Expanding on (and stepping back a bit from) my earlier comment:
The first set of this show is awesome and weeeeeird. A 20-minute DwD in the #2 slot? Yeah! Then a delicately creepy segue into Maze, which builds with unusual deliberateness from deep quiet to Trey's sci-fi roar (an engrossing pair of atmospheric solos from Page and Trey here). Trey was apparently in a ruminative mood this first set: check out the texturally-rich downtempo LxL batting fifth. No idea what Rocky Top was doing creeping in there, especially after a first-set Loving Cup. Oh well. Some nights just weave away from the straightline path, and it paid off here.
Actually there's a bit of an early/mid-2003 vibe to this show: lots of odd textures, opioid playing from Trey, quickstep tempos alternating with plodding oddities, a dark dark darkness creeping in around the edges. And of course the powerful stupidity of Roses Are Free, which Phish would later turn into a huge jam vehicle (4/3/98, 12/31/99) but which functions here as a goofy pick-me-up after the bedraggled ambience of Drowned. (Check out how little recognition it gets from the crowd, though! Funny).
The show is indeed outstanding, but not in a *purely* desirable way: the atmospherics are pervasive and strange and the first set must've blown minds on that night, but there's none of the feverish intensity and focus of 12/6, nor the partyfunk vibe of 12/7. The Ghost > DWD quote > Johnny sequence is fine, but Ghost is a straightforward, monotonic version with a solo from Trey that's either bravely restrained or sublimely boring depending on your tastes. Waste is Waste.
Definitely seek out this show - it's a treat to hear SBDs of Fall '97 no matter what the vibe is like. But I'm gonna revise my earlier enthusiasm to a cautious endorsement: this is one of the tour's weirder and (yeah) weaker shows. Its highlights are lovely, but a one-month stretch containing 11/21-11/23, 12/6, the three huge Worcester shows, and those wild Denver outings doesn't require this night to be a classic.
Some really great, great thumping from Mike in Punch. So tight. DwD comes out of the gate on fire. There’s several minutes of absolute flame-throwing, ginger-fueled, face-devastating HOSE, and that’s the START of the Disease jam as part of the SECOND song of the night. Holy crap. This finally relaxes into some dark space that evolves into a slightly sinister groove. Maze is anything but ordinary and takes a few different dips and turns, then hits that peak squarely. Dirt and LxL both show some signs of being newer tunes, but Limb by Limb, like Maze, is not what you’d typically expect, with a few different changes in rhythm that really make it an outstanding version.
The first half of the Drowned jam to kick off set II struggles a little bit in spots, IMHO. But where it lacks the rocket power of the first set’s DwD, the second half of the jam enters the same thrilling, dark, cosmic realm. The segue into Roses is skillfully executed, and Roses blooming into BBFCFM is brilliant song selection. BBFCFM is delightfully whacked, even by BBFCFM standards, then snaps into Ghost. Ghost may not be of the same caliber as some other ’97 versions, and though it just kind of strolls along for a good 12 minutes or so, it kicks into high gear for a climax that is anything but boring, and then blasts back into DwD. The transition to JBG is awkward, but it’s a scorching rendition nonetheless. I will mention, though, that Waste ends in kind of a weak fashion, without the customary end-of-show flourish.
I agree 100% with @waxbanks’ assessment of this show as having an “early/mid 2003 vibe.” Except without the slop. I’m weird in that Fall ’97 is not the end all be all of Phish for me. I like the funk a lot, but there are many times when I feel like jams just plod along for giant stretches. I Don’t get me wrong, I love the peaks of the Denver Ghost, the Hampton Halley’s, the Tweezabella, etc. But sometimes I think you run the risk of getting stuck in the funk.
The Disease jam in the first set, though, is different. It starts with that blazing peak, sustains it, and then drops into a 2.0 style trance; dark, but not as dirty. I loved it. And I loved the unusual versions of Maze and especially Limb By Limb, loved return to a touch of evil at the end of Drowned, and loved the insanity of BBFCFM. Ghost, I think, is only disappointing when compared to the first set or, as I said before, the many other epic Fall ’97 versions.
This is an easy, full-throttle, 5 Star show for me, with a signature jam, different vibes throughout, great flow, blistering guitar, and oddball moments. I think it’s fantastic, and it was a wonderful surprise for me this morning. Most of you have probably already heard this one, but if not, get on it, especially the first set.
Rochester will always hold a special place in my heart...whether it was the crack dealer who bought us food and smokes to drive him around for what we realized was a crime spree or the lost crack addict (who told us quote, "I'm from the grateful dead!") who lost "his kids" that my buddy and I picked up after the show in our friend's mustang we borrowed to go to the gas station and get some smokes and food...or maybe it was when after the show (before the crack people) I found out someone broke into the mustang and stole his stereo..this bothered him so much he ditched my buddy and I to go back to college in Vermont and left us to fend for our own way to Albany...out of the three of us I was the only one who got in the show that night...don't remember if I had the carphone or not that night, but my buddy from high school passed me my ticket over the gate at the front entrance and "the man" allowed me in...any later and i probably would have missed my ticket...phish came on stage...trey was wearing a winter hat (which cracked me up) and he gazed out into the audience, happy, but serious as I knew they were playing Punch for me (and everyone else) It truly was an epic show...I saw a girl who was a senior (VI) when I was a freshman (III) and I went up and introduced myself...being a freshman once again...thirteen years later I find out we have both moved to the same town...that crazy night in Rochester will live on in my mind forever and I wish there was room to write the whole story. anyway after that night it was safe to say (that) The Roses Are Free!
This is an impeccably and intensely played show with tons of creativity. Definitely check out the copy on the spreadsheet - free soundboard!
I wish we still got first sets with this much passion, especially that Down with Disease. Other people have commented that the Ghost was pretty standard, but I disagree wholeheartedly. While Trey and Fish are the ones who light up most of the show, Ghost really highlights the contributions from Page and Mike.
This show is smoking through and through. This show is available in SBD format, free of charge. Why the hell aren't you listening to it right now? I can only imagine, if I were there, how hard I would have been jizzing in my pants during the final climax of the Ghost jam that ultimately reprises DWD. You have got to be kidding me! Yes, the second half of the first set *could* be ignored, but you may as well listen to it too just so you don't have a heart attack. As such, your doctor does not recommend skipping from Maze to Drowned. And while you're at it, you may as well go on LivePhish.com and the Spreadsheet and download the following SBD recordings, and listen to them consecutively, over and over and over and over again:
Do it! I did it, and it improved my quality of life. Once you've done that, go ahead and download all of "From the Archives" from the spreadsheet and listen to the other Fall '97 jams (e.g., Runaway Jim 11/29/97). WHY ARE YOU STILL READING THIS? GO JOHNNY GO GO GO!
Special mention needs to be made of this Johnny B Good. Its straight whiskey fire. Delivered at breakneck speed, it might not be the tighest but it might be the ballsiest. They couldn't get enough of it, and went for the meat repeatedly, not beating a dead horse, but rather rotating it gleefully over a bed of white hot coals and serving it up with a spicy barbeque glaze.... MMM.
This is one of the very few Fall '97 shows available in a soundboard recording - and it circulates freely rather than as a download-for-pay, so you have no excuse for not hearing it. And oh, is it a good show? My friend, it's an *outstanding* show that would have been a major highlight of any other Phish tour (but was pretty much par for the course in December 1997). Seek it out 'ay-sap,' as they say.
Clipped from "Phish Destroys Rochester" (http://phi.sh/b/5256e09f):
Now able to fill arenas, Phish made its return to Rochester on December 11, 1997 with their debut at the venue then known as the Rochester War Memorial. Prominently featured in the first act of Todd Phillips’ 2000 doc, “Bittersweet Motel”, this was the nineteenth of twenty-one stops on that autumn’s legendary “Phish Destroys America” tour. Listening to this incredible show sixteen years later, the band’s confidence and proficiency is palpable. If you’re easily offended by shameless worship of a nonobjective nature, you’ll probably want to move along at this point, as I make no apologies for the utter devotion I have to this show.
“Punch You in the Eye” is on the short list for top openers in the extensive Phish catalog, and this one is a textbook example in showcasing the song’s ability to bring a crowd to fever pitch. At its conclusion, a cacophonous march of loops, cymbals, keys, and bass led into one of my absolutely favorite examples of improvisational music Phish has ever created: the Rochester ’97 “Down with Disease”. As I’m liable to drone on for longer than it would take to listen to this twenty-minute masterpiece, here’s a list of its highlights:
• From the start of the jam section until about ten minutes in, this is Trey’s song, to do with as he pleases. Absolute filth pours out from his Languedoc. Check out around the 6:32 to 7:00 mark for a representative piece.
• Page stakes a claim in determining this jam’s direction at around 10:25 in. Over the next minute or so, the band does a masterful job of plotting a descent course from where they started. Seatbelts are optional – this is a turbulence-free ride.
• Trey’s lick at 11:55 is gorgeous, with another to come at 12:45. In between, all four members create a huge amount of space to build on top of.
• The next few minutes showcases what I love about this jam – the band’s ability to compose on the fly. While they explore a few different thematic directions, they simultaneously start locking into a tighter groove.
• Fishman’s fill at around 14:41 is rhythmically echoed by Page at 14:52, followed immediately by Trey landing onto the jam’s final theme.
• An absolutely inspired riff by Trey at 15:48, which has given me instant goose bumps each of the approximately five billion times I’ve listened to this. The theme continues until about the 17:24 mark, at which point it stops on a dime. A very unique ending to a very uniq—
• Never mind! Twenty-eight seconds later, we’re right back into where they stopped. They build it back up over the next two minutes, smoothly transition into a fiery “Maze”.
If you couldn’t tell, I’m a fan of this “Disease”. After “Maze”, the rest of the first set is at standard Fall ’97 levels of excellence, including perhaps the best “Limb by Limb” played in its debut year.
“Drowned” leads off a fully-segued set two, and has a lot of similarities to the first set’s “Disease” – a blistering start to the jam, ultimately melting into a delicate, spacey, seemingly pre-written section, and then a seamless transition into the following song. Not being all that familiar with “Roses Are Free”, at the show I was blown away by this new holiday-themed original debut (“Take a piece of tinsel and put it on the tree…”). Later that night, I learned that this was a Ween cover after logging into rec.music.phish – kids, ask your grandparents about Usenet if you’re confused.
The ending chords of “Roses” led right into the opening riff to “Big Black Furry Creature from Mars,” a pairing that surprisingly hasn’t been done since, given how well these pieces fit together. For those who enjoy when the band succumbs to the dark side of the flow, the extended ending to this “BBFCFM” contains some seriously-evil Phish, culminating in Trey literally running laps around the stage as if a large, dark, hairy alien from a nearby planet had set its sights on him, followed by a jam on Black Sabbath’s “Electric Funeral”. (For those who want to see the hijinks for themselves, the entire song is an extra feature on the “Bittersweet” DVD, and unfortunately does not currently appear to be posted on YouTube.)
Fittingly enough, “Ghost” was up next. In a reverse from the preceding “Disease” and “Drowned”, the jam begins with vintage ‘97 mellow space-funk. This “Ghost” is not very exploratory; rather, they have a destination clearly in mind, sans scenic detour. It’s a very methodical journey, as they steadily, patiently, organically gather steam, tightening up each bolt one-by-one. By 12:20 in, they’ve shed any semblance of this song’s funkier origins. They rev it into top gear at 13:11, and by the fourteen-minute point, they are playing with fire. These are professionals, ladies and gentlemen, so please do NOT try this at home. Finally, we get sight of the target roughly 17:34 in – the conclusion to the first-set “Disease”, followed by a sprint through Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”. Given the relentless energy of the set, a “Waste” encore to a relatively brief show (sets one and two clock in at under 69 and 59 minutes, respectively) is entirely forgivable and warranted.
Without hyperbole, Rochester ’97 is among the greatest rock concerts I’ve been fortunate enough to have attended.
An absolute hidden gem of a show, and a personal treasure. This was the first show I ever saw for these guys in my hometown. So, though I am biased from an overall experience/sentimental standpoint - the music was simply some of the most far reaching and dynamic I've ever heard Phish play. It left and indelible mark on the band, or so it would seem given Trey's comments upon their 1999 return, where he commented "this is truly a favorite room of ours."
The 1st set is pure gold, with excursions on songs you may have a hard time finding elsewhere. The rollicking DWD melts into a mellow jam that leaves you in a trance, and after being hypnotized, the boys eerily slide into an raging Maze. Upon inspection of the set list, one would think things couldn't get higher from that one two punch... well, listen to Limb By Limb, and you will be left stunned. In this phan's humble opinion - an all timer for sure, with simply incredible lead playing by Trey. Hard to find a version that reaches such heights. The set closes as a 2nd set would, with show closers - so its as if instead of "sets" here - there were "acts" 1 & 2... two distinct and uniquely poignant parts of a show, since after the break it was a whole other ball game...
Many fans will recall the first ever Roses Are Free, the debut that made the Bittersweet Motel DVD. This launched a 2nd set that was pure energy and rock and roll. BBFCFM was nuts and as I recall - saw the typically stationary Trey running around, jumping off things. The man was truly possessed that night!
Anyway, without rambling too much here... that's my review, the only one I think I'll ever do - I was compelled to for this treasure. I encourage everyone to dig around for it. X marks the spot.
Great show for sure, but just one thing I need to say:
This BBFCFM is awesome, but I know my Sabbath and that is not an Electric Funeral tease. It's close to Electric Funeral, but the rhythm is a little different (or maybe that's what's meant by "tease"? But it seems to me that Trey et al. fell into this rhythm organically and probably were not explicitly trying to make it sound like EF). It is still awesome though.
This is, *ahem*, this is the best first set of Phish ever, if not the best single set of Phish ever. A lot of people talk about 12/6/97 or 12/7/97 second sets, and, yeah, they're GREAT, but this is superb. Basically flawless. The only thing I can think of that would even come close is 11/22/97 second set.
There, I said it.
The opening 1-2-3 of PYITE, DWD, and Maze...WOOF. I would try to offer song-by-song analysis, but just go listen. I will say that it offers standout, single-best versions of PYITE, DWD, Maze, Limb by Limb, Waste, and Loving Cup. it's also one of my Favorite Drowned *and* the debut of Roses are Free!!!
Let me stress this: The Limb by Limb...in as much as any serious Phish head would try to label this... it's my favorite stand-alone song performance, my favorite 10 minutes of Phish I've ever heard. And, friends, that is saying something. There are two peaks where the entire band comes together in a way that's still unbelievable to me. I must have listened to this set 100 times.
I figured adding another review wont hurt. Just picked up the soundboard copy yesterday as I make my way through the Fall 1997 tour. This show from top to bottom is flawless. My review is for the Limb By Limb though. I've never heard such a powerful, uplifting, soulful solo from Trey. I really don't know how to explain it other than that. I suggest putting on some good headphones and cracking this one up. It is a truly beautiful solo. I'd imagine on a bad day, this solo will pick you up and dust you off.
The whole show is really a highlight. But definitely get this LxL!
Back around my sophomore year of high school, when I hardly knew anything about Phish, I stumbled upon this show. At this point I had A Picture of Nectar and Junta and loved both of them, but I had not yet delve into any live stuff. I was a complete live noob, I didn't know the magic that is Fall '97 and I didn't know any songs besides Drowned, Roses (I was, and still am, a huge Ween fan) and Johnny. I had no idea what my virgin ears were in for! Even though I had no reference point for what I was hearing, I knew I loved it!
Fast forward five years: I've got as many years of Phish knowledge under my belt and this show still stands (because of nostalgia as much as anything) as my favorite Phish show. Even though this might not be the "best" show ever, there still isn't a single damn thing wrong with it, it's just so perfect.
I could sit here and list the highlights, or you could look at the setlist (seriously, every take is as near perfect as you can reasonably ask for). The first set boasts my favorite Punch of the tour, arguably the best Disease of the year, and above average versions of Maze, Limb, and Loving Cup. The non-stop second set features, in my opinion, the best Drowned of the tour (yes, better than 12.3), a seriously sick post jam in BBFCFM, a typically energetic Fall '97 Ghost with a DwD Reprise(!), and a rockin' Johnny to close.
Waste is a perfect encore to the craziness, energetic yet still in the "cool-down" category.
I was a lucky noob to have found such a killer show by accident!
Wow E Wow! This is a wonderful hidden jem tucked away in the infamous 97 fall tour. This show is known for the first Roses ae Free but trust me this whole show is hot. This is a dark and trippy show. Did I mention it's DARK! The whole show is a must hear but if you must pick a few highlights here they are: DWD(twice), Drowned>Roses, a very scary BBFCFM and an extra funky ghost! This is the show in which I got "it" and after hearing again just now I know why. Get this tape!!!
As a fan whose major come-to-Jesus moment was Bittersweet Motel, I will always have a soft spot for this show. Best DwD ever, in my opinion. 10 uninterrupted minutes of white knuckle shit–as if they are constantly daring each other to push harder–followed by the sweet and protracted funky comedown. PYITE, Maze, and Drowned are also top-shelf. BBFCFM is evil as fuck. Beautiful versions of Waste and Limb By Limb. No further rambling necessary. If you haven't heard this show yet (and I can't imagine there are many of you), do so posthaste.
This was such a great show... venue was small, one of my favorite early shows I attended!! Such a young sprite, ready for my journeys into phishland...
The 2nd set was amazing... I feel like 97-98 Ghosts were so nice... I could have done without the Waste encore, always joked that it was a waste of an encore, but it's grown on me and I like the energy it always brings, so now in time its ok I guess... but I still loved this show and had so much fun!!
I love PYITE openers and I wish they would start doing more again! Always knew It was gonna be a good night when they kicked it off with a good punch you opener
The Mockingbird Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Phish fans in 1996 to generate charitable proceeds from the Phish community.
And since we're entirely volunteer – with no office, salaries, or paid staff – administrative costs are less than 2% of revenues! So far, we've distributed over $1,000,000 to support music education for children – hundreds of grants in all 50 states, with more on the way.