'm not going to say this was some mind-blowing version, but very solid, tight playing from everyone. The Ghost kicked off a little funk and kept me interested. Like an earlier comment previously stated, it doesn't blast off into any type II territory, but I was jamming out to this song.
Second Set highlights: As someone who would usually skip through Mike's Song when listening to 3.0, I cannot believe how absolutely incredible the start of this set is. Mike's is down right rocking and really attracts the side of me that LOVES heavy playing. You can really tell by the audience recording I have that people are freaking out throughout this song. Simple brings things down a notch after one hell of a Mike's song. This song is beautiful, although I think the Page/Trey interplay drags a little bit. I love the smooth change of pace though and everyone gets a breather with Dog Face Boy. No one can control the pace of their sets like Phish and this is a perfect example. So begins the second ascent. Ya Mar is always fun and I'm becoming a big supporter of this 97' versions. The transition into Weakapaug is so smooth, but I don't know about smoothest transition you'll hear. Kind of an awkward change of pace, but as soon as everyone gets adjusted, they lock in. This is by far and away the best Weakapaug I've ever heard. I'm a bass player so obviously this is favorite to begin with, but the shift from funk to rock is unreal. Like I told my friends trying to convince them to download this show, this song peaks like only the best Phish jams do.
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.
this show smokes from start to finish. a raging burried alive>DWD>makisupa>chalk dust is the way to start a show. the ghost>divided was great. no one ever saw divided coming out of that ghost and the two worked together beautifully.
but the second set. the second set is where it is. a standardly stellar mikes starts things off. like all fall '97 mikes this is funky and rocking at the same time. very patient. simple is great and goes off on this funky groove into dog faced boy. yamar brings the set back into focus and with silky-smooth precision the segue into weekapaug is a thing of beauty. i would put this segue up there with any other segue phish has done. totally sick. and the weekapaug rages too.
do yourself a favor. listen to this show. a true gem from fall '97 that does not get its due.