Monday, December 16, 2013

Episode 22: Guest Pick - Phish 11.14.97 Set 2 West Valley City, UT

Hello friends! This week we're doing another guest pick, this time from our friend Wally (aka @waxbanks). We had a great conversation about his Phish journey (and his writing, which can be found here), and we discussed and played Set 2 of 11.14.97, from West Valley City, UT. The setlist and Listener Notes are below. 

BTW, Wally wrote THE book on Phish's Fall 1997 tour, A Tiny Space to Move and Breathe, which everyone should check out. 

And one quick appeal from us: please review us on iTunes! As the MSG run approaches, check out for your face value ticket needs. Lastly, send comments and feedback to helpingfriendlypodcast at gmail dot com, and follow us on Twitter @hfpod.


Listener Notes—Episode 22: Phish 11.14.97 West Valley City, UT

This week's Listener Notes are drawn directly from Wally's review of this set on

The second set really is what it looks like: Wolfman's > Piper > Twist > Slave, blending together the ethereal delicacy and enveloping darkness of late 1997 before a tiny, attentive crowd. Wolfman's Brother clonks back and for for a while before developing a spacey echt-'97 groove, all hazy atmospherics and feathery drumbeats; as the jam opens up a welcoming major-chord pattern evolves, and Piper bubbles up in its own time. It's a lovely Piper, building slowly to a midtempo climax - the song hadn't yet turned into a musical greyhound race in those days. After the late lamented Piper coda, Trey starts up the haunting original Twist arrangement...

...and (surprise surprise) Fall '97 was a good time for Twist too. Trey keeps things mellow with his guitar comping, Mike lets some weird dissonant chords loose from his bass, Page plays some tricks on the piano, Fishman is his usual larking-gnome self behind the drumkit, and the groove involutes and complicates into a gorgeous full-band statement - a futuristic precursor to 11/22's 'space jam' out of Halley's Comet. Trey hangs out in the ionosphere, soloing for several minutes, as the other players drop out. This is the template: between this Twist jam and the ambient Stash from the previous night in Vegas you can discern the outline of the whole tour's weeks-long subterranean melody. It's a powerfully emotional moment wholly distinct from, say, Trey's digital delay loop jams from Back in the Day (e.g. 12/31/95, 5/7/94).

The opening chords of Slave coalesce out of the mist, and the next 15 minutes are sublime. It's a short set (less than an hour!), but the music flows so effortlessly that it seems like one long song. This is dream-music - musical psychedelia in the truest sense of the word.

Phish just didn't play bad music in Fall '97; this show doesn't get the same attention as Denver or Hampton or Dayton, but it's every bit as good as the rest of the tour - a single cohesive musical statement to reward a tiny out-of-the-way audience. Other shows can claim to be Greater in some sense, but this is the deep stuff right here. The purest essence. 


Phish 11.14.97, The "E" Center, West Valley City, UT

Set 2: Wolfman's Brother -> Piper > Twist > Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Bold As Love

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