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”

  1. Mr. Completely Says:

    damn, High Sierra was fun back then.

  2. angryjoggerz Says:

    Thanks, gents, on the hunt now. Seen them a handful of times, always love them, most notably in NYC on Halloween maybe 5 years back. Good times.

  3. Mr. Completely Says:

    nice, @voopa!

    I’ve seen that Motherbug/Walters double bill. Very fun show. Think I have cds of it.

    this “Retirement Song” is kinda cool

  4. voopa Says:

    Huh. Uninvisible might may fave after Combustication.

    They played HSMF in ’02 and turned in two incredible sets…late night Sat and Main Stage Sun IIRC. A friend worked crew and smoked Medeski’s bong after the late night set.

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    liking “Ten Dollar High” too

    those dude puff it TOUGH

    srs fckng bzns

  6. voopa Says:

    I got discs of that GAMH show via snail trade back in the day, but had problems with some of them, so they’re in a random pile of “deal-with-it-later” discs somewhere..should dig those up.

    @aj – a good friend happened to be in NYC and caught the MMW Halloween show in ’02…I think Cyro sat in? I have auds, should revisit.

  7. voopa Says:

    Finally upgrading to iPhone OS4…wish me luck.

  8. Mr. Completely Says:

    one of my best friends taped every jazz/groove type show in PDX from about 97 to ’03 or show, which was a lot – they’re slowly coming off the DATs now – everything from MMW to Sex Mob, Zony Mash, Critters, Living Daylights, Greyboys, etc etc etc etc

    some of the best stuff was the pure-improv-set 2-band-mashup trend we had going for awhile

    Slipping Daylights (Slip + Living Daylights) and Sex Mash (Mob + Zony, obv) were the most successful

    might even have a sbd of the Sex Mash set…

    some great acoustic Zony shows too

  9. Mr.Miner Says:

    probably won’t listen to the show much in the future, beyond ‘light’, ‘have>light up’ and the encore

    ^ this is all I’ve ever said….peace is made…

  10. Mr. Completely Says:




    pretty sure he said something about your mom a couple pages back.

  11. Mr.Miner Says:


  12. Mr. Completely Says:

    stupid hippies.

  13. dognamedwilson Says:

    Dear BB,

    Pardon my interruption

    Did anyone see Mike slamming the bass during Gumbo at Atl1?

    I was watching him after the first one and he was slamming every string with his open hand and then dragging his fingers across.


    it felt like a bomb landed on my gut and I was bleeding out from my intestines.

    The Faulty Plan jam made me cry. Nice ‘type 1’ example, I guess.

    Hood changed my life.

    I haven’t been that affected my music since the first time I blasted S,T&P alone in my car.

    Dating myself there but I’ve seen some good ones. Atl1 was the time of my life.

    Sorry for the long post,


    P.S.- Almost made a HUGE Hood sign, too, but decided that would be greedy.

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    need to listen to Uninvisible again in a late night context. Very atmospheric album. in my current highly linear mindstate, I would put it in the midrange MMW “like but don’t love” box. But I think this one might shine best about 3:30 AM.

  15. Mr. Completely Says:

    oh shit

    just went semi random in the jazz folder and hit Black Saint and the Sinner Lady

    strap ’em up tight!

  16. BrandonKayda Says:

    Listening to the Waves->Simple->Gotta Jibboo from 2/20/03 for the first time.

    That was a nice Waves, onto the 18min Simple 🙂

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    that’s a super sick Jiboo coming up Brandon

    Sloppy Simple if I recall right

  18. KWL Says:

    looks like the board was talkin mmw at the same time stupendous & I were talkin mmw in real life

    bb’ers are always on the same wavelength, so not real surprising there 8)

    stupendous is a cool cat–welcome to CO brother!

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    I think that’s the jiboo that just kind of chugs along for a bit and then blows up crazily

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    whatup @kwl

    BB vibe is in effect!

  21. BrandonKayda Says:

    The Simple was sloppy in its composed part but this jam is nice at about 10mins in – very textural

    Looking forward to the Jibboo.

  22. Mr. Completely Says:

    I hate debugging javascript.

  23. Mr.Miner Says:

    top notch jibboo for sure..

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    funny, I don’t remember the Tweezer or Seven Below at all

  25. Mr.Miner Says:

    both the Tweezer and -7 are beasts…..better than the jibboo….

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