Phish Friday | Fall ’97, Not Just the Cow Funk Era

cow1.jpgphoto by fatmandy

There are various “eras” of Phish history that get a lotta play, but I’d venture to say that the band’s Fall 1997 tour is one of the most popular and often given the label “Epic!” Fall ’97 is also often referred to as the “Cow Funk Era” because of an extremely funky type of jamming the band focused on throughout the tour, which subsequently spilled over into much of its playing in 1998 (and really until the band’s official hiatus/break-up).

Cow Funk? Chicken-Neck Funk? Intergalactic Space Funk? Call it what you will, but it usually found Trey getting re-acquainted with his wah pedal, Gordo laying down some seriously meaty basslines, and Page frequently heading “up top” to the Clavinet.

But the reasons that this era of Phish is so special (or “epic”) go beyond just the “space phunk.” Most of the band’s Fall ’97 shows also featured some stellar ambient/psychadelic musical exploration, with the band getting way ‘out there’ and firing perfectly on all four cylinders (some folks might even say five). There were also plenty of moments where the band just seemed like they were having even more fun than any of us in the crowd, dropping inside jokes and random banter in the midst of all of the funky, pscyhadelic madness. One of these moments was during the second set of one of the more famous shows of this tour:

12-13-1997 at the Knickerbocker Arena, Albany, NY (now, the Pepsi Times Union Center).

Here are my favorite tracks from this set:

Comments and setlist after the jump…


There were a lot of amazing Phish performances in Albany at the Knick (including the night before this show!), but this one is my favorite by far. Not only was I there, but I have a ton of great memories from this show, my favorite being one that’s probably among many Phish fans’ favorite moments. It was a spot during “Mike’s Song” where the band found themselves in a very dark groove and started some banter about having to “Bring in the Dude,” supposedly referring to the “Dude of Life” from early Phish lore. I won’t go into all the gory details, but let’s just say that the start-stop funk throw-down that followed and led into “Llama” was one for the books!

And not to let the rest of the show be completely overshadowed by the “Bring in the Dude” start-stop jam, I also decided to include this seriously exploratory version of “Ghost” and a solid “Harry Hood” that perfectly ended the second set of this show. Hope you enjoy. Have a killer weekend!

Setlist (courtesy of Phish.net):

Phish
12-13-97
Pepsi Arena, Albany, NY

1: Ya Mar, Axilla, Theme From the Bottom, Ginseng Sullivan, Strange Design, Sample in a Jar, Vultures, Tube, Good Times Bad Times

2: NICU, Punch You in the Eye, Ghost, Mike’s Song#-> Llama, When the Circus Comes, Weekapaug Groove-> Catapult-> Weekapaug Groove, Harry Hood*

E: My Soul, The Squirming Coil

Notes:
J. Willis Pratt and Weird Bionic opened. #During which the band chants, “Bring in the Dude!”, referring not to Steve Pollak but to Trey, as there was apparently a jovial dispute about who the real “Dude of Life” is. Fish calls on Mike to “bring in the Dude” and the band stops and lets Mike play a crazy, effect-laden bass solo. Then Trey asks Fish to let him “bring in the Dude”. Fishman lets him, and bands stops to let Trey play a wah-wah solo. Then Page “brings in the Dude” with the clavinet. Fish doesn’t “bring in the Dude”. *With lights off and a glow stick war.

  • http://mikewren.com Mike Wren

    It’s now the Times Union Center… but it’ll always be the Knick.

  • http://mikewren.com Mike Wren

    It’s now the Times Union Center… but it’ll always be the Knick.

  • Jeff

    “Bringin’ the Dude!!!!”

    The PYITE was outstanding as well. The intro just so clear and sharp from Trey. Mike and Fish were really tight moving that song along.

    **sigh** those were the salad days.

  • Jeff

    “Bringin’ the Dude!!!!”

    The PYITE was outstanding as well. The intro just so clear and sharp from Trey. Mike and Fish were really tight moving that song along.

    **sigh** those were the salad days.

  • stanroper

    yeah, killer show. whitperson and i were there, front row behind the stage. sound quality suffered a bit, but fantastic views of fish and mcconnell. mike’s is a big time standout in the second set. if you have the tapes, don’t overlook the giant, jammed-out ya mar to open (anyone know of a longer one?). last show of a great tour, and they started it nicely.

  • http://www.livemusicblog.com WHITperson

    yeah, I really should have included the Ya Mar. It’s pretty damn killer (and long clocking at 18:30!). yeah, up until then I don;’t think you’d find a YaMar quite this long or funky! And that PYITE was nice too. I also like this version of Vultures. that was probably, at the time, the wierdest song I’d ever seem them play, but a few key riffs really nabbed my attention for some reason.

  • http://www.livemusicblog.com WHITperson

    yeah, I really should have included the Ya Mar. It’s pretty damn killer (and long clocking at 18:30!). yeah, up until then I don;’t think you’d find a YaMar quite this long or funky! And that PYITE was nice too. I also like this version of Vultures. that was probably, at the time, the wierdest song I’d ever seem them play, but a few key riffs really nabbed my attention for some reason.

  • tgourdo

    ‘Twas a good show for sure, a nice cap on an awesome tour. Back in the day, when this was the only tape (remember tapes? hah!) I had from fall ’97 I think I got all wrapped up in that “bringin’ the dude” stuff, and neglected the rest of the show. I’m gonna go ahead and right that wrong.

  • tgourdo

    ‘Twas a good show for sure, a nice cap on an awesome tour. Back in the day, when this was the only tape (remember tapes? hah!) I had from fall ’97 I think I got all wrapped up in that “bringin’ the dude” stuff, and neglected the rest of the show. I’m gonna go ahead and right that wrong.

  • stems

    Is this where they filmed “When the Circus Comes” for Bittersweet Motel?

    …And remember when glow sticks were cool?

  • stems

    Is this where they filmed “When the Circus Comes” for Bittersweet Motel?

    …And remember when glow sticks were cool?

  • SoPhast

    WOW…I’m so excited I found this….

    how might a *dude* get a copy/download of the rest of this stellar show?!

  • SoPhast

    WOW…I’m so excited I found this….

    how might a *dude* get a copy/download of the rest of this stellar show?!

  • stanroper

    yeah, killer show. whitperson and i were there, front row behind the stage. sound quality suffered a bit, but fantastic views of fish and mcconnell. mike's is a big time standout in the second set. if you have the tapes, don't overlook the giant, jammed-out ya mar to open (anyone know of a longer one?). last show of a great tour, and they started it nicely.