As many of you know, I’ve been re-listening to and reviewing all of the Fall ’97 shows on Twitter on their 13th anniversaries. As today marks the end of the tour, I wanted to do a proper recap. No in-depth analysis or waxing poetic about the funk–I figure enough people have covered that stuff before me. (I suppose with this project, I’ve now said my share too.)
First, I put together a six-part, 78-song compilation of some of the tour’s defining moments. Next, a few fun stats that drive home just how unpredictable and jammed-out Fall ’97 was. Finally, a few notes and my final verdict on each set from my Twitter review. Next to those notes, you can also find links to mp3 and shn/flac downloads of each show.
But before that, I want to plug the encore, of sorts, that I’ll be playing: reviewing the ’97 New Year’s run. I didn’t want to do it on the anniversaries, because I will be busy seeing Phish shows. So what I’ll do is take tomorrow off, then review 12/28/97 on Wednesday the 15th, 12/29 on Thursday, 12/30 on Friday, and 12/31 on Saturday. Join me.
Fall ’97 Defining Moments Compilation
(See show verdicts below for links to full shows)
- Part 1: 11/13 Chalkdust, Stash, Caspian. 11/14 2001, Funky Bitch, Wolfman’s, Twist, Slave. Bonus: 11/7 Farmhouse (on Conan)
- Part 2: 11/16 Timber, Hood, Izabella, Bowie. 11/19 Fee>Meatstick>Antelope, 2001. 11/21 Emotional Rescue>Melt, Ghost>Bag. (11/17 omitted since it’s a LivePhish release.)
- Part 3: 11/22 Weekapaug Groove, Halley’s Comet, Antelope. 11/23 Black-Eyed Katy, Gin, Disease>Low Rider>Disease. 11/26 Taste, Zero>2001>Cities
- Part 4: 11/28 Curtain/YEM, Ghost. 11/29 Bowie, Jim. 11/30 Funky Bitch, Wolfman’s>Love Me, Stash>Free>Jam
- Part 5: 12/2 Buried Alive>Disease, Mike’s>Simple>Dog Faced Boy>Ya Mar>Weekapaug. 12/3 Drowned, Bowie, Possum>Jam. 12/5 Ghost, Julius, Slave. 12/6 Tweezer>Izabella>Jam (12/7 omitted because it’s a LivePhish release.)
- Part 6: 12/9 Simple. 12/11 Disease, Limb, Drowned>Roses>BBFCFM, Ghost>Johnny B. Goode. 12/12 Funky Bitch>2001, Piper, Caspian. 12/13 Ghost>Mike’s>Llama, Coil.
Fall ’97 By the Numbers
- On average, each show included 14.47 songs before the encore. (8.76 in the first set, 5.71 in the second) Here, I counted, for example, 12/3 Possum > Jam as one song, 11/23 Disease > Low Rider > Disease as 2, and 11/29 TMWSIY > Avenu > TMWSIY as 3.
- 11 of the tour’s 42 sets had five songs or fewer; seven had 10 songs or more.
- 31 different songs stretched past 15 minutes at least once. In all, there were 59 15-minute excursions. This includes 20 jams of 20+ minutes, 7 that went past 25, 3 that went past 30, and one (11/29 Jim) that surpassed 58 minutes.
- It does not include the 12-minute Makisupa from Champaign, 14:44 Funky Bitch from Worcester, or other jams that went on far longer than usual, but under 15 minutes.
Fall ’97 Shows: Download Links Plus Guy Forget’s Final Verdicts
11/13 Las Vegas, NV (mp3, flac)
Notes: Very Hendrixy Character Zero closes a set that had nice funky YEM, deece Melt. But they’re still getting warmed up.
11/13 Verdict: among the weakest shows of Fall ’97, but totally worth hearing for YEM, Mike’s, and esp. Stash.
11/14 Salt Lake City, UT (mp3, shn)
Notes: Phish has played 2001 165 times, only 23 in the 1st set. But 3 of 5 Fall ’97 versions, and 7 of 15 total in 1997, were in the 1st set.
Bold As Love encore. This song was played 3x in Fall ’97, Fire 3, Izabella 4, Them Changes 1. So Hendrix was played 11 times in 21 shows.
11/14 Set 1 verdict: this set would be a monster if they played it now. In Fall ’97, not quite. 2001 and ‘lope are nice, though.
11/14 Set 2 verdict: Really strong set. Greater than sum of its parts, but its parts are pretty dang good, especially Twist.
11/14/97 verdict: a bit better than 11/13, but they’re still getting warmed up. Set II should be heard by any fan though.
11/16 Denver, CO (mp3, flac)
11/16/97 I verdict: Weakest set of tour so far, by far. I remember why I deleted it long ago but kept set 2.
11/16/97 II verdict: Hood and Bowie are phenomenal, the rest is decent but fails to convert on scoring opportunities.
11/16/97 verdict: near-absence of funk makes this show out of place for Fall ’97. Bowie and Hood get the momentum going for tomorrow.
11/17 Denver, CO (LivePhish, mp3, flac)
Notes: First Tweezer opener ever. I’d say they pretty much got it right the first time.
Historical note: this is the first start-stop jam of Fall ’97.
11/17/97 I verdict: Probably the best first set ever. Such confidence and purpose in virtually every note.
11/17/97 II verdict: One of the best 2nd sets ever, but it’s the 2nd best set of this show. JJLC jam, segues, DwD are huge.
11/17/97 verdict: 2nd set not quite as monumental as the 1st, but still outstanding. Btwn Tweezer, Ghost, & 2nd set mayhem I consider this the greatest 2-set show they’d played to this point. That would change 5 days later though…
11/19 Champaign, IL (mp3, shn)
11/19/97 I verdict: Last 5 minutes of Gin pretty nice, and Fee-tstick-elope is fun. Otherwise pretty standard 1st set.
11/19/97 II verdict: This set would be the best set of many tours. In Fall ’97, it’s arguably not top 10. But huge, start to finish.
11/19/97 verdict: This show is another reminder that Fall ’97 is only partly about funk; it’s more about exploratory jamming. And since the band was incredibly locked in, that
exploration brought them to some amazing places almost every night.
11/21 Hampton, VA (mp3, flac)
Notes: Easy to forget that AC/DC Bag was never a jam vehicle until ’97. Phish Companion lists this as the 1st “standout” version.
11/21 I verdict: Gets off to an amazing start with the 30-minute Emotional Rescue/Melt, but loses steam thereafter.
11/21 II verdict: Another 4-song set, another addition to the pantheon. Ghost>Bag is 40 mins of effortless-sounding beauty.
11/21 verdict: Overshadowed by the masterpiece of a show that followed it, this is some of the best #phish out there. The Emotional Rescue/Melt in Set 1 and Ghost>Bag in Set 2
are essential listening.
11/22 Hampton, VA (mp3, flac)
Notes: 11/22 Mike’s opener: 2nd since 1990. Only the 4th appearance in a 1st set since ’92.
Izabella is the first Hendrix cover in 3 shows, which actually ties for the longest gap in Fall ’97.
11/22/97 I verdict: Usually only 2nd sets do the transport-you-to-another-dimension-&-return-you-when-the-set-ends trick, but like 11/17 I, this set does it. Mike’s is huge, Weekapaug is a top 10 version. But the energy is so deep throughout.
11/22 II verdict: This set is not awful, just as I’d been told.
11/22 verdict: There weren’t many shows before ’97 with big 1st sets. That said, IMO 11/17/97 and this show were the 2 best 2-set shows to this point, separated by just 5 days. The band’s improv was so inspired and they were jamming so much that every show was one for the ages. This just happened to be possibly the single agesiest.
11/23 Winston-Salem, NC (mp3, flac)
Notes: First Gin 2nd set opener since 12/30/89. It also opened 3 2nd sets in ’98. Only 4 2nd set appearances since ’00.
11/23 I verdict: The first tame set since 11/19 I. BEK is the highlight, but nothing is must-hear.
11/23 II verdict: DwD>Low Rider>DwD is the highlight of this set. The 31m Gin has really strong moments but is inconsistent.
11/23 verdict: Set 1 is forgettable. Set 2 is an amazing set of Phish, but may be the weakest 2nd set of the week. But make no mistake: this set is stellar, essential, etc.
11/26 Hartford, CT (mp3, flac)
Notes: Character Zero has closed 75 sets, but opened only 2: this second set and 7/3/10 I. (It’s appeared in 23 encores, and been played 33 times in the middle of a set.)
11/26 I verdict: Another 1st set starts jammy, then cools off. Tweezer, Gumbo, Taste worth hearing, but not a standout set.
11/26 II verdict: Very underrated set–understandably, considering the surrounding shows–but Zero>2001>Cities is must-hear.
11/26 verdict: Not one of the best couple shows of Fall ’97, but no slouch. The first halves of both sets have some excellent stuff and the Character Zero deserves to be way more highly rated among Fall ’97 jams than it is.
11/28 Worcester, MA (mp3, shn)
11/28 I verdict: Pretty good first set. Notable for start/stop jam in YEM; BEK & Maze are also strong. But nothing huge here.
11/28 II verdict: Ghost is a jam of high quality and historical significance. The rest of the set is just pretty good.
11/28 verdict: This show broadened the definition of Fall ’97 funk & laid the foundation for how the rest of the tour would sound, but Ghost is the only really giant jam. YEM, Maze, BEK, Timber, Limb, Slave are worth hearing but not essential.
11/29 Worcester, MA (mp3, shn)
Notes: If my counting’s right, this was the 100th time Foam was the 2nd song of the show.
Runaway Jim is just under 7 dog-hours in length.
11/29 I verdict: You’d never know from the setlist or song lengths, but this is a strong 1st set. Excellent flow, sick Bowie.
11/29 II verdict: Obviously a historic set just for featuring
the longest jam out of a song (Tower Jam is longer), but if the Jim had ended at 35m, it would be one of the top 2-3 jams of Fall ’97. The next ~10 minutes wander before a strong finish. Still, though, an amazing bit of exploratory improvisation. The rest of the set is unremarkable.
11/29 verdict: This show has some of everything: great songy 1st set, huge jam, fun encore. But obv Jim’s what sets it apart.
11/30 Worcester, MA (mp3, shn)
11/30 I verdict: Guyute opener works; jammed-out Funky Bitch and the beautiful 1st half of Wolfman’s provide a great start, but then comes the incessant metal groove in Wolfman’s. I’m all for 31m jams in a 1st set, but this should’ve ended at 20.
11/30 II verdict: Phish took some chances, and had some nice moments, but nothing remarkable. Stash/Free/jam worth hearing though.
11/30 verdict: 1st set more notable than the 2nd, but largely for 31m Wolfman’s which I obviously am not too hot on. Still, 1st set should be heard once for uniqueness of
Wolfman’s, great jamming in 1st half. But weakest of Worcester run.
12/2 Philadelphia, PA (mp3, shn)
12/2 I verdict: A model first set. Great short jams out of Ghost & DwD, but overall just amazing setlist, energy and flow.
12/2 II verdict: A Mike’s//Groove for the ages. Great jams out of every song, and amazing fluidity to the set…through Paug.
12/2 verdict: One of the most complete, consistent shows of Fall ’97, and one of just a few with 2 stellar sets. There’s no one jam that can identify this show a la 11/22 Halley’s though. That plus the weak ending lead it to be underrated. An absolute classic.
12/3 Philadelphia, PA (mp3, shn)
Notes: 7 of 15 versions of 2001 played in 1997 were in the 1st set; 10 of 82 versions from 93-96, and 6 of 68 from 98-present
12/3 I verdict: Another scorcher. Drowned is the only big standout, but great selection/pacing and solid playing throughout.
12/3 II verdict: Post-Possum is an essential jam; Bowie has more length than depth. Nothing else stands out but great pacing.
12/3 verdict: Again, the 1st set is arguably at least as good as the 2nd. Drowned and jam out of Possum are huge jams, and the remainders of both sets are well played yet greater than the sum of their parts. Really strong show.
12/5 Cleveland, OH (mp3, flac)
12/5 I verdict: Lacks Philly’s set 1 song selection & flow, but strong playing throughout, w/Ghost & Jim being highlights.
12/5 II verdict: Jammed-out Julius & Slave are both good, but neither great. Strange set, and unfortunately not so inspired.
12/5 verdict: In larger context, this is a memorable show: unusually exploratory Julius, Slave, plus strong Ghost, Jim, but the lack of sustained energy and a fairly weak 2nd set make this one of Fall ’97’s lowlights.
12/6 Auburn Hills, MI (mp3, shn)
Notes: Believe it or not, this is only the 2nd time since ’93 that Tweezer opened a 2nd set (12/1/96). It’s opened 12 since.
12/6 I verdict: Good start, but nothing worthy of much praise. Feels like they were pre-compensating for monster set 2.
12/6 II verdict: On the right day, I might argue that this is the best set ever. The Tweezer is an enormous jam that would be a brilliant centerpiece to any set. The thing is, I don’t think it’s even the best jam of this set; Izabella is. Throw in the Piper & the continuity between the songs & jams, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better set.
12/6 verdict: Not the 1st time in Fall ’97 that Phish played a phenomenal set after an avg. one. Set 2 is as essential as essential gets.
12/7 Dayton, OH (LivePhish, mp3, shn)
12/7 I verdict: Setlist quirks like this–Bag>Killer, It’s Ice/Swept sandwich, Tube reprise–are hardly unique in Phish history, but the playing is every bit as good as the setlist, making this one of the all-time great 1st sets.
12/7 II verdict: A great set, esp. Wolfman’s>Boogie On & Possum, though probably weaker than set 1, much weaker than 12/6 II.
12/7 verdict: A classic show. No enormous Fall ’97 monsters, but lots of little monsters: Bag>PK, Tube>Slave, Wolfman’s>Boogie On.
12/9 State College, PA (mp3, shn)
12/9 I verdict: Mike’s through Paug is good, & interesting songs between, but nothing standout. After that, set loses steam.
12/9 II verdict: 29m Simple has its moments, but is less interesting than almost all long Fall ’97 jams. Lackluster set for this tour.
12/9 verdict: This would be an average/good show in Fall ’96 or ’98, but may be the weakest show of Fall ’97. Nice Mike’s, Stash, Paug, but nothing groundbreaking or very compelling. Phish sounds tired at the end of midwest run.
12/11 Rochester, NY (mp3, shn)
Notes: exactly 1000 shows in zzyzx’s database prior to this one. Though it’s of course not actually the 1001st show…
12/11 I verdict: Huge Disease makes this set, but pretty strong start to finish, esp. Limb. One of the better 1st sets of Fall ’97.
12/11 II verdict: 5-song set, each song was special: amazing Drowned & Ghost, standout BBFCFM & JBG, 1st Roses ever. Monster.
12/11 verdict: An upper-echelon Fall ’97 show. Not that much funk; Phish simply played 2 of their most locked-in, rocking, jammed-out sets.
12/12 Albany, NY (mp3, flac)
12/12 I verdict: Bitch>2001 is really cool, Taste & Tweezer worth hearing, & setlist is strong.
12/12 II verdict: No real anchor, weak setlist. But Piper is quite good, post-Caspian jam has its moments. Great encore.
12/12 verdict: All in all, pretty weak by Fall ’97 standards, but very good by most other eras’. 1st set and encore are very strong and 2nd set has highlights – and, this being Fall ’97, quite a bit of jamming.
12/13 Albany, NY (mp3, flac)
12/13 I verdict: Set starts out wonderfully with an energetic, funky jammed-out Ya Mar, but nosedives after.
12/13 II verdict: A fitting closing set: monster-music-on-MDMA Mike’s jam, sentimental close w/Hood and Coil, a hint of the future in the ambience of Hood; and of course, a heaping dose of funk.
12/13 verdict: Ya Mar may be the best version ever, but otherwise this is an amazing, essential 2nd set, forgettable 1st set.
#fall97 verdict: Fall ’94 had countless epic jams. Fall ’95 had arguably the best final 2.5 weeks of any tour. But for night-in, night-out epicness, for looseness of spirit and tightness of playing; for a band that had reached such great heights, but was soaring to ever greater ones, this is Phish’s greatest tour.