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”

  1. sumodie Says:

    A well played (not necessarily jammed) YEM always induces at least a transcendent head rush for me, if not a whole lot more (can’t say the same for Hood and Mike’s). Since the bulk of my shows began in 1995, I know I heard a lot of YEMs that really melted my face -was it only because they were tightly played? Guess I’ll have to dig up some examples. One moment that could always induced some serious goosebumps would be based on how well Mike would land that first note after jumping off the tramp.

    Maybe YEM is akin to Fluffhead, play it well compositionally, and it’s always a winner (GW Fluff = wow!).

    I want to sort of tie this YEM debate into our recent TTE discussion. Does TTE lack the compositional energy that YEM has -is that our main beef? Or is TTE just not well played yet? I had to bring the discuusion back to TTE, as I think it is a superb Trey composition, but I am challenged to think where it might both fit into a set AND grab the audience. I still want to hear it more.

    Here’s hoping RR brings excellent versions of both!

  2. whole tour! Says:

    nice post again miner! I was just listeneing to riverport 97 set one in the car on the way to work, so i guess summer 97 was on the collective mind this AM.

    I know this is a bold statement, but here goes: THE US SUMMER TOUR FROM 1997 WAS THE GREATEST TOUR IN PHISHTHORY.

    The energy, focus, and tripped out jams were flowing out like water from the golden hose. I was lucky to see Va. beach, raleigh, and atlanta on this tour and all three nights were amazing. As far as ghost is concerned, Atlanta got the all time mack daddy funk fest. Changed my life. The intensity from this tour is what makes it legendary.

  3. whole tour! Says:

    wax banks wrote: “has there actually been a great YEM since 1995?”

    7/23/1997….nuff said. GREAT YEM.

  4. whole tour! Says:

    As floyd pointed out earlier, when they dropped that ghost in atlanta, they opened a wormhole to the funk galaxy. It was one of those moments when the entire place froze in time and everyone there was feeling it. I’ve seen the band do this quite a few times over the years, but it was never quite like that again.

  5. EL Duderino Says:

    Just received a pro-shot dvd w/sbd synch of the Allmans @ the Beacon w/Phil and Bobby 3/28/09… Interesting. Derek Trucks is a Bad Ass!

  6. kb Says:

    Derek Trucks IS bad ass. if only he would be more like trey and stretch it out into the unknown more.

  7. EL Duderino Says:

    @ kb
    Derek’s versions of Favorite Things and Afro Blue are pretty out there.

  8. kb Says:

    @EL Duderino
    Agreed, but overall i always wish he was longer winded. IMO the ultimate guitarist would be to combine trey and derek. when i take a break from trey i usually listen to derek.

  9. sumodie Says:

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

    Yes, I have heard that too -very cool!

    Someday I should put all my shows into zzyzx’s house of stats so I can figure this stuff out. The more I hang out at this board the more I realize how much I’ve forgotten!

    Then again, it’s all about the next show 🙂 When’s that damned announcement coming -lol!

  10. SOAM Says:

    The Allman bro’s have not been the same since Dickey Betts got kicked out. In the early 90’s-Warren and Dickey were perfect together and they absolutely ripped-but then Greggie-poo kicked Dickey out. Dickey’s sound and voice was an intricate part of the band..since Derek joined they have been better-but nothing can touch the early 90’s -except when Duane was there.-IMO

  11. EL Duderino Says:

    @ SOAM

    People have been raging about Dickey’s band Great Southern’ w/Duanne Betts this summer. He hasn’t made it my way yet, but if he does, I think I’m gonna check it out and see if it’s as good as people are saying @ sites like LL and others.

  12. Mitch Says:

    I still dig yem live but agreed I don’t get as excited as I used to. I feel that way about a few songs tho and sometimes as you’re dancing a version will blow you out of the water when you least expect it. Vocal jam listening depends on my mood at the time. Sometimes I’m feeling it sometes not. I will say even if I don’t jump up and down when it starts yem is always welcome.

  13. BourbonCowboy Says:

    Yes!!! This was a very exciting time in Phish as I remember checking setlists from Europe and anxiously awaiting summer tour. I would like to respectfully disagree with your assessment of the Internet at this time as I remember streaming recordings of the new songs (Ghost, Dirt, Limb by Limb, Water in the Sky) from Phish.net before they returned to the states.

  14. Ewok Says:

    Lurker here posting for the first time. Love the blog Miner, I have been checking daily since Summer I started.

    I’m trying to download yesterday’s horns torrent and I’m not showing any seeders. Can anyone please seed this for me?

    On topic, Ghost is one of my favorite studio albums and I am looking forward to rocking out to some shows from this era. Most of my shows are 92-95 since that is my buddies favorite period.


  15. KWL Says:

    ^”sometimes as you’re dancing a version will blow you out of the water when you least expect it.”

    well put, Mitch. Happened to me this year with Wolfman’s. I have seen a disproportionate number of wolfman’s–I swear I get them every show (3 for 3 so far in 2009)–and when Page hits those opening chords I can’t say I get excited. Just wasn’t doing it for me during 2.0, but it never failed–if I was in attendance, Phish played Wolfman’s. I wasn’t too excited about it at Jones Beach in the middle of a Mike’s groove (the botched segue didn’t help), but Camden blew me away. Just underscored for me the importance of having no expectations… even the song I’m most tired of, when I’m least expecting it, can produce great moments and soaring headspaces.

  16. sumodie Says:

    “Just underscored for me the importance of having no expectations… even the song I’m most tired of, when I’m least expecting it, can produce great moments and soaring headspaces.”

    Well put, KWL. I hate when my expectations get the best of me.

    BTW, phishows.com is working and I am dling the RR 96 run. If you use firefox, grab an add-on called “Down Them All” and you will be able to dl an entire show and not one song at a time: read the faq in the center of the page under “board upload faq” tabs -very easy to learn/do. I’m using the MPetoolbox interface at phishows as well.

  17. nonoyolker Says:

    @ KWL – I have the same feeling about Wolfman’s and had seemingly the same experience at Camden. I think I actually started heading to the bathroom as soon as I heard the opening chords but as I inched my way across the lawn, the jam took hold and i ended up ROCKING it out. Best Wolfman’s in a long time.

  18. tubeopener Says:

    Virginia Beach ’97 was my second show followed by Raleigh. First show was Hampton ’96 and it amazes me to look back now and realize that I came in at a peak of new phish. The friends that got me into phish were already veterans and it was neat to see them befuddled not knowing what was coming next. It was like it was as new for them as it was for me.

  19. KWL Says:

    ^agreed on best in a long time. The jam out of Fee probably helped me dig it too, once they dropped into that you knew it was on!! 🙂

    I’m not ready to embrace Wolfman’s as my favorite song yet (well, unless they start kicking it fall 97 style), but Camden & Burgettstown were definitely hot

  20. notkuroda Says:

    KWL and nonyolker- Totally with you on the Wolfman’s. Never been one of my favorite songs, I’ve heard versions that I really liked but I just don’t get excited when they hit it. I was expecting Camden to be pretty mediocre(it was my first 3.0 show) so when we got Fee I thought “here we go”, but then we got that spacey jam out of Fee, along with a wolfman’s that grabbed me instantly. The show turned out to be not mediocre…

  21. notkuroda Says:

    btw, thanks for the tips on the RR show, I’ll get it when I get home.

  22. Mr. Completely Says:

    greatness is in the eye of the beholder.

    I’ve been thinking about what we mean by greatness in a Phish song. It depends not just on the listener but on whether you’re listening in the moment at the show, or later in retrospect.

    for a lot of us, myself included, the highest peak moments are improvisational and unique. That’s true both live and on tape. Then, there’s another level of awesomeness that’s just below that live, but doesn’t always retain as much interest on later listens. These are the big, energetic peak and release exercises that always have more or less the same form.

    All of the classic composed stuff is like that, and so are the psychedelic rockers (antelope) and straight-ahead Big Rock Jams (free, loving cup). You know where they’re going to go, at least 98% of the time, but when you’re splashing in the sea at the show that predictability doesn’t matter or is maybe even a desirable thing (especially if it comes after a long stretch of out-there jamming). On tape, heard later, these songs are less *interesting* but of course can still be great fun depending on your mood. I have a couple mixes that are nothing but songs like this, for when I want to recall the feeling of driving 120mph on the Blue Ridge Parkway but without the messy physical death actually doing that would entail.

    So yeah – maybe YEMs aren’t as creative as they used to be, in what follows after the drop. I’m not enough of a scholar to name counterexamples or anything, and in general that definitely seems true. But I still *usually* love the long, terraced climb to the dropoff – a couple times I’ve had “YEM again?!?” moments, but just a couple. For me, YEM is still the prototypical early Phish song, just as Ghost is the prototypical later Phish song, and when I’m at a show and they hit the part in 17s or whatever it is I am reliably lifted out of my body.

    So maybe it’s just the difference between “improvisationally interesting” and “awesomely rocking.” YEM is still awesomely rocking sometimes, but rarely improvisationally interesting…?

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    and, great fascinating post today Miner! really interesting to read about that point in Phishtory! I missed it (d’oh!)…I definitely know some guys that were heavy phans and were NOT on board with the new direction, and ended up semi-bailing on big parts of later 97 and 98. They really regret it now obv.

    and FWIW Miner – the Phish Destroys America mix that was posted yesterday is NOT the same as the Jams Only mix. It’s whole songs, and segue’d blocks of songs.

  24. butter Says:

    @wax – i initially agree with you that, you usually hear the opening to YEM and you know what the next 20 minutes will bring. I am excited to hear the song though because i haven’t heard it performed live since coventry. For me YEM is way better when consumed in an altered head space.

    @smoodie – with ya that the more i read this site, the more i realize i forgot.

  25. Dr SF Jones Says:

    @ notkuroda-
    Miner posted all of Phish’s performances at Red Rocks throughout the years a few months back so if you can figure out a way to search on this site you should be able to find the show you are looking for here.
    I always run into a bit of trouble when using the search feature on this site though. I try different combinations of dates and numbers but it doesn’t send you to the specific date that you are looking for and then you still have to search a bit.
    Maybe some of the other guys on here have figured this out and can share some tips?
    Also, Miner mentioned a few days ago that he was working on an archive feature but needed a comprehensive list of posted shows. I think that would be an incredible addition to this great site. Does anyone have a comprehensive list that they can send to him?

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