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. BrandonKayda Says:

    @Mr C

    I mean that Dark Star melted my brains on the floor just through the tape – I can’t imagine what was going through the heads of the people there.

    And yes, that Dark Star most definitely showed that they could go deep again, very, very, very deep. I could imagine the excitement.

    What a mindfuck. I don’t know how people did not completely lose it mentally at the show – especially those on psychedelics. Insane.

  2. AintNoTele Says:

    I’ll find some version on sugarmegs, should I wait to DL a decent copy or stream it. Sounds worth the wait

  3. BrandonKayda Says:

    ->The Wheel was a very nice choice out of that too, lyrically.

    This Seven Below is going electro-techno around 17:30.

  4. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Nassau ’03 has 5 or 6 epic 2.0 jams….Gin,Walls,Tweezer, Bowie, Hood, and, BOTT ain’t too shabby either. Combine those w/ the Destiny bust and Soul Shakedown bust and you got yourself a hell of a show. Great night.

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    if you like that kind of thing it’s the absolute shit, @tele

    I say wait till you can crush it

    it’s not like happy or abstract weird

    it’s like here come the demons, fire raining from the sky, swirling vortex of neon razor blades, can’t remember who I am or how to speak type weird

    it’s not “good music” in any meaningful sense; big parts of it aren’t music at all

    @bk – we were disintegrated. absolutely disintegrated. really the only word for it. I only remember Wheel and Watchtower from the tapes…I slowly reassembled my atoms during Stella Blue

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    yeah that BOTT is good too!

    forgot about that.

  7. AintNoTele Says:

    Im at 13:00 BK, really enjoying this set. FEFY was good too. Strange to have punch mid 2nd set but they did musically PYITE with the Waves>Simple>Tweezer

  8. garretc Says:

    Hmm, interesting to come in on you folks discussing the Miami Dark Star. I played it for one of my best (and most musically inclined) friends the other day, telling him he’d remember that Dark Star, but not why. And so during the verses he goes: “Man, this is a depressing Dark Star, Jerry’s voice sounds so shot.” Which of course lined up perfectly with me thinking about more or less the same thing. It makes so much sense that such dark music would dovetail from such a painful beginning.

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    out of however many shows that’s a top 5 experience for me easily, Miami Dark Star I mean

    I thought I was kind of a Dead tour badass, knew my stuff, you know

    they skullfucked me good, showed me who was boss

    bent over and buffalo bill’d

  10. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    Y’all ate hitting my wavelength tonight. Post dinner wine and 09 gorge gin>hood here. Nice spacy vibe for our sunset/crescent moon. Might try some of your spacy suggestions after.

  11. AintNoTele Says:

    I’m saving it for when proper baning can take place, sound like head-space is crucial for it. I just had an interview in great lab and have held off the bane this whole tour, might as well wait to combine it with that jam

  12. BrandonKayda Says:

    I can imagine Mr C – I honestly cannot even comprehend witnessing anything THAT powerful.

    Nice @Ain’tNoTele – Yeah I started from the Waves->Simple->Jibboo and have been playing that through the second set. I’m liking it as well. About 3:30 into Pebbles and Marbles as we speak

  13. Mr. Completely Says:

    oh his voice was shot

    last show of a raging tour, and he was smoking the persian again too

    but the vocals are rather beside the point.

    it was definitely demons coming out…

    kids on tour later speculated it was his first big speedball night in a long time, he was flying and the rest of the band was furious

    Brent’s dope use and emotional meltdown was really starting to develop too

    lot of factors there

  14. garretc Says:

    Yeah, I didn’t mean that I saw it as coming out of just his voice sounding like that, just for what it’s worth, that was just a component of it. The whole thing from the get go just has that slow, dark kinda feel to it, nobody seems to be really clicking with each other, just an intense place to start improv, something I wish I’d picked up the first time… Although I had a general sense of what was coming, so I wasn’t really paying all that close attention to the beginning…

  15. jdub Says:

    Just checking in and I see discussion of my favorite show, the one that fully hooked me. 2/28/03 will always get my attention.

    Having heard NYE ’02 and thinking they sounded real rough, I only heard the Hampton run and leading up to Nassau. During the Gin I realized both that the band was having a special musical night and that I missed a lot of good phish along my ecleptic musical path. Yeah being there creates a bias but that Tweezer is in the top group of Holy Grail Tweezers for me.

    Posted from my iPhone.

  16. AintNoTele Says:

    I dont want to change the subject in any way, but would like to throw this out there, its been eating at me for a while…

    Since phish has seemed to get their preverbial chops back, its about time to showcase them with a Papyrus! Have I missed it in 2010? They have nailed all the It’s Ices seemingly with ease (Hershey has a great lake section) which I feel is similar in difficulty to Papyrus. Greek or T-rdie may be in line given Treys mention of the lyrics in ATL. Was it played in 2009 (hampton i think), where’s zzyzx when you need him

  17. jdub Says:

    Must listen to Miami Dark Star soon. So much great Dead music I haven’t heard because Phish got back together.

  18. BrandonKayda Says:

    And I thought that the Greensboro 91′ Dark Star was the weirdest/darkest…Miami 89′ Dark Star made Greensboro 91′ look like child’s play (and it definitely ISN’T)

    Miami 89 Dark Star is… just is.

  19. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    So Mr C, you’re saying if I’m planning my soundtrack for my L training run before Greek, leave the Miami Star off the list?

    Or else I’ll be traveling light with no id, no ego, and the last half of the superego.

    I can live with that.

  20. jdub Says:

    I could see them nailing an early set 1 Guelah at the Greek with sun setting over the city. Trey did forshadow it during Harpua.

  21. garretc Says:


    Don’t know where zzyzx is, but I bet you’ll find what your looking for at his international house!

    IHOZ that shit!

  22. AintNoTele Says:

    Found it, twice in 2009, none in 2010

    Also found a good recording of that 89 show in sugarmegs to stream

  23. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    Yeah bk, the 4/1/91 dark star is insane for sure. Haven’t done a side by side (might not come back from that), but Miami was first, so gets a lot of attention.

    Weird talking about this scary music while listening to gin hood. So sweet.

  24. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    Gorge gin hood that is.

    Scariest Dead music I can thunk of is 12/2/73 playin’.

    Although 10/18/74 seastones>dark star>dew is pretty damned unfriendly.

  25. BrandonKayda Says:

    2/20/03 II was great

    Just started 2/22/03 II – Gotta hear the 38min combo of Tube/Gin. Here we go!

    An astroid crashed, and nothing burned….

    Trey is pretty rough…

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