For the First Time

13699471image9b586be0479711d7As 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

flynnThe 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

Phish and Gloria Steinem 5.16.95

Phish and Gloria Steinem 5.16.95 (

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

7.1.97 Amsterdam (M.Welsh)

7.1.97 Amsterdam (M.Welsh)

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.”


1999-06-30mo2Though 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.

phish-gorge-99-pollockFall ’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 ___________.



7.21.97 Virginia Beach Amphitheatre < LINK

7.21.97 Virginia Beach Amphitheatre < TORRENT LINK

97_summer_tour_pollock_backBecause 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


167 Responses to “For the First Time”

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  1. Dbone Says:

    good follow up post to yesterday. I was thinking of this VA Beach show as I was reading yesterday’s and today’s post. Then I scroll down and lo and behold Miner has all the bases covered.

    Definately give the Gin a careful listen as it turns into a straight up Drowned Jam part way through before coming back to Gin by way of funk.

  2. Dbone Says:

    ^^Upon listening to the rest of the Gin, I realized that it never does return to the Gin – it just funks out – welcome to ’97

  3. Mr. Icculus Says:

    Fenway, Fenway, Fenway why don’t we play a little game here on phish thoughts and see who can guess the most songs that phish plays at Fenway. Sorry Miner i can’t compete in your other game thats for extremely advanced listeners only. But it be fun to guess the Fenway setlist and offer a prize to the person who gets the most songs correct. What are some great stadium songs that phish is likely to bust out? Is this there first stadium show?

    Can’t wait to here there new material “For the First Time!”

  4. ColonelJoy Says:

    Many people bag on that Sandstone show in 99′. I thought the performance was interesting, cerabrally challenging.

  5. ColonelJoy Says:

    Interestingly, sans maybe the Cypress version, The Sand debut at the Gorge was probably the best version they ever played. I doubt that’s happened with any other song….first time played being the best.

  6. McDermott Says:

    Well, listen to the 5.16.95 Theme From the Bottom.

  7. c0wfunk Says:

    fwiw the va beach 98 gin has a nice return back to the gin theme after an extended funky then ambient jam ..

    the 97 show was my first summer tour show, it had been a long time since my first phish shows in october 96, and man was I ready for the 3 night run I got to open the summer (va beach ->raleigh->atl) We had great seats, off to the side near fishman and had a great view of the multi instrument madness .. at one point trey had 3 guitars and was fretting them furiously, while also playing a cymbal with a drumstick in his mouth.. The sight of Page splayed out playing a keyboard with each of his four limbs is one I’ll always cherish!

  8. ColonelJoy Says:

    Late first set Time Turns Elastic at Fenway….

    By the way, we have all called songs at shows, but I had the best “call” ever! I’m pretty convinced of it. Forgive the fact that it was a TAB show….Great Woods 02’…..We see Mike’s Rig set up for the encore….hmm, not acoustic this time…..I turn to my friend….Mike’s Song, but opening Trey riff played by the horns……seriously!!

    What can I say, I know how the man thinks.

  9. Tweeprise Says:

    I have the drumstick Trey was playing Fish’s symbol with, he threw it into the crowd, I was 8th row. It was a great show.

    Thank you Mr. Miner, your site is the first thing I check in the morning when I get to work.

  10. PB Says:

    I find it hard to believe that Fenway would be the venue where Phish unloads several new songs. It will be a raucus crowd due to the size of the venue. Typically, they choose to unleash these “new” songs in safer settings. Therefore, I think the first Jones Beach show will be chock full of new tunes. Its a Tuesday night show that was added late. It just makes sense. But, we’ll see.

  11. tela'smuff Says:

    6-22-00 was a nice opener as was 12-2-99 for the december winter tour. alos, going back to 1992, 3-6-92 and 11-19-92 were both classics!

  12. VTsnowboarder802 Says:

    Those who’ve received mail order tix, are they on normal ticket stock? or phish stock? not that it matters, it’s just that i got my shipment notification and am amped.

  13. Comrade Says:

    Whoot – look’s like i am going to Phenway!

  14. El Duderino Says:

    Give us the money Lebowski! 🙂 Morning folks

  15. msbjivein Says:

    Don’t forget ’03 summer tour opener in AZ. Debut of Scents and Subtle Sounds and Spices.

  16. msbjivein Says:

    Anybody know where I can find 7/23/03 Deer Creek show to download??
    The Sneakin Sally is freakin Killer!!

  17. msbjivein Says:

    Nevermind I’m gonna buy it at Livephish. I suggest checking out the Sneakin Sally.

  18. mr. icculus Says:

    Wouldn’t it be sweet if phish set up a plan with the HOOD blimp to turn out its lights at a certain time (obviously when the band begins the song) that would be very Phishy!

  19. JMelby Says:

    One interesting thing that you don’t see mentioned much about the 6-30-99 is that it was the only Phish show I’ve been to that was all Phish songs, NO COVERS! I know it hasn’t happened since and when I looked back I’m not sure how long it took to find another show like that. That’s what made that show for me. Very Unique. Mr. Miner can you find another like that?

    The Grey Hall still holds a special place in my heart. Lived and schooled in Northern DK for 6 months and made it to Christiana may times, but to see Phish for 3 days was bliss.

    9-9-99 was a great time too. I love the beginning of First Tube. It had been my wife’s favorite since 8 ft Tubes tapes we got. We were 6th row and she knew it in the first notes and on the FOB CD we have you can clearly hear her joyous screams. Oh, such fun great memories with more to be added in the week to come.

  20. HarryHood Says:

    I’ve got to agree with you PB about Fenway being an unlikely place to bust out a whole bunch of new material. I’m sure we will certainly hear a few, but I would think that there are certain songs that the guys are going to pick based solely on the fact that they are playing where they are playing……. I’ve gotta believe that with a 40,00+ venue we are definitely going to hear Wilson. Also, I’ve mentioned this before, but the Hood blimp which is always around Boston will probably be timed with a nice Hood jam…….

    We’ll see if I can one-up Colonel Joy for “best call ever.” Remember this post when Hood is playin and the blimp is buzzing around!!!! haha…..

  21. Frankie Says:

    The Phish mail-order tickets looks like old baseball tickets… Really cool!

  22. HarryHood Says:

    Wow Icculus, that was weird…….. Your post showed up at the same time that I posted mine……. It’s gonna happen man.

  23. VTsnowboarder802 Says:

    @mr. icculus – I’m not going to play a game to see how many I get right, as I could write an entire setlist of what I’d like to see…. However the one guess I’m going to make is Maze, because Boston is like a maze to drive in, but more importantly because I REALLY want to hear it.

  24. c0wfunk Says:

    just got a phone picture – phish is officially on the asheville civic center marquee .. @!$#!% someone pinch me.

  25. Frankie Says:

    Would love a Curtain WITH as an opener for Fenway… Listened to it yesterday and it would be so beautiful… The ending jam is so glorious, it would set Phish 3.0 to a perfect start!

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