Dayton ’97

Shout out to Phish’s 12/7/97 show, one of the finest examples of pure setlist flow and groovy, you-can’t-do-that-on-TV cow funk you’re bound to find out there in this world. Unless I’m mistaken, this is the sort of thing that soothes souls in trying times.

The opening suite is just marvelous stuff here. AC/DC Bag segues smoothly into the kinetic vamp of Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer, which glides effortlessly into ZZ’s Jesus Just Left Chicago. It’s a masterful opener, and it sets the tone for everything that comes later. (This is one of those shows, too, where I’d argue that the first set is *even better* than the deep kaleidoscope of sound in the second set.) It’s Ice -> Swept Away -> Steep -> It’s Ice is blissful insanity., for example.

Of course, like you, I come back to this show for the Tube -> Tube Jam. It’s one of the great funk jams in Phish’s live canon–and it came during the almighty Fall ’97 tour, that crystallization period in the band’s history when they shifted deftly from hyper-manic alien-geek prog improv to the aforementioned cow funk. To paraphrase one of my favorite writers on the matter: After climbing to the peak of New Year’s Eve run in 1995 and laying down cultural touchstones like the Clifford Ball and the Great Went, the band had nothing else to do but dance.

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