A Look Back: A Macro View

6.27.10 (G.Lucas)

Gazing back over the past month, there are many aspects to the first leg of summer tour that deserve discussion in detail. But before delving into subject-specific posts, let’s begin with some general thoughts on a month that represented a huge step forward in the re-evolution of Phish.

The band showcased bold confidence during June and early July, and this re-found musical urgency brought a sense of tension and drama back to their improvisation. Whether they sat amidst a structured or open jam, Mike and Trey routinely led the band with dynamic interplay of the likes we hadn’t seen since the late ’90s. Often starting jams in  minimalist style, Trey allowed Mike to direct improv, as Gordeaux essentially played “lead-bass” throughout the tour. But the beauty of their partnership quickly became apparent – Trey’s chops had finally caught up to Mike’s – a factor that elevated the duo’s output to the the next level and provided an unparalleled core for their music.

6.27.10 (G.Lucas)

Phish began to reach a balance of open and structured improv before reeling things in a bit through the end of tour, favoring energetic forward rock and roll to exploratory jamming. Busting out of the gate in Chicago and Blossom with “Light,” “Ghost,” “Rock and Roll, and a “Number Line” that still sits amongst the most creative pieces of tour, it seemed that experimentation would, once again, become a focus of Phish. But as tour moved on, the band backed off their exploratory mission, leaving “Light” as the only guaranteed sonic experiment, but their playing and their shows remained strong. A Hartford-heavy weekend in the Northeast, led by 6.18’s second set, was promptly blown away by the tour’s peak the following weekend in Camden and Merriweather.

7.3.10 (W.Rogell)

In a weekend that featured the most adventurous playing of the month, Phish seemed to reach a breakthrough on the second night of Camden, taking the unsuspecting anthem of “Chalk Dust” for one of the most transcendent rides of its career. Playing a stunning second set, Phish also included a thick exploration of groove in “2001” and one of the tour’s most experimental versions of “Light.” Riding this cresting wave, Phish tore apart two nights in Merriweather with, arguably, the two strongest second sets of the moth. The first night shone with one of the tour’ s top excursions in “Rock and Roll” and a demonic “Tweezer,” while the second night’s main event takes the cake for the most conceptually unified and Phishy set of the summer – not to mention massive exploration of “Piper” that stood at its center. Overlooked in this set is also a swampy “Meatstick” jam that preceded the  “I Saw It Again” sequence that whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

After the weekend in the Mid-Atlantic, the community looked at the final five shows, salivating with anticipation. But while the final stretch of shows boasted consistently strong two-set efforts, with stellar flow, the shows never reached the cosmic liftoff that we experienced the previous weekend. Raleigh’s “Light,” Charlotte’s “Drowned,” and Atlanta’s “Caspian > Tweezer” and “Piper > Ghost” provided stellar musical treks that came as a side dish with the fiery energy, precise playing, and non-stop setlists of the final stretch of shows.

6.27.10 (G.Lucas)

In conjunction, one of the most encouraging trends of leg one was the revitalization of Phish’s structured jamming, an element of the band’s repertoire that had grown stale in their latter years. This summer, songs like “Harry Hood,” “David Bowie,” “Reba,” “Bathtub Gin,” and “Stash,” have taken on new life, providing considerably more engaging jams than in their recent past. The creativity of their structured jamming has fomented the unknown rather than the routine, providing excitement where there used to be stagnation. This upswing has given the overall contour of Phish shows a huge boost over the past month. The same trend has held true for newer songs such as “Ocelot,” Stealing Time,” “Twenty Years Later,” and “46 Days.” Thus when Phish wasn’t in the stratosphere, their shows always maintained a fresh and creative energy that had lacked through ’09.

7.4.10 (W.Rogell)

And then there was the onslaught of new covers. Evoking memories of Summer ’98, Leg I saw the debut of several one-time covers. The question now remains, “Which, if any, of these songs will stay in rotation?” Highlighted by Led Zeppelin’s “The Rover, The Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus,” and the now-famous July 4th rendition of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing In the Name,” Phish has more than a few choices. Coupled with several new originals, setlists took new twists during the opening stretch of 2010.

With four strong sets in Alpharetta, Phish punctuated a tour that oozed progress and positivity, while forging a new sound for the new decade. With less than a month before the band hits the Greek Theatre, we’ll barely have enough time to inspect the amazing month that was before heading west for Leg II. But every journey has a first step, so off we go.


Jam of the Day:

Chalk Dust > Caspian” 6.25.10 II

This wide-open exploration of “Chalk Dust Torture” in Camden, New Jersey, sparked one of the most adventurous second sets of summer.




6.25.2010 Susquehanna Bank Center, Camden, NJ < Torrent

6.25.2010 Susquehanna Bank Center, Camden, NJ < Megaupload

Official Camden Poster

This second show in Camden sparked a three-night stretch that stood out among the rest Summer’s opening leg.

I: Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues, Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, Runaway Jim, Army of One, Free Man in Paris*, Summer of ’89, Split Open and Melt, The Sloth, Time Turns Elastic, Golgi Apparatus

II: Chalk Dust Torture > Prince Caspian > Heavy Things, Alaska > Also Sprach Zarathustra** > Light > Possum, Character Zero

E: Shine a Light

*Debut, Joni Mitchell

** w/ “Wanna Be Starting Something,” “Billie Jean,” and “Thriller” teases

Source: Schoeps mk4v> KC5> M222 > NT222> Aeta PSP-3 > SD 722 (@24bit/96kHz) (Taper: taylorc)

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830 Responses to “A Look Back: A Macro View”

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  1. BrandonKayda Says:


    Great post, Miner

  2. Tweets that mention Mr. Miner's Phish Thoughts » Blog Archive » A Look Back: A Macro View -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mrminer, Capzoots. Capzoots said: Mr. Miner's Phish Thoughts » Blog Archive » A Look Back: A Macro View – http://goo.gl/UxNo […]

  3. Corey Says:

    Second. That Nitrous article was longwinded and did nothing to help rid the lots of that crap. My couple of copper…

    Regarding leg one of tour…PHiSH has found a formula and rarely strays from it, i.e. Marriweather silliness, Gorge/Albany last year. It seems to work, providing all who attend at least a few favorites every show, regardless of preference.

    I still don’t know what the fuss is about regarding Camden and Merriweather, or the Number Line from early on, despite PHiSH’s inclusion of the video (they also put up that other stuff from SPAC). I’ll still take Hartford IIs second set run of Halley’s Light Billy Tweezer Theme Harry over those “more popular” choices. And let’s not forget that the true PHiSHiness started in that Hartford encore, not SPAC and not Merriweather. Not hatin’, just sayin’. Canandaigua had perhaps the most consistent complete show of tour and that Mike’s Simple Walrus Weekapaug was sublime.

    That said, this tour had nuggets in every set of every show…couldn’t be said of tours past and for that I’m (and all of us) are extremely thankful.
    PHiSH is back. Mike managed to step up his playing from last year — how, I don’t know, as his playing soared last year and dominated the band’s direction — and they seem to be playing with purpose, intent and yes, I’ll say it, Joy.

    Good for us.
    Great for PHiSH.
    Not so good for all the other bands out there that merely light the candles on Trey’s speaker box.
    Now, I’m off-a-my speaker box.
    Power shortage tonight in Somerville for 5 hours. Yay.
    I’m ready for more tour…

  4. hoedown Says:

    Great review Mr. Miner. I will add that Hershey set 2 had some tasty improve as well. Perfect example of the “lead bass” playing you mention. Good morning BB.

  5. Luther Justice Says:

    For those of us stuck in this heat wave – try to stay alive out there. Stay classy BB.

  6. Nogoodpah Says:

    It is clearly stated that Miner likes the long, exploratory jams Phish provides. He loves those 10 minute ‘Lights’ and 15 minute ‘Tweezers.’ I was taken back at the SPAC II review where Miner didn’t get a big jam and later criticized their ‘standard fare.’ I personally like both: long jams and simple little songs like Camel Walk and Tela. Just because a song dosen’t have a Type II or III jam in it dosen’t make it less enjoyable for me. Some songs are designed for succinct fun and should be enjoyed for the moods they create. I’m still pissed I didn’t get succinct classics like ‘Daniel saw the stone’ and ‘Dog Log.’

  7. willwowed Says:

    Hey boys and girls
    Hey Corey I agree with you about that hartford set and all the Phishiness that went along with it. That was a very special night.

    I do think that Saw It Again set was just a tad bit better. But they are so close in greatness that it’s like splitting hairs.

    My big picture view……………..We are very very lucky to be fans right now. Only great tings are coming down the line.

    Jones beach can’t get here fast enough!!

  8. Leo Weaver Says:

    And don’t forget your gold bond 😉

  9. angryjoggerz Says:

    Nice use of a paraphrased Laozi quote, Miner (last sentence).

    千里之行, 始於足下, 千里之行, 始于足下

  10. angryjoggerz Says:

    The Nitrous article was sort of interesting in that it shows how organized and sometimes negative it can be. I am not a fan, personally, but have given my share of money towards it in the past.

    I was shocked to see the Wrecking Crew in there, blast from the past. When I knew those cats there was no way they were gonna be down on anything that got one spun. Things change. Lets just hope this issue can be dealt with in a positive manner, not with anger and violence. If I want that, I will stay home in Chicago.

  11. BTB Says:

    Wo0k with a popsicle = Camden Chalkdust

    Have a good day BB’ers

  12. lastwaltzer Says:

    Solid summary Miner. I’m not one to request topics but in the downtime perhaps a piece on the different takes on Light this summer.

  13. ReidIcculus Says:

    Where may I read said Nitrous article?

  14. Halden Says:

    Nice summary Miner.

  15. Halden Says:


  16. Mr. V Says:

    Happy Birthday Gustav Mahler. Another musician who could do some serious face-melting.

  17. SillyWilly Says:

    Love the macro-view, Miner.

    cool way to start a series of posts. I am looking forward to the coming days and your inspection of more specific aspects of the first leg.

  18. KWL Says:

    excellent piece, Miner

    listened to chi & hershey yesterday and was surprised at how well those hold up to the tour’s conclusion (i would put chi near the top of the tour, and hershey had a lot of open playing in set II)

    can’t say i’m a fan of reigning in the open exploration, but you can’t argue with how well played and high energy the final 5 shows were, nor with the nearly unanimous positive reactions from BBers in attendance

  19. lastwaltzer Says:

    Damn, currently taking in the article on N20 and just well damn…………….

    never bought a balloon, will never buy a balloon and hope you don’t buy a balloon.

  20. BTB Says:

    Donate to Waterwheel

    Do not donate to the nitrous bullshit

    That’s all I got to say

  21. lastwaltzer Says:


    are you implying that the n2o mafia isn’t just a bunch of dirt bag assholes but a large dirt bag asshole non profit? LLFA

  22. KWL Says:

    ya, reading through the article now

    nothing i didn’t already know, but still underscores what a shitty scene nitrous is

  23. Jtran Says:

    Morning BB.

    Taking a short break from 2k10 Phish for a second and listening to the 12/30/97 encore. I kind of want to dig up Miner’s post on encores now, especially after Tweeprise, Tweeprise on the 18th.

  24. Mr.Palmer Says:

    From my perspective, and the three NE shows i attended this leg, the n20 scene was almost non-existent this time around. I think i saw 3 balloons in Camden. No big deal. Looks like someone is doing something right in keeping this dark element away from the scene.

    Last year @ SPAC was the worst i’ve ever seen, this year there was none that i saw. The difference couldn’t be more drastic.

  25. Jtran Says:

    GW had it bad. Kid with a tank in his backpack running around with about 3 other kids spotting for him and helping, tried to post up at our car and offered us balloons, told him to get the f away. Pretty sad.

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