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. Mr. Completely Says:

    Miner, definitely put spoiler warnings on that – as a fellow Lost fan I’m sure you have been screwed as many times as I have by stupid websites leaking secrets I didn’t want to know

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    I would never have picked Remain in Light or Loaded as Phish in the context of the band at those times FWIW

  3. msbjivein Says:

    Voopa, thanks for the link on the DigiCo SD7 switch. I just read up on that Board. I’ve never heard much about DigiCo but it sounds like some really nice high end shit from the UK. I definately thought both the Sound Board DL’s and the live mix sounded much better than the 1st leg. Especially
    Mike’s mix. He sounded SOoooo Much better 2nd leg. I got BASSED 2nd leg!!

  4. ColonelJoy Says:

    Thanks GuitarPicker!! Hmm….non of these would be too bad, really….Larks Tongue is possibly too difficult for Phish…if there is such a thing….first track is some of the sickest music ever, though…love that album

    1. David Bowie | Hunky Dory
    2. Genesis | The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway | SBD
    3. Jimi Hendrix | Electric Ladyland
    4. King Crimson | Larks’ Tongues In Aspic
    5. MGMT | Oracular Spectacular
    6. Prince | Purple Rain
    7. Radiohead | Kid A
    8. Rolling Stones | Exile on Main Street

  5. flarrdogg Says:

    Lark’s Tongue would kill, but is that a real possibility?

  6. ColonelJoy Says:

    Did I fuck up re-posting that?

  7. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    Like I said yesterday, from this list, the options are really Electric Ladyland and Exile. I think, with the rumor about a female backup singer and at least one horn, that Exile is going to be the pick.

  8. voopa Says:

    @Mr. C-

    I submitted that Jimi/Marley shirt to failblog today:

  9. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    Its widely available, and the map where I got the names from is on jamtopia blog already. Not that big of a spoiler. I think the band is going to announce it before the show anyway, or at least hand out some kind of flier, etc. on the way in, ala Remain in Light and Loaded. I think the mystery, particularly at Rosemont, blew a few people away. I’m looking at you Mr. Chewbacca, can’t move a chess piece dude.

  10. flarrdogg Says:

    If nothing else it has been nice to reconnect with ‘Exile’. I hadn’t listened to that album in many moons.

  11. BTB Says:

    College football analogy is spot on. Same shit different color

  12. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @BTB – big difference between college football and phish. With phish, everyone’s a winner!

  13. beepaphone Says:

    @ III
    Loved that post…I have always explain to people my love for Phish in a similar light to that. The layman GETS sports, so it makes it easier for them to understand why we would devote so much to seeing a band.

  14. ColonelJoy Says:

    I’m still rooting for ELL

  15. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    yeah, GP, that’s the only part that doesn’t work. Especially when you are playing a team like fucking BC and their fans shit all over your hospitality. Oh, did I just write that? I’m sorry, I meant to say that BC fans are assholes. Whoops! Must’ve slipped out there.

  16. Mr.Miner Says:

    MGMT isnt on the map…ther are only 7…weird

  17. ColonelJoy Says:

    Honestly, I’m not that into Exile, particularly for Phish….but they would probably blow my mind with it

  18. albert walker Says:

    Here is my order of the rumored 8

    Electric Ladyland
    Hunky Dory
    Lark’s Tongues
    Purple Rain

  19. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ agreed 1000% w/ Joy

  20. Mr.Miner Says:

    Purple Rain
    Larks Tongue
    Hunky Dory
    Electric Ladyland

    for me.

  21. albert walker Says:

    Exile is IMO the best rock n roll album ever made, so I would have no complaints

    Although I’m pained to see in anyway how Phish could pull this shit off

  22. voopa Says:


  23. tela'smuff Says:

    again, i have been saying Exile from Day 1 (not that it’s a stretch). Trey creams his pants over Exile.

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    I still hope for Thriller or Ziggy

  25. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @albert – Exile is definitely one of my top three albums. I think they can pull it off though. Most of it is straight-ahead blue rock, not a lot of crazy chord changes.

    @voopa – I think Let It Bleed might be the album killing everybody else off. Monkey Man and Can’t Always Get What You Want would literally kill

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