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. jdub Says:

    My intro to live Dead was a cd of a ’69 Dark star that I believe was in December. It was the first Dark Star I heard and I wore it out even though it picked up the song a few minutes in. I think it spoiled me because not many others have moved me like this one. But I’m a sucker for that era Dead anyway.

  2. jdub Says:

    @BK, I bet you would dig this Dark Star because I would describe it as a jazzier version of the one on Live/Dead. 12/6/69? I will have to do sone research as the cd is gone and didn’t make it to digital.

  3. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    Remember loving 12/6 star, will have to revisit.

    After C’s pimping of 2/24/74, checked it out. It is so original, no pre-packaged jams. It is like a concentrated liqeur of Dead.

    So when I heard MPP Tweezer I thought this might be Phish’s equivalent. Not a lot of melodic excursions, just a big brick of Phish concentrate.

  4. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    Oh, jazzy dark star. How about Philly spectrum, 9/21/72?

  5. BrandonKayda Says:

    Ain’tNoTele is okay right? ….Right?


    Hang in there 🙂

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    oh yeah

    the disintegrating


  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    I’m finally out y’all

    good luck @tele

    any list of densely creative Dark Stars needs to have 8/27/72 and the 11/8/69 sequence in there


  8. BrandonKayda Says:

    Later C. Enjoyed the conversation tonight. Let’s all hope @Ain’tNoTele turns out alright.

  9. Mr. Completely Says:


    Darkstarenstein, if’n y’alls ain’t done heard it’cha might wanna

    ’71 easily the most underrated year for that song

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    you too @BK

    look forward to checking out 2/22/03 this weekend

  11. AintNoTele Says:

    I dont know what I feel about all that. MIDI madness was a bit cringing at times, probably would been near passing out at times if ihad been there. Intense comes to mind pre and post MIDI choas is freaking awesome

  12. AintNoTele Says:

    Bliss at the end no doubt, loved that

  13. BrandonKayda Says:

    Yeah @Ain’tNoTele, The Wheel was so nice to hear after all of that.

  14. voidboy Says:

    what up BBer’s?

  15. voidboy Says:

    @Mr. Completely…

    Yeah, I’ll check out some Darkstarenstein…

  16. BrandonKayda Says:

    Hey Void!

    How’s it going man?

  17. voidboy Says:


    Listening to some Camden Chalkdust… actually complete second set… So sweet I had to log on and see what was happening on the BB. Good stuff. Finishing up “Alaska” right now… worked out fine, really.

  18. sanchothehutt Says:

    Hey, I’m assuming you’re still here, BK? I had today off of work, and believe it or not I didn’t check in all day. i was told the bane vs booze was the topic???

  19. voidboy Says:

    nice ambient section as they rap it up… what a joy to hear this stuff unfold… almost feels like they’re “tuning down” as they flow into 2001. Nice.

  20. BrandonKayda Says:


    Nice. I need to give the Camden Chalk/2001 another spin


    The last several pages have been mostly GD (specifically Miami 89′ Dark Star) and 2.0 Phish related. I’m not sure what all went on earlier in the day.

  21. voidboy Says:

    Speaking of Dead… “Live Without a Net” was my most accessible GD intro… (save some tapes heard in Northern Cali… I just recall these awesome chimes ringing out with this great ambient “crowd” vibe… crystal clear and amazing music… no idea what show)

  22. voidboy Says:

    Light>Possum… not bad…

  23. Lycanthropist Says:

    evening @void and @Bk

    and all!

    Glad to see MMW making it into convo more regularly now.

    The new Radiolarians stuff has really reboosted them i think.

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    anyone got a link to that miami dark star?

  25. voidboy Says:

    Hey Lycan…

    Saw some reviews from BK for Chance Fisher (dig the illustration for the 7/1/10) blog entry. I think the whole idea is very cool. Nice stuff.

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