When The Funk Came Home

Summer 1997

Summer 1997 (S.Nissman)

The day had finally come.  We hadn’t seen the band for six months- six months that had changed everything- and we had finally made it.  We were in Virginia Beach, and it was July 21st!  It was here.  After waiting over half a year that seemed more like an eternity, we would finally see what this new funk was all about!  Unless you were lucky enough to make it to Europe earlier in 1997, you were in the same boat- fiending for Phish and more curious than ever.

phish-amsterdam-97-subwayAfter finishing off 1996 with a smoking New Years Run, peaking at the Fleet Center amidst unreasonably cold temperatures in Boston, the band disappeared from the American scene.  Only two months later they were off on their first of two European tours before we’d have a chance to see them in the states again*.  Their twelve-show winter run continued the transformation to groove-based playing that had begun during the second half of Fall ’96.  And once we got a hold of that 2.17 Amsterdam tape, we knew something special was going on.   That “Disease” slowed down into some thick music we’d never heard before- and then segued into a dark, new song called “Lucy Had A Lumpy Head”- who was this band?!  This was different music than we heard in Boston- that was for sure- and it was very engaging!  Phish went on to play their infamous Markthalle show captured on Slip, Stitch, and Pass, but at the time, that Amsterdam tape was all anyone could talk about. *(Phish did play a small benefit in Burlington on 3.17)

6.19.97 Arena, Vienna, Austria

6.19.97 Vienna, Austria

We got some of the other winter tapes as well, and then we waited.  The band took off across the pond once again in June- this time armed with an array of new songs that spilled out quickly over their first two nights in Dublin.  “Ghost,” “Twist,” “Limb By Limb,” “Dogs Stole Things,” “Piper,” “I Saw It Again,” “Oblivious Fool,” “Vultures,” “Velvet Sea,” “Water In the Sky”- and come Virginia Beach, most of us had never heard them!  These were not the days of instant uploads and digital Phish; the tapers were all in Europe.  With only ten days separating the last European show and Virginia Beach, most of us didn’t have time for a blanks and postage deal.

(R. Bleckman)

(R. Bleckman)

But while we weren’t getting Phish music instantly online, it was around this time that Phish internet space- and the internet in general- began to catch fire.  On message boards and over email, we heard stories about twenty-minute funk jams played really, really slow; about this new song called “Ghost” that was all the rage; about bass led grooves coming from everywhere!  But they were just stories.  With each passing day and setlist, excitement amongst fans grew exponentially.  After six and a half months of no Phish coupled with tales of legendary jams, our imaginations were about to burst- we couldn’t wait any longer.  And we didn’t have to, because the day had arrived.

The Gorge '97 (J.Schwartz)

The Gorge '97 (J.Schwartz)

When we got into the amphitheatre, the energy was palpable as the entire crowd seemed to be on the verge of explosion.  How long would we have to wait before we heard all these new songs?  As a rainbow appeared over the lawn, breaking the day’s inclement weather, Phish stepped on stage with the first stateside drop into “Ghost.”  The music felt immediately addictive- its deep bass and slow grooves coursing through your veins.  It was a new high you’d never felt before- and Wow!- it felt good.  You had to dance, no matter how awkward it might have looked; this shit was funky!  And as the band entered the jam, we experienced the first gooey excursion of what would be a stellar summer tour.

Ghost ————————————— [audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/ph97-07-21d1t01.mp3]

1997-07-21gnFollowing up with “Dogs,” “Piper,” and “Dirt,” the band was as eager to introduce their new material as we were to hear it.  When listening to just the abbreviated version of “Piper,” you could feel the magic in that song from day one.  And finally, to welcome everyone to their US Summer Tour, Phish ripped apart a funktatstic “Bathtub Gin” that saw Trey jokingly chant “USA! USA! USA!” at the end.  Spirits were soaring; the band was as ecstatic to start a long US tour as we were, and a new era had truly begun.

Bathtub Gin ———————————– [audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/ph97-07-21d1t06.mp3]

7.21.97 Virgina Beach, VA – 12 Years Ago Today

I: Ghost, Dogs Stole Things, Piper, Dirt, Ginseng Sullivan, Bathtub Gin*, Character Zero

II: Wolfman’s Brother > Magilla, David Bowie, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Theme From the Bottom* > Funky Bitch*, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Loving Cup

*w/ Leroi Moore

Winged music note=====

Jam of the Day:

You Enjoy Myself” 11.28.97 Worcester SBD


Perhaps the greatest version of “You Enjoy Myself” from Fall ’97, this one will get anyone’s head bobbing.  Coming in a show opening combo of “Curtain > YEM” to begin Worcester’s three-night stand, Phish got the party started right.  While not necessarily a dark-horse, a run through the SBD of this impeccable jam brightens any day.  With a fierce and funk-laced “Crosseyed” segment, this one is a keeper.



3.20.92 Broome Co. Forum, Binghamton, NY SBD < TORRENT

3.20.92 Broome Co. Forum, Binghamton, NY  SBD < MEGAUPLOAD

Spring '92 (phish.com)

Spring '92 (phish.com)

Keeping with the early-era soundboard trend of yesterday, here we have one of the greatest shows from the hallowed Spring of ’92.  This Binghamton show was an analog staple back in the day, with a SBD source that circulated early on.  In a show strewn with highlights, the “Antelope” stands out as one of the greatest early-90’s versions.  The first set is absolutely flawless, and set two isn’t far behind.  Enjoy this gem!

I: Wilson, Reba, Brother, Glide, Rift, Fluffhead, Maze, Lizards, Mound, Run Like an Antelope

II: Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Sanity, The Sloth, The Mango Song, Cavern, Uncle Pen, Harry Hood, Terrapin*, Possum

E: Lawn Boy, Fire

* Trey explains “Secret Language” before “Possum”

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269 Responses to “When The Funk Came Home”

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  1. Floyd the Chimpanzee Says:

    I will never forget the feeling of anticipation I had right before Phish returned to the states in 97′. I had just witnessed my first Phish show in Atlanta for the 96′ halloween throwdown. Between that show and my next, July 23, 1997, at Lakewood, I had absorbed as much Phish as I could possibly handle and was beyond stoked about the next show on my plate. However, it wasn’t until several years later that I realized just how incredible of a time it was for Phish as they were launching my absolute favorite season of jams at that time – the cow funk. I remember seeing them play Ghost that night in Atlanta in 97′ and being awestruck by how much body wanted to move with those syrup-thick bass lines. This was truly one of the most special periods of my life from the standpoint of music. I was in college, playing keyboards in band for the first time and I was witnessing the birth of a new era in the Phish catalog – those grooves permeated my being on countless levels and made me inspired more than ever to find my own nuggets of musical crack. Being able to have experienced that incredible period in music history is something I will always cherish.

    To all of my phamily out there, have a wonderful day. Keep up the good work Miner – you are a rad dude. One of these shows, we are going to have to plan on all of us meeting up at a show to put some faces with the names. I know I would be more than happy to share a beer or bowl with any of you.

    Peace, Love and Potato Chips,

    Floyd, the Chimpanzee

  2. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    This may be a near perfect post for me. I had very similar feelings and memories from this Virgina Beach show, as my last previous shows had been the NYE run ending on that cold, cold night in Beantown. I still remember turning to my buddy after the drop in Ghost and both of us realizing we were in unchartered territory here. Leroi Moore’s appearance was a nice treat during that second set as well. Absolutely spot on write up.

    And as for the download of the day, that is one of the seminal tapes I had in my early collection. I still remember the girl who gave it to me and how many times I played that second set to introduce friends to this thing called Phish. The Long Distance Run Around teases at the second set open, the fact that Fishman plays the hooter during Terrapin, and of course the secret language throwdown all combine to make this one of my favorite early 90s sets.

  3. donnyb Says:

    my favorite thing about PHISH is absolutely the funk. it really is addictive.

  4. Wax Banks Says:

    Perhaps the greatest version of “You Enjoy Myself” from Fall ‘97, this one will get anyone’s head bobbing.

    I do enjoy this version of YEM. But I’m wondering: has there actually been a great YEM since 1995?

    I know those opening arpeggios always signal 20 minutes of happy-Phish-time. No question. And you used to get raging rock versions like 7/30/03, or a silly medley/freakout like 3/14/93 or 5/5/93, or 6/9/00’s date-appropriate smooth nastiness, but what makes a standout version of the song, especially now? Other than, say, 10/31/95, how many YEM versions actually belong in the Top 50 Phish Jams?

    It’s weird that a straight-up funk/rock jam like YEM (or Mike’s Song!) should’ve gotten less interesting since the ’97 funk arrival, but nowadays I hear YEM start up and think, ‘I pretty much know what I’m going to get for nearly the next half-hour.’ (I imagine people have mixed feelings on the vocal jam as well; I enjoy it live, almost always skip it on tape.)

    Is anyone else as uninvolved in this ‘marquee Phish song’ as I am? (The same goes double for Mike’s Song, especially since the hiatus.)

  5. KWL Says:

    Hi Wax,

    Thought provoking post. My first reaction is to defend YEM, but how many have really been great since 95, as you suggest? Not much comes to mind, while I can easily spout off a few bowies, say, or gins. (Aside: I, like you, really enjoy the vocal jam live but tend to skip it on tape.) And maybe there is something to be said for the fact that many of the big jam vehicles since 95 have been new songs–ghost, piper, twist, even 7 below & ASIHTOS–which probably bring an element of fresh energy or new life to their playing. (Though DWD & tweezer certainly haven’t suffered.)

    Even an average YEM is a musical achievement. Just the composition itself is an example of Trey at his best. But I would have to concede that it doesn’t get ‘out of the box’ much, most YEMs follow a pretty well-trodden path. Though hasn’t this always been the case? Perhaps YEM has only gotten less interesting because it has gotten more familiar, not because the way the band plays it has changed significantly.

    Hopefully your post will stimulate folks to suggest their top post-95 versions, I wouldn’t mind spending the day listening to different YEMs that others suggest…

    (As for Mike’s, I think Miner hit the nail on the head a couple weeks ago with his post on the subject)

  6. notkuroda Says:

    I didn’t hear much live Phish in 97, till I went to the fall tour opener in Vegas. I remember hearing Black Eyed Katy for the first time, wondering who the fuck this band was(some guy in the lot called it the “gumbo jam”, that was weird. A few days later we saw 11/16 and 11/17. Jaw dropping Phish. Unfortunately, after this little run things started getting a little hectic in my life and I saw less and less Phish. Never forgot this run though

  7. pebbles Says:

    Love today’s post Miner– you’re picking up more or less where I came onboard (I went to one show pre-97), and this is a nice way to relive a very happy period of my life (young, carefree, just getting into Phish).

    I have to say, though, I’m getting pretty worked up about looking forward instead of backwards. Are we going to get an official PT preview of Summer II?

    Does anyone else think that the band might just break it open and play an incredible run?

  8. notkuroda Says:

    PLEASE HELP: Miner or anyone who can help I need a link for 8/6/96. My good friend is leaving for CO on Saturday, she’s going to Red Rocks without me :(. BUt I promised her a copy of my favorite Red Rocks show, and I can’t find mine. Thanks for the help

  9. Type IIIa Says:

    One non-musical highlight from the VA Beach show was the double rainbow seen from the lawn. I never had seen one and thought it contributed to the magic of the night.

  10. Dr SF Jones Says:


  11. nonoyolker Says:

    Miner, great write-up. You really captured the feeling of the time nicely.

    For the YEM debate (which i think is a great topic for discussion), is the term “great” implicit of “exploratory”? I would say that the 11/29/97 version is “great” for its straight funk/rock, uptempo jamming; however not overly exploratory. As KWL stated “most YEMs follow a pretty well-trodden path”. I had a period during v2.0 where I just turned off whenever the boys geared up with the old tune. I just felt like I had heard it before. Totally disengaged, even for some pretty nice YEMs (IT version was especially tight). After the break-up, I was eager to hear ANY phish live and at Fenway, I heard YEM with new ears. That versions was a definite highlight for me. So, I think there are great versions since ’95, though maybe not overly adventerous ones (though the Japan ’00 Wax mentioned stands out in my head – need to relisten). For the top 50 All time phish jams – H-ween ’95 yes and I think 12-9-95 may make the list too.
    @notkuroda – Miner posted the full four day run a while back. Hit up the search function.

  12. MakisupaSecurity Says:

    “I imagine people have mixed feelings on the vocal jam as well; I enjoy it live, almost always skip it on tape.”

    This was my answer to Trey’s question about wether a fishman tune ruins or makes a show. They can be fun while at the show, but is often skipped when listened to later.

  13. notkuroda Says:

    @nonoyolker, thanks. btw I think phishshows.com has been taken down.
    @pebbles: “Does anyone else think that the band might just break it open and play an incredible run?”


  14. SJC Says:

    Happy Birthday to me!! Not literally, but this is the dream post. One of my favorite early shows 3/20/92 (still my favorite weekapaug to date), the VaBeach show when I REALLY got it (more of a family scene than the Clifford Ball – my first), and the 11/28/97 Worcester JOTD I had 11th row center for. Life is good.

    I’m on board your YEM train Wax. The song never really did it for me. Its fun, I enjoy the vocal jam, but its certainly not something I look forward to going into a show. I do like listening to older versions of the song (80’s stuff really) particularly the vocal jams. Can’t remember the show, but the vocal jam goes on and on and it’s finally narrowed down to the band yelling “CHICKEN SANDWICH!” Hilarious. The ‘poop’ YEM comes to mind too. Those are the YEMs I like.

  15. JahVolunteer Says:

    ah yes the memories. I had only seen Phish for the 1st time in fall 1996. A show I went to as a skeptical Dead fan. However, my interest was piqued even more a month after the winter 97 Europe tour. I didn’t get my hands on my own copy of 2/17, but I heard it and I did have the Firenze and Stuttgart shows. These Europe tapes indicated that something special was going on. Fast forward to a simple twist of fate that brought me to NY and ME for the last 3 shows of the summer tour and the rest is history. The Ghost at the Great Went was so strange to my ears at the time (no summer Europe tapes to be had) , but the jams were sublime.

  16. KWL Says:


    “is the term “great” implicit of “exploratory”?”

    good point, imo those things don’t have to correlate. Probably like many others, YEM was the song that got me into phish–for a while I only collected shows with a YEM. Still today I love seeing it live, just pure bliss when they nail the composed section & a flat out dance party from the tramps jam on.

    Mr Miner, thanks for the great write up today, as well as the download of the day. Have never heard 3/20/92, but love the night before–if memory serves they tease virtually every song they played during set I during the intro to the set-closing bowie. Really look forward to giving 3/20 a listen.

  17. bhizzle Says:

    Nice post today Minor. Love listening to that VA Beach show. I laugh everytime I hear that USA chant.

    Th JotD is sweet. I found myself wishing for more of the show to be playing once the YEM closed. Damn! Sweet longing for more.

    FYI – no “P” in Binghamton.

  18. sumodie Says:

    I enjoy listening to the vocal jams when not at a show (I rarely fastforward through anything and I tend to listen to entire shows to capture the overall vibe/theme of the night).

    Without the lights, the band’s true wild and weird accomplishment shines through, and it can even highlight the fragile side of the band,especially when it doesn’t work so well (I can’t imagine myself trying to do that in front of thousands of people) The vocal jam can easily cross into “puerile” territory, though it can also provide the most out of this world head trip, even when listening while driving down the highway.

    It’s these types of risky chances the band takes (~vocal jam) that elevates their impressive artistry to such a high degree, imo.

  19. JahVolunteer Says:

    I wish they still played Carini like they did on 2/17 Holy shit!

  20. SOAM Says:

    I bet the festival is in Texas-is it hot in Texas in Oct/Nov?

  21. halcyon Says:

    notkuroda….miner posted them a while back….check his previous posts…

  22. KWL Says:

    just went back and re-listened to the 3/19/92 bowie–sick! 5/8/92 takes the cake for best bowie of 92 though, required listening!! Now on to 3/20…

  23. mr. icculus Says:

    What up guys! Its been a long while since ive had a chance to catch up so the question on my mind is Where is Halloween? What does all this nonsense of states disappeaing mean and i thought it was cool until they brought back a state. That kinda defeats the whole purpose of elimi nating states.

  24. EL Duderino Says:

    My first taste of summer ’97 were @ Ventura and Shoreline. After Ventura we were like…Wow this is different. Ventura is one of the best show I’d seen that year.

  25. kb Says:

    @ sumodie – ever hear them vocalize the jewish(?) hymn after split open and melt live? that would be a great experience.

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