The First “Four-Song Set” of Fall ’97

Fall '97 Advertisement

Fourteen years ago tonight, Phish stunned an undersized audience in West Valley, Utah, with their first four-song set of Fall ’97. Fans were left counting songs on one hand after the last notes of “Slave” crashed down, and what we had witnessed was the beginning of history. Phish went on to play several more four-song masterpieces that Fall and beyond, but with Utah’s second set—a frame that featured creative jamming on songs old and new, and the onset of several fall tour trends—the golden road of Fall ’97 was just getting started.

Following a truly stellar first set, the band came out to open the second with “Wolfman’s Brother.” The last we had heard from the song was the epic Great Went version and when the guys began taking this set-opener into uncharted waters, one couldn’t help but think back to the Limestone’s monster. Pushing far beyond the funk in consecutive renditions, this final stages of this jam sounded, momentarily, as if it might land in “Simple,” just as its predecessor, but the guys crafted a melodic bridge into “Piper” instead. This “Wolfman’s” jam was a significant signpost at the beginning of the road of Fall ’97, as its foray into a deeper, groove-based psychedelia began an evolution of “funk” jams from summer’s less refined pieces into the multi-faceted excursions that became a signature of the fall. Additionally, “Wolfman’s,” itself, would blossom into reliably exploratory vehicle by tour’s end.

The band had debuted “Piper” in Europe at the beginning of the summer and it quickly became a staple of setlists throughout the season. After the previous night’s “Mike’s Song” in Las Vegas sounded as though it might merge with the new school piece, Phish used it as the landing point of a more profound jam in “Wolfman’s Brother.” Still (most often) consisting of a drawn out intro and a raucous, though circular guitar peak, the band tore through a climactic version of greater magnitude than we had heard in the US that summer, and this proved to be the onset of another emerging beast. “Piper” dissolved into its kindred song, “Twist,” and it would be this jam in which Phish dove into the cosmos.

Fall '97 (C. Taylor Crothers)

Navigating the jam’s groovy textures and far beyond into original planes, Phish gradually worked their way into space.  As the band reached a wildly abstract soundscape, Trey tore into a soul-bearing guitar solo that spoke to a new stylistic paradigm—Fall ’97’s psychedelic spectrum was just beginning to develop. Staggering in both sound and scope, it felt as though the band had broke through a portal in space-time and Trey was offering universal information in a seething, six-string prophecy. Finding into a different dimension than many summer jams, this psychedelic abstraction foreshadowed a far more expansive style that would grace so many jams of fall. Dark though deeply spiritual, this version of “Twist” warmed the psyche of fans to centerpiece jams that would routinely transcend funk during Fall ‘97—a tour that gets too often pigeonholed as Dance Party-only.

Fall '97

And to resolve the creative madness that had ensued since Page’s opening notes of “Wolfman’s,” Phish dripped into a massive version of “Slave,” rounding out the four-song suite. More nuanced than the linear builds of many “Slaves,” this version concluded the set with exclamatory beauty and drama. Jams were huge on this night in Utah and fans were floored. It was only the second night of tour and it felt like Phish had elevated their game from an amazing summer with a deep and cohesive adventure into a parallel universe. The band’s four-song set in Salt Lake City— 14 years ago tonight—immediately raised the bar for Fall ‘97, and provided a starting point for so many of the tour’s iconic show to build from.


Jam of the Day:

Twist > Slave” 11.14.97 II

The second half of Utah’s early-Fall explosion.



The Mimi Fishman Foundation’s Online Charity Auction

The Mimi Fishman Foundation

The Mimi Fishman Foundation has launched a new charity auction that features many items including ticket packages to the end-of-year, sold-out Madison Square Garden shows. The online auction is currently live with the bidding period closing on Thursday, December 1st. Proceeds from this auction will benefit the Delta Gamma Center for Children With Visual Impairments, Phish’s WaterWheel Foundation, as well as the Vermont flood victims.

To view and/or bid on the auction, as well as read about the charities the auction supports, please visit the Mimi Fishman Foundation Auction Page.

In addition to the MSG ticket package, other items up for auction include:

  • Signed Summer Tour 2011 posters
  • Greek Theater Pollack Package: A numerically matching set of the three Pollock prints from the Greek Theater shows in 2010
  • A signed poster from the recent Phish Vermont benefit (9/14/11)

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846 Responses to “The First “Four-Song Set” of Fall ’97”

  1. Guyute711 Says:

    I’m more jaded than you 😉

  2. EL Duderino Says:


  3. Guyute711 Says:

    Why stop at white people and phishies anyway. I hate everyone until they prove I shouldn’t.

  4. SillyWilly Says:

    thanks, tela’s!

  5. tela'smuff Says:

    i’m more of a hater of weddings as a whole. thankfully most of my friends, as well as the slf’s friends, have all gotten married so i don’t have to suffer through them anymore. i’m on the get drunk with buddy who is on the verge of divorce string. somehow, both events involve heavy drinking. weird.

    as far as meatstick, i know the shocks your brain part with the shooting in the head. liked it in ’99 and ’00, then hated it, but the Gorge Meatstick restored some love.

  6. Guyute711 Says:

    I spend a lot of time smoking outside of wedding receptions with the rest of the hooligans avoiding the dancing parts of the ceremony.

  7. Robear Says:


    U popular kids keep going to the weddings. I’ll keep hitting the Phish shows.

    Suddenly glad I don’t have many friends. Thanks for that link @ Bingosbrother.

  8. marcoesq Says:

    we’ve got a bunch of cool ass muvfuckers on this board

  9. butter Says:

    you guys are missing all the fun, you need to look around the room more, see who’s going to cheat with who, decide how long the marriage will last, how much $$$ the event cost, ect.

    lol lol lol white america

    and whatever dude, tryin to tell poop he’s white

    poop is brown, duh, everyone know’s that

  10. butter Says:

    time to spin some hip hop, obviously

  11. Mike in Austin Says:

    I swear of the 204 views, 30 have probably come from here.

    The guys who like meatstick is like the guy getting arrested here.!

  12. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    fuck that. weddings are fun. grandmas dancing, cousins kissing, betting on which drunky will take a header on the dance floor… all that. nothing wrong with helping friends and/or family celebrate. and if they want to line dance to meatstick? who cares! it’s their day, let em do it. if you’re gonna be there, be there. there’s no fun to be had grumping it on the sidelines.

  13. Mike in Austin Says:

    I’ve gotten laid or blown at every wedding I’ve been too since I was like 16. Weddings make chicks horny. Wedding crashers, duh.

  14. tela'smuff Says:

    after 3-4 weddings in a two year span, they get real old. i will give that girl props for bustin out meatstick, as lame as it may look. because i’ve sat through enough electric slides and stroke it’s for my liking.

    @butter – i sent you a rec via twitter last night, and it’ll be in my mediafire folder in a few minutes. sun kil moon. he records in the bay area, and as i said, his music is made for cool fall days/nights in or near the bay. imo.

  15. butter Says:

    come on celebrate it, its got a 50% chance of lasting, he he

  16. butter Says:

    word, Telas, just burned your first dvd

    i’ve enjoyed some of your ambient music too, one of them is a bit creepy with a harp echoing thru a large empty house kinda sound, but i kinda like it

  17. SillyWilly Says:

    the temperature is 69 degrees fahrenheit, relax

    awesome line

  18. tela'smuff Says:

    @butter – thx man! look forward to it. glad you like some of the ambient stuff. i just picked up a couple of new additions in that genre i’ll have to add to the list. the sun kil moon stuff is in my folder now. enjoy.

  19. Mr. Palmer Says:

    you guys are funny ass white folk.

  20. ae Says:

    at our wedding, my wife’s parent’s friends started up a line dance thing where there were two lines and people took turns doing goofy dances down the middle. probably something that happened at middle school dances or something like that. funny part was they did it during the 3rd song of my 3-song dead medley that i had the band learn – scarlet->not fade away->one more saturday night. it was fun. my younger cousins clapping along with the not fade away claps was fun too. oh, this was some white-ass shit, fo sho.

  21. marcoesq Says:

    at my wedding next year I’ll be spinning the ’10 Camden 2001 with MJ shit

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