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 inΒ  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 theΒ  “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. tela'smuff Says:

    @KWL – agreed on the Blossom Hood. loved it.

    @Select – dude, i’m sorry, i just don’t like Friday. But I really like Cincy2. The Tube>Gin is one of the best 1-2 moments post hiatus in my opinion. So yeah, i do like to rag on that Friday. It’s ok.

  2. KWL Says:

    i’m also looking for a jb1 extra, and some floor crash space 8)

  3. phoammhead Says:



  4. jdub Says:

    @Lycan, every show had a hot pocket that transended typical 3.0.

  5. phoammhead Says:

    lovin’ Harpua from 7/4 for the 3rd re-listen of the 2nd set – awesome!

  6. tela'smuff Says:

    @phoammhead – i’m starting to get a sense you love 7/4!

  7. Mr.Palmer Says:

    My parents and family like to give me grief about the Phish thing alot.

    ” don’t you get tired of seeing the same band”, aahh,,no

    ” when are you gonna grow out of this” .. my personal favorite

    So i go to my parents beach house this weekend w/ the family and my dad is out back chilling out, cranking tunes. What is he listening to?

    Phish doing Exile on Main Street… ( I made him the disc, he’s a 60’s kid) only to be followed by the Joy album. I couldn’t stop laughing and shaking my head.

    Mrs. Palmer’s reaction upon recognizing Phish blaring in the background.

    ” You have got to be kidding me!!!!” …”there is no escape”

  8. phoammhead Says:

    How’d you guess! πŸ˜‰

  9. angryjoggerz Says:

    “every show had a hot pocket that transended typical 3.0.”

    def not lean pockets

  10. jdub Says:

    How far is JB from Manhatten? And @KWL, if you have to trade your JB2 extra for a JB1 I’ll understand.

  11. sneven Says:

    all good stuff Mr. P

    full circle, as they say…

  12. tela'smuff Says:

    ha. exactly. i can see why you give me grief for commenting on Waste. Stoked to hear your enthusiasm even for a standard show. j/k

  13. sneven Says:

    speaking of full circle, does anyone think PHiSH will do Letterman/SNL again? That was always very phishy, in my mind…

  14. phoammhead Says:

    And, I got to say a word about the pit during KItNO – absolutely a mind-blower!!! as body shakes violently !!!

  15. Mr.Palmer Says:

    I like the SNL when the peanuts were jamming out to YEM.

    Think we get another official video release from the southern run? I hope so. those are well done IMO

  16. phoammhead Says:

    The whole 7/4 show flowed in a big, bad way – very energetic – okay, now I’m done with my 7/4 review. πŸ˜‰ well, maybe! πŸ˜€

  17. tela'smuff Says:

    i can remember seeing Phsih on Lettermna when Trey had those golden hammer pants or something. i think they played CDT, that was like ’94 i think?

  18. phoammhead Says:

    Are you flammin’ @Telas – Standard? πŸ˜‰

  19. sneven Says:

    What about that skit with the boys in a dorm room with Fallon singing Contact? cheese

  20. KWL Says:

    jdub, it’s yours. just keep me in mind when you’re looking for jb1s πŸ˜‰

  21. phoammhead Says:

    The boyz will play Harpua in Telluride – this has to seem obvious to everyone . . .

  22. tela'smuff Says:

    yeah dude. i’m just yankin’ you. totally far from standard!

  23. Carl Says:

    @phoammhead, I was pit 7/4 and the kitno was an absolute brain fucking rager! I fell down!

  24. phoammhead Says:

    I think if Phish was intending any kind of political statement in the broader sense of the word, then they would have done something other than First Tube for an encore . . . they were just kickin’ it down on 7/4, IMO.

  25. phoammhead Says:


    I was bouncin’ off everybody within range – it was nasty!!!

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