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. wvbrdr Says:

    good vibes and healing energy to you and your wife, colonel

  2. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @weekapaug – haven’t been to burning man, but about a decade ago my roommate at the time went. When he came back, he decided he needed to be branded to remind him of the weekend. So, he crafted a brand out of a coat hanger, we heated it up on the gas stove, and then I branded him. It was definitely one of the more surreal experiences of my life. Had to do it twice (it was a circle) because there was a slight gap in the brand!

  3. flarrdogg Says:

    New Orleans- Love it and miss it. Lived there from ’98-’07. Bearito- I’m sure we crossed paths and know some of the same people. 365 days a year there is live music to go see in that town and I tried my hardest to see it ALL. Gotta pace yourself.

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    funny, I haven’t been to Burning Man or New Orleans in such a long time now my experiences are practically irrelevant…late 90s in both cases

    2 great places/states of mind for sure

  5. sumodie Says:

    To your family’s health, Colonel.

    Hope to meet you both in Indio as well.

  6. Weekapaug Says:

    @GuitarPicker Ooouch! That’s crazy. People come back from the Man completely changed. I’ve never had a tattoo and I’ve gone through tons of Phish/Dead related ideas but never committed. I now have a drawing of a Flower of Life with the Burning Man logo )'( in it that I plan on putting in the center of my back. Hopefully I can save some of this money i’m making at the Phish show to get the tattoo.

  7. Chuck D Says:

    surprising/interesting quote from Trey in that festivalography, while ripping on Woodstock 2, “Heh, Primus was there, and they might be my favorite band ever…”

    I know he likes Claypool a lot, but I never thought he held Primus in such high esteem. Though he must be exagerrating, right?

  8. Mr. Completely Says:

    trey says shit like that all the time, doesn’t he? Everything is the best thing ever. a good attitude to have, really

  9. msbjivein Says:

    Damn! A fucking Brand! That’s hardcore dude!! I should have done that after big cypress!!

  10. ColonelJoy Says:

    Thanks all!!

  11. Weekapaug Says:

    yeah, kinda like The Boss being his first show, but he said another band years before that

  12. voopa Says:

    Trey? Exaggerate? What?

    I love how people take stuff he throws out there so seriously. Like “Phish will always be a 2 guitar band!”

  13. msbjivein Says:

    My favorite bars in NOLA for live music go as follows……
    1. Maple Leaf
    2. BlueNile
    3.Uptown Tips
    4.Old Howlin Wolf
    5.Dragons Den

  14. msbjivein Says:

    To name a few………….

  15. bearito Says:

    It’s real tough to do everything I want to do in this town despite not being that big of city. Tons of music any night of the week. Great bars and small venues that just fill up with energy. I’ll find myself leaving shows just floored by a band I had only learned of that day. Then of course there’s the annual Jazz and Heritage Festival which is one of the greatest experiences out there… period. Talk about something for everyone. I would LOVE to see Phish make a 2010 appearance. It may not be that far fetched actually.

  16. wvbrdr Says:

    weekapaug, he said that about Jethro Tull at the 12/15/95 spectrum show. pretty ripping show, too.

  17. Chuck D Says:

    Phish + Mardi Gras = ?

  18. msbjivein Says:

    I was just thinking that! NOLA JAZZFEST is the only place in the world I’d wanna be during the last weekend of April and first weekend of May every year!! Bring On Phish for Jazz ’10!!

  19. Chuck D Says:

    Speaking of Jethro, I’m suprised no JT made the 99 album cut, especially with their apparent influence on Trey.

    I can imagine how some would be bored to death by Thick as a Brick or even Passion Play, but I know I’d be going nuts

  20. bearito Says:

    Good list msb!

    Here’s mine:

    1. Tipitina’s (Uptown – never got to see Phish here unfortunately)
    2. One Eyed Jacks (Formerly the Shim Sham)
    3. Blue Nile
    4. D.B.A
    5. Howling Wolf (New) (Bigger shows only – i.e. MMW)
    – The old one was more intimate but the sound was inconsistent.

  21. Weekapaug Says:

    @ msb What about DBA and Cafe Brazil and all the other cool bars on Frenchman St.

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    gee, I wonder why Phish didn’t make this list…


  23. beepaphone Says:

    Still never been to NOLA…
    funny was actually starting to loosely plan going down there with some peeps for Mardi Gras or Jazzfest.

  24. bearito Says:

    ^ Go for Jazz fest

  25. Leo Weaver Says:

    Thanks BTB for doing the facebook thing…already found Lycan (or he found me rather).

    Re: work…what I do every day (my actual job/task) is not work, in fact I love nearly every minute of it…the work is dealing with the assholes I have to deal with every day…without them, I’d never work a day in my life 🙂

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