Not surprisingly, this is a great show. I actually like this one more than the next show, which was the first night in Hampton (11/21). The first set can hold its own and the big highlight is a very nice Bathtub Gin that segues slickly into Llama. The Gin jam moves from melodic to funk and the chords of Llama emerge from the funk jam. There are also solid versions of Limb by Limb and Theme from the Bottom in the first set. I'm always happy to hear my favorite bluegrass tune, Ginseng Sullivan, and the Fee->Antelope to end the set is tremendous. Fee's ethereal post-lyrics jam includes humorous Meatstick quotes and segues very nicely into a scorching Antelope.
The 2001 that opens the second set is a badass space funk throw down. It's my favorite of the tour. I consider Wolfman's Brother->Makisupa Policeman to be a quintessential fall 97 jam. It begins as a typical cow funk jam, but around 10 minutes in the beat drops out and from this space Trey plays aggressively and takes the jam into dark waters. This leads into a Crosseyed and Painless jam where things brighten up a bit. The remainder of the jam alternates between speed funk and periods when Trey just takes the lead and heads for the stratosphere. If there's a knock on this jam and this show, it's the fact that Trey sort of does his own thing during parts of Wolfman's, without listening to the rest of the band. At times he plays over them instead of with them. The segue into Makisupa Policeman is long and drawn out, and Makisupa itself has an unusual spacey jam. Taste finally brings us out of the space funk that dominated the whole set. The Possum encore is strong, as well.
Very strong first set, but the second is...well, just look at that ridiculous setlist. It's *that* good. I think. The Wolfman's > Makisupa made it onto the official 11/17 release as filler, and it's a somewhat tense but nonetheless thrilling ride. (Trey has one of his I'm-the-boss,-follow-me moments in the middle of the Wolfman's jam; what follows is worth it, I suppose.) And you can't go wrong with a deluxe set-opening 2001 in the post-Went intergalactic funk mode. The Hampton and Denver shows get more love but this one's a heck of a party.
By the ratings (4.602 when this review was written) this is a beloved show, but one less talked about. Even though our brains may go from Denver>Hampton, this midwest stop over clearly won't disappoint once you have heard it. Now I digress: So difficult to determine for oneself (let alone a vast fan base) is the age-old hyperbolic verbal triad-- "Best Show Ever". What is much easier to figure out, and can maybe shed some light on that esoteric truth is the title "Most Listened To Show Ever". For reasons I cannot explain, 11-19-97 is my most listened to show of fall 97. Of course having it in my car at a time when cassettes and roadtrips were serial monogamists and prone to long exclusive relationships didn't hurt, and can certainly help shed some light on why so much of this maxwell tape was laid and relaid upon my dome. But still, even when the age of digitalization arrived, and AUD availability increased at an exponential rate, particularly to those that didnt really give a damn about computers in the 90's (guilty), this show still got love admist a sea of choices. The first set certainly doesn't go deep but they just nail it. I love this set, but it's the 2nd set that earns this show its stripes. If you are a lover of 11-17 tweezer (so that means you) this 2001 is the smokin hot sister of that jam. They look kinda similiar, but boy can they both dance. Wolfman's operates as a window to the past and the future: Trey stages a minor coup and removes the democratic restraint he had bestowed upon all lately by demanding supreme leadership of this one, even if he has to demolish the whole thing with one riff just to build it back up again. It has multi-sectional airs of 95, with a balls to the wall crosseyed tease (any time trey teases crosseyed in 97, listen to it, and I am definitely looking at you 11/28 YEM.) This brother has up and down jagged peaks that'll make you dizzy til you are finally delivered onto perhaps the highest height on the tour-- those of you that say the 2-28-03 Nassau Tweezer is your type of high-powered hose are going to want to take the rollercoaster up and down til we get to a very similar summit. Then we get a "Walk Away" type jam into a Makisupa that trips balls and sobers up like an officer on DMT who suddenly sees the light and goes off to join a reggae band. Taste is masterfully pulled off, and if you have been listening to the entire show up to this point you are going to hear nuances in it that you might miss if you just throw it on. But isnt that how it always is? Possum brings us back down from the mountain, just to stumble upon the open doors of the mothership two short days later..
I wrote a review of this show a year ago, but didn't particularly go in depth or talk about the first set, so I figured it was worth revisiting. This show has still stuck with me even after repeated listens, and given that there's about as many remasters of this show as Jon Fishman nicknames, it's pretty clear that I'm not alone. Let's dive in...
Set 1: The Gin immediately drops into an almost minor-chord jam that still retains the flavor of the usual Gin jam, and then starts to build up momentum in the "Classic Gin" style, Trey going into some nifty trills, before taking a brief left turn (foreshadowing, perhaps?) into some meaty Fall '97 funk and then ripping into Llama. The rest of the set is pretty standard (especially considering the tour that the show resides in), although with a heaping dose of minimalism (check out the breakdown in Funky Bitch), until Fee arrives. Fee itself is quite nice, a beautiful mixture of Trey's softer notes and Page's tinkling piano accompaniment, Trey tossing in some Meatstick quotes just for the hell of it. Antelope slowly winds its way out of this jam, and brings an electric close to the proceedings.
Set 2: I mentioned in my other review that 2001 is the jam of the night for me, and I still stand by that - with repeated listens, it doesn't feel *quite* as crisp as the great 2001s, or as massive and weird as (say) 9/29/99, but there's a reason 2001 fit so snugly into the stripped-back aesthetic of the late 90s, and this version explains that reason nicely. Trey alternates between crashing chords and leaning on the wah-wah, loops fly all over the place, Page plays some real spacey notes, Mike lets his basslines roam hither and thither, and Fish throws in some rhythmic flourishes and tempo shifts while not holding down the four-on-the-floor beat. The great 2001s set a tone for a set, and this 2001 shows that the guys meant business tonight.
This brings us to the Wolfman's, still one of the most divisive jams in Phish's storied career, and quite rightfully so. The typical Wolfman's start leads into a more dissonant jam, Trey coaxing some weird sounds out of his instrument, as they build towards a more blissful jam. Well, that is, until about the 11:30 mark, when Trey starts hammering away on a nasty riff, and the band has to drop what they're doing and try to put together a bed for this riff to lay upon. The resulting loud rock jam is reasonably successful but not particularly interesting, and they then start picking up the pace as Trey lands upon the Crosseyed riff, and Page goes for shimmering notes before we reenter a funkier (yet still fast-paced) realm. I have to say that I don't particularly care for this part of the jam - it doesn't really do much, to be honest, compared to the insanity of 1993 or the melodic beauty of 2012. The final, stomping classic rock segment (which reminded me of the Dick's Light finish, actually) at least puts a neat bow on things, before loping its way into Makisupa Policeman. Makisupa books along before entering a dark, almost scary realm, featuring some industrial noises not out of place on a DJ Shadow record, making it far more interesting than your average Makisupa. Taste and Possum are just fine.
Final thoughts: The first set is perfectly nice, with the post-Fee jam into Antelope the real highlight. The second set is definitely something of a mixed bag, to my ears - I'm much less high on the Wolfman's than I used to be, but parts of it are really well played, and the 2001/weird Makisupa are more than worth your time. A tremendously likable show, and (still, IMO) a show that would be the headliner of many other tours.
For me, the highlight of this show is the 2001, maybe the best version (it's either this or the Went) from the greatest year for 2001, when Phish's rendition stopped being polite and started getting real. Tension-release doesn't get much better than what they did with this song in this most golden of years, and the pure nastiness of this version has tension-release to spare. I don't quite love the Wolfman's -> Makisupa sequence as much as others do, but that's not to say that the jam isn't worth hearing, and some people might be captivated by how grisly things get when Trey makes that sudden left turn into Guitar Squall-ville. Like most not-quite-at-the-summit shows of 1997, this second set would be a highlight of just about any other tour. Grab that KP remaster (back on the spreadsheet, thanks to @westbrook) and enjoy.
This was a show when > meant >. Heads use > to freely. To actually be in attendance at this show would have at the simutaniosly educated and scarred whatever you thought you knew and now know about >. Best show ever. Never to be duplicated.
There has yet to been a 2001 remotely close to the one we witnessed that night.
Four song second set. Blows the doors off anything we have seen since 3.0 kicked off.
The first set was a great ride, and turned out to be a little too much for some. Near my upper balcony, front row, dead center seats I remember a guy that just couldn't seem to wrap his head around the abrupt segue between Gin and Llama. When it became apparent that a full Llama was to be played, he convulsed and fished out on the aisle until security took him away. Whoops.
By this time, I was in love with Limb X Limb, and was very happy for its arrival after a song that, already, I was sick of to death of (Dirty Dirty Dirt.) The little jam before Antelope allowed me to appreciate the rare Fee sighting, and Antelope had me jumping up and down, for I hadn't seen the Antelope light show indoors yet at this time. I was hoping for a jamfest in the second set, and I wasn't disappointed, at the time....
2001 was groove-tastic, and it lead to Wolfman's. At the time, the jam offered many teases, and possible avenues for segues, which kept me guessing, but after listening to this show many years later, it is obvious that this is a meandering disaster of a jam that Trey walks all over, but never takes it anywhere. A surprise Makisupa had the highlight of the 2nd set, with a jam that deconstructed to ever-increasingly high notes with no beat, until they, as one, drop back into the Makisupa groove. A hot moment then, and still on the recording. A wonderful Taste closer was followed by the Possum encore I had been craving, but some lackluster execution on the part of Trey leaves this one falling a bit short.
I still listen to this show regularly, and like it very much, but I imagine that it is partially because I was present for it. The Palace 3 weeks later was, and still is, 2 of the best sets I have seen from them.
This show is worth the effort to acquire, but doubtful it will attain any high place of appreciation for you.
Greetings to everyone, especially those of you whom I've not seen in quite
I haven't been listening to a lot of Phish lately, so my observations may
sound shockingly un-jaded to those of you who've known me. Especially for
me to be commenting on a "lesser" of the Fall '97 shows.
As I said, my ears are not as saturated as they usually are as of late, and
I've been doing most of my listening during my 30-minute commute each day.
Today I herd the 11/19/97 Champaign first set, or at least the first part of
it, and I was really impressed by the opening. Not the Julius so much, but
the Gin in the second slot was particularly inspired, not to mention for a
first set. There is a particular passage a minute or so into the jam (I
really wasn't keeping close watch on the time, but it was about 2
stoplights...) where Mike starts playing sevenths. The jam is
really...viscous here: flowing, but not too freely. Serendipitous! Then
when they really get down to it, you can really here the funk beginning to
ferment - the same funk that bubbled over soaking everything in its path
during shows like 12/6, 12/7, and 12/13 (Bringin' the Dude!) later that
tour. Certainly the funkiest Gin since the 7/21 VA Beach one earlier that
summer (not including, of course, the Went Gin which doesn't count because
it was from another planet, and the 8/3 Gorge Gin because I haven't heard
it) as this was the first of this Fall tour.
This simmering funk stew then abruptly had the heat cranked up by Trey. It
took Fishman a couple of measures to catch on, but they were instantly
boiling. This was the segue (if you use the term loosely) into Llama. On a
scale of 1 to 10, Llama is typically a solid 5 for me - a good song that I
can't really go nuts over. This was certainly one of the better ones I have
heard, though. With a creative beginning that resulted mostly from what
sounded like an uncertain Trey, this particularly firey version had some
particularly creative solos from Page and Trey. Page's featured some
interesting chord choices toward the beginning of the solo, and the entire
first half was really quite brilliant. Trey's also began strong and unique,
and the final climax was absolutely tremendous. This Llama also had one of
the tightest endings I've ever heard. In between the "taboot, taboot" the
guitar punches were particularly staccato and forceful, and the final note
packed a particularly powerful punch.
I like Dirt. Remember the Halloween '98 Phishbill with the ad for all
natural Organic Vermont Dirt? That was some funny stuff. If you haven't
seen it, let me know and perhaps I can send it to you.
I used to think the big deal with this show was the Wolfman's Brother. It's a very long jam, to be sure, but it's not quite as colorful sonically as many classic Phish jams. In fact, I like both the 2001 and the Makisupa more than the Wolfman's: the 2001 because I like every 2001 and because this one is longer and groovier than recent 3.0 2001s have been, and the Makisupa because IIRC this is the first Makisupa I've heard go Type II, which is a welcome novelty. The first set was more phun for me to listen to than the second set was, this 'go-round. Gin is amazing, with an interesting segue into Llama. Limb by Limb was still relatively new at this time, and if you want to hear an atypical, early version of it, listen to this one. Theme is magisterial, as always, and as it especially was during 1997 (Taste also had a great 1997.) The Meatstick tease out of Fee is pretty cool to hear. If I was ganna play @Icculus with this show--according to his reputation for liquidating sets--I'd be unable to, because I'd need the Gin -> Llama and 2001 and Makisupa, at least. Thankfully, we don't have to settle for audiocassettes anymore, and there are MP3s downloadable and streaming. As much as I may sound like the Wolfman's isn't really above-average, I certainly enjoyed it as a newer phan when it was included as filler on Live Phish 11/17/97, and I could totally go for this show being archivally released! (I could go for any and all shows being archivally released, to be quite honest!) Thank you.
Some amazing highlights in this show: Gin->Llama, the jam out of Fee and segue into Antelope, and 2001 are wonderful, and the Wolfman's>Makisupa was definitely deserving of inclusion as bonus material on Live Phish 11. Good versions of Limb x and Theme as well, and a value-for-your-money Possum encore. Still, the first set is up-and-down, and the Taste second set closer doesn't soar like other '97 versions do. A 4 star rating is nothing to be ashamed of, tho.
This show held true to the experimental Phish of 1997. When > ment >. The energy of the audience is on the play back right off the bat with Julius. Set two is unreal. Only four tracks. By far, my most favorite show of all time.
I'll try doing some justice at a review, having only remembered the other day that I was at this show. Yes - 1997, perhaps the most talked about year in Phishtory, one I thought I had snoozed on - I was there. Amazing what a year of sobriety can do for your long-term memory. A fresh listen helps, too (as I'm doing now).
One thing that holds up in my memory was how schizophrenic this show is, and this listen reinforces that. There were moments (Bathtub > Llama, Wolfman's > WTF > Makisupa) where a nice, thick Fall '97 Cowfunk foundation was being laid nicely by the Phab Phour to build on, and then Trey would stomp on it and kick it apart with some searing Machine-Gun type playing. It works for the former (when Fishman catches on), not so much for the latter. What hurts is hearing the rest of the band either glaring or glazed-looking at Trey, going "ok...um...sure, give us a sec" before finally all giving him a nice sonic dancefloor for him to spaz out on. It gets better as the band sells you on it with some serious facemelt rockpile jamming, whether it's Crosseyed-related or some distant cousin. The segue into Makisupa is clever and sublime. Actually, that whole jam redeems it's mutated predecessor (as well as providing a much-needed cooldown for the band I'm sure). And that's what jogged my memory - that Makisupa. I was there with my friends Kevin and DJ, and DJ, who was older than us and had had a few more run-ins with the law (not to mention his first show) during the "cased my house" portion of Makisupa put his hands to his head and yelled "Nooooooooooo!!!", which freaked me out and probably those in our section (who may or may not have been on as much acid). Funny, that one memory all these years later.
Looking back, this show proves how much 1997 was an influence on Phish during 3.0 - in both good and bad terms. 3.0 took the 1997 Cowfunk throwdown, and made it an altrustic listening experience, patiently developing ideas from their different eras to build shimmering sonic statues onto that stand the test of time. This show is a reminder of what we love - and don't so much - about The Phish From Vermont.
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