A Desert Antelope

I was blindsided at the gym this weekend.  No, not by some musclehead in a roid rage, but by an aggressively improvisational “Antelope” that might as well have been on the cream and the clear.  I had been continuously working my way through a Phish playlist from a friend, and as I was finishing the cardio portion of my workout, the old school version of “Oblivious Fool” came on.  Not particularly suitable for working out, and an odd addition to the playlist altogether, I skipped directly to the next song-  Antelope.

gw2I didn’t bother to look at the date or anything, I just kept going.  Since I consider myself pretty well-versed in Phish, especially Phish highlights, I thought I’d figure out what I was listening to.  Yet, as the jam progressed, it was raging, and though I could tell it was from ’97 or ’98, it didn’t ring a bell.

During the late ’90s, Antelope’s jams generally remained within their predestined structure.  While there was never any lack of improvisational madness, Anetlope jams rarely went “way out” there, or really anywhere except where you thought they would go.  In no way is this a knock on the song; the same holds true for “Harry Hood” or “Slave.”  That’s just the way some Phish jams are.  There was no shortage of huge Antelope’s in the late ’90s, but the song didn’t necessarily possess the adventure it did in ’94 and ’95.  It’s just the way things were.  But this version blaring in my ears was different.

533239286_d84e190ab7As this mystery Antelope raged on, Trey annihilated the early jam with soaring evil licks, before moving into more intricate patterns of notes.  All the while, the band was knee deep in a heavy, sinister groove.  This music began moving in an alternate direction as Fish and Mike switched up the rhythm; less straight ahead than most Antelopes, and as I was doing sit-ups, my ears perked up and took notice of the diverging musical course.

Pretty quickly the improv got really dark and the entire band began jamming out of the song’s structure.  Entering a quiet and murky musical pond, Mike’s bass lines lead the way.  The music continued progressing “way out” of “Antelope” and into some insane Phish improv.  “What!?” I thought.  Quickly flipping over my iPod to see what I was listening to and why I wasn’t fully cognizant of this epic jam I was immediately foiled- no date, Damn!  I decided to ride it out.

Moving deeper in, the music got into some slower melodic places that do not really come out of Antelopes.  Straight up mystical, transcendent Phish- this was crazy!  It was like hearing a brand new Phish jam for the first time; and that hadn’t happened in eons.  The band built the jam into a faster affair with all members just shredding at insane speeds, gradually merging paths with the original course of the song.  As the band built towards the Antelope peak, the playing was particularly frenetic, yet beautifully coherent- one of those things that Phish does masterfully.  To an untrained ear, it sounds like cacophony, but when you hear what they are actually doing at the peak of an Antelope, it’s just absurd.

gw1The jam finally dropped into the post-peak funk at the seventeen minute mark to the monstrous roar of the crowd.  The band continued to heavily improvise throughout the “composed” ending, as they tended to to when they were feeling the flow.  This normally routine section became quite interesting with heavy effects from Page, Mike and Trey, and then they popped into the final chorus with more spunk than usual.  This was my new favorite Antelope, but what was it?  As I looked back at the playlist menu, it was listed under 7.29.97.  A ha! Desert Sky. I had a huge “Oh yeah!” moment, as I remembered the magnitude of this Antelope that batted second in set two.

I wasn’t at that Phoenix show, and for some reason, I hadn’t heard the jam since the late ’90s.  A pretty high key show to have just forgotten about, but aside for the first set “Gumbo,” I had.  That’s what’s so great about Phish- just when you think you’ve heard it all, you’ll hear a new jam that absolutely floors you.  There are just so many out there, and soon, there will be so many more.

LISTEN TO 7.29.97’s Antelope now! < LINK (Roll over link and press play)



7.29.97 Desert Sky Pavilion, Phoenix, AZ < LINK

1997-07-29mo1Here is the show you just read about, and I forgot about.  It’s a certain keeper from the Summer of ’97.  With one of the great “Gumbos,” a classic-sounding “Ghost,” an early, yet all-time great version of “Twist,” and of course the epic “Antelope,” this show was as hot as the weather it was played in.

I: Theme From the Bottom, Beauty of My Dreams, Gumbo, Dirt, Sparkle, Ghost, Swept Away > Steep > Loving Cup

II: Oblivious Fool, Run Like an Antelope, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Twist, Taste, Sample in a Jar, Rocky Top, The Squirming Coil

E: Possum



400799230152In honor of today’s topic, I wanted to highlight a community member’s effort to help save the North American Pronghorn Antelope.  The website, Antelope Gatefree Paradise, details the issues putting Antelope in danger and what you can do to help.  In addition, you can purchase the classic lot shirts and stickers with the famous “Antelope Crossing” logo under “Merchandise.”  All proceeds go to volunteer organizations actively working to save the Pronghorn Antelope.  You can help out and score one of the all-time classic Phish lot t-shirts all at the same time!

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77 Responses to “A Desert Antelope”

  1. full tour: announced! Says:

    just relived the charlotte hood today. dark horse show of the tour. once past the hood structure, they went full balls out. trey even teases dr. feelgood by motley crue. then they go back into the hood outro. longest, deepest hood ever!

  2. cottle Says:

    Hells Yeah…Charlotte 03 was ill. didn’t they pull out a Kung that night too?

  3. hairy pood Says:

    another decent 04 antelope was after the stunning Tube, at Deer Creek. around 8:30, Mike hits a three note bass line, and then Trey locks into it- from the middle of “Fried Neckbones and Some Homefries” or maybe its a different Santana tune. regardless, these shows were a lot better than some people like to admit, because they were so different from what was happening 5-7 years before. Here we are 5-7 years after the first comeback. nobody knows what they’ll sound like…..

  4. camman Says:

    come on guy.. you know i’m not that young…. thats for all of those other kiddies who haven’t had that life changing experience yet…

  5. full tour: announced! Says:

    yy……kung was dropped in charlotte……with a dirty, black sabbath sounding groove.

  6. cottle Says:

    Full Tour – do you have a good copy of that Charlotte ’03 show? Email me at cottle_jason@yahoo.com if you’d be down to do a BnP or a trade. I got a bunch of Sector 9 (00-02 mostly), if you’re into them.

  7. Selector J Says:

    Ah… such a refreshing site. So positive. I love this place.

    Thanks for posting that show Miner. This is the first I’ve heard of it and I can’t wait to check it out.

    Broadcasting update: I’ve been posting messages on taper sites trying to gauge interest in broadcasting and somehow got sucked into a PT-style flame war. I tried to make amends as I left and I think things are relatively cool now.
    Despite that, I don’t think broadcasting is likely to happen soon because a) there seemed to be little interest, and b) people are, understandably, hesitant to enter a gray legal area. My interpretation of Phish’s policy is a little too liberal for some out there who are understandably trying to stay with the spirit of their policy.

    Oh well. I’m confident it won’t be long until people start actually doing it or bands explicitly prohibit it. Either way, I think it will be within a year before this thing gets legs or gets shut down.

    [T-minus 2.5 hours until reggae time]

  8. camman Says:

    hey cottle.. im really into sector nine man if you could hook me up.. let me know what you might want to trade for at camjackson591@gmail.com

  9. full tour: announced! Says:

    @cottle….you got mail….

  10. Frankie Says:

    That’s a shame ’cause i think it’s a great idea… You should still find someone willing to tape you at setbreak with the sports-style commentary in the heat of the moment to be attached with the recording of the show… I’d love to hear that! :o)

  11. beno Says:

    While the Antelope is superior at this show, I really do feel as though–melodically–the Theme is the best one they have ever played.

  12. BingosBrother Says:

    Remember that time after shit went down in Red Rocks and a reporter interviewed one “21 year old Phish fan Marco Esquandolis” for the local newspaper and then Trey gives him a shout out during Antelope? Yeah, that was awesome.

  13. Selector J Says:

    Thanks for the support Frankie. I’ll work on the set break commentary thing… that could still be managed with a few good sports. 🙂

  14. carl Says:

    ^^^just checked out this Theme (took a moonwalk by the bay) I’m usually so bummed when Trey flubs the riff before the solo, but the mistakes are wonderful this time! The jam is 3 chord space opera
    I love summer 97!

  15. Jer Says:

    This is my favorite experimental Antelope, and possibly my favorite version ever. Between this one and 10-24-95…everything else just plays second fiddle.

  16. carl Says:

    can anyone seed this show at bt.etree?

  17. hairy pood Says:

    hey camman….. you’ve never been there, and that’s all fine and dandy. it don’t bother me none. BUT…. if you think you know the best, or even know the worst, there is an entire galaxy for you to enter, which will be post post hiatus, and that’s awesome. i’m glad you’ll get the opportunity. but, if one of your phamily claims merits to a show that is off-put by the popular faculty of phish mentality, thereis no reason to decredit individuality. maybe i like post hiatus just as much as 97-98, but for differenrt reasons. perhaps 92-93 were my favorite recordings, but for other reasons. there’s something to be said for a band that evolves over time. i hate to compare phish tovthe dead, but at this point i must, for the sole reason that both bands changed over time, in both positive and negative ways:

    i love the dead, 67- 71, with pigpen wailin’
    I love the dead, ’73, when Billy had Full Reign
    I love the Dead “One From The Vault”-76, due to the rawness of the material and the new approach to improvisation, which was based on the popular music of the time
    I love the Dead, ’77-79, because the dance grooves were untouchable, and so cuttable (as in the rug)
    I love the ’80’s dead, because the new sounds, effects, and rhythms, mixed with a straight ahead approach, make the music closer to user friendly while maintaining the essential spirit of its roots.
    same can be said for the ’90s
    I love early Phish because they were a raucous bar band, with acid undertones. These are the bands I love today. They had the showings of genius , without the evidence.

    I love late ’80s- early 90’s Phish because they began to include more of the Zappa-influenced rhythms and melodic improvisations, while debuting a myriad of new tunes that ended up defining their sound. Some of the best Phish recordings I’ve heard are definitely pre- 92/3

    I really love 93-4 and even 95 Phish becausre they took group improvisation to a level only imagined in novels (Theodore Sturgeon’s “More Than Human,” etc.)
    At this point, the group turned a corner which would forever change the face of popular music. Very comparable to Ornette in the late 50’s, early 60’s; Stravinsky in the early 20th century; Louis Armstrong in the 20;s, etc.; early 90’s Phish played a role in both poular and rock music that changed the faces of these musics forever.

    I love Phish later in the ’90’s decade, because they both expanded the level of group improvisation they had stumbled upon, but also, simplified it. THey realized that a funky groove could be the basis for both their platform of skyrocketing madnesss, and the audience’s grounding love of rhythmic groove. they truly found the dooorway to a new method of perception.

    I love post-hiatus Phish because they took this realm they had discovered, and switched its intensity level up to eleven, while bringing the groove-a-meter down a few. All things change in time. in y opinion, 03 Phish was just as good as 83 phish was just as gooas 93 phish. its just a matter of taste ( i would recommend 93) BUT because the band was different does not mean they were worse.

    They will be very different next month, guaranteed. Go with no expectations, and when you’re there, expect less.

    Picasso was considered a genius before he and Braques invented cubism, and were ostracized. Where’s cubism now?

    beethoven’s latest compositions were picked apart by the press as overly extravangt, etc. Now his late works are considered the greatest.

    As the old, lame, cliche goes, ” variety is the spice of life.” I believe that all ers of this band are equally meritable, for different reasons. But the main reason most of love this band is still beyond your grasp, so all i can say is, ” Get to a show, and don’t make a plan… Don’t expect anything…. Wander, mingle, meet, take a risk, and love the music.”

  18. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ well said

  19. hairy pood Says:

    now i realize your comment wasn’t addressed to me, but i’m glad i took the time to write it

  20. hairy pood Says:

    thank you mr. miner. i want to write your name as minor, becuase i’m a music nerd, but, alas, i’ll have to thak the coal miner’s father rather than the minor key which provides som much comedic relief for me in hood towards the end when “thank you, mr. minor,” all slowed down in a major key… i need tix desperately, Deer Creek is on my 25th B-Day, I’ll be there regardless, playing banjo for a miracle. Had to hop the fence at SPAC on my 20th, but I would prefer an insurance policy (aka stub0 this time because I live in WA state, and I’m going regardless. Indiana’s a little furthur (sic. intended) than Burlington—> saratoga.

    PS..ave you ever done anything about sidprojects, especially low-key, under the rdar ones? I attended Honky- Tonk Tuesdays in Burlington, VT for about 1 1/2- 2 yrs, with Mike on bass in a room fit for about 30. Gordon Stone would often play pedal steel, and we were acquainted, so I’d often share the bar with he and Mike, and just shoot the musical shit. this was very surreal at the time, I mean one time was just a couple days after the Hampton- Philly-Albany-Boston 20th Ann. FAll Run. (Is that how it went? I only hit Albany and Boston). Rehardless, If you have any recordings of Honky Tonk Tuesday at the Rdio Bean, I would really love to get my mitts in one or two.

    I sing the body electric.

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    it was adressd to you

  22. hairy pood Says:

    oh i know, but i addressed my original one to camman, based in something up the wire, where he started his, “come on guy,” but it was to someone who goes by guyforget. Regardless, I’m glad I wrote it. Any chance for a Deer Creek Stub? THe trade board seems to be mostly available for trades (hence the name?) but I can’t miss that show, and, like I said, I’ll be there. Nobody wants a lonesome banjo player to be in the campground when they’re throwin down, right? maybe I’ll email you….

    HOnky Tonk Tuesday recordings?? yea/ nay? I can’t find ‘e, anywhere. I had to pretty much do the limbo around Mike’s tiny bass with no headstock, the one with the tuning pegs by the bridge, just to get in the door if I was a little late. intimate is too weak of a word.

  23. youenjoy09 Says:

    Thank you Mr. Miner! Your passion for this amazing music is both inspiring and infectious. Keep it comin’!

  24. camman Says:


    So whats your point? i love phish for the exact same reasons, i’ve found some i like in each era as much as i like in the otehrs. i don’t try to act like i know whats best or not, i actually prefer to to the “best ever” label on shit. just cause i’m not a tour veteran doesnt mean i don;t know whats the shit… i didn’t take offense… i’m just wondering what the point was… and you do have to admit that the Deads time has come and gone… nothing Phil and Bob put out tbis spring will comapre to having Jerry behind the wheel…

  25. John Campion Says:

    @hairy pood: we share the same bday. good luck gettin a ticket to Deer CReek. Undecided if i’m heading up that way to celebrate

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