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. Jeff Says:

    Divided Sky is my call. Trey has been lovin on this a lot. It rages. It will send the crowd into a manic state. And the pause will be ELECTRIC. best divided sky pause EVER.

  2. KRIVRAQ Says:

    or maybe just a classic, in your face Chalk Dust from the Jedi

  3. WSPilgrim Says:


  4. BourbonCowboy Says:

    I really think there’s a good chance of a new song opening. the boys have stated that they aren’t really interested in playing a lot of the classics and a new song would be a pretty convincing statement that we might not get to hear all of our old favorites real often.

    It would suck to have to wait through a whole song when everyone wants something more familiar to bring them back into Phish.

  5. wvbrdr Says:

    I like the Tweezer reprise (like second set opener 12-15-95). Or maybe Wilson to get the crowd to stop going crazy and on the same page as the band from the get-go.
    I would also love to see Bouncin’ shelved and never played again.

  6. MangoMan Says:

    At some point……
    1st nite: Bowie
    2nd. Ghost, YEM
    3rd. Hood

  7. showhe Says:

    @Jeff….any chance you’ll be at the Mad Frog tonight?

  8. PlethoraOfPinatas Says:

    @ contact420 & nonoyolker
    There’s nothing quite like a raging Bouncing. And I would put any 2000 Heavy Things up against any ’94 Reba, or ’95 Tweezer.

    Or, if you don’t like it as the opener, how about this for a ’97-style 4 song second set?

    Bouncing >
    Heavy Things >
    Dirt >

    Wading in the Velvet Sea

  9. showhe Says:


  10. R1 Says:


    Plethora of Pinatas has had too many shots of tequila this morning.

  11. Matso Says:

    If they mean business, they’ll open with First Tube

    Consider the whole east coast and parts of the Atlantic decimated.

  12. nonoyolker Says:

    ^Awesome. Throw in a caspian->secret smile segue and you have the perfect set

  13. ma Says:

    not one person has mentioned GOLGI… ticket situation!

  14. KRIVRAQ Says:

    a perfect ’97 would not be complete without a stellar Bye Bye Foot

  15. daven Says:


  16. Guyute Says:

    Why are ya’ll hating on thsoe songs?

    I love Bouncing, Heavy Thing, Dirt, Waste Caspian, And Secret Smile Just as much as the Yem’s, Bowies, Mike’s Groove and Tweezer…

    get off your high horses guys…

  17. verno329 Says:

    A ripping Brian and Robert would blow the place apart!

    (slaps self in face for the mere suggestion)

    Seriously if that song gets trotted out at any point during Phish 3.0 I will severely disappointed

  18. Guyute Says:

    stop bitchin about what songs you DONT want to hear and be thankful they’re playing at all

    Brian and Robert is a damn good tune. Not a great tune, but a damn good one

  19. A_Glide Says:

    Lengthwise > HYHU > Bike > HYHU > Cracklin Rosie > HYHU > Dust in the Wind

  20. R1 Says:


    HA! Dust in the Wind would be a monster. They would melt some faces. Like, PoP says, def. would compare to any ’94 Reba or ’95 Tweezer.

  21. PlethoraOfPinatas Says:

    @ A_Glide
    LMFAO imagining Fishman singing Dust In The Wind a la Old School…


  22. arkansasmule Says:

    walfredo opener!

    “it must be 10 yrs since i saw you…” haha

  23. brandofunk Says:

    I really think it will be undermind!! Undermind>Ghost!!

    Throughout the weekend I want to hear a Forbins, Tube BDTNL, Light, greyhound and whatever else they play

  24. dstee009 Says:

    Antelope>YEM>Backwards downthe number line>Back on the Train>PYTIE>Chalkdust

  25. Little Buddy Says:

    First tube makes sense in some ways. It simple, so despite the nervous energy they won’t screw it up, and there are no lyrics to be affected by nerves either. It’s relatively loud and is a good party starter. The more I think about it the more First Tube makes sense. My money is still on Curtain though. If I had a choice, I’d prefer Tube over anything else. Can’t wait to feel the energy in the mothership as the seconds tick down to go time! No matter what they play, its going to feel great!

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