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”

  1. lastwaltzer Says:

    @mr. P,

    don’t know what lot you were in but I got put into a smaller off shoot lot and we had three tanks in there alone. (camden).

  2. Mr.Palmer Says:


    we were in a small lot as well by the warehouses, behind the lawn. There was maybe one tank there. Not mafia style though. No one was really buying them.

  3. nonoyolker Says:

    I think the mafia presence has vastly improved in the community. Last year Hartford was the worst n20 scene i’ve witnessed and it was virtually non-existant this year. Either they did a good job cracking down or the mafia wasn’t where i was. Same w SPAC

  4. Nate Says:

    Good post, but I’ll have to disagree pretty strongly with this statement:

    “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.”

    The summer 03 tour and first leg of summer 04 had interplay that, in my view, is certainly as good as—if not more—dynamic that what we’ve heard this past tour. I know you’re a fan of this period, so not sure why you’re overlooking it so blatantly here.

  5. Guyute711 Says:

    I didn’t think that nitrous was as prevalant as it has been in years past but it was around.

  6. nonoyolker Says:

    Made a big time playlist of summer highlights for the day. Merriweather R&R is going to be hard to top as the tour highlight. Patient, creative jamming. Hot shit.

  7. tela'smuff Says:

    getting gready to start Alp2 now. finished up the Alp1 and the Tweezer>Slave is top notch. Easily my favorite versions of both this tour.

    nice blog Miner!

  8. Mr.Palmer Says:

    @ Nono.. have to agree with you there. My top 3:

    Mpp- RnR
    Camden – Chalkdust
    Mpp- Piper

  9. cal Says:

    Good morning everybody! At least in the downtime between legs, we can catch up on what we haven’t listened to yet. Can’t wait for Deer Creek, though. I don’t even want to speculate about where things could go from here. Expectations are a bitch!

    Really like the write-up today, but one point I disagree on: Trey’s chops have not, to my ears, caught up with Mike’s. Early in the tour it seemed Red was holding back. Now it just strikes me that he’s not listening as closely as the others. So many opportunities to really engage and intertwine in something Mike sparks, and Trey seems oblivious, whale or no whale.

    That said, we’re still on an overwhelmingly positive trajectory. In terms of overall quality of playing, everybody’s on the upswing. In terms of jams, we’re getting more and more and better stuff. All signs point to a bright second leg, that’s for sure.

  10. Lycanthropist Says:

    good morning BB crew!

    @Mr P

    how did you enjoy the rest of that show?

  11. llamalee Says:

    “the shows never reached the cosmic liftoff that we experienced the previous weekend” I disagree with that unless your speaking about the aspect of open jamming. i hold charlotte and both atlanta nights (if you forgot about the RnR) up there with mpp. maybe not as creative and reaching but ridiculous energy.

  12. Lycanthropist Says:

    my top 3 jams

    MPP Tweezer
    SPAC RnR
    MPP Piper

  13. willowed Says:

    I posted something earlier this a.m.
    It vanished……magic I tell ya. Magic.

    here is my go to summer jam:
    The only thing that’s a little wackey about this is the transition from Meat Stick into Saw it Again. Other than that, it’s bonerific!

    Saw It Again>Piper> Ghost>Jumpin’ Jack Flash>Saw It Again >

  14. willowed Says:

    followed close by Camden Chalk and Blossum # line

  15. Mr.Palmer Says:

    @ Lycan- i still have to listen to set I. I listened to the remainder of set II last night. Not so much with a critical ear however. Family, kids, dinner, bedtime were a bit of a distraction.

    I did like the whole set though. SunGuy was great. Medicine daughter and the end sequence from Plight > Lo and Outside were what stuck out to me. Will definitely get thru the rest at some point today.

    I recommend it to all if your getting a bit Phished-out lately…..

  16. nonoyolker Says:

    @ Cal – I agree with you man. Trey still sounds like he is not playing with full confidence. He seems to be holding back a bit and leaning on “safe” licks and sounds (i.e., the whale). I will say, great improvement from last year and definitely an upswing. The rest of the band is locked in now though, espcially now that Fishman has his groove back.

    I love at the start of the Camden Chalkdust it seems like the air got sucked out of the venue and everyone collectively thought “opening the 2nd set with this!??!” Little did they know. Pretty sweet excursion

  17. lastwaltzer Says:

    I’m gonna need to go back to both of those RnRs, i got way to burn out on that one this time around to really take notice.

  18. tela'smuff Says:

    the drop from PYITE into Forbins is the bees knees.

  19. Jtran Says:

    So hard to choose my jams of tour. Posted some yesterday, but I’ve listened and rethought a bit…

    -Atl Tweez>Slave
    -MPP Piper
    -Camden Chalkdust
    -MPP RnR
    -Blossom #Line

    Honorable mentions:
    -CMAC Simple>Walrus
    -GW Sneakin Sally > Light
    -MPP Tweezer

  20. tela'smuff Says:

    how many people looked when Trey pointed to the Famous Mockingbird?

  21. llamalee Says:

    i looked

  22. Spasm Waiter Says:

    G’morning BB.

    Just read the Nitrous Mafia Article…


    …and thought this wook shirt was amusing and on topic.—>


  23. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Ha Ha Ha

    Sonic Wormholes.

    Go visit the Chalkdust from Dallas 97.

    Another great Chalkdust that gets out there but it is only 15 min or so. So it only gets that far out there. Its in the archive, folks.

    The whole show is worth a spin if anyone feels for some nostalgic phish today.

    I am trying to temper my addiction to phish to limit it to little knowledge more than what I personally attended and the tour highlights for me personally.

    Did anyone out there do the no spoilers as intended? I’d like to hear about it.

  24. c0wfunk Says:

    @tela I looked

  25. Lycanthropist Says:

    thanks Mr. P
    it was def a fun show.

    I gotta say I am surprised that the MPP Tweezer isn’t in more of y’alls top picks…

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