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. garretc Says:

    Ah, so it’s just the trains to Jersey then that don’t run all night?

  2. Kaveh Says:

    I wish I was in MSG tonight for Duke and Michigan State…but the couch will do just fine.

  3. Mike in Austin Says:

    Not all stations are open 24 hours though.

  4. Beantownboy Says:

    @ Garret

    Yeah, last Path train to NJ leaves Penn Station about 1 or 2 a.m.
    That’s always a shit show with phans trying to make that ride.

    Happy that for once I’m staying in the city and not in nj as usual. conductors yelling at you, knowing you’re all fluffed out, and laughing at your confused reactions.

    Can’t wait!

  5. Jtran Says:

    Since I learned about trust earlier today I no longer will be trusting old adages like “the city that never sleeps”

    Sorry for the increase in questions

  6. bob dylan Says:

    Mia, all stations are open unless there’s construction but not all entrances to the station are open so you may walk an extra block.

    Last train for NJ transit is 2am but the one you need may stop at 1ish

  7. garretc Says:

    Word Beantown. I thought I’d remembered people mentioning that. Good to know about the 24 hr subways though…

  8. sumodie Says:

    dont see anything novel in UM’s ticketing practices overhaul. lottery tix service fees arent the problem in phishworld

    one approach to thwarting scalpers is to raise tix prices & add price tiering

    not saying i’d like this but it is a valid option

    would lowering the max # of tix one could purchase from 4 to 2 have helped? initially i wouldve said yes but now im not so sure

  9. albert walker Says:

    Banning non puffers and fat chicks from hitting important shows would def help with the scalping problems

    I have all kinds of great ideas like this if Phish wants to outsource solving the problems to me.

  10. Mike in Austin Says:

    Bob, I didn’t know that. I guess there are times/lines that stations are skipped? I remember green globes and red globes (and I thought there used to be yellow globes)?

    I thought there were times of night, when no train stopped at the station from a certain time to a certain time. Like no E trains ran after a certain time? I guess not.

  11. phloridaphan Says:

    “Banning non puffers and fat chicks…..”

    Epic shit right there.

  12. MrCompletely Says:

    if NYC is still like it used to be when I went to shows there the “never sleeps” part is just a cocaine issue

  13. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    oh, this is just too perfect

    scumbag leinert’s gonna mess up the texans’ chances no doubt

  14. Mike in Austin Says:

    I never got cocaine. Just seems to allow you to drink more.

  15. joe Says:

    the idea is to not get too much cocaine.

    but a little combined with some fungus, that’s a great buzz right there.

  16. joe Says:

    1/4 booze, 1/4 weed, 1/4 blow and 1/4 shrooms.

  17. albert walker Says:

    It’s much better smoked

    That’s your problem right there

  18. halcyon Says:


    If you haven’t already done so.

  19. gavinsdad Says:


    (old man bumps)

  20. Mr palmer Says:

    Second set Blasters!

  21. gavinsdad Says:

    or DTOTTPBs

    (day three of the three pack bumps)

  22. joe Says:

    for the record, those days are way in the rear view mirror for me…unless you’re holding

  23. tela'smuff Says:

    12/17/95 Hood – yes.

  24. gavinsdad Says:

    lol @ joe.

  25. Fly Says:


    got your email the other day bro, thanks

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