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. jdub Says:

    Thanks @KWL, I am actively starting the search this evening. If you don’t mind commuting to NYC a good friend will be be putting me up for JB.

    The topic of SLF’s dealing with our obsession has been a re occuring theme here. Mine made it to Hartford 1 with me for her first show. Very emotional experience. I cried, danced, and laughed all night. At the same time at times. She is not a convert and never will be but she definitely has more respect for this band. She was blown away. And I thought it was a beautiful moment and totally in line with Phish as they gave me DWD>Sand and abruptly followed up with Horse>Silent for her. That being a tune that she loved and could relate to from repeated listens of Rift and a bluegrass tribute album.

  2. phoammhead Says:


    I love that Bluegrass Tribute album – very enjoyable, for sure!

  3. jdub Says:

    I don’t normally wish I was at a show after the fact but seeing KITNO the next morning I immediately wished I was at that show. Phish normally gets me off in a deep, transendant way but sometimes I like to just go plain nuts. And damn, everyone went just plain nuts. What a treat and a moment people will not soon forget. Similar to MSG First Tube.

  4. Lycanthropist Says:


    sounds like you and i share similar situations re:SLF

    Mine is getting more and more into it each time, but still not a convert.

    To deeply rooted in the punk/riot rock.

    But she has definitely come to respect it and had a great great time in Knoxville.

    Being married to a keyboard player in a grunge jamband has also helped her bridge that gap.

  5. Carl Says:

    That whole show raged. I even danced to waste. Not my first time doing that but its been while.

  6. KWL Says:

    grunge jamband? i thought the accepted nomenclature was BNCB?

    @jdub, i’ll probably be flying into NY for the shows & therefore without car, but if we could make it work i’d be very grateful…

  7. phoammhead Says:


    There will be others . . . and I’ve never been to a bad show, if you know what I mean! πŸ™‚

  8. Lycanthropist Says:

    maybe i should say jamband with some minor grunge influence… llfa πŸ˜‰

  9. jdub Says:

    Waste was our wedding song played beautifully by my brother. Yeah a bit cheesy but I figured what the hell, a chance to get a Phish song at my wedding. I love Phish because they appeal to all my senses.

    @Lycan, my wife doesn’t dig music that much. She is more annoyed at this website than my infatuation with this band.

  10. halcyon Says:

    My slf will not be a convert. I thought she got it, and picqued her interest enough when we went to the Gorge, but to find out that it didn’t happen. Oh well. She knows they and their music make me happy, and that makes her happy. She will go come with me and will listen to them reluctantly (for lack of a better word) when I play them. Improv and extended “jamming” just isnt her thing.

  11. phoammhead Says:

    Sorry guys – I know what you mean, but what does slf actually stand for?

  12. Mr.Palmer Says:

    I almost convinced my wife to go with “Drifting” for our wedding song. Ended up w/ an Elton John song… all about that give and take thing, marriage is. πŸ™‚

    Just like i’ll most likely never get to another Halloween show because of the kiddies. I’m cool with that though. Halloween is a special day for the kids. Unless they played real close….maybe…or not

  13. Gratefulcub Says:

    SLF is my favorite bb shorthand. Thanks duderino.

  14. Gratefulcub Says:

    Special lady friend

  15. ChefBradford Says:

    I took one GF to my first show in 2000, and while not converted, she danced sublimely and had a great time

    took another GF (the one that got away/ripped my heart to shreds, ate it, then…you get it) to my last shows before this run, in Coventry, and you can guess how that went

  16. jdub Says:

    How be it @Halcy, sending you an email this evening. Your European vacation went well I presume?

    @KWL, what comes around goes around.

  17. phoammhead Says:

    Got it! πŸ˜‰ And, I’ve got one who digs Phish and has gone with me to all 7 shows I’ve been to.

  18. Gratefulcub Says:

    Happy medium Palmer, dress your kids up as the boys, wear a fishman dress, and sing rocky racoon as you trick or treat

  19. Gratefulcub Says:

    My slf is a hater, but lets me do my thing with no apology. Works for me. I get to go to shows with Leo weaver and matso, and she’s waiting for me when I get home.

  20. Mr.Palmer Says:

    That was last year @ Cub

  21. phoammhead Says:

    Light>Maze from Chicago are amazing!!! πŸ™‚

  22. dognamedwilson Says:

    I love that man! Esp given that she’s not a fan. Beautiful!

    Fortunately my wife is a full blown convert and has been talking about touring before we get to baby. 7/3 was her 3rd (+1TAB) show. I feel fortunate listening to all you guys who are in the triple digits on shows attended.

    Waste is fine in the right context. Our ‘special moment’ of her first show was the Velvet Sea encore and I’ve heard lots of dudes hating on that one, too.

    I do kinda wish she had been willing to hold the sign I made her, though. Perhaps itd have gone over better if dudes saw a chick with the sign but she got bashful.

    I’ve also read people bashing a girl for her Mexican Cousin sign and I happen to like that song as well. I don’t really care what they play as long as we get to hear it and we have our moment.

  23. jdub Says:

    Oh man Chef. That type of shit took me 10 years to get out of my system completely. And you got Coventry as a memory for the double whammy. It only makes you stronger. After my heart break I met a girl who was into Phish, I have her to thank for seeing them before the first hiatus.

  24. halcyon Says:


    Just sent you an email about an hour ago. Just settling back in to the daily routines in life. European vacation was a blast, and developing a game plan for our next “big” vacation. Can’t wait to return over there.

    Hope life is great in your neck of the woods. How were your shows?

  25. Corey Says:

    Good evening folks. Germany got it taken to em, eh?
    Bummer is the feel
    that I have when my team’s lost in the world cup.
    (a la ctb)

    Tough day in the 90degree heat. Spain out passed Germany and took their game away. They had so many shots, could’ve been a lot more to 0.

    Re: Reba — 6.29>6.18>6.24>6.12

    Re: Harry — 6.18>6.29>7.3>6.12>6.24, although I could move around the last three amongst themselves all day long.

    I could go into detail, but my fingers are sticking to the keys and melting to the plastic. So, I’ll let the dates linger in your minds. Hope ya’ll are keepimh cool, somehow. Wife’s been saying that it’s cold in SanFran. Could use some of that “cold” over here.

    ::Starts singing:: Rain Rain Rain, I don’t mind….c’mon rain, my veggies need you.

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