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”

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  1. angryjoggerz Says:

    First! Fucking jetlag.

  2. thedayman Says:

    some storage jam and final cramming for this anatomy exam this AM, love this bad boy. can’t wait to dig into this show later

  3. thedayman Says:

    haha theres a part @ about 52 min in where trey is making a farting type noise and you can hear him saying “excuse me, excuse me”

  4. angryjoggerz Says:

    btw, amazing conversation last night. Really enjoyed just reading it, though not bright enough to really contribute. That, mixed with extreme jetlag and being deeply into this new Murakami book made my dreams and 4:30 wake up very, very interesting.

    As much as I hate jetlag at times, I sort of love it others. Its like living in a half-dream world.

  5. Guyute711 Says:

    Important week, I need the Chargers to beat Duder’s Bears so he will shut up. They can pack it in after that. This is their SB. Go Bolts!!! Have a good week folks.

  6. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Yes!!! I was so stunned after this set, I nearly left the lot without my taper friend tour buddy. We had way over slept from Vegas, and I dropped him off with minutes to spare pre-show in shorts and a t-shirt with his gear. It was close to or below freezing when the show got out.

  7. Jtran Says:

    One of he fall 97 shows I’m no very familiar with. Excited to dig in.

  8. EL Duderino Says:


    Bring it On!!!

  9. EL Duderino Says:

    Interesting enough is that the C. Bears play every team in the AFC West starting this week with the Bolts

  10. Cable Hogue Says:

    This Twist>Slave never gets old! Peak Phish for me.

    Saw Gordon last night and dug it. What Things Seem was really good. I had forgotten about that one. There was some adventurous playing in the first set especially.

  11. Guyute711 Says:

    They may already be in the playoffs. Ha ha

  12. litteringand Says:

    The Lions play football like women.

  13. EL Duderino Says:

    they’re also becoming a dirty team.

  14. Guyute711 Says:

    Funny how the two early darlings of the NFL are probably going to miss the playoffs. Thanks for the great starts Lions and Bills. They are who I thought they were.

  15. Jtran Says:


    I was there too. I thought the show, and first set especially, were great. Much better than last March at Higher Ground imo.

    Loved the laser lights during River Niger, as well as Another Door. Some stellar jamming throughout too…MGB’s The Way It Goes even got a bit jammy

  16. Mr. Palmer Says:

    NFC is far superior to the AFC this year. With the exception of Pitt, i wouldn’t put an AFC team in the top 5-7

  17. Guyute711 Says:

    You think the Giants are better than they are P but you may be right. Ravens are inconsistent, Pats D is not very good, Jets are showing they aren’t that great. Look out for the Bengals though. They look pretty darn good for a team with a rookie QB. Houston is another team that is quietly building momentum without their best reciever.

  18. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Of course i do, thats why i’m a fan. 😉


    then.. Pitt, NE, Houston,Jets.

    I think those top 5 are the best teams, not necessarily in that order. I put division leaders first.

    No shame in the Giants losing to the 7-1 Niners on road. Still had a chance to tie the game on the 10 yard line in last minute.. Couple key drops and a pick cost then the game. Cowboys schedule is so easy down the stretch and they are getting hot. They worry me…big time.

  19. Jtran Says:

    And the original last night, Sideways, was great. Think it would work well with Phish. Hope to see it at MSG

  20. EL Duderino Says:

    I would say the Bears are better than the Giants…




  21. EL Duderino Says:


  22. kenny powers Says:

    hey kids

    how strong are those Hampton rumors for Feb 10-12? Southwest has a great sale ending today, i can get Boston > Norfolk for $59 each way.

  23. stapes Says:

    Off to first day at new job. Slightly hungover. Wish me luck!

  24. Guyute711 Says:

    Go get em stapes

  25. Mr. Palmer Says:

    forgot about New Orleans. They are pretty good also.

    I have confidence that the Giants can beat anyone in the NFL on any given day, home or on the road.

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