Fire In the First

Red Rocks (G.Lucas)

Red Rocks (G.Lucas)

While the second sets have been the primary focus of all the summer shows, there were a few first sets that stood out among the rest.  While Phish traditionally uses the first set to showcase their songs, and the second set, their improv, in any legit first set there is usually some overlap.  The first sets this summer followed a more old-school contour, featuring longer setlists and standalone jams, while most often feeling like warm-ups for second half adventures.  But a few times during the second leg, the first set popped off a bit more.  Below are four first sets, in chronological order, that left a greater musical wake, gave a little bit extra, and set up the second set with a bit more gusto than usual.


Red Rocks 8.1

I: AC/DC Bag, The Curtain (With), Mound, Gotta Jibboo, Guyute, Punch You in the Eye, Tube, Alaska, Run Like An Antelope

8.1 - Red Rocks (D.Vann)

8.1 - Red Rocks (D.Vann)

Always a great opener, “Bag” kicked off the show with energy and a hint of funk before everyone was blindsided by “The Curtain (With).”  Arguably the most emotional moment of the summer, the band slaughtered the composition that had slaughtered them back at Coventry.  As the band gelled majestically, Trey played incredibly poignant leads into the Colorado heavens.  A one-of-a-kind catharsis, we all lived what we had imagined for years- and the past was behind us. But so much more importantly, the band stepped up to the moment,and put the past behind them.  The first song after such an episode would be….”Mound!”  Played only twice since 1996, Phish ripped through the old-school piece, and it sounded as fresh as any new song played all summer.  The “Jibboo” that followed felt like a celebratory groove-fest that ushered in the future.  “Punch” and “Tube” flooded the set with plenty of super-sized dance patterns before “Antelope” sprinted to the finish line.  Taking the jam out to a more dissonant intensity before returning to the peak, this was the first of several menacing     versions throughout August.


Darien Lake 8.13

I: Sample In A Jar, Dinner and a Movie, Wolfman’s Brother, My Friend, My Friend, Possum, Farmhouse, Sugar Shack, Brian And Robert, David Bowie, Bathtub Gin, How High The Moon*, Golgi Apparatus

Darien Lake (H. Ainsworth)

Darien Lake (H. Ainsworth)

Though this frame embodies the “set of songs” structure, it featured energetic playing throughout, some choice rarities, and was anchored by three solid jams.  “Wolfman’s” moved through liquid grooves to an expressive peak- my personal favorite of August; and at the end of the set came a somewhat unprecedented combo of “Bowie” and “Bathtub.”  These three pieces- with “Bowie” being the jam of the first half- carried the improvisational weight of the set, but there were elements of surprise as well.  After “Sample” innocently opened, Phish dropped into the ever-elusive “Dinner and a Movie.”  Played only seven times since 1994, any time you hear the dark instrumental, it is always a treat.  And with their 3.0 precision, the band nailed the eighth.  Phish sandwiched “Wolfman’s” with a second ominous bust-out in “My Friend, My Friend.”  In addition to a well played “Sugar Shack,” the spoken tribute to Les Paul and “How High the Moon” also made this set unique.  It may look routine on paper, but that’s why you can’t judge a show by its setlist.


Hartford 8.14

I: Punch You in the Eye, AC/DC Bag, NICU, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird, Birds Of A Feather, Lawn Boy, Stash, I Didn’t Know, Middle Of The Road, Character Zero

"Punch / The Landlady" - Hartford (T.Hill)

"Punch / The Landlady" - Hartford (A.Hill)

One of the most scorching first sets of tour, the band came out with a string of oldies that set the tone for the entire show.  An exciting “Punch” had the pavilion blowing up all over the place before the ushers began asking for tickets during “NICU.”  But the biggest surprise of the set came with the heavy drop into “Colonel Forbin’s” for the first time since Vegas 2000.  We finally had returned to Gamehendge- a land that seemed somehow inaccessible during the post-hiatus era.  A gorgeous run through “Mockingbird” capped the ’80s portion of the set, and the band fell right into the only “Birds”of August.  The jam was fuel-injected, soaring through fast-paced textures, and bursting at the seams with snarling energy.  Taking their improv into an aggressive ‘type 1.5’ territory, Phish used “Birds” to set up the most outstanding excursion of the set- “Stash.”  With a darkened psychedelia, the band got in touch with the ethos of the song, leaving its more melodic interludes on the west coast.  The highlight of the set- in my opinion- this “Stash” has flown way under the radar.  A vacuum solo, a Mike song, and “Character Zero” to close- a great first set.


Merriweather 8.15

1: Crowd Control, Kill Devil Falls, The Sloth, Beauty Of A Broken Heart, Axilla I, Foam, Esther, Ha Ha Ha, Party Time, Tube, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, Strange Design, Time Turns Elastic

Merriweather (K.Pusey)

Merriweather (K.Pusey)

Sometimes a first set can ride on sheer energy and well played songs- and it always helps if most of the songs haven’t popped up yet on tour.  Thus was the case with Merriweather’s opening frame, featuring seven late-summer debuts, and a couple songs that has only been played once.  This version of “Beauty of a Broken Heart” really hits a groove and foreshadows what I think can be a solid vehicle for good-times dance music.  And of course there world premiere of “Party Time.”  A song that is sure to ingrain itself in Phish lore, the debut of the funk was nothing short of delightful.  With huge smiles and great energy, Phish delivered a satisfying first course.

OTHER LEGITIMATE FIRST SETS: 7.31 Red Rocks, 8.7 Gorge, 8.8 Gorge (We’ve talked about these a lot though!)


Winged music noteJam of the Day:

Disease > Free” 6.26.95 II


This supremely psychedelic segment of music saw an early, improvisational “Disease” morph into a brand new “Free,” creating a forward-looking highlight of an unreal set at SPAC.  These jams gets into seriously spacey and mind-expanding territory- incredibly engaging jamming in my book.  If you’ve never heard this, listen…now! Classic Summer ’95.



11.3.94 Mullins Center, Amherst, MA < Torrent

11.3.94 Mullins Center, Amherst, MA < Megaupload

November '94 Pollack

November '94 Pollock

Coming at you via reader request is an early show in the huge month of November ’94.  With a focus on fast-paced psychedelia, Phish was drooling with hunger on the verge of stardom.  A great relic from an intense era in Phish history.

I: Fee, The Divided Sky, Wilson, Peaches en Regalia, Glide, Split Open and Melt, Dog Faced Boy, Sparkle, Down With Disease

II: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Simple > Poor Heart, Julius, You Enjoy Myself > Big Black Furry Creature From Mars, Harry Hood, Cavern

E: My Sweet One*, Nellie Cane*, Amazing Grace, Highway to Hell


Source: DAUD/OTS AKG460B/ck61 > Custom Pre-amp > Teac DAP-20 @48kHz (Taper – Dave Flaschner)

Tags: ,

281 Responses to “Fire In the First”

  1. Mr. Completely Says:

    traders den is my favorite private tracker.

    quality is always good but it’s possible to keep a good ratio unlike (which is amazing, but frustrating).

    tons of amazing videos all the time.

  2. butter Says:

    RE: women problems at Darien

    if your having girl problems, i feel bad for you son,

    i’ve got 99 problems, but a bitch ain’t one

  3. whole tour! Says: is impossible to keep a good ratio. i tried, but got bounced quickly.

    traders den won’t boot you if your ratio isn’t perfect.

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    well wt! I’ve been hanging on at around 0.5 at, I’m hoping that transfer you’re going to help me with will bump me a little

    not only is TTD more chill, for some reason I have no problem keeping decent ratio there. I have the same bandwidth, seed the same amount of time.

  5. notkuroda Says:

    I’m having some issues with this site, thought I posted something but it’s not showing up for me, I’ll try again

    HEY GUYS! just checking in to see who’s going to be in Jax next friday for Mike. WT? Billy Stupendous? hit me up!

  6. voopa Says:

    I’m still seeding stuff at from April…seems like leaving stuff up for months is the only way to pull a decent ratio there. Doing lossless only doesn’t help either.

    Did a wedding for a friend last month, and used that site to find songs I didn’t have…those mp3s really helped the ratio.

  7. whole tour! Says:

    the problem with is that all the good torrents, phish ect, is that basically no peers will connect after you grab a torrent. i left stuff open for weeks and i never uploaded anything to any peers.

    i got like 5 or 6 torrents and they axed me.

  8. Mr. Completely Says:

    ^^^ right, the seedboxes kill ya I guess? is that what that’s about? people with huge bandwidth, torrent clients automatically prefer them?

    @voopa, I’ve tried leaving things up, it helped a little, but not much – my best practice has been to be online exactly when a torrent hits – being on west coast helps

    I don’t worry about it too much, I’ve been torrenting for a long time, I know I’m doing it right – if that ends up not being good enough for, no worries – I’m not going to go crate digging for stuff to seed, which people clearly do, seems like kind of defeating the purpose.

  9. beepaphone Says:

    ok I just started the rr torrent and ordered an external dvd writer. You guys have all convinced me. The madness begins.

  10. Kenny Powers Says:

    @ miner, here’s a link to RR over at Trader’s Den…which is a forum, account needed.

    @Mr. c: i’m kind of a home theater geek so i’ll try to explain the stuff from that Camden viseo lineage without getting to gobbledygookish:

    The 720 in “720 X 480” is different than what you’re thinking of. You’re thinking of the resolution of 1280 X 720, which is HD but what some would say is not “full HD”. Full HD would be 1080p, or technically 1920 X 1080p (the first number is horizontal lines of resolution, the second number is vertical). So based on the lineage, this Camden video files is 720 X 480, which is standard def or “480p” (or 480i…don’t even ask about the “i” and “p” thing, it doesn’t matter w/ high def TVs made after 2005 or so and doesn’t matter at all for older non-HD TVs)

    The “HDV Master” tells you the filmer shot the concert with a HD camcorder and actuallu shot and preserved an HD file (could be either 720p or 1080p, depends on the camcorder). He downrezzed the files to standard definition 480p resolution, probably for hard drive space reasons and the fact that most people don’t have Blu-Ray burners on the computers or even Blu-Ray players yet. One day when the standard hard drive is 10 TB and people all have Blu-Ray players and burners, I’m sure you’ll see this guy seed the HD version, which would probably be at least 50GB.

    The “Aspect Ratio: 16×9” means the video was shot in the shape of an HDTV, a.k.a. widescreen. If it is an anamorphically enhanced widescreen video (this is too technical to go into), it will perfectly fit an HDTV screen without any black bars or weird stretching. If it’s a non-anamorphically enhanced widscreen, it will still preserve the original shape of the video as shot by the filmer, but there will be black bars surrounding all four sides of the picture (some TV channels show up this way) Older videos would most likely be shot with a 4×3 aspect ratio which is more square and the shape of older TVs.

    Hope that helps.

    FWIW a standard def video (and DVD movies for that matter) can look damn fine on an HDTV, even if it’s not an HD signal. Today’s HDTVs do a marvelous job of eliminating the flickering, shimmering, etc that plagued older TV sets. And if your DVD player has an HDMI output to the TV, you’ll squeeze the most quality our of your non-HD movies and vids.

  11. Mr.Miner Says:

    i am also downloading…gonna burn and erase after i seed for a while….that is gonna take up some space!

  12. cottle Says:

    I just tuned in to see this torrent discussion. I pull most of my shit from (though not really in the last few weeks), but my ratios are often low, due to being on a shared computer and not being able to leave stuff up for days on end.

    Don’t Dime and TTD both have a limited number of users (i.e. you can’t get a membership until someone else cancels)?

    I don’t really have much love for Dime, because they don’t seem to enforce bands’ taping/trading policies, from what I hear. I’d hate to think that we’d lose the ability to tape or trade certain bands becuase some schmos didn’t follow the rules.

    About the only way my ratios are any good is when I grab shows as soon as they’re up. The demand is hot the day after a show, so if you can be one of the first to get it, then you’re automatically seeding to mad folks right out of the gate.

    No real point to make here, just bored at work and checkin’ in.

    Anybody gettin’ bassed lately? I’m pumped for Monday night’s show here in Raleigh.

  13. beepaphone Says:

    Right?? I should have gotten an external hard drive too…I had to delete over a gigs worth of shows to make room for the DVDs

  14. Mr.Miner Says:

    wish i was getting bassed- shit looks great….

  15. cottle Says:

    External memory is dirt cheap lately. I recently scored a 1TB drive for $100, then last week I found a used 120G drive for $40.

  16. cottle Says:

    Miner, I’ll send some freshness your way next week.

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Kenny thx that helps a lot – just for clarity the info I posted was for Red Rocks not Camden vid

    I think blu-ray is a total dead end – optical media in general are on their way out I bet – it’ll end up being easier to just run the whole thing off of massive hard drive array. For cost of a BR burner and that you could just buy a couple terabytes….

  18. whole tour! Says:


    wow! excellent HD/DVD breakdown! i learned something(s) new today!

  19. whole tour! Says:

    ‘ once your locked into a serious external HD collection, the tendency is to push it as far as possible’ -dr. hunter s. thompson 🙂

    seriously…i started w/ one external…..and now have 7!
    labled drive a through g.
    i know one collector who has drives a to z!

  20. voopa Says:

    Scott Murawski’s blog

    @ Kenny – thanks for that info. How is HDMI superior to Component Video cables? I thought the whole point of HDMI was to prevent duplication.

  21. Kenny Powers Says:

    @ wt, I try 🙂

    Mr. C. I hear what you’re saying about the Blu-Ray thing. Part of the problem is that they tried to push it right as a recession hit, and plain ol’ DVDs work for most people just fine. I happen to be a total video snob, I mean it’s like candy for my freakin retina when I see a crisp HD picture…so I got a BD player and just wait for crazy Black Friday-ish sales…refuse to put down $20-$30 for a movie unless it’s a total must have.

    Anyway I think online streaming or on-demand or whatever will someday be the gold standard…but I, for one, see a major degradation in picture quality when you go from an uncompressed Blu-Ray disc to an HD broadcast that has been compressed first by the TV channel and then again by the cable/satellite provider. Unless you have FiOS/fiber, which is the only medium that doesn’t apply extra compression on top of what the TV channels do.

    If they can offer uncompressed HD movies on demand online, I’ll dump my optical media. But it’s shiny silver discs until that day comes, for me anyway.

  22. Kenny Powers Says:

    @ voopa,

    word on the street is that HDMI and component video looks identical…some even swear component looks more “natural”, somewhat similar to the vinyl vs. digital argument.

    I guess copyright protection might be part of the HDMI thing, but personally I think it’s a convenience thing. A single cable that can handle HD video and audio vs. three component cables for video plus an audio cable.

  23. voopa Says:

    True that about the convenience. It was hard enough jamming the HDMI, power and Video out from the PC cables through the hole in the wall. Turned out nice tho:

    From my first home blog

  24. whole tour! Says:

    the HD movie downloads/rentals on PS3 kick serious ass.
    haven’t bought an actual bluray disc since i got my ps3.

  25. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @albert walker – You need to reconsider knocking on the Cards right now. Last time I checked, the Cubs have failed to gain even 1/2 game on the Cards since August 4th. Thats right, for 36 straight days (and counting) there has not been a single day that the Cubs have won and the Cards have lost. Plus, knocking on Pujols? Really? The best player since Mays, maybe even since Mantle? You have to at least respect what the guy is doing. After all, I am a die hard Cardinals fan, and I still have D. Lee on my fantasy team 🙂

Leave a Reply