Cover Flow

6.26.10 - Merriweather (Graham Lucas)

In a clear effort to freshen up summer setlists, Phish unveiled no less than 10 one-time covers over the 18 shows the season’s opening leg. Placing some innocently within first sets, and others more dramatically within the depths of second halves, the effects of these songs varied from case to case. A process unseen since the Summer of ’98, it seemed that Phish brought a new cover to the setlist almost nightly. This summer brought a more eclectic bunch of songs than the popular anthems covered twelve years ago,  as several songs went unknown until after the show to most fans. Phish also included songs everyone knew, offering a melange of tracks from different genres and eras. It remains to be seen if anything will come of these covers, or if they were just dashes of spice in their respective shows. Regardless of their future, here are the ten covers the band debuted last tour, with a blurb about each. (Every selection has two audio tracks, Phish’s rendition and the original.)


1. “Look Out Cleveland” – The Band, debuted 6.12 I

The Band

Opening up the second night of tour, this song’s lyric, “Look Out Cleveland, there’s a storm coming through,” was appropriate on two levels. Not only was inclement weather predicted for the evening, the typhoon of Phish had spun off Chicago, about to devour Blossom Music Center. The song’s Americana feel completely fit Phish’s current vibe, and this opening cover seemed like it was heading much further when the band cut it off for the similarly-vibed, “Ocelot.” If any of these covers are actual candidates to stay in rotation, this one could work quite well.

[audio:] [audio:]


2. “Instant Karma” – John Lennon, debuted 6.12 II

John Lennon

Coming deep in Blossom’s second set, and completely out of left field, Phish’s cover of Lennon’s classic provided a jolt to an already stellar show. While the band didn’t nail the song, they certainly played it proficiently, as Page did a noble job on the iconic vocal track. One of the covers that provided more excitement exponentially than listening back, the mere inclusion of “Instant Karma” in this slot confirmed that Summer 2010 wouldn’t be the same old shtick.

[audio:] [audio:]


3. “Cold Water” – Tom Waits, debuted 6.15 I

In this benign addition to Portsmouth’s first set, Phish smoothed out a gritty song, losing something in translation. Adding a loafing groove to the song, the band put their own twist on “Cold Water.” This song neither added or detracted from Virginia’s first set, but I doubt we’ll hear this one again.

[audio:] [audio:]


4. “Lit O Bit” – Rita Clarke and The Naturals, debuted 6.22 I

Rita Clarke

Opening Great Woods, I’m not sure anyone knew this jazzy, Dixieland number. A piano-led ragtime feel exuded from this New Orleans-esque cover that got Tuesday night’s show started in fresh fashion. A harmless ditty, this one could come back to the first set rotation to replace a stale oldie, and I wouldn’t mind one bit. A more authentic “Party Time,” this cover provides the same musical feel as Phish’s original.

[audio:] [audio:]


5. “The Rover” – Led Zeppelin, debuted 6.24 I

Physical Graffiti

Closing one of the strongest first sets of tour, Phish busted out “The Rover” after a powerful “Reba” jam, putting an ripping exclamation point on Camden’s first frame. Collectively nailing the cover,  Page tackled the dynamic vocal once again; and if Phish were to keep a song around to polish, this one would work great. A perfect placement helped the debut of “The Rover,” creating a definite buzz going into setbreak. Anytime Phish plays Zeppelin, it seems to work out, and this was no exception.

[audio:] [audio:]


6. “A Free Man In Paris” – Joni Mitchell, debuted 6.25 I

Mike sang this mellow Joni Mitchell relic from 1974, that translated very well to the Phish stage. Featuring intricate, yet catchy, guitar lines, this tune carries a distinct likability. Again, if Phsh were to replace an over-played ballad with this cover, I’m all for it.

[audio:] [audio:]


7. “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” – Neutral Milk Hotel, debuted 6.26 I

In The Aeroplane Over the Sea

Only after the show did someone inform me that this song comes from one of the most critically-acclaimed Indie albums ever recorded. Once I listened to the wistful original that carries a distinctly melancholy vibe, I thought Phish missed this one altogether. They played this song as if impersonating a house band for a 1950s prom, and the heartfelt emotion of the song didn’t translate. I think Phish is just too happy these days to authentically play music like this. Oh, and doesn’t Trey have an acoustic guitar? That would have been helpful as well.

[audio:] [audio:]


8. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”The Rolling Stones, debuted 6.27 II

Emerging seamlessly out of “Ghost” amidst the most adventurous set of tour, Phish never missed a beat in nailing this Stones favorite. Building directly into a “Saw It Again” reprise to close the sequence of summer, the band inserted this newbie in the most dramatic of places. Fitting congruently within the dark set, “Jack Flash” came as a complete surprise bringing the set to an unquestionable peak. There are many Stones songs from Exile I think we’d see before Phish played this one again, but on this night, there was none better.

[audio:] [audio:]


9.  “I Am the Walrus” – The Beatles, debuted 6.29 II

Segueing out of an ambient “Simple” jam in the middle of Canandaigua’s “Mike’s Groove,” “I Am the Walrus” made its own case for cover of the summer. Nailed precisely as if they’d been playing it for years, Phish masterfully incorporated the track from Magical Mystery Tour into their mid-week set. Building dissonant, psychedelic sheets of sound out of the song’s peak, Phish passed through a menacing metal jam on their way to “Weekapaug.” If used well, this song could have an impact should the band choose to keep it around. And with their well-documented affinity for The Beatles, who knows?

[audio:] [audio:]


10. “Killing In the Name” – Rage Against the Machine, debuted 7.4 II


Saving their last cover for the last set of tour, Phish used the controversial punk cover as a narrative device in “Harpua’s” story that comically retold our the history of America. Creating an immediate implosion, the crowd ate up the profane ’90s anthem, shooting fans back to specific points in their lives. Though clearly part of the show’s tongue-in cheek humor, playing a song about institutional racism in the south on July 4th carries some level of socio-political connotation, intended or not. Regardless of political allusions, this thrashing piece created an indelible highlight from the onslaught of early-summer covers.

[audio:] [audio:]


Jam of the Day:

2001 > Light” 6.25 II

An all-time experiential highlight, Phish’s tribute to Michael Jackson on the one-year anniversary of his death will go down as one of the most legendary dance sessions is history. Follow that up with one of the most exploratoty “Lights” of tour, and you’ve got a powerful late-set segment.




6.18.2010 Comcast Theatre, Hartford, CT < Torrent

6.18.2010 Comcast Theatre, Hartford, CT < Megaupload

Hartfird 6.18 Poster

This show’s second set is one of the strongest of tour. Opening with “Halley’s > Light > Billy Breathes,” the band clicked early. Adding a groovealicious “Tweezer” and super-charged versions of “Theme” and “Hood” to follow, the flow of the second half couldn’t get much stronger. Coupled with a favorite-filled first set, and a double “Tweezer Reprise” encore, this Nutmeg State throwdown represents Phish’s strongest effort of their Northeast run.

I: Fee, Rift, Wolfman’s Brother, Summer of ’89*, Foam, Possum, The Moma Dance, Julius, Reba, Cavern

II: Halley’s Comet > Light > Billy Breathes, Tweezer > Theme From the Bottom, Harry Hood, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan

E: Sleeping Monkey, Tweezer Reprise, Tweezer Reprise


Source: DPA 4023 > Sonosax SX-M2 > Sound Devices 722 (24/96)

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927 Responses to “Cover Flow”

  1. albert walker Says:

    We will get some heavy jams out west Robear

    Trey can pull that borked jam shit out east and down south but that west coast crowd expects some shit

  2. willowed Says:

    I concur with GCUB…Meeting him and the crew at the BBQ prior to Hartford 2 ws very specail. I will chalk that little ditty up in the memory bank for some time!!

  3. Robear Says:

    yeah, frankie. haven’t been to any kind of town with good beer yet. if anywhere, it’s on the coast.

  4. Gratefulcub Says:

    We are a better place for it huffy bear

  5. sneven Says:

    @phoamm re:surrender to the phlow…

    that IS the trick, right? 😉

  6. Frankie Says:

    No worries man! Didn’t know if you had gotten it… probably would be pretty expensive anyway but curious to try it out… Cheers bud! 🙂

  7. Frankie Says:

    expensive to send it, i mean…

  8. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Willowed- at like the 7:30 – 8:00 mark. I see what your saying. Sickness.

  9. phoammhead Says:


    I hope so, because that’s all I’m really good at! 😉

  10. Gratefulcub Says:

    Willowed, I hope my drunken ramble to mrs willowed was a positive thing 😉 I could imagine her saying something like “I have no idea what that southern bumpkin with a mouthful of marbles and beer said….something about hospitality?”

  11. Robear Says:

    face melted at those ones cub. body too. really good crazy fingers and morning dew. closed both first sets with ‘don’t ease’. it was hot.

  12. Robear Says:

    frankie, their distributor actually comes out to the stix. just checked their website. i bet i can find it. will keep in touch.

  13. locust the lurker Says:

    Saw the talk of NYC hotels. Any type of confirmation/legit rumor on NYE?

  14. HarryHood Says:

    What’s up fellers!

    Frankie sighting. Nice.

  15. Robear Says:


    we have confirmation of a legit rumor

  16. Gratefulcub Says:

    Robear. Touring in 1995-2010 is one thing. But, to jump on board a train headed nowhere (to most observers) in 93? Hell yeah my brother. That is saying “I get, and I don’t care that no one else does.” Well, props to you, and the crazy xxxxzzxxyyyyxxzz guy, and C, and all the rest that knew it before the rest of us.

  17. Gratefulcub Says:

    Hood, update? I’m ready to welcome a hoodette.

  18. HarryHood Says:

    No updates yet buddy! Just showed my girl what you sent a few hours ago and she loved it. Makes me laugh every time I imagine the little one wearing it.

  19. Gratefulcub Says:

    Not that I had a choice in 93, I was rockin the canes starter jacket, listening to pm dawn, and the only time I thought of phish was when pappaw deep fried the cat kind on Fridays.

  20. HarryHood Says:

    PM Dawn! Nice!

  21. vegas wolfmans Says:

    a legit rumor may or may not have been unofficially kangfirmed by nobody close to the band. I’m in! ::calls travel agent::

  22. Gratefulcub Says:

    Hoody Hood Hood, my wife still rolls her eyes every time. Little does she know, I have a 3-6 month, a 6- 12 month, and a T1. By the time she outgrows them all, she will be able to say, “fuck s bunch a binkie, I’m going to see the boys in my onesie!”

  23. SillyWilly Says:

    Just got the confirmation that my sis is game for part of my “Silly Tour”!

    pretty cool to me that all I have to do is say “Im going to see Phish on these dates.”

    and she just repsonds: “Yes. Im in.”

    getting giddy for Leg 2 already.

  24. Mr.Palmer Says:

    I now feel more confident in having the Camden Chalkdust in my top 3 . I thought it might be a little “i was there” bias. Nah, its the real deal.

    12/29/93 in a snowstorm in New Haven. That’s the night i realized i was going to be spending a lot of time and $$ on this band. No regrets at all.

  25. Frankie Says:

    Hey Hood! Thanks for the news! I was wondering if the baby had shown up yet…

    Thanks Robear! 🙂

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