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. Mike in Austin Says:

    Sorry about that AJ.

  2. Mike in Austin Says:

    Off for some wine and Big Break. Need to clean that picture out of my head.

  3. gavinsdad Says:

    yeah i need phish thoughts stat.

    (sorry i know i always contribute to the drug chat…i simply like to talk alot of, er, smack, when it comes up)

    when they reminisce over you, fuh real

  4. alf Says:

    phishthought: really dig trey’s growling tone early in the gorge tweezer, juxtaposed nicely with the floaty trills later on

  5. BingosBrother Says:

    phishthought : drank half a jug of carlo rossi before Clifford Balls first set w/ a smokin hottie and made a pact to meet up to drink the rest after the show. Got spun as fuck and was very hurt to see she was not at the spot 24 hours later. Women.

  6. gavinsdad Says:


    clifford ball: sick music but also tortured by the girl i traveled up with that wouldn’t sleep in my tent but slept in the tent next to me solo.


  7. MrCompletely Says:

    I bet myself earlier that if I mentioned cocaine once I’d spark at least 3 pages of drug convo


    the formaldehyde dipped weed was called “love boat” in my neck of the woods

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    I’ve heard “getting wet” referring both to angel and to the love boat/formaldehyde thing

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    there was this one brother that kept trying to sell us hippies that love boat during herb droughts

    I was still into the pink peruvian smush (aka scale as I later learned it was called) at the time so was not tempted

    we were big into “snowcap” bingers and hash oil joints at the time – I honestly think the hash oil thing was just like a stunt to see who could actually roll a joint with hash oil in it without ruining the paper – one of the highest degree of difficulty drug preparation ordeals in the canon, I’d say, especially compared with the payoff

  10. MrCompletely Says:

    ‘smush’ because you could smush the rocks with your thumb and they were so pure and soft they’d break off in big flat opalescent scales

    my bud was getting it for 600 a zip. talk about margins.

  11. MrCompletely Says:

    of course living that life killed him in about 18 months

    which was sort of a downside, business model wise

  12. gavinsdad Says:

    C – sensing alot of pre “west LA fadeaway” vibeage in this version of “just kissed my baby” you put on your mix. tight funky little thing here.

  13. kayatosh Says:

    “who’s got my horseplay?” — aj

    bar none, the funniest thing I have ever read on here.

  14. gavinsdad Says:

    my wife is 628 dollas away from having her undergrad school loans paid off. she is 38.

  15. kayatosh Says:

    just a little showering and horseplay. all in good fun. what? no good?

  16. angryjoggerz Says:

    :: takes a bow ::

  17. BingosBrother Says:

    I wouldn’t bow too far there mao. Might get >Horsed.

  18. voopa Says:

    We always dripped the hash oil on after rolling *shrug*

  19. angryjoggerz Says:


    Now that shit is sick funny. Love it.

  20. angryjoggerz Says:

    Ps, Zhou, not Mao.

  21. Beantownboy Says:

    Welcome to Hump Day!

    Hoping that this day flies by as Trampled by Turtles is playing at the Paradise in Boston tonight. Great bluegrass band whose upcoming shows are both sold out in DC and NYC.

    Get some.

  22. Kaveh Says:

    Good morning BBers! Hope everyone is ready for a great day. I know I am.

  23. Mike in Austin Says:

    Thanks to whoever seeded SOA-45 last night.

  24. Steve P. Says:

    Any extra 29ths so the wife and I can go to the show and the Minor afterparty? If so, please shoot me an e-mail at

    Thank you.

  25. BingosBrother Says:

    Wake up you drug addicts!

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