10 Years Later: Phish Destroys America

Warning: the following post contains more Phish geekery than journalistic integrity…but, really, who cares what you think?

Ten years ago today the popular rock band Phish set off for a 21-date fall tour that is arguably the best run they ever played. Fall ’97 saw the band finally embracing their success and adding elements of whitebred funk throughout many of the strong jams that seemed to come out of nowhere each night. Nasty doesn’t even begin to do it justice.

Phish wasn’t into giving their tours names, but Fall ’97 quickly was given the “Phish Destroys America” moniker by fans, thanks to a controversial Ames Design tour poster used to advertise the tour opener. The title fits the tour perfectly, as fans were treated to many nights of Treynal Destruction.

The first show of that epic tour was the band’s first ever performance at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. Phish debuted Black-Eyed Katy early in the first set, showing that their new found knack for the cow funk wasn’t just limited to the jams. You can list numerous highlights from every show Phish played that run as they dropped crazy setlists peppered with unbelievable segues at each stop.

You can try to pick your favorite show of the run, but there are so many contenders that it’s tough to just name one. Phish’s stops in Denver, Hampton, Dayton and Winston-Salem all would contend for the crown if I had to pick my favorite. But I settled on the second night of Hampton (I know Ace is partial to 11/19 in Champaign). So what say you, Phish fans? What is your favorite Fall ’97 show? Help settle the debate by leaving a comment below…

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47 Responses

  1. Wow, that Cindy Rosario sure did hate that ad. But, SHE is the one who said the man was “Asian”, nobody else. So, any racial meanings or undercurrents are purely imagined by HER.

    For some reason it makes me think of the “trial” in Cable Guy. During the phone call to the police, they ask Ben Stiller who the attacker was and in a sobbing voice he says something to the effect of, “I think he was………Asian” Trust me, it’s a lot funnier coming from him.

  2. great minds think alike. i texted 2 of my buddies this morning just saying “10 years ago today”.

    we went to vegas, drove to UT, and then back to Vegas (great show but 98 would have been a better idea to drive to UT)

    Huge fan of the last 2 in Albany to end the ter.

  3. are you serious???
    Do you honestly think Fall 1997 was Phish’s ‘best’ tour. ARGUABLY their best tour?

    I want some of what you’re smokin…

    Ever made it to any of their 92 or 93 or 94 shows? They were brimming with energy heretofor unseen! They weren’t yet an arena band, as they’d been for 3 years in Fall 97, in those 92, 93, 94 years they were WORKING TOWARDS that goal…they still had something to prove.

    in fall 97, they had you paying $30 and they knew you weren’t leaving, so they funked out Tweezer for godknowshowlong…

    at least we have some passionate fans. i’m all for your opinion – its just not what i’d say as their best tour.

    funny tour name tho

    1. I am with you, ’92, ’93, ’94 shows were en fuego insane-o, so much intense energy!!!
      Now I haven’t seen any ’97 shows, and frankly I did not listen to a ton of late 90’s Phish, but I have to think that a tour referred to as “Phish Destroys America” probably needs to be in the conversation of greatest tours ever. Of course, none of this matters after the Baker’s Dozen… Greatest.Tour.EVER!!!!

  4. I appreciate the jaded wisdom of Really97’s post, but to characterize Fall 97 as just “funking out Tweezer” is silly. And I’m not trying to disparage ’92-’94, I just think Fall 97 was on a different level across the board.

    12/7/97 is the best Phish show I ever saw, and I saw a few good ones. 12/30 was also very good, but technically I think the Holiday Run has to be separate from the Fall Tour.

    I’ll leave a candle in the parking lot at the Nutter Center this December 7th. Maybe I’ll see some of you folks there.

  5. Denver 11/17 is always going to get the most props, but my personal fave is Hartford. Set 2 opener sequence is one of my faves of all time – a must hear. The only Cities of Fall 97!

    2: Character Zero-> Also Sprach Zarathustra-> Cities-> Ya Mar-> Punch You in the Eye->

  6. chilly hit this one on the head y’all.

    nutter center baby! are you kidding me?

    if phish had some super stealthy realm of hip underground lot version of “Now That’s What I Call Music”–sendspace Version 25—Tour ’97, it would be the huh huh uh uh uh uh huh Nutter Center.

    One of very few that are…(sorry glace and pt) actually epic amongst the dark, raunchy type II year known as ’97.

    nutter = better.

  7. bernstein,

    by the way.

    there’s no better way to fill an HT blog gap than with a 97 phish tour debate.

    ^^^geeks and proud of it.

    you’re a real rabble-rouser.

  8. nutter has a pretty strong first set, but the second set fizzles IMHO. then again, i was not there so it’s hard to say that a set that busts out boogie on reggae woman ‘fizzles’, as 12/30 gets a lot of weird flack from fans but is easily some of the best live phish i’ve ever seen.

    from what i saw, i’m giving the edge to 12/3 by a nose over hartford. both hartford’s first and second sets started strong and kind of fell apart. philly has the goods start to finish…not a throwaway in the bunch, nice flow and probably the best standalone show from the tour i can think of that encapsulates what the vibe on stage was about.

    /taking off the phish nerd cap now.

  9. I am gonna bend the rules and take set I from nutter and take set II from 11-21 hampton. Tough call on set II because the second sets each night at hampton are both face-melters. I think the first night has the edge on the guyute encore.

    these shows are all getting seeded over at etree too.

  10. What I would give to have seen 12/7 Set I followed by 12/6 Set II. That would have been the best show hands down of the tour. I think that Set II of 12/6 was the best of the tour. 12/7 was my first show ever so I am partial to that. I love 12/11 though.

  11. e center! i mean that in so many ways!!!

    actually, just kidding… that was awesome but 11/17/97 will live on in infamy… or whatever the good kind of famous is. that first set – Tweezer, Reba, Train Song, Ghost, Fire – was, well, on fire!!!

  12. i was just looking at the calendar yesterday when the YEM from Denver came on livephish – i couldn’t believe it’s been ten years since i felt the floor of the mc-nick shake… what a show… oh yeah, their hands are def faster than guns too…

  13. My Personal Favorite tour, i think the best show was 12-7 Dayton, it is fantastic, but my personal highlight was the 12-13-97 Bring in the dude nonsense.

    Ah the memories…

  14. I am with Dee on the E Center… The Runaway–>Gumbo–>Maze (illy)–>FEFY–>2001–>Bitch was really just defcon 5 levels of rediculous. And, the show was pretty much empty, as we know Salt Lake shows tend to be post-vegas.

  15. 11-26-97
    my birthday show
    and one of the hottest 2001’s

    PYITE, CITIES, YA MAR were other highlights…

    the cities was absolutely funktified

  16. Hampton ’97. Two of the coolest nights of my young life. The moment that Emotional Rescue started, I turned to my buddy Paul and said: “man, these will be the shows we always tell people ‘I was there.'”

    Winston Salem was nice too. Kind of like the Hampton encore.

  17. The Palace of Auburn hills tweezer, hartford tweezer, hampton tweezer, denver tweezer, bringin the dude albany, denver ghost, spectrum bowie, hamptons organ effect during hood, and WE ARE PENN STATE

  18. 12/7 was such a special night that will forever be etched in my memory. 50 phish shows and the best one I saw was in my hometown of Dayton, OH. So many highlights AC/DC Bag, Psycho Killer, Tube with stop and start jamming. If you are a Phish fan and have never heard this show go do yourself a favor. Also, honorable mention 12/11/97 I love that Mike’s PAAAGE BRING IN THE DUDE!

  19. 12/6/97.

    maybe it was the seats we had. maybe it was karma for the people who went to cleveland the night before with us and said it was a terrible show (its not) but weren’t going to detroit the next day. maybe it had something to do with people i overheard in the parking lot outside the Palace saying, “i never go in to a Palace show, it always sucks”. or maybe phish just got an awesome traditional polish meal in Hamtramck while in town. i dunno.

    but from the bass-tastic initial explosion of “Golgi”, something was different. best “Antelope” lighting i ever saw… perfectly placed “Train Song”, the rare and seamless “Gin>Foam”…

    then there’s the entire 2nd set, which defies belief. the segues are so purposeful (ESPECIALLY into “Piper”) its as if they were written that way.

    12/7 is trippin’. 12/6 is zen.

  20. Picking my favorite fall ’97 show is literally like picking a favorite child. 11/17/1997, even though it’s the one everybody’s heard, is incredible, best first set of the tour. Second night of Hampton is well known. The next night is under appreciated; the gin and especially the BEK are EPIC from the Winston-Salem show. Worcester run is pretty sick, THE jim isn’t just impressive for its length, there are at least four different themes and the music is incredible. Second night of Philly is great, especially the YEM->Bowie->Possum->Jam, and a Hood to boot. Auburn Hills may be the best; epic antelope, maze, TWEEZER->IZABELLA->Start stop funk jam is one of the highlights of the entire tour for me, good twist->piper. 12/11 is amazing, plus it circulates in SBD. I am OBSESSED with the second set. so I guess….

    1. 12/06
    2. 11/17
    3. 11/22
    4. 12/11
    5. 12/03
    6. 11/28
    7. 11/29
    8. 11/23
    9. 11/30

    NOTE: no Dayton, no Hartford.

  21. Oh yeah, other highlights:
    11/13: YEM, stash, mike’s groove
    11/16: Hood, Bowie
    11/19: Set II
    11/26: tweeeeeezer, 2001
    12/02: Mike’s
    12/05: Julius->Jam->Slave
    12/07: Tube->Jam
    12/09: Simple

  22. nutter center = #1 that show transcends the fall tour of 1997 and is easily became of the best of all time, not just 1997. People who don’t particularly enjoy fall 97 still enjoy dayton. sh*t is on point. Mind blowing versions of tube>slave, reba, guyute (had to be there) make it one of the best of the year, if not ever. Flawless, solid, inspired, improved playing throughout.

    denver = other favorites

  23. This was a special tour for me as I was able to see 11/19, 12/5, 12/6, and 12/7. I took a dear friend to his first show on 11/19 mind blowing second set with long jams and just all out crazy vibe. He was hooked from there on and also insisted he had to go with me to 12/5 12/6 and 12/7. I was also aloud to bring my 14 year old brother to 12/6. Anyways because I was at these shows IM partial to all but 12/5 and believe there all tied for some of the best shows I have ever seen.

  24. Salt Lake City @ the ‘E’ Centre was truly inspired. In an half-empty olympic hockey stadium. Almost no security, so peaceful. Check out the second set. I also caught Denver and that was just on fire!
    I’ve never needed to attend another Phish show after that tour. After Phish Destroys America I can die contented that my life kicked ass.

  25. I’ll always regret skipping Fall ’97. I saw the tour opener but had other obligations which in retrospect seem pointless…I hit every show I could from Island tour until the first hiatus but it was never the same as those magical months when Phish destroyed America.

  26. 12/11/97 and it’s not even close (haha. yeah. it’s close). The *first* set-opening PYITE-DWD-Maze takes up a full 45 minutes, and that’s before the best limb ever. Second set has my favorite Drowned->debut of Roses are Free. A huge Ghost->DWD reprise. Great SBD available.

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