First Set Jamming

7.4.10 (W.Rogell)

The first sets of Phish shows have developed a retro-shape during this era, consisting mostly of compositions and one or two structured jams. A renewed focus on the artistry of each individual song has brought a sense of care to these opening frames, maintaining energy if sometimes lacking adventure. The most exciting parts of these first halves inevitably came with old-school jam vehicles and the band’s revitalized structured (‘type I‘) jamming. Injecting doses of creativity into their sets, pieces that that remained anchored to song structure burst with life for the first time in years. A facet of the band’s playing that had grown stale in the waning years of 1.0 and post-hiatus, has come back in force during 2010, illustrating the renewed focus and intent of Phish.

“Bathtub Gin” is, perhaps, the best example of this progression of summer, as each version provided a first set standout. Beginning with nTelos’ version that broke into a unique groove before Trey annihilated the peak, the song brought blasts of fresh jamming to the four first sets in which it appeared. While all four versions remained tied to the song’s theme, they each stood alone as unique highlights of Virginia, SPAC, Merriweather, and Atlanta.

6.25.10(G. Lucas)

Similar patterns followed for other  first set rotation songs, “Reba,” “Wolfman’s,” and “David Bowie.” Between differing guitar and bass tones, varying rhythms, and depending who led each jam, versions became distinct within structure. Because each version presented a distinct course to the same ending, the vehicles in rotation remained fresh and differentiating versions more often became a matter of musical taste rather than quality. Now, the same songs provided similar, but variant adventures. If one compares the Chicago and Charlotte “Wolfman’s ,” the SPAC and Atlanta’s ” Gins,” or the Hartford and Canandaigua “Reba,” and they will find different playing styles amidst similar themes, another aspect that spiced up this past tour.

6.25.10 (G.Lucas)

Aside from songs  in rotation, Phish also used the first set to drop a couple one-time jams, including one of the tour’s most compelling  first set moment in Camden’s “Timber Ho!” Musical density at its finest, these seven-minutes of psychedelia featured more intricate interplay that many jams twice its length. In another first-half offering, Phish stretched out Atlanta’s “Destiny Unbound” into a smooth, welcome-to-the-weekend dance session. The band dropped only two “Splits,” each coming in the first set, providing divergent dips into dissonance at Hershey and Camden.

While first sets have been largely reserved for songs and longer compositions, when Phish decided to jam they did so with re found focus, exchanging ideas and thematic variants efficiency. Whether attacking “Ocelot” or “Antelope,” they did so in the moment, churning out fresh music like a meat grinder. In an evolution that can only point to greener pastures, Phish can once again spurn excitement with ten-minute jams that don’t veer from their roots. A minor frustration developed among some fans this summer when this type of playing seeped too much into second sets, leaving some shows with little exploration. All of a sudden, for those not on tour, catching a significant open jam seemed like landing a prize winning fish. But hopefully Phish’s structured proficiency will serve as a foundation for more frequent risk-taking as we head into the next phase of tour.

Ten Must-Hear First Set Jams of Summer (in no particular order)

“Timber Ho” – 6.25 Camden

“Bathtub Gin” – 6.15 Portsmouth

“Reba” –  6.18 Hartford

“Wolfman’s” – 6.11 Chicago

“Mikes’s > H2 > Weekapaug” – 6.12 Blossom

“Slave” – 6.15 Portsmouth

“Split Open and Melt” – 6.25 Camden

“Stash” – 6.17 Hartford

“Jibboo” – 7.4 Atlanta

“Antelope” – 7.4 Atlanta


Jam of the Day:

Number Line > 20 Years Later” 6.12.II

This “Numberline” makes a complete transformation from noodly happiness into a menacing encounter with the dark side. Nominated for jam of he tour, this is one of those segments that is so coherent it sounds composed. Top-notch Phish, through and through.




7.2.2010 Verizon Wireless Amp., Charlotte, NC < Torrent

7.2.2010 Verizon Wireless Amp., Charlotte, NC < Megaupload

Official Charlotte Poster

A two-set effort that sparked the holiday weekend. The second set came in acts, with “Drowned > 46 Days > 20 Years Later” forming the first; “Lizards” as an intermission, and “Carini > Fuck Your Face > 2001 > YEM” as the thrilling Act II.

I: Buried Alive > AC/DC Bag, Vultures, Wolfman’s Brother, Back on the Train, The Wedge, Mexican Cousin, Stash, Sparkle, Chalk Dust Torture

II: Drowned > 46 Days > Twenty Years Later, The Lizards, Carini > Fuck Your Face > Also Sprach Zarathustra > You Enjoy Myself*

E: A Day in the Life

* w/ “Proud Mary” and “Get Back” vocal jam

Source: (FOB) Schoeps mk4v> KCY> Schoeps VMS02IB> SD 744t

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843 Responses to “First Set Jamming”

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  1. garretc Says:

    Ahhh, “Timber Ho!”…

    I haven’t yet enjoyed your company, the pain might be too much to bear!

  2. Lycanthropist Says:

    timber is the heat

  3. halcyon Says:

    Morning Folks!

    Insomnia set it last night….now its time to get ready for work 🙁

    Assuming I make the Telluride BB disc golf challenge, I got primed for action in Leadville at one of the top courses in the state. Side arm drive was looking strong.

    Going to make Miner’s Top 10 1st set jams my playlist this a.m.

    Thanks Miner!

    Have a great Friday!

  4. JerryTimber Says:

    Where is the Hershey “Twist”?

  5. willowed Says:

    The Hartford Reba……The jam where I lost feeling in my hands.
    I know this sounds bad….but it was a good thing!

  6. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    mornin’ all

    yet another great conversation piece today, Miner. nothing like springboarding the convo…

    check your email, if you please

  7. willowed Says:

    checking now TIII

  8. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Jerry- Hershey Twist was set II.

  9. willowed Says:

    You have mail TIII

  10. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Great list. Don’t know what I’d take out, but Hartford Walk Away should at least be in the conversation IMO.

  11. jdub Says:

    Morning folks.

    Great write up Miner. Hopefuly after leg 2 we’ll get a write up exploring the many set 2 Type 2s.

    That Hershey Twist is full of chunky Mike bombs wrapped around Fishmans beats. But it is in the set 2. Funny it was mentioned because I was rocking it this morning driving to work.

  12. jdub Says:

    @Duke, walk away deserves being on some kind of list for sure.

  13. kenny powers Says:

    YES on the Hartford Walk Away. Definitely one of the very highest-energy, balls-to-the-wall rocking set I moments of tour.

  14. Robear Says:

    I heart airports w/ free wi-fi.

  15. albert walker Says:

    Hopefully walk away finds itself back as a 2nd set segue vehicle

    Worked so well out of big jams back in the day

    That and Sparks

  16. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    me too, robear. I curse the ones that make you pay.

    I definitely heart towns like cambridge, ma that are at least thinking about how to put in the infrastructure for free wifi everywhere

  17. kenny powers Says:

    Walk Away and Sparks…shades of 8/14/93, yum

  18. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    or, you know, the bomb factory… 8)

  19. SillyWilly Says:

    Morning, all!

    hope everyone is doing well.

    I think if John Daly wins the British Open, I will dress up in a different John Daly outfit for everyday of DC>AV>JB.

    thats my idea for the day.

  20. Robear Says:

    arcata has the free wi-fi.

    San Francisco? Nope

    Denver? Don’t think so

    Detroit? Nope

    The motto for the nations airports and airlines should read:

    ‘Nickle-ing and dime-ing travelers into submission’

  21. Mr.Palmer Says:

    John Daly is the best. He doesn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks. I like that.

  22. SillyWilly Says:


    my personal favorite is you can’t bring more than 3 oz of liquid into the airport and then a bottle of water is fucking 4$.

  23. Little Buddy Says:

    Morning, kids. Haven’t been around much lately. Hope everyone is well.

    Nice write up, Miner. It definitely seemed that there was some additional flavor in the first set jams this summer.

    I saw Jimmy Cliff play a free show in the ROC last night. If you have a chance to catch him, please do. His band is incredible and Jimmy leads the charge with such emotion. I was really really moved by the show. Can’t really say enough about it. Damn near brought me to tears a couple times.


  24. Robear Says:

    ‘Destiny’ and ‘McGrupp’ made stand-out appearances in Atlanta.

  25. BTB Says:

    LB – nice on the Jimmy Cliff, love that guy.

    If anyone is interested in ‘really good copies’ of the Island Tour shoot me an email.

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