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. msbjivein Says:

    Wooohooooo!! Some Columbus “Cities” love!!! Always been one of my favs!!

  2. Chalkdustin Says:

    Robear, thanks for the love! I found this board over a year ago and post every now and then- it’s just been great to have a community here that’s so welcoming and passionate. Most of my friends who like Phish (99% guys) have sadly moved on from the band and don’t really take me seriously when I throw some Phish talk at them. So it’s really nice to have this place to at least read remarks from so many amazing people. Just want to say I appreciate it, and thanks. I’ll be wearing my PT shirt one of the days in Indio, so I hope to meet some people and make some new friends.

    (sorry for the personal note, just had to get that out there)

  3. msbjivein Says:


  4. BTB Says:

    for those who missed it TIII posted a monster 3 set list on the last page of yesterdays blog. Hate to see all that hard work go to waste. Multiple YMSB teases

  5. Robear Says:

    Awesome, Chalkdustin’. I’m on an island for the most part out here, as far as Phish phans. I’ll be in RV parking @ Feight. With any luck, we’ll have a huge Salmon related banner. Looking forward to meeting you folks!

  6. Chalkdustin Says:


    Reprising the bluegrass convo from yesterday, as an FYI Steve Martin is playing in LA on 10/28 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. I’ll be there before heading out to Indio and hope to go to the show.

  7. voopa Says:

    The TV weather chick here in central Cali just said “No rain for the foreseeable future.” While I didn’t know that anyone could actually see into any part of the future, this does bode well for F8.

  8. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @dustin’ and Robear – For myself as well, many of my “phishy” friends have either moved on or quite simply moved. Almost all of us have kids now, so even if we wanted to, its difficult to get to the shows anymore, and equally difficult to “hang out and party” what with the little ones in the next room. Noblesville used to be crawling with heads (I think in large part due to the annual arrival of Phish and before them the Grateful Dead). The town is notoriously strict to folks who look outside the norm, so anybody who wanted to grow dreads or generally let their freak flag fly left a long time ago. Myself, I am an undercover hippie, so I get away with murder because my hair is short and my car doesn’t look ghetto.

    Bottom line, just wanted to thank Miner for giving us a place to sit and talk shop, find out about new bands (I really want to check BLK JKS now), meet people (met Beepaphone, still trying to meet up with msb, looking forward to F8), and generally make the day at work pass a little better. BTW, props to Miner on the Cities day, one of my all time favorite songs. I was lucky enough to witness the Deer Creek, Polaris, and Minneapolis versions. My sleeper pick though is Lemonwheel “did I forget to mention the port-a-let pagoda, and the garden of infinite pleasantries?”

  9. Robear Says:

    Excitement, hard to contain. Focus, hard to maintain. Feeling bad for you cats that have to ‘work’ until leaving for Feight.

    The ‘Cities’ from 12/31/98 had me reconsidering my choice to live in the mountains…..for about a minute.

  10. Robear Says:

    gp, I’m a hack on my best day, but I can bring an acoustic guitar and bass to Feight. I was planning on bringing two Djembe’s already.

    I live so far in the sticks, when I bring up Phish, I usually have to start with ‘The band Fish, that starts with a P-H, they’re from Vermont’.

  11. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    BTB, thanks for that. that one took me almost an hour and a half to finish up. lots to fit in there!

    VT, Phish has only ever played my birthday twice (1991, 1993) and I always thought a birthday show would be awesome. If I can hook you up, I definitely will!

  12. fat bastard Says:

    saw the map from last night’s posts. with the supposed final 8. im really hoping for no king crimson. i only listened to it once, maybe i need to re-listen, but i just dont “get it.”

  13. GuitarPicker420! Says:


    Found this video yesterday of people jumping the fence at Chicago. The got me on film around 1:07, and then my girl shows up around 1:28, she jumps the fence at 1:40 and then is confronted by security, who at this point have decided to stop the fence jumping, she just kind of sheepishly walks right over to me on the floor. Good times.

  14. msbjivein Says:

    Picker420, What are your plans for Cincy?? We have a hotel across the river. There is usaully some good after shows across the river w/ mutiple venues now…..Should be a party!!! GO COLTS!!!

  15. Boris Says:

    fat bastard…do you at least like Easy Money?

    if you do…soak that in…then give it another spin…one of the best ways to get into king crimson is to not do anything while listening to them for the first couple of times…just lay down and *listen* and *daydream*

  16. Boris Says:

    by the by…anyone order the download version of Windows 7? if so, have you received the email yet?

  17. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @msb – well, planning on getting a little twisted one night, don’t know what we’ll do late night, depends how twisted. The other night we are definitely at least hitting Hoffbrauhaus. Last time I was there, there was a polka band doing 80’s hair-metal covers. When they kicked into Jump (Van Halen), some drunk dude jumped onto a table, immediately biffed and cracked open his head. If I weren’t completely drunk, I probably would have been concerned. Blood streaming down and all. But he just bounced back up, put both hands up with the devil horns, and then grabbed my ex-wife’s pretzel off of her plate and walked off. We were speechless. So, definitely going back there.

  18. BTB Says:

    ^GP420 – I agree 100% with your long post up there. So true.

    On my way into work the other day, a 30 something corporate dude was jamming Golgi with the windows down at 8am. Gave him the wink and the nod – sometimes I feel like I’m the only one, but it’s weird. We are all older and yeah, things have changed and other life priorities take precedent. Just get it when you can!!

  19. SOAM Says:

    Wasn’t there a Cities from Japan 00 that is super hot and tight?

  20. BTB Says:

    I’m hitting 6 shows this mini run without even taking a day off of work. For that, I owe the Phish Gods a Lizard sacrifice

  21. Scoot Says:

    I remember that Ventura Cities – took place on a dusty fairground at ocean’s edge if I recall. I didn’t know that they covered that tune at the time – cool surprise to hear that deep funk.

  22. wvbrdr Says:

    miner, excellent call on the cities. i was actually listening to the Went halley’s > cities yesterday. that segue is pretty thick and mike drops some sick bombs throughout. its a good listen.

  23. BTB Says:

    At lemonwheel, Trey also said something like “and the pot that steam comes out of” in cities jam as well i think

  24. KWL Says:

    @dustin, robear, gp420: most of my show-seeing friends from 1.0 and 2.0 are no longer seeing shows (I think just 2 are, but we haven’t been able to cross paths yet). The first couple shows of summer it was hard for me to find people to go (of 5 shows, though, only 1 was solo). Took 4 people to their first show. 1 is now hooked and vows to never miss a show again. The other 3 are planning on going to Syracuse. And amazingly, I now cannot get enough tickets for Syracuse, because virtually all my good friends from there now want to go. For most of them I’m sure they just want to check it out and see what my obsession is all about, and probably won’t go again. But there are 2-3 of them who quite possibly are in the process of getting hooked, maybe even having their lives changed.

    I’m now in the rural southern CO mountains for the year, and, yeah, I too have to say things like ‘no, the band, spelled with a p-h.’ But, I’m renting a house from a 71 year old great grandmother, and she is completely blown away by phish. I didn’t even try–most of the time when she came around I turned it down or off. But she kept asking about it…. One night I played her Trey with the NY Philharmonic and she was floored. Can’t stop talking about it now…

    So I’m sharing phish with a lot of people in 2009, but all the people are different from years past.

  25. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @BTB – all told, I’ll catch 9 shows this year, which, considering I am a single dad with a 3 year-old, I think is pretty damn good. Gotta give a shout of love out, in advance, to my parents for babysitting the little one for Cincy. Then again, taking the entire week of thanksgiving off as vacation, so I will be watching my brother’s kids part of that time. It all works out…just a little freaked out.

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