On our trip down memory lane, today we honor December 13th: the final show of Fall ’97, a fiery stop along the road of December ’99, and the final night of rest during Fall ’95, before the last four shows. Today our focus shifts to centerpieces of Albany 97’s and Providence 99’s second sets — “Ghost > Mike’s > Llama” and “Sand,” respectively.
Thirteen years ago today, Fall ’97 came to a close at Knickerbocker Arena in Albany, New York. Following an underrated and supremely exploratory show the previous night, Phish came out with all the crowd favorites in a scintillating final set of tour. At the heart of this celebratory last frame lied a combination of “Ghost and “Mikes” — two songs that had blown up all tour — that provided the fire for the finale. Most versions of “Ghost” played over the course of Fall ’97 transformed into dripping funk fiestas. The last incarnation, however, gradually migrated towards more aggressive textures and peaked far from the dinosaur-grooves that had became synonymous with the song. Moving through the requisite fall funk patterns, when Phish reached the core of this version, they were hardly immersed in over-sized rhythms. Following a gooey onset to the jam, the band cranked up the intensity and churned out a sequence that veered towards hard-edged rock and roll. Gathering a full head of steam, Phish converged in a scorching peak segment to the final “Ghost”of Fall ’97. As sonic residue of the song lingered in the air, Trey started up the now-famous “Bring In the Dude” version of “Mike’s Song.”
Pouring the show’s momentum into a song that had imploded more than a few venues over the previous weeks, one could slice the intensity in air with as Phish played blasted through the song’s composed verses with unbridled enthusiasm. When the jam dropped, shit went bonkers and the energy of the show immediately increased exponentially. Diving headfirst into a militant and crunchy groove, the band played with utmost urgency as Fishman began imploring Cactus to “Bring the DUDE!” Soon, the whole band cut out and Mike dropped a maddening bass solo which everyone rejoined with mind-blowing ferocity. Emceeing the jam like a maniac, Fishman then honored Trey’s two requests to “Bring the Dude,” and the band turned the “Mike’s” jam into an explosive showcase for their famed Fall ’97 stop/start jamming. Each member took their turn “Bringing the Dude,” and following Page’s solo, the band built the piece into a heavy plane that resembled the other side of ’97. The band broke down into soupy psychedleia out of the raucous explosion, then changed textures on a dime, heading right back into an increasingly psychotic movement, that minutes later transformed into “Llama.” Phish took of their most consistent funk staples of fall and created something wholly different for the tour’s final show; a move that illustrated the teeming creativity of a special tour.
“Sand” 12.13.99 II – Providence Civic Center, Providence, RI
As Phish worked their way through December ’99, “Sand” came out five times over a two week span. Sculpting soaring, psychedelic soundscapes amidst heavy grooves, these versions built on one another, as Phish honed in on different elements of their “millennial” sound each time. Often dissonant and always based in a thick, rhythmic foundation, these versions of “Sand” felt like they were building towards something monumental. And as time passed from one millennium to the next in The Everglades, deep into the night, Phish played us that “Sand” at the end of the rainbow. Though every version during December ’99 became a show highlight, some — like today’s featured version — still stand out over a decade later. Providence’s excursion provided the centerpiece of a groove-based, two-set smoker, and showcased the collaborative layering and textural jamming that defined the era. This “Sand” also illustrates the straightforward and repetitive rhythmic foundations on which these dense sound sculptures stood. In the latter half of the jam, Trey shifted to more narrative soloing that brought the jam to another level of intensity. His play coaxed divergent offerings from his band mates and catalyzed more dynamic interplay. Each time “Sand’s” bassline started December ’99, a rhythmic odyssey was sure to follow. Sit back and enjoy this version that celebrates its 11th birthday today.
Jams of the Day: 12.13.97
If Phish diverted from cowfunk for much of this show’s second set, they certainly laid down some grooves in these first set highlights.
“Yamar” 12.13.97 I
Perhaps someone missed a cue as the band came around to the end of the song, but what resulted was another sublime excursion through the funk of fall.
“Tube” 12.13.97 I
This version was the middle man between Dayton’s bust-out and MSG’s all-timer on 12.29.97.
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
10.7.90 Club Bene, Sayreville, New Jersey SBD
This one goes out to Lee, who has been looking for this show for quite some time. Here’s a soundboard copy to make the treasure trove extra special. Enjoy the 1990 show from Bon Jovi’s home town to start off another week of December.
I: The Divided Sky, Uncle Pen, Stash, The Landlady, Destiny Unbound, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird, The Asse Festival, The Squirming Coil, Mike’s SongI Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Magilla, La Grange
II: Buried Alive, Bouncing Around the Room, Tweezer, My Sweet One, I Didn’t Know, The Lizards, Good Times Bad Times, Golgi Apparatus