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Band

June 1997

The months following the March 18, 1997 Flynn Theatre benefit show were busy with writing, practicing, the release of the Mike’s Corner book, solo projects and guest appearances. Most of the last week of May and the first week of June, 1997 were spent at the band’s rehearsal space in Vermont learning and developing new tunes written mainly by Tom Marshall and Trey in the preceding months.

The band decided to give the new tunes a live run on June 6 at (road manager) Brad Sand’s and (drum tech) Pete Carini’s house in Charlotte, VT. The event, affectionately known as the Fourth Ball or Bradstock, was attended by 50-60 friends and family members. It was a sunny June afternoon and a clear evening. The band played using practice gear (their road equipment was already being shipped overseas for the Europe tour) on the back porch facing the rabble who stood, danced and reclined on rented bales of hay in the yard. Game three of the NBA Finals took place that day. It was Chicago vs. Utah and Fish (a die-hard Bulls fan) showed up wearing a Boston Celtics jersey. Dogs were barking, the barbecue was manned by PK and Carini, and the festivities began. During set I, the band ran through most of the new tunes. Limb by Limb, Dogs Stole Things, Ghost, Water in the Sky, Vultures, Dirt, Twist, Piper, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Olivia’s Pool, I Don’t Care, the instrumental Samson Variation and Fish’s Bye Bye Foot were all played for the first time. At around 11pm, beer ran out and an emergency call was made to a local pub, The Three Needs, for beer reinforcements (which arrived promptly). Set II featured mostly repeated (and smoother) versions of the same tunes with the additions of Waking Up, the J.J. Cale cover Funny as it Seems and two tunes played by Mike and Trey a couple weeks earlier at the first and only performance by New York! at Burlington’s Club Toast: Sly and the Family Stone’s Stand and Izabella (spelled Isabella in honor of Trey’s youngest daughter) by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Although the Vermont State Police eventually came to shut down the music, they were too late. They conveniently arrived just after set II and the encore ended.

On June 11th, band and crew flew to Dublin. Upon their arrival in Ireland for their first appearance there they participated in the local tradition of afternoon Guinness pints at various local pubs. The next day was a tech rehearsal at the S.F.X. Centre, where the band again reviewed the new tunes, leading to the first "jammed out" version of Ghost. June 13th was the first of two shows at the S.F.X. Centre in Dublin and the public debut of many of the new songs. Debuts continued on June 14th at the second Dublin show. Afterward, the notably underdressed band and Tom Marshall went to Lilly’s Bordello, an exclusive private club, and celebrated. Later that night, the buses and passengers embarked on the long ferry ride to England.

On June 16th, Phish made their first appearance at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The obvious and oft-predicted selection A Day in the Life was conspicuously absent from the set list. June 17th and 18th were days off in Vienna, Austria. The new song The Meatstick was penned when Brad, Trey, Fish, Page and (manager) John Paluska came across the last item remaining in the hotel minibar. On June 19th, a series of contests/bets took place on the bus on the way to Prague. First, Trey beat Tom in a water drinking contest. After drinking a gallon of water in the first contest, Tom challenged Fish to a beer guzzling contest. Tom (drinking a gallon-of-water handicap sized 12oz beer) beat Fish, who drank a 16 ouncer, and Tom won $100. Then, Tom took on Brad in an identical guzzling contest and Tom won another $100. Finally Brad was challenged by the group to eat a playing card in order to win his $100 back. He successfully ate the rules card in one sitting and won the $100. Trey, Tom and Fish then offered Brad $5200 to finish the deck but Brad wisely refused ("you got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run" — Brad ran). On June 20th, Phish played Divadlo Archa (Archa Theatre) in Prague, Czech Republic. The show’s highlight was an inspired version of the Talking Heads’ Cities.

The Hurricane Open Air Festival took place on June 21st. At the festival, Phish played a set that was just under 2 hours, featuring the first Samson Variation played in public. This June 21st version of Limb by Limb showcased Fish as he tried to play what Trey called "an inhuman computer drumbeat" and sing the song’s chorus at the same time. On June 22nd, the band played another single set at the WDR Festival in St. Goarshausem, Koblenz, Germany. At Koblenz, the band shared the bill with many performers, including Steve Winwood who performed a set of mostly Traffic tunes. June 23rd was a day off in Strasbourg, France where more betting nearly took place. Trey and (lighting designer) Chris Kuroda offered Brad approximately $700 to strip to his underwear and swim across the river flowing through downtown and back. Like the offer to undertake a meal of 52 cards, Sandsio again wisely refused.

On June 24th Phish played La Laiterie in Strasbourg. "Highlights" of the show included a Gypsy Queen jam during Runaway Jim and a Loving Cup encore. During set II’s Wading in the Velvet Sea, Pete Carini left his position at the side of the stage in order to procure and eat a chocolate crepe. When harrassed by Page later for leaving his post during "a jam", Carini replied "It was not a jam, it was Velvet Sea."

June 25th found the band at L’Aeronef in Lille, France. According to Brad, it was the site of "the worst catering ever". Chris called it "Cat Yak" at the time. The show, however, featured an excellent second set with a partially narrated McGrupp during which Makisupa Policeman was teased, the instrument-switching Rock A William, an inspired Run Like an Antelope with extensive crew introductions, and the first performances of The Meatstick and the Simon and Garfunkel cover, Cecilia (performed solo by Fish, who accompanied himself using drumsticks on a pillow).

The band played the day’s kick-off set on the main stage at a rainy and muddy Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm in Pilton, Somerset, England on June 26. After the set, the band flew that night to Denmark. June 28th was a day off in Copenhagen and some of the band and crew went to Roskilde Festival to check it out. On June 29th, Phish wrapped up the month with their set at Roskilde (their first appearance there since June 27, 1992). They played for just under an hour and a half, opening with You Enjoy Myself and ending with the Clifton Chenier cover My Soul as an encore. Phish’s set was followed by Isaac Hayes on the same stage while other performers, including Beck, also played. Following Roskilde, band and crew began the overnight bus trip to Amsterdam. It was during this bus trip that Fish made his infamous climb the length of the double-decker bus roof while traveling down the road (punctuated by numerous overpasses providing only 3 inches of clearance above the bus roof) at highway speed. June, 1997 came to a close as Phish prepared to continue their European tour through the first weeks of July.