The Phish show at Wright State University’s Ervin J. Nutter Center on December 7th, 1997 is the stuff of legend for fans of the band. While Phish fans constantly debate about the merit of various performances, 12/7/97 is one of the few that are universally agreed upon as an all-time great (same goes for the wild “Tube” jam from the show’s first set). The show was later issued as an official archival release.
This past weekend, a recording of the band’s soundcheck from that historic evening in Ohio surfaced online via a tweet by Scott Marks. The brief pre-show session hears a loose, playful band touch on a number of songs, though only two (“Boogie On Reggae Woman” and “My Mind’s Got A Mind Of Its Own”) made it onto the evening’s setlist.
The rest of the soundcheck comes across as a stream-of-conscious jam session for the band. The opening “Boogie On Reggae Woman” leads into a “Funky Bitch”-like space, prompting Trey to lead the band full-tilt into a rendition of the Son Seals cover adorned with some “Black-Eyed Katy” teases. Trey also took lead vocals on this rendition of the song, which is usually sung by Mike Gordon when performed by Phish.
Playing off each other’s tones, the band moves through a snippet of The Spinners‘ “I’ll Be Around”. A laughing Trey jokes, “That was more hideous than that thing Fish said that time” before inserting a nod to The Simpson‘s next with some riffing on “For No Reason Here’s Apu” followed by a quick take on the theme from “Demand”.
As the opening notes to “My Mind’s Got A Mind Of Its Own” enter the mix, Trey reminds them that they’ve got to practice this one if they’re going to play it tonight, prompting a full rendition of the bluegrass ditty. As “My Mind’s Got A Mind Of Its Own” peters out, the band moves into a humorously half-assed attempt at Ween‘s “The Stallion (Pt. 3)”.
Of note, this soundcheck took place just four days before Phish covered Ween’s “Roses Are Free” for the first time on 12/11/97 in Rochester. “Roses Are Free” went on to become a setlist staple for Phish in the ensuing decades, while “The Stallion (Pt. 3)” has never been played by the band during an actual show. While that fact is probably for the best (take a listen and you’ll know why), it does show that the band was clearly going through a Ween phase in early December 1997.
Out of the “Stallion” vamp, Trey drops into the riff from Led Zeppelin‘s “The Rover”, and the rest of the band follows suit. At that point, Phish had never played “The Rover” live, and they wouldn’t for another 13 years after this until they closed their first set with it on 6/24/10 in Camden, NJ. That performance marked Phish’s only official rendition of the Physical Graffiti cut.
Finally, satisfied with the way they’re sounding, the rest of the band saunters offstage as Jon Fishman practices his drums and vocals for “Limb By Limb”, which they had debuted earlier that year.
You can listen to the full 12/7/97 soundcheck below:
Phish – 12/7/97 – Soundcheck – Full Audio
Phish 12/7/97 Soundcheck Video Tracklisting
00:00 – Boogie On Reggae Woman
07:25 – Funky Bitch (Trey on lead vocals)
16:56 – I’ll Be Around (The Spinners, snippet)
18:47 – For No Reason Here’s Apu (From The Simpsons)
19:59 – Demand (19:59)
20:26 – My Mind’s Got A Mind Of Its Own (Butch Hancock)
24:15 – The Stallion (Pt. 3) (Ween, snippet)
26:05 – The Rover (Led Zeppelin)
29:10 – Limb By Limb (Just Fishman on drums)
You can download a lossless version of Phish’s 12/7/97 soundcheck for your personal collection here and stream the full show below:
Phish – 12/7/97 – Full Audio
Setlist: Phish | Ervin J. Nutter Center | Dayton, OH | 12/7/97
Soundcheck: Boogie On Reggae Woman, Funky Bitch, I’ll Be Around, For No Reason Here’s Apu, Demand, My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own, The Stallion Pt 3, The Rover, Limb By Limb
SET 1: AC/DC Bag -> Psycho Killer -> Jesus Just Left Chicago, My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own > It’s Ice -> Swept Away > Steep > It’s Ice > Theme From the Bottom, Tube, Jam -> Slave to the Traffic Light
SET 2: Timber (Jerry The Mule) > Wolfman’s Brother -> Boogie On Reggae Woman > Reba, Guyute > Possum
ENCORE: A Day in the Life
 No whistling.
Psycho Killer was unfinished. JJLC included a Rocky Mountain Way tease. Boogie On Reggae Woman was played for the first time since September 13, 1988 (988 shows). Reba did not have the whistling ending. Possum included “Charge!” teases and a We Will Rock You tease from Mike. The soundcheck’s Funky Bitch featured Trey on vocals and included Black-Eyed Katy teases. Mike teased Boogie On Reggae Woman in The Stallion Pt 3. Trey teased Purple Haze at the end of The Rover. This show is available as an archival release on LivePhish.com.