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?”

  1. cjj2d Says:

    Reading over all those scenarios just made all the hair on my body stand up. The roar when the lights go down the first time is going to be deafening, the energy unmatched, PHISH is BACK!
    I have been tossing this same question of what they open with for months as well. All these have been considered, but how can we leave out the possible Suzie Greenberg? the energy from a suzie would tear the place apart as well. But I must go with Chalk Dust > YEM!!!! crazy yes, but would be sick!

  2. unclejohn Says:

    we’ve got a great pool going here that you’re all more than welcome to join if you’d like.

    we have 12 people so far which means there are plenty of great songs left to bid on.

    winner takes all. good luck and see you at the shows!!!

  3. JMAN926 Says:

    I like showhe’s call too – the PYITE>DWD would be great. Anybody think that there will be a more focused style of playing this year? Not as energetic as say, 94, but a similar appraoch to the improv?

  4. cason Says:

    write this down because its going to happen…

    TWEEZER REPRISE> Simple#, Mikes>H2>Weekapaug, Hood##, YEM

    # – “cause we’ve got a band”
    ## – best glow stick war ever.

  5. RobAins Says:

    I didn’t Know!

    …….that I was that far gone 🙂

  6. mathew Says:

    I think it has to be Tweezer, just a straight throw down from the beginning

  7. R1 Says:

    Buried Alive

    I had a thought yesterday of a cover song that would lead to the most intense, militant, dark nastiness: War Pigs. It would be siiiiiiick.

  8. easo91 Says:

    I think that a PYITE opener would be too tame(the intro anyway), they need something that starts with a bang, or a shorter intro.

    I’ve really been feeling Fluffhead lately. It would send Hampton into the Stratosphere and would show that they are back with a vengeance. I can just here the build-up and the swell as they peak “FLUFFHEEEEAAAAAAAADDDDD yea!!!!!!!!” It would be a sublime opener, and then I wouldn’t care if they played Waste, Character Zero, Caspian, and Farmhouse for the rest of the set.

  9. JMAN926 Says:

    Cason – you know Twombley?

  10. cottle Says:

    I’m sticking w/ my Frankenstein prediction. I know it’s usually an encore or late in the second set kind of tune, but I really think this would set the party off. An AC/DC Bag would be great too…”let’s get this show on the road”.

    They could open w/ Jennifer Dances for all I care…if the boys are back on stage, and I’m in the crowd, that’s all that matters.

  11. MangoMan Says:

    Just to get their nerves out and its something they can play in their sleep to rock the house down. The opener will be………………….
    then… Curtain(with)!
    Please me have no regrets.

    2nd nite; Wilson>GBOTT
    3rd. Tweezer>Makisupa

  12. Chalkdustin Says:

    I think there’a good change for all of these, and I agree with Miner that it needs to be loud loud loud. The spaceship is going to erupt. My prediction is PYITE>Chalk Dust. Curtain to close. I think they’ll bust out Backwards in the second set. Or who knows. The boys should just play what they’re feeling that night. I’ll be sporting the biggest grin regardless.

  13. Frankie Says:

    yeah R1! I go with Buried Alive also…

    Buried Alive > Alive* > Bug

    *Pearl Jam cover (first time played)

    Oh! It doesn’t matter! :p

  14. showhe Says:

    No way they are opening with Fluffhead.

    As far as covers go…how about a ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ opener. 😉

    Fishman: “You know where you are? You’re in the jungle baby!”

  15. TheDropper Says:

    Undermind would be sweeeeet! I wouldn’t think they would open with a new tune, seems they would want to ride the emotional energy of something people have heard. However, don’t rule out a cover.

    Funny if they played Queen – The Show Must Go On

  16. G-Man Says:

    ^^ My icon is boring. axillalot and showhe have cool ones.

    I’m changing my vote. I think Mutha_Ohks is right with the Wilson call.

  17. Al Says:

    THINK OF THIS: Imagine they don’t start a song at all, cause it is too loud…. Trey and the guys waiting and waiting with a big grin on their faces…and then Trey steps forward to the mic and says:”We’re taking request!” And then the roof blows off and they have to wait and wait again and…….that was the first set. An audience jam!! That would be nice for the NO SPOILERS downloads in fact…(oh my God, I’m startin’ to lose my mind, I think…)
    I’m trying to think of an opener that would be actually dissapointing…. maybe Character zero or Bug.

  18. McGrupp 3.0 Says:

    my #1 choice for the first tune to rekindle the phish flame, that burned so brightly, is down with disease, but another option that i think would be fittingly for the “mothership” would be 2001. it has a great build up to let the crowd release all of the pent up adreniline and is a great medium to segue into another jam.

  19. Ortweezer Reprise Says:

    Bathtub Gin. This song is easy to ease into. It builds slowly, which I think will be the style of Phish 3.0 jamming. Trey was extremely dilligent during Trey tour last year to build each jam the way that he made famous. I think he will do that all over Phish tour this year. Follow the Formula. Bathtub also grows to a euphoric peak that oozes positivity which I think will also be a theme of this summer. The dark menacing phish will be there, but will not be the focus this summer. Therefore bathtub Gin is my call. I am surprised that nobody called Llama. And don’t forget that Runaway Jim is the most common opener ever.

  20. cason Says:

    YEM – way to complicated as an opener. the band will have nerves and returning to stage will be an adrenaline rush for even the most jaded rockstar. if they, (read trey) botch the intro it will be awful. not that they can’t still nail it, but i think it might be setting the bar to high as an opener.

    DWD – probably my favorite song in concert. the jam out of DWD always gets me locked in and groovin. i could see it as the opener. it says we are here to play, now eat this crazy sick celebratory rock n roll.

    Chalkdust – its been done. way too predictable.

    Tube – -would be an interesting choice. it would definitely get people up and moving in a hurry. my buddy david and i were calling a tube>funky bitch opener in hampton 98 when they did the Rock n Roll 2>Tube, Quinn, Funky bitch. close but no cigar.

    PYITE – fucking love it. it would be a sick opener.

    Wilson – fucking hate it. it would immediately deflate my balloon. way to really suck the energy out of the crowd. this is probably the most exuberant crowd phish will ever play in front of and a wilson opener would draw that energy down right away.

    Mikes – i was on the rail when they opened up with mikes 2nd night 97. the energy in the room before the band even took the stage was probably the most pumped i’ve ever seen a phish crowd. the wave was just flying around the coliseum fast as shit. amazing. i could totally see a mikes.

    GBOTT – mehhhh. talk about sucking the energy out of the room. they might play it some point over the course of the weekend but not to open.

    Undermind – weird choice for an opener. i like the song ok but really, undermind? really?

    Curtain With – used to be one of my favorite songs. now it just makes me sad. i bawled like a little girl the last time that song was played. if they break into the “with” part of the song to open Hampton, i am likely to start crying all over again and no body wants that.

    New Song – i would never put it past the boys to open up with something new. as long as i have been seeing phish the one thing that stayed consistent was how they changed. i remember standing on the lawn in va beach 97 when they dropped into ghost and saying “what is this shit? this is terrible.” they would forever prove me wrong two nights later in ATL. if they go with a new song i think it will be BDTNL.

    you decide what it contains,
    how long it goes but this remains,
    the only rule is it begins,
    happy, happy, oh my friend.

    seems written for this occasion.

  21. cason Says:


    are you married to carson?

  22. cason Says:


  23. cason Says:

    he and i were in coventry together. he rode back to SC with a bunch of my friends.

  24. Jerzey Says:

    Good possablilty of a pertanent cover- I think back to Great Woods, first time back when they opened with Boston’s “Long Time”. I’m going with Immegrant Song

  25. JMAN926 Says:

    I only have a sunday ticket. Man, I hope I get in on Friday. The Mikes opener would lay it down – however, just considering that Mike sings the song, I am guessing Trey will want to get out and “say” something to the crowd to start things off. I think Mikes will be night 2 or 3. And it will be glorious.

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