TTFM: First Nights of Tour

10.17.14 Eugene, OR (Eric Battuello)

Beginning in 1997, whether they knew it or not, Phish began a tradition of throwing down a very significant jam on the first night of their tours. Sometimes they came amidst fiery tour openers and sometimes in lesser shows, but like clockwork, Phish announced the beginning of tour with a filthy jam that would most often hold up to anything played over the duration of the run. This unspoken ritual began in earnest in the summer of 1997, and that is where today’s playlist begins, tracing each tour through 2000. (Europe ’98 and Summer US 2000 were exceptions, thus not represented.)


Ghost” / “Bathtub Gin” 7.21.97 I, Virginia Beach, VA

When Phish came back from a month-long tour of Europe, in which they explored their new medium of cow funk, they were rearing to show their fans what they had going on. It didn’t take long for them to show off the goods at the first show of the US Summer tour in Virginia Beach, opening with a deeply jammed “Ghost.” Later in the first set, the band dropped the jam of the show in “Bathtub Gin.” Enjoy both jams below.


Stash” 11.13.97 II, Las Vegas, NV

Phish opened up Fall ’97 with a strong overall performance at a shrunken Thomas and Mack Center (half of the venue was cut off by a curtain). The jam of the show was the first of several standout versions of “Stash” that would transpire over the following month. This ominous second-setter landed in a tribal-like ambiance while steering clear of any grooves in a deeply psychedelic journey.


Tweezer -> Free” 7.15.98 II, Portland, OR

Phish had barely any time between the last day of their European tour in Barcelona (7/10) and the first night of their US tour in Portland, Oregon (7/15), so you could say they were warmed up. The “Tweezer -> California Love -> Tweezer -> Free” that the band dropped in the second set of this tour opener needs to introduction—pure filth from a band on fire.


Reba” 10.29.98 II, Los Angeles, CA

Phish dropped a monster second set at LA’s Greek Theatre to open Fall ’98, and this wide open “Reba” was its centerpiece. Introducing their new group-wide, ambient sound that would be expounded upon over Fall Tour, the band sculpted a mind-expanding masterpiece that deserves discussion amongst the all-time greats.


Free” 6.30.99 II, Bonner Springs, KS

Perhaps the most polished, badass, groove-era version of the song ever played, the Bonner Springs “Free” is like a freight train in the living room of your mind. Methodically maniacal, this version carries the perfect pace from the start, featuring Mike in the middle of the formation for the first time. Trey’s solo possesses a generous amount of swagger.


Stash” / “Tweezer” 9.9.99 I / II, Vancouver, BC

Both of these tour-opening jams illustrate the dark, layered and ambient nature that characterized Phish’s late ’99 style. Each of these jams were immediate keepers and they have stood the test of time.


Bathtub Gin > 2001” 12.2.99 II, Auburn Hills, MI

This scalding sequence got tour winter started quickly at the Palace in Auburn Hills.


Tweezer” 6.9.00 II, Tokyo, JP

Phish landed in Japan and wasted no time getting down to business, dropping this monstrous and exploratory “Tweezer” on their first night in Tokyo.


Ghost” 9.8.00 I, Albany, NY

This fuel injected version of the late-’90s groove vehicle came as the third song of the first set—of tour.

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