Another December Holiday

Continuing our run through Decembers of legend, today I am re-posting an article originally published on December 11, 2008, called “Two Anniversaries.” Discussed are the insane shows of 12.11.97 in Rochester and 12.11.99 in Philadelphia. Had I more time, the article might as well have been called “Three Anniversaries” and included the Phish’s top-shelf stop at Portland, Maine’s Cumberland County Civic Center on the same day in 1995. Audio highlights from all three standout 12.11’s are included below in “Saturday Jams.” (Click show dates for direct download, torrent and grab a 12.11 remaster below the setlists.)


“Two Anniversaries”

Today we find ourselves on the anniversary of a couple very Phishy shows. In addition to the Cumberland County ’95 show, this date brought two monsters in 1997 and in 1999. These two nights in Rochester and Philly were both instant fan favorites of their respective tours, and both are vibrant illustrations of where the band stood at that time. Happy 12.11!

12.11.97 War Memorial Auditorium, Rochester, New York (SBD)

First, let’s circle back to a cold and dreary winter day December 1997. Phish was on the brink of finishing their now legendary fall tour. On the heels of a monumental Midwestern weekend and a stop at State College, Phish pulled into the Rochester’s War Memorial Auditorium, a room that hosted the Grateful Dead on several occasions. The show proved to fall right in line with Fall ’97’s colossal outings featuring one of the best second sets of the month.

11.24.09 (C.Garber)

The night opened up with the energetic three-song combo of “Punch, Disease > Maze.” “Punch,” one of the great openers in the band’s catalog, set the table on this night for a phenomenal “Down With Disease.” Within this upper-echelon excursion, Phish tore apart the song’s thematic jam for ten minutes before slowing down into syrupy rhythms that quickly brought the music to a far deeper place. From this juncture forwards, it grew quite apparent that Phish was tapped into greater energies on this evening. As the piece developed, Trey began to solo with a menacing musical scowl while the band dropped into a dripping groove around him. This now-famous “Disease” became a significant tour highlight mere minutes into the first set. Phish flicked the switch on early in the night, and it remained locked in position for the duration of the evening.

Phish brought “Disease’s” delicate dance patterns to a slow and winding close, as they seamlessly morphed into “Maze.” Bringing maniacal madness into the mix, Phish took the energy already in the room, and channeled it directly into their harrowing improv, creating a forty-minute set-opening segment that jumped off the stage and directly down the throats of the audience. Allowing little time for warm up, the band reserved their mellower moments for the end of the set, decelerating with “Dirt, “Limb by Limb” and “Loving Cup” before closing with an out of place “Rocky Top.”

This mind-bending improvisation continued throughout the standout second set. Phish quickly upped the ante with a twenty-minute “Drowned” opener that immediately sat among the heaviest, most creative, and darkest slices of psychedelia dropped during the tour. After jump-starting the show in shredding fashion, the band put the pedal back to the metal as soon as set two began. About halfway through “Drowned,” the band gradually moved away from the song structure into original improv. Moving from uptempo ferocity into slow and murky textures, this jaunt, all of a sudden, became a lot more interesting. For the duration of the piece, the band explored eerie musical planes with the patience and precision of a surgeon, methodically juxtaposing the two halves of the jam. As Trey layered infectious licks over a thickening groove, this jam soon tramsformed into an ambient affair with loops and effects galore.

Bittersweet Motel DVD

In a now-famous moment, this standout jam wove its way into the debut of Ween’s “Roses Are Free,” a performance made famous by the documentary, Bittersweet Motel. While few were familiar with the song on this evening, all would come to know it as sacred ground come Nassau merely four months from this debut. The ending riff to the song proved a perfect launching point for the rare “Big Black Furry Creatures From Mars.” The lights went dark with white strobes, and the band dove into the quirky Phish-metal.  Trey ran laps around the stage amidst the maddening music, lending a deranged and tone to the already standout show. A version that lasted eight minutes, full of dissonant build and distorted climax, this was not your average “BBFCFM!” As if the band had gone temporarily insane, the asylum’s soundtrack morphed into an excessively slow and heavy groove, not unlike the ending of “Axilla.” Painting a sinister musical backdrop, Phish reveled in pushing the crowd to the brink. After a two-minute ending of beatless distortion, the band dropped into a perfectly placed funk-relief in “Ghost.”

Giving the crowd exactly what they needed, this “Ghost” leaped onto the top shelf of all-star versions in a standout year for the song. Providing the show with a much needed release of flowing Phish grooves, the band took liberty in precisely ripping the only “Fall ’97 funk jam” of the night – another factor that made Rochester so unique. A seamless “Disease Reprise” emerged out of this multi-dimensional odyssey, artistically closing the musical ideas sparked at the beginning of the show, and bringing the evening full circle.

I: Punch You in the Eye > Down With Disease > Maze, Dirt, Limb By Limb, Loving Cup, Rocky Top

II: Drowned  > Roses Are Free* > Big Black Furry Creature From Mars > Ghost > Down With Disease (Reprise) > Johnny B. Goode

E: Waste

*Ween cover, first time played

FLAC Torrent (SBD/AUD Matrix) < Link


12.11.99 The Spectrum Philadelphia, PA

The Spectrum - Philadelphia, PA

When Phish came back to The Spectrum for the second consecutive night in December ’99, they had a little redeeming to do. After a botched transition from “Have Mercy” back into “David Bowie” the night before, the band bailed on the idea in full and awkwardly moved into a Fishman interlude of “Cracklin’ Rosie,” all but killing the momentum of the set. The band stumbled to the finish line with low-energy versions of “Twist” and “Waste,” but what a difference a night can make!

1999’s version of December 11 presented, arguably, Phish’s strongest outing of their climactic December 1999 tour. Opening with “Harry Hood” for the first time in almost ten years (1.20.90), the twenty-minute version let everyone know they we were in for a treat! Expecting a breather to follow the intense “Hood,” Phish brought “Mike’s Groove” – ya’ gotta’ love it! Giving the “Groove” full treatment, the band migrated from the evil soup into “Simple” then “Hydrogen” before closing the segment with a smoking “Weekapaug.” After a reflective moment in “When the Circus Come to Town,” Phish leapt into Gordon’s rarity, “Scent of a Mule”- all in the first set! The Spectrum buzzed loudly during setbreak with the feeling that set two would be extraordinary. And it was.

In one of the tightest sets of 1999, Phish destroyed their classic Philly haunt with a frame of celebratory segues and pure dance madness. If you liked to move at Phish shows, then “Sally > Ghost > 2001 > Disease” provided the perfect soundtrack. Packed to the hilt with dense Phish grooves and a complex ambient build before “2001,” this sequence stood on par with any music that reared its head in ’99. “Ghost” and “2001” were both top-notch versions, and the latter space odyssey spun The Spectrum with the ease of Medowlark Lemons, Spaldings and “Sweet Georgia Brown.” The entire segment totaled 55 minutes of pure Phish crack; one of those unquestionably special sets that everyone agreed upon when it ended.

An incredibly well played show comprised of almost all improvisation, December 11, 1999 was an unforgettable night. One can hear the crowd roaring on the tapes, responding to the full-on Phish carpet bombing all night long. A night of beauty in a the City of Brotherly Love, December 11 brought, perhaps, Phish’s greatest performance in The Spectrum (with 12.15.95 as the only contender).

I: Harry Hood, Mike’s Song > Simple > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, When the Circus Comes, Scent of a Mule, Cavern

II: Boogie On Reggae Woman , Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley > Ghost > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Down with Disease

E: Possum



Saturday Jams: December 11th Highlights

Drowned > Roses Are Free” 12.11. 97 II



Sally > Ghost > 2001” 12.11.99 II



Reba” 12.11.95 I



The Curtain > Bowie” 12.11.95 II

[audio:,] Tags: , ,

280 Responses to “Another December Holiday”

  1. SillyWilly Says:

    Im really not schooled enough to comment deeply on drumming styles, but I love Fish’s motto: “Never play the same thing twice.”

    i think all artists should be like this

  2. benhatley Says:

    yes, this spectrum show is my favorite show from ’99! i love the bag/sally start up. i’m sure it was accidental, but they manage to turn it into a really cool passage with the bag/sally back and forth.

    the whole show is just killer.

  3. DukeOfLizards Says:

    @MrP (last page)

    That quote is from Specimens of Beauty. Bout 6:50 into that vid.

  4. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Thanks Duke. Funny i was just checking that out on youtube a week or so ago. Totally forgot about that little video. I think it came with the Undermind album? Some good stuff in there. I recommend checking it out if anyone hasn’t.

  5. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Mr. C

    Fresh ’73…

    Grateful Dead – February 21, 1973
    Assembly Hall – Champaign-Urbana, IL

    Recording Info:
    SBD -> Master Reel -> Dat

    Transfer Info:
    Dat -> Samplitude Professional v11.03 -> FLAC
    (3 Discs Audio / 2 Discs FLAC)

    All Transfers and Mastering By Charlie Miller
    June 1, 2010

    Patch Info:
    SBD -> Master Reel -> Cassette supplies:
    Jack Straw (complete track)

    — All disc changes are seamless
    — Can not confirm set break is in correct spot

    Set 1:
    d1t01 – Wave That Flag
    d1t02 – Me And My Uncle
    d1t03 – Brown Eyed Women
    d1t04 – Beat It On Down The Line
    d1t05 – Loser
    d1t06 – Looks Like Rain
    d1t07 – Row Jimmy
    d1t08 – You Ain’t Woman Enough
    d1t09 – Box Of Rain
    d1t10 – Mexicali Blues
    d1t11 – Sugaree
    d1t12 – Around And Around
    d2t01 – China Cat Sunflower ->
    d2t02 – I Know You Rider
    d2t03 – Jack Straw

    set 2:
    d2t04 – Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo
    d2t05 – Truckin’ ->
    d2t06 – Eyes Of The World ->
    d2t07 – Stella Blue
    d2t08 – Sugar Magnolia
    d3t01 – Casey Jones

    d3t02 – Johnny B. Goode

  6. EL Duderino Says:

    New Source to Circulation:

    December 6th, 1997
    The Palace of Auburn Hills
    Detroit, MI

    -Source labeled Neumann km184 > Beyer MV100 > DA-P1 @ 48khz
    -Tascam DA-40 > S/PDIF > M-Audio 2496 @ 48khz
    -48khz > 44khz sample rate conversion via iZotope SRC 64 bit SRC
    -Tracking performed in Adobe Audition 3.0
    -FLAC conversion via Trader’s Little Helper

    All transfers by (12.06.2010)

    Set 1

    1. Golgi Apparatus [5:56]
    2. Run Like An Antelope [16:31]
    3. Train Song > [2:43]
    4. Bathtub Gin > [13:11]
    5. Foam [9:48]
    6. Sample In A Jar [5:03]
    7. Fee > [5:45]
    8. Maze [15:00]
    9. Cavern [4:55]

    Total Time [1:18:52]

    Set 2

    1. Tweezer > [22:31]
    2. Izabella > [9:26]
    3. Twist > [7:28]
    4. Piper [14:27]
    5. Sleepy Monkey > [6:04]
    6. Tweezer Reprise [3:42]
    7. Crowd [1:43]


    8. Rocky Top [3:17]

  7. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Thanks Dude. Grabbed the Phish yesterday. Getting the GD now.

    you see the ’88 JGB show from yesterday. ?

    there is a cut at the end of Don’t Let Go though… 🙁

  8. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Palmer

    Yeah, I’ve had that one for some time now.

    I’m hoping the Palace PH source is much better than the MG 200’s that everyone has…

  9. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Yep, Undermind doc. I actually just watched it for the first time earlier this week, funny that you brought that quote up.

  10. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Its better than the source i have. But my old one was lossy. Spun the Tweezer, sounds good to my non-technical ears…

  11. Mr.Miner Says:

    have a pretty solid 12-6 source…is this an upgrade?

  12. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Miner

    I wouldn’t know yet…

    …but I have gone through the few others and I’m hoping this is an upgrade.
    Was never happy with what has floated around for this show.

    We’ll see I guess

  13. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    @el dude – this could be interesting if its a new, better source. the one i have isnt terrible though. sounds pretty good to me, tho maybe thats just because that jam is flawless

  14. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    whoops. well i think you can guess what “that jam” is referring to

  15. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    2 pages today? whats everyone doing?

  16. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Purple

    I would agree… they’re not terrible but not fantastic either.

    Another I wish could be released by the archive/vault

  17. EL Duderino Says:

    Watching Duke put a hurt on St. Louis University…

  18. Mr.Miner Says:

    12.6.97 will be released at some point i think…i’ve requested this from K Shapiro multiple times as recently as 12.6. He always says that they chose 12.7…I say who CARES? 12.6.97 is a show among shows imo….at least drop the tweezabella on an archives show, eh?

  19. EL Duderino Says:

    Some shows are so good that you have to put aside the fact that they released the night after…

    I’m with you/Who cares?!?!

    If it’s legendary Phish than it deserves to be put out in all it’s DSBD/Re-Mastered glory

  20. Mr.Palmer Says:

    “He always says that they chose 12.7…I say who CARES? ”

    exactly! The released 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, and 4.5.98.

    the levels on that CM ’73 show are all over the place. In M and My Uncle and Loser so far.

  21. ThePigSong Says:

    seriously, how do you folks find time to spin all this goodness? I wish I could keep up!

    my HQ earbuds failed on me last week, so I’m using a pair from apple, and it’s agonizing after my previous pair.

    can anyone recommend a fairly cheap pair that also have a microphone?

    ..and Utica Bowie pwns.

  22. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Palmer

    That happens sometimes… CM does what he can with what he has to work with. I’m sure it’ll smooth out

  23. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    @duke – whered u find that doc? actually havnt seen it…

  24. Mr.Palmer Says:

    purp- just youtube Phish Specimens of beauty.

  25. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    it will def be released at some point. i just has to. the only problem is the rate at which archival releases are released slows to a near stop during touring.

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