The Summer Debuts

6.18.09 Star Lake (M.Stein)

6.18.09 Star Lake (M.Stein)

As we turn the page on a new chapter of Phish history, one of the most exciting facets of this era is the plethora of new songs that were introduced in June.  As we begin our reflections on the past tour, I thought that their new songs would be a good place to start.  Showcasing diverse songwriting and various musical styles, the band has come out with a slew of new material- with more waiting in the wings.  Let’s take a look at each song one by one, in the order of their summer premieres.


“Ocelot” – debut: 5.31 Fenway Park I

Unveiled as the first new song of tour, many fans had heard the band’s rehearsal of this piece at The Centrum from the previous night, which somehow made it to the internet.  A playful song that evokes memories of the ’70s folk-rock tradition, “Ocelot” hopped into rotation from day one.  Trey’s lyrical melodies complement the the song’s loafing, casual grooves, creating a catchy piece that would stick in your head far after the show was over.  Growing in improvisation each time out, the band stretched the final Deer Creek version into a real jam.  Expect much more to from “Ocelot” in August- “Won’t you come out to play?”

“Light” – debut 5.31 Fenway II

6.18.09 (M.Stein)

6.18.09 (M.Stein)

Debuted as the landing point of Fenway’s colossal tour-opening “Tweezer,” “Light” was the one song that I really anticipated making the jump from TAB to Phish.  Sped up from its Trey Band incarnation, “Light’s” jam has adopted a feel of a new-school “Piper.”  With soaring guitar work and full-band improvisation, the Bonnaroo version, which emerged from “Rock and Roll’s” ambient jam, provided one of the weekend’s highlights.  An open-ended jam that even found its way into some funk grooves at Manchester, it seems that “Light” has limitless potential.  I have a feeling that this could develop into one of 3.0’s shining stars.

“Time Turns Elastic” – debut Fenway 5.31 II

6.18.09 (M.Stein)

6.18.09 (M.Stein)

This controversial opus was showcased on the first night of tour, and played several times throughout.  Certainly a great piece of music, its place in a live show is questionable, in my opinion.  As soon “Time Turns Elastic” started, we knew we were in for nearly twenty minutes of straight composition.  Appearing in the middle of three second sets, “Time Turns Elastic” played the role of vibe-crusher more than once.  But when placed as a first set closer at Alpine- coming out of “TMWSIY”- it worked much better.  If Phish is going to continue to play this song, which I’m sure they will, they need to be extra-selective about where they place it in a show.  A complex musical accomplishment, this one seems better suited for at-home couch listening than at an energetic, psychedelic Phish show.

“Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan” – debut 6.2 Jones Beach I

“I got a blank space where my mind should be”- centered around this intriguing refrain, this heavier song became an instant favorite when they broke it in the second show of tour.  Featuring a slower pace and ominous feel, “Stealing Time” seems like an ideal launchpad for dissonant, psychedelic improv.  Throughout June, however, this song remained largely in the box, with it’s final version at Deer Creek extended with some blues-rock, guitar led improv.  This piece won’t remain shackled forever, and when the band finally steps to it, the results could be astonishing.

“Kill Devil Falls” – debut 6.2 Jones Beach II

6.18.09 (M.Stein)

6.18.09 (M.Stein)

Sounding distinctly like a TAB piece, “Kill Devil Falls” is essentially two songs in one.  First, we have the straight ahead rock and roll composition, that to be honest, leaves a bit to be desired.  Yet, when the verses end, the band enters a segmented jam that sounds almost identical to a “Birds of a Feather” jam.  (In fact we were sure they were soundchecking “Birds” at Fenway while they played this.) Once its improv section began, this song heated up considerably, with its most exploratory and enticing version coming during Bonnaroo’s late-night set.  Producing one of the standout “type-II” jams of tour, Trey clearly loves this song, and we have only begun to hear the places it will go.

“Twenty Years Later” – debut 6.5 Jones Beach II

With a chorus that approaches the sound of an “indie” Phish song, “Twenty Years Later” features engaging lyrics and layered vocals that almost sounds like a different band.  The song then progresses into a heavier section reminiscent of “I Saw It Again.” Clearly a reflection on Trey’s journey over the past two-decades, this song seems more autobiographical than any other.  Only played this one time, we have yet to see what really in store for this one.  But after only one version- I like it.

“Let Me Lie” – debut Great Woods 6.6 I

6.18.09 (M.Stein)

6.18.09 (M.Stein)

Originating from Trey’s solo album Bar 17, Phish transformed “Let Me Lie” into their newest ballad- just as predicted.  A poignant memoir about recovery and resilience, this one also contains metaphorical imagery about Trey’s trials and tribulations.  A gorgeous composition, the rest of Phish really fills out this song in the way that TAB could never do.  Appearing a second time as an interlude amidst Deer Creek’s monster second set, this one will be a 3.0 staple before all is said and done.

“Sugar Shack” – debut Camden 6.7 II

One of the songs that I wish we had heard more often, Mike’s newest contribution to the Phish catalog made an impressive debut in Camden’s second set.  Combining quirky changes, segments of groove, and carnival-like guitar lines, “Sugar Shack” is one of the most unique songs of the new bunch.  Only appearing once during June, we can only hope that this gets pulled into rotation come the second leg of tour.

“Joy” – debut 6.7 Camden Encore

Played only twice this June, “Joy” is another new ballad, describing the emotional plight of a woman and her connection to the outside world.  The lyric, “We want you to be happy, because this is your song too” also carries figurative meaning for the entire audience, as we are all a part of this great Phishy experiment.  An outwardly emotional song, this one will probably gain mixed acceptance in the larger Phish community.  I think it’s great.

“Alaska” – debut 6.9 Asheville II


6.18.09 (M.Stein)

Another TAB > Phish transplant, this may be the least interesting of the June debuts.  A comical blues-rocker with a guitar-based “jam,” this one appeared twice in three shows, and then we never heard it again.  As any Phish song, its jam has potential, but the composition of “Alaska” falls a bit flat.

“The Connection” – debut 6.19 Deer Creek I

album-undermind-bonus-dvdIt was a complete surprise when the band broke out “The Connection” towards the end of Deer Creek’s first set.  Off of the band’s last album, Undermind, this song never made it into a live show in 2004.  The debut of “The Connection” came off quite well, with catchy hooks and Jerry-esque noodling.  More proof that any song is fair game this time around, “The Connection” is a welcome reminder of its wholly-underrated album whose 2004 release was squeezed in just before Phish called it quits.  It will be interesting to see how this song develops come August.

Eleven songs made their Phish debut in the band’s first tour back on the road, most which will find their way onto their upcoming album, Joy. Differing in musical quality, most all of these songs hold great potential for improvisation.  We have only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of what these songs will grow into, as Phish mostly played basic templates this tour.  As they embark on a new era of their career, Phish has ushered in their most impressive batch of new songs in over a decade, adding a distinctly fresh feel to their ’09 setlists; and I foresee even more debuts in August.  Stay tuned – to Red Rocks and beyond!

What do you think of the Phish’s new songs?  Respond in Comments!



Yesterday, a story on Rolling broke some new information about Phish’s forthcoming album, now officially titled Joy. Later in the day, issued a small news release about Joy, with an official track listing.  A clear theme about the passage of time and a reflection on life runs through the album, starting with “Twenty Years Later” and concluding with “Time Turns Elastic.”  The only song hasn’t been played live is “I’ve Been Around.”  Look for the album some time in August.

1. Twenty Years Later
2. Backwards Down the Number Line
3. Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan
4. Light
5. Joy
6. Sugar Shack
7. Ocelot
8. Kill Devil Falls
9. I’ve Been Around
10. Time Turns Elastic



6.21 Alpine Pollock

6.21 Alpine Pollock

6.21.09 Alpine Valley, East Troy, WI < TORRENT LINK

Set II contains some of the tightest and most exploratory improv of the run.

I: Brother, Wolfman’s Brother, Funky Bitch, The Divided Sky, Joy, Back On The Train, Taste, Poor Heart, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, Time Turns Elastic

II: Crosseyed and Painless  > Down With Disease > Bug > Piper > Wading In The Velvet Sea, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Slave To The Traffic Light

E: Grind, Frankenstein

Source: Schoeps CCM4V’S(din) > Lunatec V2 > Benchmark AD2K > Sound Devices 722 (24/48) – Recorded by Z-Man

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223 Responses to “The Summer Debuts”

  1. sumodie Says:

    @butter: Well, given your initial openness, what I was suggesting was to check out an AA meeting. Try googling AA or Bill W meetings if that’s not enough. Again, hope I didn’t mis read anything. I can certainly talk more, but this is not the best place I think.

    I too have been identifying a lot with the new lyrics. Some of the tunes have more meaning than I initially thought. Looking forward to hearing all of Joy on CD (yes, I still buy those)

  2. Ocelot42 Says:

    Weyoun42 has officially decided to become Ocelot42. Damn, I like that song a lot.

  3. Jon Bailey Says:

    Can anyone see Phish covering an M.J. album for Halloween now?

    Please cover Off The Wall or Thriller

    That new school M.J. stuff sucks!!

  4. Selector J Says:

    “Can anyone see Phish covering an M.J. album for Halloween now?”

    I doubt they’ll do something quite that famous. They’ve gone increasingly less obvious with each Halloween and I don’t see that trend changing. I wouldn’t put a Thriller cover/jam during the run past them, though.

    BTW, I’d put good money on that “Coachella venue for Halloween” rumor. The ladies got these things on lock. (c0wfunk knows what I’m talking about.)

  5. Wax Banks Says:


    I wrote a long, long piece on Phish 2.0 – a ‘mixtape’ w/ links, Miner’s Picks style but with pretty detailed track-by-track discussion. Might be worth a look. I’d say ‘sorry for the self-link’ but that kind of etiquette sensitivity is bullshit – it’s 6,000 words of Phish talk, enjoy!

  6. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    Hey for a nice Miles and Coltrane album, I really like the 1956 albums, Relaxin’, Cookin’, Workin’, and Steamin’. They are all fantastic. I know that a lot of folks find Garland’s piano work to be a bit loungy, and it is to a degree, but it also has a tremendous range and his solo stuff with the Miles rhythm section, Philly Joe Jones and Paul Chambers, is fantastic too. Kind of an early jazz thing, not too agressive, and great for the ladies.

  7. lot rat Says:

    rat reporting in….I’m hereing Indio, CA (Coachella) is on for 2-3 shows around the hallow evening. Heard it from a friend who usually doesnt run his mouth.

    maybe a bay area show right before (SJ, Oak arena, Bill Graham, Warfield)…also Bridge School?


  8. lot rat Says:

    digging page’s vocals on number line…this song will find its groove before long. Awkward start.

    “The only rule is it begins….”

  9. butter Says:

    I’m going to catch David Byrne, tomorrow at the Greek in Berkeley. Has anyone seen any of his shows this tour. I thinks its the “songs of David Bryne and Brian Enos”. I caught a show in Santa Rosa, CA during winter. Wondering if its a new show or not?

  10. Mr.Miner Says:

    Halloween is def at Coachella site at Indio, CA….I’ve heard the 30th, 31st, and 1st….Halloween Festival in Palm Springs- unreal!! Some hotels are already sold out…

  11. butter Says:

    wow well that should make up for only on CA show this summer!!!
    any world on a bay area before?

  12. Mr.Miner Says:

    6000 words….oy 😉 do we get a complimentary adderal and dictionary with that?

  13. Mr.Miner Says:

    have heard nothing re: bay area…always wonder why they “Oracle Arena” in Oakland…the Dead killed that place.

  14. butter Says:

    wow i can’t type i meant…
    wow!!! well that should make up for only one CA show this summer!!!
    any word on a bay area b4?

    how many Northern Californians does it take to change a light bulb?

  15. butter Says:

    they should def blow out oracle. the GD loosened that place up all the way. they love us and anything goes in that lot!!!

  16. Frondoot Says:

    Thanks everyone for your suggestions/comments/discussion, esp Wax and Mr.Completely for putting extra thought into it.

    Looks like i sparked a conversation that everyone was interested in. Now i have alot of torrenting to do/money to spend.

  17. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^^ no doubt, gotta love Warriors games where the smoking section is approx 65/35 weed to cigarettes..joints, blunts, hash pipes….its all fair game- and that’s an NBA game…lol…best scene in the league

  18. Mr.Miner Says:

    and we are about to get Amare Stoudamire 🙂

  19. butter Says:

    Amare would be a sweet. Yea, I’ve wrecked some gangsta’s in that smoking section with sour d and chem dawg!!!

  20. butter Says:

    Oh and while we r on the NBA, my wife just got Chris Bosch sour d’d in Mexico last month. She was at a bachelorette party and he was stayin at the resort they were at.

  21. butter Says:

    More about Phish’s new songs.

    I really feel like lyrically, Phish has had a major break thru with this new material. I’ve often thought Phish has had the power to take a group consciousness “out there”, but lacked the songs to bring you back down to earth. Joy contains lyrics that warm your heart and speak of real life events.

  22. Phnom Pencil Says:

    “Joy”, in Khmer, is the equivalent to the most popular English four-letter word… so the title of the album goes over well with me.

  23. themanatee Says:

    go see byrne…saw him in portland the other night. off the hook.

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