The Hampton Opener?

508665625_591543fa33With 21 days to go until Hampton’s three-day reunion bash, few fans can stop speculating about what song the band will open up the third chapter of their career with.  Speculation has been running rampant daily on Phish Thoughts’ comment threads and Internet message boards all over, so I figured that we would dedicate this Friday to the question fans have been tossing around for almost five months now- “What will they open with?!”

Always a fun topic to discuss, even for a regular show, the reasoning used to support current theories are far more detailed and thought out for this comeback show.  Everyone has different opinions on what Phish will start with because everyone has different opinions on what message they will be trying to send.  What will they welcome us home with?  In the most highly anticipated show of the band’s career, the opener will be used to not only set the tone for the run, but for all of Phish 3.0.  Let’s explore some of the possibilities and reasonings for some potential tour openers. (Revised and updated from October.)

507814199_b5715078861. You Enjoy Myself: The magnificent opus that has long defined the band is one obvious choice for the opener; getting back to where it all began right off the bat.  “YEM” has always been Phish’s quintessential song, merging precise composition, loose improvisation, and silly lyrics.  Earlier this summer, Trey said he would give his left nut to play “YEM” five times in a row every day until he dies, however, odds are they will only play it once.  A “YEM” opener would signify the enthusiasm of the band to return to glory, and would get Hampton bumping in no time.  Usually reserved for the end of a set, “You Enjoy Myself” would be a perfect reentry into Phish’s kingdom.

2. Down With Disease: We all know how much the band loves to break out this song in big situations, and there has never been a Phish situation bigger than the one at hand.  “Disease” has to be a strong candidate for the first song out of the gates.  Lyrically symbolic of leaving their troubled times behind them, Phish will “be on their way” to becoming a dominant musical force and the inspiration for so many fans again.  The lyric, “Trying to stop these demons that keep dancing in my head,” delivers the message of redemption and a focus on the future and not the past.  The future is what 3.0 is about after all- letting bygones be bygones and moving forward.  In addition, “Disease” contains plenty of time for the crowd to let out minutes of deafening roars before launching into the jam.  This seems like strong candidate.

Hampton (C. Clark)

Hampton (C.Clark)

3. Chalk Dust Torture: One of the most frequently played songs in the band’s career, and a clear favorite of Trey’s, this song could be used to open the run and whip the crowd into an immediate frenzy.  A common set opener, this is another likely candidate.  Lyrically fitting, the reprise of, “Can’t I live while I’m young?” still has profound meaning for Phish and their aging fan base, and it would be a poignant message to deliver right away.  If the band wants to start back with some straight rock and roll, you can be sure that “Chalk Dust” will be leading off.

4. Tube: If Phish wants to use Pulp Fiction’s technique of giving us an adrenaline shot directly to the heart, they will choose “Tube.”  Can you imagine if the lights went out, they stepped on stage, and an asteroid crashed?!  The place might just pop- the energy would be straight up, unfathomable.  This would be the opener in a crazy dream you might have, but it could happen- this is Hampton after all.

507864448_9be89ae1455. Punch You In the Eye / Wilson: Either “Punch” or “Wilson” would serve as a rowdy Gamhendge supercharge right from the get go.  Both of these songs would bring forth amazing energy and get the crowd re-situated in Phishland very quickly.  With nothing too improvised, these songs would, nonetheless, get Hampton sweating and bouncing in no time at all, complete with audience participation.

6. Mike’s: If Phish were to come out to the opening licks of  “Mike’s”- forget about it.  We would witness the immediate implosion of the venue and surrounding Hampton area.  This would be the ultimate statement that “We are back, and we mean business.”  Hampton “Mike’s Songs” were a staple of Phish’s previous life, and this would be the perfect time to drop the sixth one ever.  Imagine if three minutes into Phish 3.0 we plunged into a 511197412_b46c4bbe11militant “Mike’s” jam!?  Whew!  Just the thought of it makes my heart pound faster.  A “Mike’s” would catapult us back into the thick of things with little time to mentally or physically warm up for the madness.  This would be a dream come true- a Hampton”Mike’s” straight away.  This would be incredibly powerful.

7. Get Back On the Train: If this song were selected, it would obviously be a lyrical choice that would reflect the band’s personal battles they have overcome to reach the stage together once again.  Although the lyrics fit the situation, this would be an incredibly underwhelming choice for Hampton’s opener.  An average song at best, this one wouldn’t have the same musical effect as other choices.  But who knows, Phish could open with this and drop right into YEM, something not so far fetched.  Although there would be legitimate meaning here, I think the opener will be a bit bigger.

8. Undermind: This song, the title track of Phish’s last album, was never played in 2004.  Busted out by Trey’s solo band a couple of times years ago, this song would be a perfect musical and lyrical fit to open up the rest of time.

Relocated, not retired
Reprimanded and rewired

Mystified and mishapen
Misinformed, but not mistaken

Reinvented, redefined
Rearranged, but not refined

These spot on lyrics, infectious melodies, and chunky grooves could be the ideal opener.  Familiar, yet never played, it would represent Phish bridging their past with a new sure-to-be crowd favorite.  This could be the perfect way to start- with a new jam we have never heard.



9. The Curtain (With): This would seem like the natural choice to lead off with since they closed Coventry with a horribly botched version of their hallowed classic.  Beginning in the wrong key, the band had to stop and take it from the top for their their last song ever.  It was sad.  But now there is a chance to right the wrong of Coventry, and they could very well choose to symmetrically open up their next chapter by nailing the gorgeous composition which leads into an uplifting jam.  It would give a nod to the fact that Coventry was not the way it was supposed to end, and that Phish is back to do things the right way again.  Used as a launching pad into a larger jam vehicle, they could use a “Curtain (With) > YEM” combo to open the show in incredibly Phishy fashion.  “Curtain” could also be paired with a lot of other songs to initiate the party.  “Curtain > Tweezer,” anyone?

508844243_dbfa6d4e5c10. A New Song: It is very possible, since Phish will evolve into a different monster, that they will come out with something we’ve never heard before. With all the new material Trey and Tom have been writing, it would be a very Phishy move to ignore the obvious classic choices and welcome people to the future with a song that nobody has heard.  It would send the message, “We are back, and don’t expect us to be the same.”

Matured with a greater perspective, the band could come out and drop something that reflects their renewal- a proposition that seems very inviting.  Phish will be different, that is for sure; so we might as well start off on a new foot.  While I think “Backwards Down the Number Line” will open up a second set during the three night run, it could be what they come out of the gates with.

hampton0The first notes that emanate from the stage at Hampton will spark joy and jubilation in the minds of thousands, and it could take so many different routes.  These are merely some of the possibilities I have conjured up, and I am sure there are more legitimate guesses out there.  They could always open up with “Runaway Jim,” like most every other show in history- who knows?  What do you think?  One of these?  Something different?  Respond in comments and let’s hear what you think!

12.17.95 Olympic Center, Lake Placid, NY < LINK

Olympic Center, Lake Placid, NY

Olympic Center, Lake Placid, NY

This is the final show of the marathon 54-gig run of Fall ’95. Well-oiled and firing on all cylinders, Phish would conclude their epic journey with two standout shows in the intimate upstate New York venue.  I’d run through highlights, but the setlist speaks for itself.

I: My Friend My Friend, Poor Heart, A Day in the Life, Run Like an Antelope, The Mango Song, Tube, Stash, Lizards, Chalk Dust Torture

II: Bouncing Around the Room, Maze, Free, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Harry Hood, Sparkle, Tweezer > Tweezer Reprise

E: Hello My Baby, Runaway Jim

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233 Responses to “The Hampton Opener?”

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  1. Uncle Jam Says:

    I dunno, but I’m raging to 93 roxy second set Tweezer>izabella etc. I can’t stop. I lost my face.

  2. Uncle Jam Says:

    er, 97 palace…

  3. hairy pood Says:

    i think the wedge would be fitting, but tube would be the best. alas, i won’t be there 🙁

  4. Joe England Says:

    Buried Alive>Birds of a Feather

    I really enjoy people’s input on this site so i was wondering what people would do if they were in my shoes: I do not have a ticket for any of the Hampton run, but i have friends who are driving there so i would have a ride and probably have around $100-200 for a ticket to the first night. Normally i would be ok with missing it and wait to get down at Deer Creek but March 6 will be my 29th birthday. So A) Would you come all the way from Indiana without a ticket, and B) What percentage of a chance do you think I have of scoring a opening night ticket? Help me out

  5. ATL 007 (CWgang) Says:

    I had a dream it will be “Zero”…..Not an old time classic like Mikes, YEM, Tube etc…….But a great energy rock in your face tune…I love it. Great chance for the band and all of us to get our feet wet. I have said in the past weeks that whatever the song is, the crowd will be so loud it might drowned out any first song. ………..I am busting to get it on and thank God Feb is a short month.!…
    Side note>>Look for a breakout Pebbles and Marbles. Got a feeling it is time to take this tune to next level. A total four band member song.
    Be Safe All….Thank you Mr. M …my 6:00am coffee is much better with your site!

  6. hairy pood Says:

    i would definitely go if i were you. i’m all the way out in WA with no ticket and no money, but i’d go if i had a ride. there’s always a way to get inside

  7. c0wfunk Says:

    I’d love to see Phish come in with something brand new, but I have a feeling they will wait for the new stuff until the roar dies down a bit, so we can digest what they’re doing. I think what these boys need most is to shed fan expectations and just play whatever makes them artistically happen.

    I think a lot about the Dead’s hiatus in 75 and how when they came back in 76 it was barely even the same band. Some old songs remained, but setlists were completely reworked. Set 2s had a whole new focus. This is what I”d love to see from Phish… some of the old favorites worked in, but overall, a fresh new approach to making shows into magic.

    All that said, I think I’m going with the Down With Disease call.

  8. c0wfunk Says:

    “makes them artistically happy” that should be.

    Though artistically happen works in a way 😉

  9. Jerzey Says:

    I think its gonna be a nasty Runaway Jim- and second set will be Bathtub Gin

  10. axillalot Says:

    Sanity makes perfect sense, even in all it’s nonsense! I mean think about the opening words, Trey singing them, the band reaffirming them . . .

    Lost my mind just a couple of times (lost his mind), lost my mind just a couple of times . . .

    . . . thnk about it . . .

  11. WALSH Says:

    Ha, Ha, Ha-> The Curtain With. I just wish I had the tix to get in to the shows : ( Oh well, doing Asheville->Knoxville, and probably Star Lake. Hopefully The Gorge too;)

  12. c0wfunk Says:

    ha ha ha would be great .. it was the opener at my first show, also at hampton, I think the space time continuum may split in two if this happens though.

  13. DFB/Kayak Guy Says:

    It’s going to be Free.

  14. Panzarotti Says:

    Conventional wisdon would lead you to believe it’ll be something easy to play with some room for improv (Runaway Jim). But as we all know, Phish and conventional wisdom don’t mix.

    Whatever it is I’m sure I’ll be getting punched in the arm, slapped in the back, and bear hugged by all the people around me.

  15. Matso Says:

    When I try to imagine what Hampton is going to feel like with any song that I come up with as a potential opener – Poor Heart, PYITE, Divided Sky, NICU, etc – I get goosebumps.


    It doesn’t matter to me…

  16. G-Man Says:

    If I were a betting man, my money would be on DWD or Curtain (With)…but there’s another part of me that says they will never play those because they’re so predictable and we all know that Phish likes to do the unexpected.

    Any possibility of a poinant cover song?

    I remember trying to guess what song they would play to close the pre-midnight set at Cypress. Of course the only thing I could think of was 1999 (Prince)…sooo predictable ….and when they busted out After-Midnight I was like “DOH!!! I should have thought of that!”

    BTW- anybody guess that one right? Be honest now.

    So back to Hampton, I’m sticking with my first 2 picks but if it were a cover….hmmm… about…..uhhh…..I suck at this game……ummm….We Are the Champions (Queen)

    I’ve paid my dues –
    Time after time –
    I’ve done my sentence
    But committed no crime –
    And bad mistakes
    I’ve made a few
    I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face –
    But I’ve come through

    We are the champions – my friends
    And we’ll keep on fighting – till the end –
    We are the champions –
    We are the champions
    No time for losers
    ‘Cause we are the champions – of the world –

    I’ve taken my bows
    And my curtain calls –
    You brought me fame and fortuen and everything that goes with it

    I thank you all –

    But it’s been no bed of roses
    No pleasure cruise –
    I consider it a challenge before the whole human race –
    And I ain’t gonna (never) lose –

    We are the champions – my friends
    And we’ll keep on fighting – till the end –
    We are the champions –
    We are the champions
    No time for losers
    ‘Cause we are the champions – of the world –

    A long shot I know but it is triumphant and celebratory.

  17. The Divided Sky Says:

    i had dreams last night of Bonnaroo and Hampton…. a massive bug and YEM were the songs i can only remember… but the crowd wa huge.. it was such a surreal dream… but the lights were so pristine…

  18. Pencilneck Says:

    It’s gonna be impossible to hear for the first 10 minutes anyhoo. The roof is gonna come off. The Curtain With would heal some wounds, but I don’t think looking back is the direction they’ll be taking. Tube would kill it. Tube!

  19. Al Says:

    Secret Smile!!!! — hey, just kidding! Hope for a new song to open the 3.0 era. And as a treat for having welcomed that new territory we’ll get our Mike’s Song in second place;-)

  20. larocca41 Says:

    I would like to see a First Tube opener… get the crowd raging right away!

  21. Mutha_Ohks Says:


    Fri.- Wilson
    Sat.- Runaway Jim
    Sun- 46 Days

    Wilson opener because of a few reasons: it’s loud (think piper 12.31.02- we couldn’t hear the first half of the song), and it communicates with the frantic crowd right away. It curbs cheering at the band, to with the band. ba dum/ba dum WILSON! ba dum/ba dum WILSON! ba dum/ba dum WILSON! ::face melts, spaceship departs::

    Runaway Jim (23 minutes) to start sat. the night of the run that will be all about the jam, and reconnecting that improvisational magic. This will be the night of our 4 song second set.

    46 Days to begin our final night of a nice funk/rock show. Also a chance for trey to tip his cap to elephant in the room that was his stint with drugs.

  22. showhe Says:

    “6. Mike’s: If Phish were to come out to the opening licks of “Mike’s”- forget about it. We would witness the immediate implosion of the venue and surrounding Hampton area.”

    I’m at work and I laughed out loud at this, I think my co-workers think I’m nuts. I think no matter what is played the place is going to implode.

    I love the DWD opener, always have, but my money is on PYITE or Wilson, get the crowd uber pumped with some participation and then fly on from there.

    PYITE > DWD is my call.

    Wish I could be there to celebrate but I’ll have to wait for Knox. Miner, have you found a taper to help with the next day d/l?

  23. Wilfred Brimley Says:

    I agree with Miner that the first few minutes will be so loud with crowd applause that they will need to play something with an intro such as Disease, PYITE, etc…The one Phishy song that I haven’t seen thrown out is a first song repeat from MSG ’02- Piper…. Can you imagine the looks on some faces if they did bust Piper out first again? One last thing, did they ever play Sand post hiatus? If they didn’t, I think Sand could bring some sick improve from version 3.0, possibly as an opener…?

  24. Mutha_Ohks Says:

    oh- GTBT encore on friday night.

  25. JMAN926 Says:

    Open with DWD. Really, any choice will be rad – nobody will “really” care when the lights go down. I think they will close the entire weekend with curtain with. Might be a nice nod to the end of coventry – end of hampton (both anticipated shows, one was the “end”, the other a “new” beginning) and would be fairly symmetrical.
    I dont think chalkdust as an openenr b/c they did it in 04.
    All that having been said, Tube would crush.

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