Dark In the Daytime

Merriweather 8.15 (K.Pusey)

Merriweather 8.15 (K.Pusey)

During the transformative year of 1997, Phish didn’t only make a seismic shift in musical style, they also revamped their song rotation, favoring vehicles for heavy grooves. Songs like “Free,” “Gumbo,” and “Wolfman’s” took on completely new musical contours, while the band also added pieces to their repertoire that catered to their new rhythmic style. “Ghost,” and “Twist” provided, open-ended jams, and “Black-Eyed Katy” provided a vehicle for straight funk improv. In addition to these originals, the band also revived two ancient covers –  “Sneakin Sally” and, more significantly, “Cities.” Upon its inclusion in Europe’s setlists during Summer ’97, “Cities” immediately became a fitting musical springboard with its slowed-down, bass-led grooves. Boasting significant versions all summer long and in the years to come, “Cities” represented one of the greatest song developments during the era of groove.

Phish featured The Talking Heads’ cover in the summer of 1988 somewhat frequently, but shelved the song before the year ended. “Cities” didn’t see the stage lights again until Summer 1994 when the band, completely out of nowhere, broke it out in Ottawa, Ontario for a four-minute stint, never to be seen again until 1997. But when the song re-emerged, it remained in the band’s loose rotation for the late ’90s, providing more than a few outrageous dance parties and diverse escapades. Here, in chronological order, are some of the most significant versions of “Cities” ever played.


Bathtub Gin > Cities7.1.97 Amsterdam, NL

Paradiso - 7.1.97 (M.Welsh)

Paradiso - 7.1.97 (M.Welsh)

Phish began 1997’s summer tour in Europe, exploring the molasses-funk they had discovered just months before. “Cities” proved to be a perfect vehicle to explore these new overtly rhythmic textures. Appearing four times over their three-week tour, “Cities” nudged its way into rotation with its dripping grooves. This version from Paradiso was the last rendition before the band returned stateside. In its combination with “Bathtub Gin,” the song showcased Phish’s excessively slow-paced jamming that typified their ground-breaking European vacation. After reaching a segment of distorted guitar-led jamming, the band settled into “Gin’s” structure for a few measures before moving into a slow funk jam that, minutes later, morphed into “Cities.” As slow as they come, and moving beyond mere groove, this version is quintessesntial Europe ’97.



Bowie > Cities > Bowie 7.30.97 II Ventura, CA

1997-07-30moWhile “Cities” popped out across the pond, its US comeback came in the middle of one of Summer ’97’s eternal highlights – “Bowie > Cities > Bowie,”  from Ventura, CA. Emerging out of “Bowie” and sliding right back into the larger song, Phish made the transitions in and out of “Cities” patiently and masterfully. 17 minutes into a dynamic “Bowie,” the band broke down their chaotic communication into a rhythmic realm that seemed to suggest a new segment of the jam. But as Trey began scratching his guitar, the band took notice, setting up a sparser pattern through which Trey led them into a series of crack-like Phish grooves, eventually blending into a surprise appearance of “Cities.” Moving more briskly than any European rendition, the band played a more authentically paced version of the cover. Transforming the jam’s ending into an intricate pattern, the band rejoined “Bowie,” forming the talking point of the west coast swing. This jam made ripples through the scene all summer long, and when listening back, one can hear why.



Cities > Good Times, Bad Times 8.1097 I Noblesville, IN

Deer Creek (Unknown)

Deer Creek (Unknown)

The very next time Phish broke out the song after its US debut, it opened the second set of Deer Creek in style. As soon as the song dropped, its medium tempo foreshadowed great things on the horizon – and were they ever! Stretching out “Cities” into its longest-ever exploration, Mike and Trey led the band through a section of furious funk that stood out as among the absolute cream of the Summer 97’s crop. The band locked in and let loose, creating an enduring memory that built through several stages of thematic improv before splashing into a sublime melodic ending, resolving the disgusting grooves. In my opinion, this represents Phish at their finest during an exciting tour.



Cities 7.31.98 I Columbus, OH I

This standalone version, in the first set of Polaris ’98, blew the roof off the pavilion. Innocently creeping out of the gates with chunky Summer ’98 funk textures, Trey led off with a repetitive riff over the band’s swanky pattern, transforming the music into some ridiculously slammin’ grooves! As Trey finally broke his line, the band began to climb alongside his guitar licks, building momentum behind the crack-like, whole-band groove. Eventually the band found their way out of their straight rhythmic playing into a soaring peak; providing all the funk and a whole lot more!



Cities > Free9.24.00 II Minneapolis, MN


Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

Fast forwarding two years, this version of “Cities” finds us in Minneapolis during Fall 2000. When Phish opened the second set of the beloved Target Center’s 1.0 finale with “Cities,” conventional wisdom said we were in for a lengthy groove-fest, but Phish had other plans. After a brief run through some song-based rhythms, the band took a left turn into one of the lushest ambient soundscapes of tour. Delving into eerie-space and layered psychedelia, this version delivered something completely different altogether. Phish had veered from raw funk by this point in time, incorporating ambient playing as a prominent feature in their music, and this “Cities” couldn’t be a better example.


Winged music note=====

Jam of the Day:

Down With Disease > Lizards” 12.12.95 II Providence, RI


Another blowout “Disease” before the band reined in the song’s improv to fast-paced, type-I territory throughout 1996.



10.27.94 University Hall, UVA, Charlottesville, VA < Torrent

10.27.94 University Hall, UVA, Charlottesville, VA < Megaupload

dAs Phish prepares for a fall finale in Charlottesville, VA, let’s take a look back at the last time they played at The University of Virginia. A scintillating setlist was punctuated by an extended encore after a band-student miscommunication ended the second set prematurely. The band came back with one of their most legendary encores ever. The first set includes the Phishy combo of “Forbin’s > Vibration of Life > Mockingbird.”

I: Wilson, Sparkle, Maze, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > The Vibration of Life > Fly Famous Mockingbird, The Divided Sky, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Poor Heart, Cavern

II: Julius, Ya Mar, Tweezer, Contact, Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, Down with Disease, Sweet Adeline

E: Slave to the Traffic Light > Icculus, Tweezer Reprise

Source: AKG 460B (in X-Y pattern) > Shure PreAmp > DAP-20

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521 Responses to “Dark In the Daytime”

  1. Cakes Says:

    Hittin the road this afternoon…See u all in Indio!

  2. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @Type III – I don’t think its a problem if people don’t know an album well. The problem, for me, with Kid A, is that it isn’t danceable enough. When I saw Quadraphenia, I was not familiar with it at all. I had a blast because it kept me dancing the whole time. Kid A would involve too many songs where you just kind of stare at the band. I just don’t think it translates well into an entire set.

  3. Weekapaug Says:

    On a different subject…Has anyone here experienced Burning Man? I went for my first time this year and i’d have to say it’s the only thing that would ever stop me from going to a Phish show (if a show came up the same week). Truly amazing experience. An art festival of 50 thousand people with the purpose of each individual contributing to a safe temporary community that inspires creativity, freedom, expression, giving and love. Sound familiar? The only thing I can compare it to was going to my first Grateful Dead show when I was 16. Forever changed my life. Watch this video… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4NF8JPXtnU

  4. msbjivein Says:

    My Top 5 concert experiences
    1. Phish (Big Cypress/IT/Hampton ’09/RR’09)
    2. New Orleans JAZZFEST (All 9 that I’ve attended)
    3. Jam Cruise 1&3
    4. Jam In The Dam ’07
    5. Ratdog DAZE in Negril ’09

  5. sumodie Says:

    @Weekapaug: A few of us here have been -just talked about it yesterday in fact. I went in 2006 and am dying to return.

    Phish’s festivals were partly inspired by certain aspects of BM. Even saw actual BM art at the roo this year.

  6. msbjivein Says:

    Another concert that is up there is WSP UNO Lakefront arena ’98 Halloween
    Not a hardcore Panic fan but this show was freaking EPIC!!!

  7. Lycanthropist Says:

    ha @msb –

    thats one of the very few WSP shows I attended

    i must admit i had a good time there. Was pretty eventful

  8. msbjivein Says:

    I LOVE NOLA!!!! My favorite city in the world!! Phish needs to get back there……..

  9. Lycanthropist Says:


    We need more love in the South!

  10. Weekapaug Says:

    Yeah, I spent a couple years in NOLA right after Hurricane Katrina. That city is amazing. Never seen so much live music in my life, even in Austin. I smoked a bowl with “The Truth” on Frenchman Street 🙂

  11. Pence Says:

    looking fwd to seeing you on FB everyone. Its a great idea. Although my last name wont surprise anyone

  12. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:


    that’s really more of why I don’t want Kid A as the costume (the mellowness). I was at the Quadrophenia show too but that was about as perfect as could be for me since I was heavy into the Who at the time. I agree that the key is covering something that allows for dancing. That’s all the kids want these days anyway, right?

  13. ColonelJoy Says:

    Wife is feeling fine, but if the Pericardial Effusion isn’t looking better in the ultrasound tomorrow, then we won’t be doing Indio…send Colonel’s family your thoughts and prayers!!

    In other news….I’m looking for C-Ville extras…if we attend Indio, I would trade first night Philly for them


  14. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:


    is it Smith? 😉

  15. sumodie Says:

    Phish Festivalography part II
    (see page 8 for dl link)

    Nothing like a leisurely lunchtime listening….just learned the origins of the ‘Meatstick’ (European mini-bars carry a ‘bi fi meatstick’ -ick!), around the 40:15 mark.

  16. c0wfunk Says:

    btb nice job on the facebook group!

  17. flarrdogg Says:

    Weekapaug- Really well put, man. Burning Man is a hard thing to describe/ explain- just gotta experience it. It cracks me up that the “single” in Electric Apricot is “Hey Are You Going To Burning Man?” That movie is hilarious.

  18. Chalkdustin Says:

    Colonel, sending good healthy vibes your way.

  19. BTB Says:

    All about the community!

    Also, makes it easy to arrange a hotel, tix, or bar meet up. Everyone is included type of thing. Great people, I know it already!

    We need to pick a bar for Cinci, MSG, or Albany to meet up and share stories. And of course, trade those face extras!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. msbjivein Says:

    Good vibes and Health coming your way Colonel!!!! Wish you and your wife the best……

  21. msbjivein Says:

    BTB, Guitarpicker was talking about a bar in Ciny in post earlier. Some German bar. That sounds like a good Cincy meeting spot.

  22. Chuck D Says:

    ~+~+~+~+~+~+~ enroute to the colonel

    (^^ positive vibes)

  23. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    I’m thinking after the Saturday night Cincy show:

  24. bearito Says:

    Good luck with everything Colonel!

    Couldn’t agree with you more msb! NOLA is like no other. Despite it’s history of political corruptness, overindulgent appearance, and F’d up social system, it’s oozing with culture, creative originality, and overall some of the best human beings around.

  25. Weekapaug Says:

    @ flarrdog Thanks man. Yes, it is hard to explain Burning Man. I was expecting a big rave in the dessert but it’s so much more than that. It’s experience before theory, moral relationships before politics, survival before services, roles before jobs, embodied ritual before symbolism, work before vested interest, participant support before sponsorship. I’m really interested in bringing more live music to the Black Rock City via a Jam Band theme camp. I plan on doing everything in my power to make this happen one day. Anyone else been to Burning Man? Thoughts?

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