Antelope-esque jamming. James Bond Theme tease from Mike.
Disease was unfinished. Bowie included Antelope-esque jamming and a tease from Mike of the Theme from James Bond. Possum contained a Can’t Turn You Loose jam, which was briefly reprised after the song and teased by Page in YEM. Tube featured an I Feel the Earth Move tease. The soundcheck's Funky Bitch featured Trey on vocals. This show is available as an archival release on LivePhish.com.
12/30/97 is generally regarded as being in the upper echelon of Phish shows, not just Phish shows of 1997, and there's good reasons for that - the big-time bustouts, a glorious Taste in the first set, an over-the-top second set with a legendary AC/DC Bag, and an extended "we're gonna do this because we're Phish and we love our fans" encore that pretty much stamps a big fat "This Is An Event Show" sign on the whole affair. But I submit to you that the best show of the New Years 1997 run was actually played the night before, on December 29th, and is another show that deserves its place in the pantheon.
The first set is typically strong '97 first set fare, when they took those first sets extra seriously - there's a kickass Crossroads (2nd to last played, unfortunately), a solid Theme from the Bottom, Fluffhead!, and a "you must listen to this now" Antelope that builds tension like a great Hitchcock denouement before hitting a cowfunk breakdown that gives the song that much added oomph. Seriously, this is an A-plus Antelope right here - it might not come screaming out of the gates banshee-style like '94-'96, but its subtle, swirling build to the funked-out climax might be even more impressive. "Lots more funky music," Trey says before hitting the Antelope closing theme, and boy is he telling the truth.
The second set is one of those sets that people think of when they think about how f-ing awesome Fall '97 is (even though it's technically not part of Fall '97) - five songs, all connected by the insane creativity the group had going at that time, creating a set of music that feels like it has no choice but to go together (even if it's not all one massive segue-fest like 12/6/97 II). DWD rocks as hard as it always does, then cools down and gets gritty on us, delay loops and Page's organ flourishes and all (Gordon does some really quality work here, including maaaaybe teasing Low Rider at one point?). From the chilled-out DWD comes a tremendous Bowie, which starts slowly out of the composed section, but then hits a nice jamming sweet spot before hitting the closing section, which builds and builds and builds...and then charges headlong into Possum. Page almost immediately teases I Can't Turn You Loose, and the band soon picks up on it and we get a full-fledged jam, the sort of thing that might have felt cutesy or jokey in years past, but now feels fully *earned* and is played with the intensity and funk-laden skill it deserves. That jam might very well be the highlight of the night, Phish's '97 style allowing them to play music they might never have been able to properly play before. The band then rips back into Possum, which rocks along nicely before a surprise and welcome I Can't Turn You Loose reprise. After a quick breather, Tube steps up to the plate and immediately drops some more funkiness on our heads, especially in the razor-sharp, loop-laden breakdowns (that I Feel The Earth Move tease is so great). And just when you think it can't get any better, they only go and drop a YEM on us, with another Can't Turn You Loose tease just for funsies and a simmering boil energy all throughout a tremendously danceable stop-start jam, leading to a chill vocal jam a la 11/17/97. Good Times Bad Times is a nice way to close things out.
12/30/97 is always going to be the favorite of the NYE '97 run, and there's no reason to begrudge that, as it is a great show. But 12/29/97, to me at least, is the crown jewel of the run, Fall '97 in excelsis, funk and rock and high-class jamming and Phishiness all slammed together into one heady brew.
when 97 ny run show to pick as a favorite. the 28th is good, but it doesn't hold a flame to the next 3 nights. well...
nicu gets this one going properly. everyone is involved here. golgi recognizes that these garden tix were not easy. pretty pricey, if you could get them. cross roads pops up out of nowhere. kind of odd placement, but it works. cars trucks and buses gets everyone back in that loose funky groove. train slows things down before theme slowly brings it back up. trey sounds really good on this theme. fluff head works really well here, and the boys really nail this one. great garden fluffhead. dirt worked here, kind of breaking up the old 93 set closing duo. antelope was solid, but they brought back a touch early. it was nice and rocking, but they showed a little too much restraint for my taste.
this down with disease is a monster. they start out rocking before diving into some funkier realms. eventually, they hit the dark space that precedes bowie. this is a very good bowie. it is not overly extended but it is very focused. they bust a rowdy possum right out of the back end of the bowie coda. this move is similar to the bowie>possum from philly, if my memory serves me, from the fall tour. even though it is kind of a repeat move, it still gets the crowd gassed.... i doubt there was much bitching. tube is nice and funky. it was still a year or so away from being a funk monster, but this one does the job, warming the band up for a really nice set closing yem. gordon and trey are great on this one. gotta love those msg yem's.... they are always winners, see 95, 96, and 98 too. all are very good and pretty unique in their own yem way. zeppelin is always acceptable in my book and sends this one out on a rocking note.
overall, this one gives the 12/30 show a run for it's money, but the surpising length of that one, plus the sneaking sally and harpua breakouts probably put that one over the top. plus, i think the 30th wins on the quality of its first set. on the flip side, the 30th only has one big jam, bag, but it's a damn good jam. the second set here, is one big imporivisatory jam.
theme from the bottom, fluff head
the whole thing, gotta listen to the bowie>possum segue from either this show or the philly one. pretty similar but both great!
Let's dig into the vault again to pick out a show that is worthy of review. During late December 1997, Phish reclaimed their New Year's Eve domination of Madison Square Garden, as if MSG was angry that Phish had skipped it in 1996 to celebrate in Boston. Phish came in to the historic New York venue after a solo night at the USAir Arena in Maryland and absolutely murdered MSG over the course of the following three nights.
We are here to focus on one of those three nights; On Monday, December 29th, 1997, Phish took the stage to a rabid crowd--many of whom purposely skipped the Maryland show to make sure could see all three nights in New York. The concert started off with an odd NICU opener and Golgi Apparatus followed soon thereafter. After that they decided to get MSG rolling. They bust out Crossroads--a blazing version. Although Phish had played this earlier in the month, it's a cover that can always yield a powerful crowd response for obvious reasons. They cooled it down a bit with a very solid version of Cars, Trucks, Buses and Train Song. Could we call the combo "Cars, Trucks, Trains, Buses?"
Theme from the Bottom, a song that doesn't often stray from it's formula, is played particularly passionately. My favorite part of the song was in the closed hi-hat introduction where Trey drops a solid digital delay loop on us--something I don't think he has done in any other version (I could be wrong about this). Listen->
Next is a glorious Fluffhead. This Fluffhead clocks in at over 16 minutes with the last four minutes being the soaring ending--Trey just keeps going up and up. A truly beautiful take on the song--it eventually fizzles into Dirt.
The opening licks to Run Like an Antelope start up. This one turns out to be just as long as the Fluffhead two songs earlier. This version is absolutely on fire, it rages. It builds up to an extremely intense Antelope peak. When the song pops into it's "reggae" segment, the Antelope takes a turn for the worst (aka, SUPER FUNKY). Ah, yes, Phish busts out their patented late '97 funk, complete with funky breakdowns and complete stops (you didn't think Phish could go an entire set in late '97 without it, did you?). This Antelope has it all, fans--If anything, download the show just to hear this bad boy.
Phish had now officially warmed up the crowd for a second set that will go down in Phishtory.
Phish came out after MSG's houselights go down, eerie noises and even a brief N2O loop is now floating through the air. What are they going to play--Down With Disease as it turned out, after an unusual introduction. The jam is standard out of the gates, energetic and driven by Trey--at about halfway through, Trey starts getting distorted, slowing down the speed at which Phish are playing. When the drums finally come down to Trey's slow level, Trey laces the arena with a huge digital delay loop--at this point Phish sets off into space. Mike starts going underwater with his effects which cue Trey up for his slow funky wah pedal. Briefly teasing the idea of taking the music into a heavy rock direction, things slow back down when Page comes out with the organ. Fish's slow, half open hi-hat beat morphs into the opening of David Bowie.
This David Bowie, like the Run Like and Antelope and Down With Disease before it, is a monster--clocking in at around 24 minutes. Things are pretty noodley and direction-less until about the 10:30 mark, though. As things start picking up, the jam gets very driven. They bring it up very nicely in the next eight or so minutes, keeping everyone on their toes wondering when the end was coming. After a misstep (at least I think it sounds like he is about to do it and then bails) by Trey attempting to go into the end segment of his classic trilling, he gets it the next time around.
Without a doubt, the best part of the whole show comes at the end of David Bowie; at the end of what everyone thinks to be their last punctuated "lull" during the trilling segment, Phish snaps into Possum in lieu of the final trilling segment before the end of the song. The crowd erupts, noticeably audible on the recordings. Some waiting 10 seconds after it happened to cheer because they just got out of shock. Listen ->
The Possum that ensues keeps the energy at the very highest, too. The song is pumped full of Otis Redding's Can't Turn You Loose teases, well actually a full Can't Turn You Loose jam. Page starts it with Trey and then Fishman catching on soon thereafter. The point where Phish abandons the Can't Turn You Loose jam and goes back into Possum's normal jam is also a favorite part of this show for me. Page comes raging out of it, leading the band into a keyboard driven Possum jam. All I can think of when they come out of Can't Turn You Loose is "oh, it's on." Listen-> The song eventually ends in normal fashion with Trey starting up a short Can't Turn You Loose reprise before officially ending their three-headed monster of a second set opener.
So, so far Phish has played great versions of Crossroads, Fluffhead, Theme from the Bottom, Cars Trucks Buses, Possum, David Bowie and Down With Disease. They have also played, arguably, the best version of Run Like an Antelope ever--next comes, arguably, the best Tube ever played.
The nearly 12 minute Tube that follows this raging Possum is unmatched--"I don't know braaah, 12/7/97 is pretty amazing too!"--yes, the Dayton Tube from earlier in the month is also hot, but in a different way. The funky and solid Tube before the reprise is great. The Tube reprise is also good, but I feel starts losing itself while Phish prepare to go into Slave to the Traffic Light. The MSG '97 Tube is a solid 11.5 minutes long and is thiiiiick all the way through. The song starts off in a far slower manner than usual, as if they know exactly where they want to go with the jam. Out of the gates, Page just flies off the handle while Trey is playing around with his delays before finally hitting the one he will use the whole jam through at a nonfluctuating volume level (usually the volume drops off as the loop goes on). Trey starts his funky strumming as per late 1997, he stays in the background behind page for the greater portion of this jam. When all is said and done, we get 2 funky Trey breakdowns, a funky Mike break down and a funky Page breakdown, whom Trey tries to mimic with a little bit of rock before Fishman helps him back down into the Tube funk before the end of the song. One of my favorite parts is how Page comes in after the first funky Trey breakdown--listen for him after you download the show (assuming you, for some reason, don't have this show already). The whole thing is just ridiculous.
After four epic versions of four epic songs, one would think they would want to take a breather--you know, play When the Circus Comes to Town or Water in the Sky. Nope, You Enjoy Myself instead. While there is not much that stands out about this version (other than Pages short Can't Turn You Loose tease during the trampoline segment), the fact they played You Enjoy Myself after what we had just been through shows how much business they meant now that they are back in New York for the turn of the year.
Yep, that's the second set--Down With Disease->David Bowie>Possum, Tube, You Enjoy Myself--a double dipped cream dream thrill ride of your life. Good Times Bad Times ends the show as the encore, which provides one particular screaming peak from Trey, ending this night on an extremely high note.
I'm not going to say much about it in this post, but 12/30 is probably even more ridiculous than this show--I posted about the Black Eyed Katy last month (that link also has the download). I just figured that show was so popular, there would be no point in writing about it. If you don't know about that show, please stop clogging my website with your traffic.
. This show is amazing. It starts of with an energetic 3 song segment that gets your heart pumping. Then they take a dive in the excellent Page driven tune, Cars Trucks and Buses. Then they decide to play 2 Billy Breathes songs, with the latter being one of the best Theme from the Bottom's. Next is a perfectly executed Fluffhead and a beautiful Dirt. To close the set out is my favorite version of Antelope ever heard.(Right next to 4/3/98)
To start off the second set they a funky Disease and it segues into a very dark Bowie opener. This Bowie builds off of the Disease and when it's just about to end, ith does a strangely place segue into Possom. This is humorous for it's I Can't Turn You Loose teases. Next is a Tube that is super experimentive, energetic and funky at the same time. To end out the set they end with a great YEM and then come back on for a Good Time, Bad Times encore.
So the highlights of this show are:
set 1- NICU - Crossroads Theme,Antelope
set 2-all of it
Back in 1997, I saw the 3 out of 4 of the New Year's run. This is the show I skipped (took a day off and saw Michael Ray at Wetlands instead). Big mistake. This is an amazing show. The Crossroads in the first set has Trey ripping a solo at the height of his guitar powers. The Theme is awesome and just has a huge sound that it never reaches anymore, and Antelope has some very cool jamming as well, along with a fun "We'll see you in 15 minutes" outro.
Set 2 is a monster. 5 songs, all played at the highest level. DWD, Bowie and YEM all clock in at around 20 minutes, and are filled with some amazing jamming, particularly the DWD. The Possum/Can't Turn You Loose jam is fantastic, even to this jaded listener of the 2011's Summer of Possum. GTBT is always one of my favorite encores, and this one doesn't disappoint. I still love Phish in 2011, but I would give anything for them to play a show like this again.
Please check this out. Livephish.com has a combo deal with this show and 12/30/97 for a discount, and it is well worth picking up the SBDs.
(posted to rec.music.phish in early 1998...after I'd elected to go to the Rose Bowl instead of the '97 NYE Run)
Wow. First show at the Garden. I really feel dumb for going to the Rose
Bowl. Put on your seat belts and crash helmets and get ready for the
12.29.97 MSG Antelope.
The jam section of this (after the "silly" intro as I like to call it...
- Page is really silly toward the end of this one - everything up to the
5 big chords where the "jam" starts) really opens like a typical (from
what I've heard) '97 Antelope. I remember Champaign with this sort of
feel, at least for the first 5-6 minutes. They both get this kind of
loopy rising and falling for a long time, but the Champaign one does not
get as intensely raging as this one. Fishman literally goes nuts here.
But at the end of the build, when Trey finally hitts the riff way up on
the neck of the guitar - usually signifying the end of the jam and the
entrance of the Ry Ry Rocco groove - the "sonic cliff" as I've heard it
called comes too soon imo. Just that they've stretched it much further out
before is all.
But that groove that follows is so grand! A "break it down!" solo from
Trey and Mike (Mike has some suuuuper lines in this section by the way...)
and a passage where Page takes an extended moog solo. Really nice,
although really characteristic of fall '97 jams.
Next thought: What a great place to put the obligatory "15 minutes"
announcement. Almost as good as the placement of the "We had a great time
tonight" in the Champaign '96 Weekapaug (it's happened other places,
too, I'm just to lazy to recall which ones). "We're gonna take a break
and we'll be back with lof of funky music..."
I swear to god, if we ever subvert the dominant culture and establish our
own nation, Run Like an Antelope is going to be our national anthem. The
"set the gearshift" line will be the point at which everyone screams like
they do for the "and the land of the free" line today.
Satisfied, we settled in for the night and then began our trek to New York. Overall, with friends, and friends of friends, and the exponential expansion of friends that can only happen on tour (and can only be amplified by a New Years Run), we wound up with a group of almost thirty by the time we got to the city. Our hotel room for eight suddenly became more like fifteen, but the only people who really seemed to mind were the hotel staff!
The show on the 29th was my favorite of the Run musically, and I still listen to it a good bit to this day. Our seats were great second bowl of the Garden but close to parallel to the stage, just a wee bit in front of Fishman. From the reggae "NICU" opener to the rocking "Antelope" closer, I shook my ass, pausing for thought and breath only during "Train Song" and "Dirt." But the second set
Again, this kind of thing became more commonplace from 1997 forward, but go back and look at earlier setlists. To see and hear five solid Phish jamming tunes strung together seamlessly for the duration of the second set blew my mind. No breathers, no real pauses, just ass-kicking jam rock. Hell, the shortest song was "Tube," still in its growth as a jammer, and it may have made me dance harder than any song of the Run!
Post-show, we ventured over to The Wetlands to hear Michael Ray and the Cosmic Krewe. It was a great spot to meet up with folks, and it was a fun excursion for us Mockingbird folks. Even though the project began to come together in the fall of 1996, this New Years Run was the first time that large numbers of the core working groups were together in one spot. We relished the chance to meet some people face-to-face for the first time, and hang out with old friends (many of whom I hadn't seen since the post-show Cubed throwdown in Boston on NYE '96. We even got to meet Moira, but that's another story for another day. And, of course, the music was spectacular and the Krewe kept our tired legs moving.
Here's the New Year's Run from 1997, which could be considered the coda to the 1997 cowfunk experiment (particularly, Fall was chock-full.) Then again, maybe the Island Tour is that coda, or some transitional anomaly? Anyway, this is a great show. Theme From the Bottom > Fluffhead and Run Like an Antelope from the first set are the big draws there, in my opinion, though Crossroads is novel, and Cars Trucks Buses benefits from a healthy dollop of murk on the curb. I can't help but recall @waxbanks' neologism, "mycological languor," when referring to this Down with Disease. It's kind of a yawning, psychedelic take on funk, which his phrase captures magically. Tube is extended quite a bit, considering its near-lifespanning status as a short funky rocker. You Enjoy Myself also lends itself well to "da funk."
This is just one of those "go to" shows. The entire set list is incredibly tasty... no filler added here. And every single track features a Very Good to Stellar performance. In fact, the entire second set is essential Phish!
When someone asks me why I'm so "hung up" on this band, I can just pop in this show and honestly say "here's why." They may or may not get it, but it the real deal.
After an extremely successful fall tour the band stepped into MSG oozing confidence. You could see it in every song they played and every jam they extended. There is so much going on in this show and thus it has never strayed too far from my go to phish show rotation in the 17 years since.
This show has Trey putting on a clinic in balancing impressive technical skill and emotional energy throughout. It’s also got the four headed monster pushing the improvisational envelope, and a nice couple of doses of shake your tail funk that began to dictate the pace of shows throughout the aforementioned fall tour.
Highlights you ask? How about everything after Golgi!! Seriously. Even Train Song and Dirt, songs that aren't going to bowl anyone over were impressive in that you could hear a pin drop during these two songs just moments after the band had whipped 20,000 souls into a rip roaring frenzy.
I'd also contest that Crossroads should be mentioned in the show notes as a notable performance. It's so good.
I don’t know if there is a more balanced, musically impressive show out there that represents the band and what they were trying to do at a particular time better. I've always felt that the next night was as good as it was partly because the band felt they’d played such a monster on 12/29 and felt the need to throw the kitchen sink at 12/30 in an attempt to top themselves.
Now it’s debatable as to whether they did or not. Some say yes, some say no.
If you had to put a gun to my head I’d take 12/29 simply because it didn't have a 2 hour 15 minutes second set, four song encore, a show opener that hadn't been played in over 900 shows, or Harpua and was still one of the bands all time great performances.
The start is a little rough- Nicu isn't my favorite opener, and this one was nothing special. Trey's vocals are kind of obnoxious (the "play it Leo" scream is pretty painful), and I've heard better soloing from Page. Golgi is fun but messy.
Crossroads, though placed a bit strangely, was a great way to get the energy going. Solid performance. CTB loosened it up and helped set the pace for the rest of the set. It felt a bit soon to be cooling it off with Train Song, but it made way for an excellent Theme- definitely one of my favorite first set jams.
Fun Fluffhead. Gorgeous Dirt. Antelope was solid, with lots of great funk in the rye rye rocco section.
Great first set overall, but it paled in comparison to the second.
Down with Disease was pretty monstrous- it rose pretty suddenly out of some preliminary noodling and then rocked on for about 20 minutes. Great jamming in there! No complaints.
Bowie was just as good. There was a long synth section before the jam started, with that iconic high hat laid over it. Really made you drool for what was coming. When they finally started playing, it was pretty epic- they got so absorbed in the type II that they left out most of the actual tune. They squeezed the final chords into the last minute or so and then went nicely into Possum.
Great Possum. Mike gives us some very loose, country vocals that almost remind me of Elvis. Trey puts a few ninths in his chords that give parts of the tune an interesting feel. Can't Turn You Loose is pulled off excellently, with the band weaving masterfully between the two jams, though I would have liked to have heard more of it. Most of the jam is purely Possum.
Awesome Tube- Trey uses the same loop for almost the entire jam, which works surprisingly well.
YEM- The scream comes at around the 7 minute mark, which leaves us about ten minutes of pure phishy phunk. The band is loose and groovy, with Mike laying down some nicely dirty riffs. It finally ends with a quiet but intense vocal jam that eventually peters out like a hiss of steam. Very satisfying.
GTBT rocked. A nice closer for a great show.
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