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

Tags: ,

521 Responses to “Dark In the Daytime”

  1. PBS Says:

    I’m in Mr. C’s boat. I travel to Albuquerque on biz next week, and am finished on the 30th. At the time I was booking flights for the trip, a hop from there to Ontario and back to PDX was more than doable. I would have been there in time to walk through the gates for night 1 set 1…and for what it’s worth, Marshall, I’d have done it solo…would’ve worked out fine.

    The company even said they were fine with sharing some of the cost of my return flights and night one’s lodging! However, family trumps this type of decision nowadays (as was referenced in set I of today’s thread). My wife was ok with it – she rocks. But this is my boy’s first big Halloween, and it was more than clear that he would’ve been absolutely crushed if I wasn’t there with him, as he shoots spidey webs on unsuspecting passer-byes on Hallow’s eve, as he fills a pillow case full of candy.

    So, here’s to the this blog/board for keeping those of us who can’t make it in “the Know”. Next best thing to being there will be waking up each morning after the show, locking myself in my office and cranking prior night’s magic, no spoilers style – we’re countin’ on ya Miner!

    Now with the Facebook linkage, photos and other media will no doubt enrich the “can’t be there” experience.

    Here’s to living vicariously…

  2. beepaphone Says:

    Beautifully put, Mr. C.
    Love the way you and Miner articulate the feelings I’ve always felt.
    Miner had me hooked on “swimming in a sea of thick molasses”

  3. Mr. Completely Says:

    cool to hear I’m not the only one, @PBS, even just in this area

  4. Robear Says:

    4/3/98 ‘Roses are free’


  5. Marshall Says:

    Evening all. Like the FB thing. Phishthoughts has gone viral!

  6. beepaphone Says:

    ^ Sick sick sick

  7. Marshall Says:

    Oh – I forgot to make a comment about my “beginning to end” listen of The Show (1/1/2000) from yesterday. My drive was between 7.5 and 8 hours. I was driving solo and it had the potential to feel like FOREVER. But thanks to The Show, which I’d never bothered to spend a lot of time with because of its length (if I can’t digest an entire set, I don’t even like to start it). Well, if you are like me and you missed BC, and you happen to have nothing to do for 8 hours (plane ride to Europe?; long car ride; waiting at the DMV) I highly recommend giving The Show a full blown listen.

  8. PBS Says:

    @ Mr. C – Yea…blows. I’ve been trying really hard to be happy with the decision. As you pointed out some time back…at some point, you have to be happy with what you’ve seen, and avoid the spilt milk scenario.

    I’ve by no means seen 70+ shows, but I had my time of freedom. And took advantage of it. In our old age, sometimes you’ve got to know when to hold em, and when to fold em.

    BTW, we need to get together at one of your fave food carts in a couple of weeks…my work sched lately has simply not allowed for that kind of afternoon fun.

  9. flarrdogg Says:

    Anyone got a good link to “the show”? I’ve been listening to a shitty aud for the past 9 years and would love an upgrade.

  10. Mr. V Says:

    Mr. C – Halloween is a HUGE deal for kids. Going out with them earns you big time “parental points” and it’s a blast going out with them. They grown up way too fast (mine’s in college now) enjoy these moments when you can.

    I would love to head on down there as well. I teach 5th grade and that Friday is when we have our school costume parade and class party. I would feel bad missing that. The kids love seeing all the teachers and staff dressed up as well.

    Ya do what ya gotta do.

  11. Marshall Says:

    BTW – I also forgot to ask whether any of you peeps live in Indianapolis, where I am for the next two nights with nothing to do after work.

  12. Marshall Says:

    flarrdogg – the good source I listened to came from Phishthoughts. Search for it.

  13. guitarpicker420! Says:

    Marshall- I live in indy, but am busy with my daughter. Keller Williams is playing tomorrow night I think. Hit me up at guitarpicker420 at yahoo dot com and I can fill you in on stuff to do.

  14. joe Says:

    Two interesting phish related craigslist boston ads

    (don’t know where this gig is, but could be a fun alternative to 8, seeing some band butcher Phish and other bands butcher other famous albums)


    (looking for fans to interview for documentary)

  15. Mr. Completely Says:

    I have some weird unlabeled possibly hybrid source for NYEY2K that sounds amazing but unfortunately my disks are failing – I’m not going to replace them right now because maybe there will be an official release in the next year or so and in the meantime Miner keeps me busy with plenty of Phish

    @PBS re: carts – just drop me a line anytime – pretty much any day will work for me if you hit me before about 11:30

    re: kids and priorities – my wife and I made the very explicit decision that we were prepared to give up certain kids of heavy duty fun for several years in order to be parents. We were both burning out on shows, and went out in a nice blaze of fun and glory in summer of ’03. So for me it’s just a matter of keeping a promise I made.

    Between Phish (<30), the Dead (~125) and everything else related and unrelated I am somewhere in the 800 to 1000 shows (of all styles and sizes) range, lifetime. To have come out of that with a career, a family, no life threatening illnesses or addictions is more than I probably deserve. So to whine about missing something now is pretty lame…

    …but I'm gonna do it anyway. Fuck it! Phish is on FIRE right now! LOL, can't help it

  16. Mr.Miner Says:

    So, here’s to the this blog/board for keeping those of us who can’t make it in “the Know”. Next best thing to being there will be waking up each morning after the show, locking myself in my office and cranking prior night’s magic, no spoilers style – we’re countin’ on ya Miner!

    ^^ trying to work this out. I am on site, so I personally I have limited capabilities, but I should have wireless. I haves spoken to a taper we’ve worked with who is taping and staying at Embassy Suites, so hopefully everything will work out for night of. IF NOTHING ELSE, NS will be up the next morning. So it WILL HAPPEN.

    Also for Indio, I’m going to keep a runnig blog of commentary, saving more formal reviews and posts for after the party. But if you stay tunes, you’ll know what’s up. Just probably a few more typos 😉

  17. Mr.Miner Says:

    @ Mr. C. Totally understand.

  18. Mr. Completely Says:

    ain’t sayin’ I’m not bummed about it – I am – but you buys the ticket, you takes the ride

  19. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @Mr. C – I understand completely. My ex-wife is giving me holy hell for going to Fest8, then again, she is always giving me holy hell. My daughter though, who is 3, has expressed disappointment that I won’t be there for Halloween. She is going to look lovely, and I do hate missing it. That being said, it is her weekend (1 out of 4) to have her, and that one weekend a month that I don’t have her tends to be arranged for maximal fun (say, a big Phish festival in California or something). Too bad you can’t make it down.

    On a lighter note, I like to live blog at shows. I usually do it to my facebook wall, I imagine I will do the same for Fest8. I’ll figure a way to link it to Thank You Mr. Miner.

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    @GP420, totally different karma there, of course you should be going under that scenario – you’d be crazy not to

  21. VTsnowboarder802 Says:

    col – happy thoughts going your way
    mr. c – props on priorities (says new dad)

  22. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @Mr. C – no doubt about that. In order to slightly mitigate the hell I got, I agreed to not go off for New Years this year. But, my girl wasn’t going to go with me anyways, so I get my folks to watch my daughter for the night and go partying with a young lovely anyway 😉

    Bottom line, I understand completely where you are coming from. At the end of the day, the kids are the most important thing, and man do they ever remember stuff. Stuff I have forgotten from a week or two, or even 6 months ago, she has in her memory banks.

    Speaking of Karma, I am firmly convinced that I am on the roll that I am on because of the good Karma built up from staying with my bitch ex-wife (sorry ladies) for as long as I did.

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    here’s what my live blog would look like:

    7:30 PM: starting to kick in
    7:45 PM: these ppl all look weird
    8:01 PM: lights out, WOOT!! YEAH!!!
    8:05 PM: sdfs;lkmdn./,m39!!
    8:16 PM: !!!!!!
    9:07 PM: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    9:32 PM: settbreeeeeeaaakkkkkkklklklklklk – rrredose? why nt
    4:07 AM: where the fuck am I and whose shoes are these?

  24. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @Mr. C – mine is only slightly more coherent, usually try to add color to the show rather than a straight setlist (you can get that off of @phish faster than me anyway). I’m more interested in letting everybody know about the drunk dude who just passed out in front of me, or the crazy spun-out wook whose sweet beer cozie I grabbed while said wook was passed out….

  25. Mr.Miner Says:

    On a lighter note, I like to live blog at shows. I usually do it to my facebook wall, I imagine I will do the same for Fest8. I’ll figure a way to link it to Thank You Mr. Miner.

    ^ well, after the show…..and all night long 😉

Leave a Reply