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”

  1. A_Glide Says:

    Peaches en Regalia to open Fenway

    I won’t be there, but that would be pretty sick

  2. nonoyolker Says:

    I was thinking curtain with too. I would do a backflip in the aisles. That or buried alive -> anything

  3. Frankie Says:

    Buried Alive was my call for Hampton opener… 🙂

    How about Buried Alive > Llama!!

  4. SOAM Says:

    fenway opener is Harry Hood into Tweezer.

    The band called me last night and asked for my blessings. They have been given.


  5. msbjivein Says:

    My Phenway show call. What the Hell?
    Set I
    Curtain W/ ,Buried Alive>MOUND, Avenu Malkenu>TMWSIY>Avenu Malkenu,DIRT,Boogie On>Gotta Jibboo>SAND,Thunderhead, Harry Hood*

    Set II
    Time turns elastic,Tweezer>PYITE,Mike’s Song>Simple>Weekapaug Groove,Strange Design,Scents and Subtle Sounds,HYHU>Sweet Caroline>HYHU,FOAM,DWD
    Encore-Cavern>Tweezer Reprise

    *=Hood Blimp

  6. wanderin Says:

    possible openers.
    1. Kung
    2. BDTNL
    3. Mound
    4. Oh Kee Pah

  7. nonoyolker Says:

    Ooh, buried > llama would get the old fen rocking from the gate.

    SOAM, glad you gave the blessing. I dub you the embassador of our fair city. You are a Mass’ prodical son, make us proud.
    Calling –
    The big “stadium” jammers of the night:
    Mike’s > Simple > H2O > Weekapaug

    Bust Outs –
    I like the call on Mound
    Destiny Unbound

    Newbies –

  8. ColonelJoy Says:

    Wilson or Chalkdust…something conservative

  9. msbjivein Says:

    Oh yeah Llama that would be killer!
    @Nono,The Mike’s>Simple>H2o>Week that would killer. I

  10. mr. icculus Says:

    Wow msjb thats a preetty sick couple of sets
    Avenue Malken Go Pens im a hugh fan live bout 30 min. from downtown Pitts.

    Fenway songs my guess we will here a Curtain With opener or Longtime/Foreplay FEE, and Golgi (left out at hampton) defiently a HOOD and TWEEZER, Light up or leave me alone, Camel Walk>Wilison>sleeping Monkey, Ha Ha Ha, and a esther uncor.

  11. msbjivein Says:

    I forgot to put Ha Ha Ha in my show. Been hoping for Ha Ha Ha since before Hampton. HA hA hA HA

  12. Dr SF Jones Says:

    Back in the Saddle

  13. SOAM Says:


    Jiiven-morning bingers-that list while entertaining was wacked.

  14. Albert Walker Says:

    my friend, my friend tour opener
    a little sloppy in Hampton, but great to hear back in rotation
    that’s how we’d get it goin back in 93-94
    great energy to start a show

  15. Dbone Says:

    I think Fenway will also see those couple of classic songs that somehow didn’t make it into the Hampton setlists – Lizards, Simple, cavern (was that at Hampton?) and a couple of others. I’d bet on at least one if not more of the big stadium rockers like character 0, Lovin Cup, and as much as I hate to say it, Caspian.

    but they’ll definately surprise us and have everyone doing back flips in the aisles. It’s phish, that’s what they do.

  16. mr. icculus Says:

    add drowned to my list

  17. msbjivein Says:

    Thanks the lord for Prodigal!
    Get ready SOAM it’s gonna be a wacky good time at Phen!!Boogie>Jibboo>SAND that is WACK!!

  18. El Duderino Says:

    Now that Trey is sober, maybe he will remember the lyrics to Cavern 🙂

  19. Dr SF Jones Says:

    If you’re talking big stadium rockers you have to think Sample.

  20. SOAM Says:

    I was thinking simple would be shelved because it only makes sense on major drugs-other than the one line.

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    @SOAM that’s true of a lot of their songs tho – Tube? Gumbo? etc etc

    @Colonel – agree on Sand, or at least I’ve never heard better -what a great moment that was when the bass line dropped for the first time, the place exploded, and then the jam just kept building – it was a peak psychedelic experience

  22. msbjivein Says:

    Makes total sense to me. I’ve got all that stuff in my band. It wouldn’t be a band w/out.

  23. Pence Says:

    The hood blimp would be a cool thing. Although I dont think they will open w/ curtain w/, or mound. Even if they do play mound, its not because its in a baseball stadium and there is a mound in baseball. They will play it cause it fits the setlist, same with The curtain. When they do play curtain, it wont because they F’d it up at coventry.

  24. El Duderino Says:

    I think the best Sand versions are from the ’99 TAB tour just my 2 cents.

  25. msbjivein Says:

    They probably won’t play anything we’re thinking of. That’s usually how it works. I never would’ve guest Piper @ MSG NYE or Fluffhead @ Hampton.

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