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. SillyWilly Says:

    But this Birds of A Feather seems to hint at good things to come.

  2. BrandonKayda Says:

    Yeah @AintNoTele remember the 8min ambient space jam during the Indio Light? I thought it was a mind-melter at the time, but upon relisten it gets old after a couple minutes. I appreciate that they took that one out so far though.

    Best Light of 3.0? Gorge or MSG for this kid. Camden at a close 3rd

  3. Mr. Completely Says:

    “Trey’s voice doesn’t sound great.”

    Nooooo, that part isn’t going to be the best.

    but…the Tweezer! Soul Shakedown! Gin! Bowie! et! cetera!

  4. AintNoTele Says:

    Gorge calypso light?! F-yes. I was laughing so hard when that went down. Its was one of those “Is this shit really happening” moments

  5. SillyWilly Says:

    Birds of a Feather, Destiny Unbound??

    damn, my recording doesn’t have the Destiny Unbound.

  6. BrandonKayda Says:

    Beautiful jam in that Gorge Light for sure. Gorge Gin deserves much more love. HOLY SMOKES. Come to think of it, so does the Gorge Rock and Roll, and the Shoreline Disease, and the Merriweather 46 Days.

    All huge jams from last year. Me likey

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    that was a sublime Gorge moment. quite magical. Kiddo was falling asleep in my arms as the gold-to-blue gradient overhead grew darker and they started Light which at the time I think I was the only person that liked it or thought it had potential, and it just soared…

    lol @ silly

    that’s the big Destiny breakout

    one of the least interesing parts of the show IMO but YMMV

    Soul Shakedown was bustout-y too

  8. BrandonKayda Says:


    If you have never heard the 2/28/03 Tweezer before…I am jealous of you my friend. Words cannot describe that thing. I need to listen to that again.

    2/22/03 Cincy Gin is pretty nucking futs too if I remember right – DEG jam somewhere in there. Like 27mins long

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    don’t think I have 2/22, will have to check

  10. AintNoTele Says:

    Gin was my fav part of those two night next to…well actually being at the gorge! The end of that gin where trey loops that little high octave riff is my fav 3.0 moment to date. That jam is immediately recognizable no doubt

  11. BrandonKayda Says:

    Mr C, would you say the Destiny bustout in 03′ was the same as the St Stephen bustout in 1989 (or was it 83′?)

    Just curious to hear your perspective on that

  12. Mr. Completely Says:

    the main thing about the Gorge for me was that I had never seen a Phish show with a vibe that was that…happy. Joyful, I guess. The calypso jam kind of typifies the heartfelt vibe of those shows for me. Uplifting.

  13. KWL Says:

    might hop on some 2.0 tonight myself, and what the hell, why not 2-28-03?

    the tweezer is great and all, but def not the top jam of the night imo

  14. BrandonKayda Says:

    @Mr C

    I’d definitely recommend it, big Piper->Weekapaug (Mike’s was played the night before), big Tube, huge Gin, good Bowie if I remember right. Hot show.

  15. Mr. Completely Says:

    totally different IMO Brandon

    the St. Stephen bustout in ’83 was a straight up embarassing disaster, a catastrophic failure on one of their greatest signature old-school songs

    like if Phish hadn’t played Hood or Slave in 5-6 years, broke it out, and flopped it totally

    Destiny’s a fine little song, a minor footnote in the catalog, enjoyable, but really only famous because of its long absence

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    what’s your pick @kwl? the bowie? gin? walls?

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    I wish they’d played Stephen in 89-90

    not only was I on tour, they were sharp, and might have nailed it. They did OK on Slipknot!

    after the Warlocks gigs the St. Stephen rumors were absolutely constant for the next year

    seemed obvious that they should do it but never did

    I think ’83 might be why

  18. BrandonKayda Says:

    @Mr C

    I didn’t know it was that badly performed – that certainly takes the fun out of it 🙁

    While we’re on the subject – The Miami 89′ Dark Star scares me. The deepest, darkest space I’ve ever heard GD go in to. It gets tribal at one point if I remember right. Good lord what a ride that one is – not recommended for the faint of heart.

  19. KWL Says:

    it’s all about the gin

    my go-to 2.0 jam, as good as they could be in that era as far as i’m concerned

    beautiful melodic stuff, led by cactus

  20. BrandonKayda Says:

    2/20/03 Seven Below is funky at the 5min mark – real nice Page/Trey interplay. Love it

  21. Mr. Completely Says:


    a lot of heads go through the “oh they broke out St. Stephen? awesome!!” [listens to tape] “awwwww….” cycle. sorry to break the news.

    They served us notice in Miami with the first set Victim, but we didn’t know. IMO that’s the weirdest thing they had done since 1974. JFor lovers of deep GD psychedelia it was a huge, huge, huge deal; really a bigger deal than the Warlocks Dark Star itself. Almost everyone I know who was at both shows was more affected by the Miami experience than Hampton…maybe everyone, when I think about it.

    I’m probably back-projecting, but it seems like there was this weird air of foreboding that night, like that thing was just looming over us until suddenly it dropped and crushed the entire building.

    The tape captures like 10% of the intensity of the moment at most.

  22. AintNoTele Says:

    What is the date for this? Any source suggestions? I want to go deep down the wabbit hole tonight

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    last great jammed St. Stephen is…12/30/77, I think

    5/5/77 is a really good one

    most ’77 versions are jamless, with NFA in the middle instead (which is cool too)…there are a few jammed ones from fall tour

    my favorite Stephens are fall ’71

  24. Mr. Completely Says:


    Jerry’s voice will hurt you…sorry about that

    nice remastered SBDs are out there but I have no DL link

  25. AintNoTele Says:

    I got How It’s Made on mute while cranking tunes, burbon in hand, and ready to throw down

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