Summer ’97: Blossoming

Summer ’97 changed it all.  Sure, you can look to the Remain in Light set as the moment that began this gradual progression over the end of 1996 and the beginning of 1997; but not until Summer ’97 did Phish transform into the monster-sized industrial groove machine that would carry us into the next millennium.  A particularly high energy of anticipation flooded every show that summer; it was the first time we had dipped our toes into the dripping primordial funk of Phish.  It was much thicker; different than before, and really fun to dance to.  Shows started to become more squarely focused on psychedelic groove, while still retaining some of the abstract exploration that characterized the band’s first peak in 1994-1995.  It was the beginning of the next chapter, and everyone felt it.

It started in Europe on June 16th, at the SFX Club in Dublin, Ireland, where a late second set Chalkdust melted into thick slow grooves and oozed into the debut of Ghost.  Arguably the defining song of the summer, Ghost was introduced as a new epic jam vehicle specifically created to groove.   With a simple, and short composed section, the intention-as was the intention for the summer shows-was to get in there and throw down raw funk.  To improvise dance rhythms and textures far slower than the frenetic tightness of December ’95; allow the music to breathe a bit.  Tearing up clubs all over Europe with twenty-minute funk jams, the band used Ghost symbolically, as an indication of their new musical direction, though these funk excursions seemed to show up in every song.  Stories flooded stateside via the internet, stoking the dangerous flames of expectation.  Yet, Phish would come home, and they would not let anyone down.

Armed with a new batch new of songs- Ghost, Piper, Twist (Around), Limb By Limb, Vultures, Dogs Stole Things, Dirt, I Saw It Again- an old cover song in Cities, and a whole new approach to improvisation, Phish continued to reinvent themselves in front of us each and every night.  Each show produced bombastic highlights that are staples of people’s collective memories, and listening patterns, to this day.  The Deer Creek Cities, Star Lake Gumbo, Ventura’s Bowie>Cities>Bowie, the Gorge Diseasezer, Austin’s Timber>Bowie, the Atlanta Ghost, Raleigh’s Disease>Mike’s; the list goes on.  This all culminated with the overwhelming magic of The Great Went; a festival littered with more dirty Phish jams than beer bottles.  Standing the test of time is the truest indication of genuine greatness, and Summer ’97 is here standing tall.

Everybody has their favorite year, or their favorite tour, between the years of 1997-2000, but none of it would have happened if the Summer of ’97 didn’t happen first.  This summer was the musical and conceptual building block for the next three years and beyond.

To honor such a historic shift in the Phish universe, I am releasing the first in the series of “Miner’s Picks,”- ” Summer ’97.”  This compilation amounts to twenty tracks and over five hours of Phish history, all performed during this universally-loved tour.  The “set” had to be broken up into three sendspace files, but the order of songs, which should be in tact, is as follows.  Enjoy!  And look for more from the “Miner’s Picks” series soon!


“Miner’s Picks: Summer ’97”

1. Reba 8.9 Alpine

2. Split Open 8.10 Deer Creek

3,4,5. Halley’s>Cities>Llama 8.16 Went

6. Ghost 7.23 Atlanta

7,8,9. Twist>2001>Bag 8.6 Riverport

10. Gumbo 8.13 Star Lake

11. YEM 8.11 Deer Creek

12,13,14. Disease>Tweezer>Disease 8.2 Gorge

15,16. Cities>GTBT 8.10 Deer Creek

17. Harry Hood 8.14 Darien

18. Slave 8.16 Went

19, 20. Tweezer>Taste 8.17 Went

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