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. RPRICE23 Says:

    PS: 2/3/1993 at Portland CCC they debuted the baby grand for Page along with Loving Cup, Wedge, Runaway Jim and Lifeboy. As I recall the Wedge was slightly different then.

    See you at Phenway…

  2. worthlesswampyfool Says:

    surely see a monster mound brewing on the horizon for fenway. was sad to see it shut out of hampton

  3. whole tour! Says:

    i agree with nono…the 12.30.03 sand bustout was on fire! best version i ever saw along with cypress.

  4. BingosBrother Says:

    YaMar opener. That song was written with the Boston accent in mind.

  5. whole tour! Says:

    @cowfunk….name on the marquee of the cive center eh? Damn…i never thought in a million years this would happen. I imagine the hugeness of big cypress inside such a tiny venue and my mind starts racing. Or the hugeness of those miami 03 shows in a venue 1/20th the size. Might have to try and get on the floor for that craziness. Maybe hit the floor up for the first set then chill up in the seats and kick back for set 2.

  6. whole tour! Says:

    what if the band played 2 whole albums at fenway? maybe the reason the show isn’t being offered for sale on live phish is that the royalties of releasing a show with an entire aerosmith album for set one and an entire boston album for set 2 would be too much? Plus the encore set with willie nelson and DMB.

  7. msbjivein Says:

    Leave DMB outta this please.

  8. nonoyolker Says:

    ^ haha, that sounds god awful. Only thing worse is a set long “Sweet Caroline” and a second set long version of “Love in an Evevator”

  9. nonoyolker Says:

    …and of course any inclusion of anyone from DMB. I really hope they don’t invite any of them on stage. That would be a real fucking let down.

  10. Pete Jones Says:

    Will there be a “No Spoilers” for Fenway for those of us that will not be in Boston?

  11. snigglebeach Says:

    I expect a Willie Nelson collaboration too.

    But if Trey really wants nothing around even nugs, how can Willy hang???

    He seems like he would be the type of old person, to just light up anywhere.

  12. Pete Jones Says:


  13. whole tour! Says:

    i love willie in half baked:

    and beerfest:

  14. old dude Says:

    “With special guest … Aerosmith!”
    Then they have Run-DMC jump up and push Steve Tyler off stage and stomp Joe Perry with Adidas. Then they bust into Tougher Than Leather in its entirety.

  15. snigglebeach Says:

    he was good in Dukes of Hazzard movie too.

  16. Frankie Says:

    Check out yesterday’s thread for Mr. Miner’s answer about the No Spoilers. I think he said that he would try and make it happen…

  17. Pence Says:

    @Pete —-Miner said yesterday that there would be no spoilers, but the turn around time wouldnt be as quick as it was at Hampton. 🙂

  18. Mr.Miner Says:

    1. There will be a No Spoilers update tomorrow.

    2.I was just going through my tickets for the first leg, and I don;t have Alpine night 1…anyone got some nice 100 level extras for me ?

  19. whole tour! Says:

    actually jeff coffin guesting on a song like “taste” would be pretty cool, but if dave steps on stage, i’d need to have my airplane motion sickness bag nearby.

  20. old dude Says:

    if Run and/or DMC couldn’t make it because they were at church, phish could at least do “Peter Piper” from Raising Hell with Fish on the mic.

    Fenway opener:
    Peter Piper > Piper

  21. old dude Says:

    i too was going through my 1st leg tickets.
    i don’t have Fenway -> Alpine night 2

  22. Frankie Says:

    I think they’ll open with David Bowie but with the lyrics changed to “Sydney Crosby”… :op

  23. VTsnowboarder802 Says:

    re: DMB.
    I’ve never understood the hate. I posted on that other board a couple years back to try and understand, and got flamed to the point where i basically stopped going back there. I like Dave. It’s not Phish. They aren’t trying to be. Dave and Friends a few years back was actually one of my favorite shows of all time. And the crowds aren’t as bad as they’re always portrayed to be… Just my $.02.

    Look at it this way, last summer Dave invited Trey up at SPAC when he was in the midst of his ‘program’. It may have even been his first time back on stage, not sure… Regardless, Dave and DMB were a friend to Trey during what was a rough period in his life. The bands have been friends for a long time, and I’d be shocked if they don’t make a guest appearance. Actually the one thing about Fenway that I’d put money on would be a Dave appearance for Waste or Gin.

    I’d be incredibly disappointed if Dave, or any other special guests from any band were treated disrespectfully…

    again, that’s just my $.02….

  24. whole tour! Says:

    hyhu > “who’s on first” routine > Hyhu

  25. nonoyolker Says:

    Beerfest = Most Underrated movie EVER!

    Opener: Muddy Water -> water in the sky -> % sky -> janie’s got a gun -> machine gun (hendrix) -> janie’s got a gun reprise. Mark it!

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