As we are now constantly thinking about the beginning of tour and what might develop with so much new material waiting in the wings, let’s look back at some other tour openers where slews of new songs made their debuts in years past.
1994: 4.4.94 Burlington, VT
The first show of 1994 marked the beginning of Phish’s combined spring and summer tour. Beginning in their hometown of Burlington, at the Flynn Theatre, the band embarked on the road a mere week after Hoist was released. Arriving to the Flynn with a plethora of premieres to play, this show featured six debuts, including the full “Down With Disease” whose jam rang in the New Year in Worcester months earlier. Other Hoist songs that were introduced at the Flynn were “Scent of a Mule,” “If I Could,” “Wolfman’s Brother,” “Julius,” and the short-lived Jungle Book cover, “I Wanna Be Like You.” Enhancing the debuts of “Julius,” “Wolfman’s,” and “I Wanna Be Like You” was the full lineup of The Giant Country Horns, who joined Phish for the majority of the second set.
1995: 5.16.95 Lowell, MA
Although this was not the first show of summer tour, outright, this one set benefit for Voters For Choice was the first show of the year. Before Phish took the stage, after two opening acts, host Gloria Steinem promised fans more new music in one night than ever before, and Phish delivered. Debuting ten songs in a single set, many which wound up on Billy Breathes, the only songs performed that Phish had played before were “Reba,” “YEM,” and “Sample.” The setlist went like this:
Don’t You Wanna Go, Ha Ha Ha, Spock’s Brain, Strange Design, Reba, Theme From the Bottom, HYHU > Lonesome Cowboy Bill > HYHU, Free , Glide II, You Enjoy Myself, Sweet Adeline, Sample in a Jar E: I’ll Come Running > Gloria
Among the ten debuts, three were covers, and two were played only at this show. The encore of Brina Eno’s “I’ll Come Running” into Van Morrison’s “Gloria,” in honor of Ms. Steinem, was a circumstantial choice. But Velvet Underground’s “Lonesome Cowboy Bill” would pop up twice more during Summer ’95, again in Vegas for Halloween ’98, and one more time in Camden’s 2003 standout first set. (Note: “Taste” and “Acoustic Army” were debuted at 1995’s first real show on June 7th in Boise, ID. This is also when the general public got their first taste of much of Lowell’s new music.)
Though not much new music debuted in 1996, Phish used an unannounced show a month before summer tour at a bar in Woodstock, NY billed as “Third Ball” to unveil “Character Zero” and “Waste”- two songs that would go on to become Phish classics.
1997: 6.13 – 6.14.97 Dubln, IR
This opening two-night stand of Summer ’97 in Dublin, Ireland brought a motherlode of new material. Tucked into the intimate S.F.X Centre, Phish was far from the maddening crowd, giving them comfort to test drive many new songs. On the first night, the band broke out seven new originals- “Dogs Stole Things,” Limb By Limb,” “Wading In the Velvet Sea,” “Water In the Sky,” “Vultures,” “Ghost,” and “Oblivious Fool.” In addition, this show marked the first public appearance of Sly and the Family Stone’s, “Stand!” and Jimi’s, “Izabella;” the latter would be incorporated into some epic Phish sets. The most creative debut of the evening was the gooey transition into “Ghost” out of a funked-out “Chalk Dust” jam. Stemming from the most unlikely of places, Phish unveiled their new funk epic that would dominate setlists through 2004.
The second night in Dublin proved to be more of the same, this time featuring six new songs. The introductions of “Dirt” and Fishman’s “Bye Bye Foot,” took place in the first set, while the second set carried some more significance. Phish opened the set with the first versions of “Twist” and “Piper,” two songs that became centerpiece jams in their repertoire up until they stopped. Additionally, the second set saw the initial renditions of “I Saw It Again,” and “Waking Up,” a short Trey composition that was never played again. Some of these Dublin debuts would find a home on 1998s The Story of the Ghost, and others would land on 2000’s Farmhouse. (Note: “Black Eyed Katy” was debuted in Fall ’97’s first show in Las Vegas.)
The beginning of 1998 was the Island Run- not exactly your conventional Phish tour. Nonetheless, Phish used the initial night in Nassau to unveil “Birds of a Feather” (which had developed out of an Albany ’97 jam) and “Frankie Says” (then thought to be named “Red Sand” or “Relax”.)
During the initial show of Summer ’98, at The Grey Hall in Copenhagen, Phish introduced three new songs- “The Moma Dance,” “Roggae,” and Brian and Robert.” Two nights later in the same building, the band would unveil two of Mike’s post-Bearsville creations, “Meat” and “Fikus.”
Though 1999 was also light on the new material, Phish launched three new songs amidst a standout Bonner Springs tour opener on June 30th. The TAB transplant “Get Back On the Train” reared its bluegrass-funk in the first set, while the debut of Trey’s power-ballad “Bug” segued into an incredibly psychedelic “My Left Toe”- the first track the band broke out off of the instrumental Siket Disc. “My Left Toe” served as an ambient lead-in to a dark and crashing set-closing “Stash,” putting an exclamation point on an excellent show.
Fall ’99 saw seven new songs played within the first three shows covering Vancouver and the Gorge. More TAB transplants- “First Tube,” the acoustic “Inlaw Josie Wales,” and “Mozambique”- saw their first Phish show in Canada on 9.9.99, while “Gotta Jiboo” and the cover “Will It Go Round In Circles?” had to wait for the next night at The Gorge. But the most significant debut of all came on the third night, when Phish opened up the second set, and a new universe, with a driving segue out of “Wolfman’s” into Phish’s first “Sand.” The perfect venue for such massive grooves, “Sand’s” debut was a peak convergence of all the elements to create an unparalleled music/nature/outer-space experience. Phish also introduced their next single, “Heavy Things” during the first set of this show.
Needless to say, we have tradition here, and as discussed yesterday, we are now 11 days away from starting it all over again. Rife with anticipation, hold onto your hats, because we’re not gonna’ know what happened after we are hit with the first epic ___________.
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
7.21.97 Virginia Beach Amphitheatre < TORRENT LINK
Because not all of us made it over to Dublin to begin the summer, this first show of Phish’s US Tour took on a huge air of excitement. Opening with the first stateside “Ghost” and beginning the show with four straight new songs, this show immediately took on the energy of one strewn with new songs. Additionally, this show saw the US debuts of “Piper,” “Dogs,” Dirt,” and “Velvet Sea.” In terms of musical highlights; coupling with the huge “Ghost,” a ridiculously funky “Bathtub Gin” lit up the first set, while a deep “Wolfman’s > Magilla, Bowie” opening stood out as the musical highlights of set two. After Leroi Moore joined the band for some multi-instrumental antics, a beautiful “Slave” topped it all off.
I: Ghost, Dogs Stole Things, Piper, Dirt, Ginseng Sullivan, Bathtub Gin*, Character Zero
II: Wolfman’s Brother > Magilla, David Bowie, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Theme From the Bottom#+ > Funky Bitch#, Slave to the Traffic Light
E: Loving Cup
*At the end, Trey welcomes the beginning of the U.S. Summer Tour after time spent in Europe, mockingly chanting “USA! USA! USA!” He then introduced the new songs to the American crowd. #With Leroi Moore of Dave Matthews Band on sax. +With Multi-Instrument Jam (Leroi with 2 saxes, Trey with 3 guitars and Fish’s cymbals (running around like a madman on stage), and Mike with 2 basses. Meanwhile Fish was playing with multiple (somewhere between 6 and 8 ) drum sticks while Page was laying on his keyboards trying to play as many as he could and banging on them like a madman.)
Source: Schoeps CMC641 > Sonosax > SBM1 > D8