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. kayatosh Says:

    marlon byrd is wearing a diamond in his ear, so huge it dwarfs his bad swing.

  2. sanchothehutt Says:


    Loved Ortiz making an out, and it’s about time the NL gets a W

  3. Lycanthropist Says:

    @evil king canine

    hope you enjoy it.

  4. sanchothehutt Says:

    Though my Brewers were pretty pathetic. Braun is now, i think, o for seven, which really blows. Twice (at least) they had the opportunity to bat runs over and failed.

  5. sanchothehutt Says:

    Good game, can’t wait for the GREEK!!!!!!!

  6. kayatosh Says:

    night yall. i’ve embarrassed myself enough tonight.


  7. halcyon Says:

    Cool catering story kaya. Peace.

  8. dognamedwilson Says:

    I want to hear it, @lycan, but I’m maxed out on disc space. Gonna be a week before I can get an external drive.

    Looking forward, though, and I think I could help if you guys wanted to hit Athens at some point.

  9. kayatosh Says:

    @halcyon: to clarify i am not the roadie tellin the story; i was six at the time. found the story on live music archive.

    now i must slumber. kids will be rousing me by 7.

  10. Lycanthropist Says:

    FWIW you can stream from the archive

  11. DaNcInG fOoL Says:


  12. dognamedwilson Says:

    Sweet! Gonna do that now

  13. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    @lycan, you should cover waste for wilson

  14. Lycanthropist Says:

    lol @fool

    with correct or flubbed lyrics?

  15. dognamedwilson Says:

    Dude I like it. You said you play keys?

    you know you love you some waste

    If you’re pickin the ‘take a break’ song, what’s your first choice?

  16. Lycanthropist Says:

    yeh im on the keys.

    i encourage you to listen through the show, because we cover a lot of ground..

    the history of the world > da bears > history of the world is a bit of a CF deep cut if you know what I mean 😉

  17. Lycanthropist Says:

    yeh can use bk’s reiews to your advantage as well.

  18. Lycanthropist Says:

    and yes we would very much love to play Athens

  19. dognamedwilson Says:

    “now go to bed”

    not yet

  20. Lycanthropist Says:

    still up for a little bit…

  21. BrandonKayda Says:

    Glad to hear you’re digging it @dognamedwilson!

  22. dognamedwilson Says:

    Music is mysterious to me. Instruments are foreign in my hands and proficiency is amazing. I know what I like.

  23. RER Says:

    Anyone receive their 2nd leg of tour mail order tix yet? I’m still waiting on my Greeks and getting a bit nervous that I won’t get them in time since I’m moving to the Portland area in a couple weeks.

  24. sumodie Says:

    no greeks here

    ~2 weeks beforehand i guess

  25. BrandonKayda Says:

    Anybody out there?

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