Phish Plays Limbo During Soundcheck Karaoke In Italy In 1997

Watch footage of "You Shook Me All Night Long," "MMMBop," "And It Stoned Me" and more from the unusual performance.

By Andy Kahn Jul 6, 2022 6:00 am PDT

Phish was in the midst of European Summer Tour when they appeared at Spiaggia di Rivoltella in the northern Italian town of Desenzano on this date in 1997. Prior to the start of the outdoor concert, the band held a wild soundcheck during which fans were invited onstage to sing with the foursome Karaoke-style and participate in a mic-stand limbo contest.

The well-attended, open to the public pre-show warmup started innocently enough 25 years ago today, as Trey Anastasio led the group through his “Samson Variation” instrumental rarity penned with his teacher Ernie Stires. The precursor to “Shafty” – the also rare upbeat rocker “Olivia’s Pool” – came next before a take on the bluegrass staple “Beauty Of My Dreams.” The bells of a nearby church then began to ring and Phish played along by covering a portion of AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells” and then fired up “You Shook Me All Night Long” and the antics only grew from there.

A silly take on Hanson’s “Mmmbop” complete with drummer Jon Fishman’s screeching James Brown impersonation and a 23-beat mid-song breakdown came next. Trey then prompted the Karaoke and limbo contest portion of the practice set. Utilizing microphone stands for the game of limbo, fans were brought up to front Phish on Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust,” Van Morrison’s “And It Stoned Me,” My Bloody Valentine’s “Only Shallow” and the traditional “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song).”

Audience-shot video footage capturing the unusual Phish performance can be viewed below:

The Pharchive (See 49 videos)
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Soundcheck Setlist (via

Samson Variation -> Olivia’s Pool, Beauty of My Dreams, Hell’s Bells, You Shook Me All Night Long, MMMBop, Another One Bites the Dust, And It Stoned Me, Only Shallow, The Banana Boat Song (aka Day-O)

[Originally Published: July 6, 2016]

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