Weekend Nuggets: The Back of the Worm


Paradisio 7.2.97

Paradisio 7.2.97

In the middle of their revolutionary Summer ’97 Europe run, Phish stopped for two nights in Amsterdam.  Following up their amazing show on 2.17.97, Phish brought the heat in the former church turned venue, The Paradiso.  Legend has it that during their weekend in the worlds psychedelic capitol, Trey had some “adventures” resulting in this stage banter:

Now be careful when you walk out of here tonight…because you don’t want to be swallowed up by one of those worms in the canal. You know those toilets on the side of the road here — don’t go in there — because you’ll get sucked down into the canal and be stuck all night riding along those giant worms….you might think I’m kidding around, but it happened to me last night and it was scary.

One can only imagine the antics that went into that story!  Nonetheless, “the back of the worm” became the theme of the weekend, as the phrase was repeated and catcalled by Trey and Fish throughout several jams during both shows.

"Wormtown jam" 7.2.97

"Wormtown jam" 7.2.97

The music over these two shows stellar was very illustrative of the changes the band was undertaking during their Europe run.  The first night started with an extended “Ghost” story, setting the laid back and funked-out tone for the stand.  Both second sets were perfectly flowing sets of improvisational Phish.

7.2 began quickly with a massive first set “Mike’s Sandwich,” while set two featured a 30-minute masterpiece in “Stash,” and a “Llama” that found its way into a jam that brought everyone onto the “back of the worm.”  This legendary set was capped with a double encore- taboot, taboot.  These shows were classic pieces of the Summer of 1997.

7.1.97 Paradisio, Amsterdam, NL < LINK

1997-07-01gnI: Ghost, Horn, Ya Mar, Limb By Limb, Ain’t Love Funny, I Saw It Again, Dirt, Reba, Dogs Stole Things

II: Jam* > Timber Ho!,  Bathtub Gin > Cities, Loving Cup, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: When the Circus Comes

*Fish alone on piano, then builds into a jam distinct from “Timber Ho!”

7.2.97 Paradisio, Amsterdam, NL < LINK

1997-07-02gnI: Mike’s Song > Simple > Maze, Strange Design, Ginseng Sullivan, Vultures, Water in the Sky, Weekapaug Groove

II: Jam > Stash > Llama > Worm Town Jam* > Wading in the Velvet Sea

E1: Free^

E2: David Bowie

*A jam on “Swing Town”  (Steve Miller tune) with dark vocals about “Back of the Worm.”  ^Band left stage after Free.



“Punch You In the Eye”
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46 Responses to “Weekend Nuggets: The Back of the Worm”

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  1. Billy Breathes Says:

    waxbanks — what is it about that 2nd set that makes it your favorite? very curious…

    II: Jam > Stash > Llama > Worm Town Jam* > Wading in the Velvet Sea

    E1: Free^

    E2: David Bowie

  2. Cary Says:

    If ever in Amsterdam visit the GREY AREA….i stumbled upon this place when i heard a ripping version of Dark Star playing from the shop while strolling the streets of Amsterdam back in 1999.

    I wondered in and met the owner (American guy) and ended up staying hours and he even showed me pics of Trey and Fish’s visit….one of them in up on their site


  3. Wax Banks Says:

    @Billy Breathes –

    That ‘Stash’ is my favourite jam from all of summer ’97 – I normally go in for the straight-up nasty porno-space-funk but when Trey begins playing that delicate melody about twenty minutes in and Fishman finally drops into a slow 4/4 rock beat instead of the ‘Stash’ beat…

    I think that was the first DAUD1 I ever got straight from a DAT taper, something like a week after the show, so I’ve got an overloaded emotional connection to the show. I listened to it just about every day that summer, just the Stash > Jam, over and over. Possibly I have problems, yes.

    What I like about it is the sloooowness with which the band moves into this fully-formed musical idea from an alternately eerie and angry ‘Stash’ improv – and after Mike takes an uncharacteristic solo in the ‘Stash’ outro jam, they just let the sound die out forever. Phish ’97 was all about patience and letting ideas assume natural forms, and I can’t think of a 1997 jam that’s more patient, more delicate, more empathetic.

    It’s not just a particular melody interwoven into a jam, it’s an improvised full-band composition, and it’s given room to flower and develop. I’d heard some Winter/Spring shows at that point, including the wonderful 2/17 and what would become Slip Stitch & Pass (3/1), but this was far and away the most spacious playing I’d heard from Phish. That it occurred in the context of the traditionally frenetic, harried ‘Stash’ made it all the more powerful.


  4. Wax Banks Says:

    Oh yeah – And this was the first place I heard ‘Wading,’ if memory serves, and it was perfect – in the context of this dark, eerie jamming just dissolving like mist along the canals, ‘Wading’ was such a powerful and retrospectively-obvious choice. I don’t tend to go in for ‘Llama’ in general, but it all flowed so beautifully, and ‘Wading’ seemed like the third part of a suite of tunes made for one another.

    I get syrupy and sentimental and hand-wavey about these shows, sorry. It was a very good year, or a pleasantly complicated one anyhow, and I like to dwell in those feelings.

  5. Jeff Says:

    The same thing happened to me at coventry in the infamously disgusting coventry port-o-lets, except it was a giant shitlog and it tried to suck me in. I wouldn’t let it. It was merciless. Imagine if it had sucked me down into the shit? It looked like Dairy Queen soft serve down there. It was disgusting. But I managed to not get sucked in and then I shit on it.

    True stories. Take that one to pholktales!

  6. contact420 Says:

    Here’s a link to a great source on LL.


    June 23, 2000
    Lakewood Ampitheatre, Atlanta, GA

    Source: FOB KM150s > v2 > ad-1000 > DAT > Turtle Beach Fiji >Samplitude
    (48>44.1) > SHN

    Disc 1:
    Set I
    1. Ya Mar
    2. My Soul
    3. Bathtub Gin
    4. Heavy Things
    5. Back on the Train
    6. David Bowie

    Disc 2:
    Set I Cont.
    1. Cars, Trucks, Buses
    2. Farmhouse

    Set II
    3. Rock and Roll >
    4. Jesus Left Chicago
    5. Down with Disease >

    Disc 3:
    Set II Cont.
    1. Twist *
    2. Contact
    3. Makisupa Policeman **
    4. Character Zer0
    5. Brian and Robert
    6. Possum

    ** – Original lyrics and intro (not the studio version)
    * – keyword was Tacky (taffy?) and Keef

  7. contact420 Says:

    Try this one. it’s the torrent index page. Sorry about that.


  8. Mitch Says:

    Anyone else having difficulties with mediafire today??

  9. kevin are hollo Says:

    @wax banks and billy breathes,

    per the mike solo in stash…that marks the first of only two times i’ve heard him directly reference jaco pastorius in his (literal) playing. it’s one of my single favorites, too, wax, and maybe cuz i’m a bassist, but that solo, and the resulting emergence into the angry swarm of bees…it’s brilliant.

    that moment (along with 6.21.94 Split Open and Melt, 11.30.95 Tweezer, and a few others I’ve heard) make up the catalog of true successful improvisation. moments when the full band thing actualizes or coalesces into a *new* melody, or progression, or bit of modal playing, that while a complete divergence from the original song structure or melody, still maintains that correlation (and sounds *good*, too!)

    as for jaco and weather report, it’s important for me at least to hear phish give their propers to a band who (despite not having a guitar) did more for phish’s type of playing than maybe anyone. the other reference? why, the “birdland” quoting in a david bowie intro from ’97.


  10. Mr.Miner Says:

    Mitch- what download are you having issue with?

  11. uberchef Says:

    Amsterdam is fun.

    I can’t imagine catching Phish there…too many good things at once…I might lose my mind and never want to come home!

    Have many people on the board been to the Dam? Grey area is fine and dandy, but way too small for comfort and full of kids from the states…it’s a bit of a tourist trap, but they do have some great quality. My coffeeshop pick is STIX, I highly recommend it 🙂

    Maybe another European adventure is in store now that they are back. Would be great to catch them overseas.

  12. axillalot Says:

    FYI – the entire year 1997 is available on http://www.sharefreemusic.com

  13. Billy Breathes Says:

    @ wax banks. thank you indeedily. interesting. i will surely dive into that stash (and set) at some point soon…when the time is right.

  14. Mitch Says:

    8.3.98 – cornfields
    7.29.97 – desert antelope

    Miner, I’ve been looking into wp.org hosting. Seems pretty easy, let’s talk soon about looking into the options. Also, how’s the switch to Amazon looking? Let me know if you need any help.

  15. Billy Breathes Says:

    @ wax banks – PS – can you please describe the following: straight-up nasty porno-space-funk.

    it would bring me great joy and pleasure to hear this from you in greater detail.

    i believe i know that sound, fantastically evilish and heavy deep grooves, hard and strong snaps, just nasty stuff….the best.


  16. Mr.Miner Says:

    Mitch- links should be fixed

  17. contact420 Says:

    Here is a nice soundboard for those who missed it last time.


    The Mann Music Center-Philadelphia, PA

    Source: SBD > DAT > Cass/1 > Nakamichi CR7 > Lucid AD9624 > AES/EBU > Fostex D5 @48kHz
    DAT Conversion: Louie Rendek
    Archive Python DDS/dat2wav > .wav; no soundcard
    Soundforge for resampling

    Tracked using CDWAVE by Mike Woellert
    WAV > SHN: Mike Woellert

    *****Please Do Not Encode to MP3!!!**************

    Disc 1
    1. Intro 0:21.30
    2. Ya Mar > 7:58.07
    3. AC/DC Bag 8:29.30
    4. Taste 7:09.60
    5. Theme from the Bottom 10:18.02
    6. If I Could 7:26.66
    7. Sparkle > 3:51.36
    8. The Divided Sky 15:23.64
    9. I Didn’t Know 3:30.65
    10. Split Open and Melt 11:07.33

    Disc 2
    1. Maze 13:41.74
    2. Sample in a Jar 4:42.63
    3. Scent of a Mule 10:16.20
    4. Mike’s Song > 17:21.07
    5. Why Don’t We Do It in the Road > 1:34.34
    6. HYHU > 1:46.74
    7. Weekapaug Groove 10:39.15
    8. Cavern 4:55.13

    9. Bouncin Around the Room 3:39.21
    10. Slave to the Traffic Light 9:45.58

    Thanks to Mark Lynn for the DAT, and Louie Rendek for the conversion!!!!

    Discs require 80 min CDs. If you’d like to break them to fit on 3, go right ahead.

    Slight fading during Theme. More than likely from the SBD
    Not sure what happened to Amazing Grace. There was a drop after Weekapaug. The drop was also on the master DAT.
    Definitely a killer show, and worth having for the face it’s a nice, nice soundboard.

  18. Mitch Says:

    Anyone have any cool higher res photos of Trey’s guitar? Pref old school with Marley on the head.

  19. Mitch Says:

    Might just be me but Deer Creek is still a no go. Thanks for fixing it tho, I’m getting the Desert show now.

  20. Wax Banks Says:

    Gooooooooood lord! I haven’t listened to 7/1/97 in ages. The setlist should read Limb > Funny – it’s something like a silent segue, or movements in a greater setlong composition. Just destroys me. Meanwhile it saddens me that there isn’t a segue from Cities to Loving Cup; the jokey Trey-quote jam revs up a little and then ends. So it goes.

    Gorgeous, era-defining shows, in front of the most respectful and attentive Phish audience I’ve heard. No single moment from 7/1 has the same effect on me as that 7/2 Stash (though Limb > Funny is of its foggy wee-hours ilk), but the Gin > Cities > Jam presages the spacey second sets from Fall ’97, and the delicate suspense-movie Simple > Maze transition from the next night is one of those things that’s only possible in front of a small crowd of very very stoned concertgoers (or jazz fans perhaps).

    As time has passed I’ve gone from preferring the manic 2/20/93 or 5/7/94 teases’n’fun Phish, with some deep-improv 1997 flavour, to needing the hapy-go-lucky forced-segue shows of the early-mid-90’s only as a break from the spacier late-90’s playing. Hearing these shows, I have trouble understanding how anyone could possibly prefer the early stuff on balance; they’re different bands. (The Island Tour strikes a happy medium posture, I think – comparatively lighthearted sets like 4/5/98 II contrast with the thick textures of the Nassau Twist, or that fantastic Roses Are Free…)

    Long stretches of 7/1 and 7/2 are gonna serve as work music this week – along with Miles Davis’s On the Corner sessions, which are primary sources for the musical traditions Phish were drawing from at this time, I think. Miner – thanks for sharing!

  21. Wax Banks Says:

    Of course, returning to these shows does raise another fannish concern: with the exception of the IT soundcheck and Tower Jam, I’ve never heard even a single post-hiatus Phish performance of similar delicacy (though I’ll go to my grave defending 6/19/04 II as some of the best Phish ever). Much as I love me some summer/anniversary ’03, these Paradiso shows leave that whole era in the shade.


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