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. rendog Says:

    Hershey set I phenomenal – listen to it tonight!
    Charlotte set I phenomenal – listen to it tomorrow!

  2. BrandonKayda Says:

    This Simple is great so far – I wish Phish would do more of this in 2010 🙂

  3. Mr.Miner Says:

    great post-hiatus dirty jamming….

  4. Mr.Miner Says:

    you and me both, bk. you and me both.

  5. KWL Says:

    hey C, not much, just enjoying life as another beautiful mountain day winds down

    life’s been a bunch of roadblocks and setbacks lately but changing settings tends to calm me down and give me perspective, so things are good

  6. Mr.Miner Says:

    I’d trade botched compositions for huge jams any day of the week 🙂

  7. BrandonKayda Says:

    Glad to hear you and Stup are having a good time KWL!

  8. Gavinsdad Says:

    The BB massive. Nice

    @dognamed: neemor And I took some time out to focus on the “thuddin” that Mike was doing during the Camden Gumbo. Sick shit. He was rumbling the pavillion. So cool.

    We’ve never talked about Mike Watt on here much. He’s one of my fave music people ever and he plays the “thud stick”. Mike during that Gumbo was workin the thud stick. Watching Watt play live is one of (my) lifes greatest pleasures.

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    Mike Watt represent!

    I’ve stood right in front of him at the WOW Hall in Eugene and watched him work that thing like a speedbag several times with different groups

    @kwl, sorry it’s been that way

    hope it turns for you soon

  10. KWL Says:

    thanks C, it will… I mean, things could be worse, I get to sit back & wait for phish to roll into the southern CO mountains in a few weeks… 😮

  11. joe Says:

    could be next ‘obscure’ cover gdad. the minutemen. from the halloween list I believe.

  12. BrandonKayda Says:

    Just about 8mins in to this Gotta Jibboo – getting interesting now, picking up steam.

  13. BrandonKayda Says:

    Feels like they could wrap it up at 11mins…

  14. KWL Says:

    spocks brain at the greek

  15. Robear Says:

    miner, i did think they played well for the most part at Raleigh. Esp. the first set. Not my setlist choice. Low expectation helped that. Thought that Fishman had some crazy good moments in the ‘Jim’.

    when they decided to drop ‘fluff’ in the middle of the second, i had to remind myself ‘if i start getting tired of fluffhead, might be time for a new….’ etc.

    honestly, after what went down from GW > Camden > MPP, I figured (knew) we were in for a let down. So i put a blank space where my mind should have been and really enjoyed it.

    Funny thing, I thought the playing in Charlotte, esp. most of the first set, was sloppy in comparison to Raleigh, but more exciting in the song choices.

    peace, for sure brotha’

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    I’ll have to hit that 2/20/03 set 2 soon. I have the sbds at home but not here.

  17. Robear Says:

    please no ‘spock’s brain’

    say the people to keep becky going to every show!

  18. Mr. Completely Says:

    it’ll be pretty funny if I get to see a second Spock’s Brain considering how few Phish shows I’ve been to compared to most of you dudes.

  19. Robear Says:

    Miner sez:
    I’d trade botched compositions for huge jams any day of the week 🙂

    ^basically what was going through my mind listening to the highlights from ‘IT’

    but i don’t want to trade away health and vitality. let’s strike a balance!

  20. KWL Says:

    not saying i want it, just saying it’s coming soon

  21. Robear Says:

    should add that the playing in the second set of Charlotte was on point.

    have to relisten to ‘Lizards’, def. enjoyed in the moment.

  22. BrandonKayda Says:

    I’m still kinda floored a got a Tela/Mellow Mood/Walfredo at my second show. Huge bustouts.

    This Jibboo is funky as hell 15mins in

  23. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    Haven’t been on the board much lately, but I just got home from seeing Inception.

    Oh MY Freaking Shihizzle!

    Best movie I’ve EVER seen.

    Multiple viewings are in order.

  24. KWL Says:

    miner, i think you should post that verbatim in your write up on monday

    really get the haters all stirred up

    ‘you’re so negative miner, get a clue’

    ‘maybe you should get off tour if you can’t enjoy the music’

    then, take aw’s suggestion and post a ‘best of’ from all the hate mail you get

  25. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    I won’t spoil any of it for you guys, but definitely go see it. See it on the biggest screen you can and go in with a clear head – you’ll need it.

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