Saturday Night Fever

Saturday - 7.3.10 (Wendy Rogell)

Saturday night – there’s no other portion of the week that conjures up such images of spontaneous adventure and good times. And there is no other adventure and good time quite like Phish. Putting these two concepts together, you’ve got “Saturday Night Phish,” a party like none other. In this modern era, Phish has established their own way of musically celebrating their Saturday night shows by opening the second set with Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll.” A trend that began in ’09 has held true for all four Saturday’s of 2010, giving even the most spun tour kid a weekly reference point. A cycle that began as a bit formulaic last year turned comedic this summer with each subsequent weekend . But as one of the band’s preeminent jam vehicles of this eras, “Rock and Roll” delivers eventful excursions more often than not. Once the band climbs out of the song’s rock stylings, anything goes when Phish breaks structure. Looking back on the four Saturday’s of Leg I, here are short capsules of the versions that that kicked off each second half.


6.12 II – Blossom

6.12- Blossom (Peek Photo.)

Phish launched into the first Saturday night of tour with their popular jam vehicle, and as they entered the “Cuyahoga Jam,” the band started to breakdown the piece into percussive grooves, a la 2009. Mike thumped a stop-start bass line that underlined the unique rhythm, while Trey spray-painted the groove with shorter patterns. As Fish held down a sparse breakbeat and Page backed the jam with layers of effect, all in all, the onset of this piece didn’t veer far from the many versions that speckled ’09. But as Trey began to solo out of these tendencies, Mike jumped aboard, beginning to differentiate Blossom’ s outing. At this juncture the jam grew far more abstract, as the band molded a segment of musical silk before morphing into a collective wall of sound. Trey reprised his solo melody over this drone canvas, providing closure to the jam before rolling into “Harry Hood.”



6.19 II –  SPAC

SPAC (H.Radar)

Instead of dropping into a series of hackneyed rhythmic grooves, Phish built out of SPAC’s “Rock and Roll” into a bass-led psychedelia. The band latched onto Mike’s lines, as Trey mixed in a repetitive lick that led the band deep into the forest right away. Wasting little post-rock time, Phish quickly swam into a sparkling steam of melody, infusing the jam with an early dose of aural beauty. The piece increased in tempo as Mike drove the troops’ wild ride into darkness. Trey continued to offer cyclical, multi-note cries, in melodic support of a staggering soundscape created by Mike, Fish and Page. Towards the latter part of the jam, the band alternated between louder and softer as if someone was turning up and down the volume knob of the jam. Trey continued his role as supporting actor in this escapade, adding his piece to a more complex overall puzzle. The band descended into an abstract pond before splashing into “Free.”



6.26 II – Merriweather Post

6.26.10 - Merriweather (Graham .Lucas)

While Merriweather’s second night presented the tightest set of Leg I, on Saturday night in Columbia, Maryland, Phish served up a jam that, arguably, surpassed anything from the weekend. In this set-opening “Rock and Roll,” Phish dove off a cliff, floating into the sky in a floral-ambient groove of bliss. Knitting some of the most transcendental music of summer, Trey and Mike spun their ideas together with sublime cooperation. As this segment progressed, Trey soloed as if he was emotively narrating a story to an innocent child. The band provided a magical, amoeba-like backdrop to this musical fable, morphing the jam into a soulful piece of spirituality. Concluding his tale, Trey came growling out of this hovering abstraction with leads that implored his bandmates to follow. Together they built dramatic whole-band tension throughout the latter half of the piece. Trey eventually layed down a slick “Moby-Disk-esque” line, and the band fell into a sinister groove session to bring their mission back to earth. Coming to an organic end, Phish bled into a brief, bass-led ambiance that hinted at “2001” before revving  up the beginning of “Free.” Out of the four “Rock and Rolls” this summer, no other version even comes close; and this Merriweather rendition must be thrown in the ring for any discussion about the jam of Leg I.



7.3 II- Alpharetta

7.3.10 (W.Rogell)

After dropping two stellar jams over the past two weekends out of the Velvet Underground cover, when Phish charged up the anthem to open up Saturday, July 3, it wasn’t far fetched to expect something big for the song’s tour finale. Though once the band got going, they simply rode the song’s theme, juicing it for all it was worth. Phish never even veered far enough from the original for LivePhish to label an “Alpharetta Jam,” something done to avoid paying royalties on original  improvisation. With expressive rock soloing, Trey barreled through the straight forward jam that only broke form for a moment before moving into a pre-mature “Prince Caspian.”



Jam of the Day:

Reba” 6.11 I

A gorgeous rendition from summer’s opening set.




7.1.2010 Walnut Creek Amphitheatre, Raleigh, NC < Torrent

7.1.2010 Walnut Creek Amphitheatre, Raleigh, NC < Megaupload

Official Raleigh Poster

Raleigh featured a bumpy setlist that featured some big-time bust-outs and one of the deepest dives of summer in the centerpiece version of “Light.”

I: Llama, Roses Are Free, Kill Devil Falls, Time Loves a Hero, Alaska, Water in the Sky, Runaway Jim, The Moma Dance, Divided Sky, Cavern

II: Backwards Down the Number Line, Halley’s Comet > Light, Fluffhead, Have Mercy, Light Up Or Leave Me Alone > Free, Wading in the Velvet Sea, The Squirming Coil, Suzy Greenberg

E: Boogie On Reggae Woman

Source: Schoeps mk41> KC5> M222> NT222> EAA PSP-2> SD 722 (@24bit/96kHz)

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837 Responses to “Saturday Night Fever”

  1. Mr.Miner Says:

    all those shows are basically 93-98, the wheel house IMO

  2. RamblinOnMyMind Says:

    These lists are tough because, at least in my case, some of my favorite “shows” are really my favorites because of a particular segment or a particular high point that I love. So you get into the problem of trying to rank your own personal favorite moments vs. you assessments of shows as a whole. I guess you could split the difference and say “favorite sets” and that would narrow it down a bit.

  3. zzyzx Says:

    Yeah I figured you’d think that, but my goal was present a balanced view of Phish’s history which means at least one show from the 87-88 period needs to be there, one from the early 90s, and one GCH show. 9/22/90 would be a good show to pick…

  4. zzyzx Says:

    I think my 10 was something like

    Trax GCH

    I didn’t think those were the 10 best shows in Phish’s history, but rather 10 shows that would give a good feel for Phish in a lot of eras. One thing that was missing was a good 97 show, but I only had 10 slots…

  5. Mr.Miner Says:

    yeah. missing an era in 97-98, but as “samples” and not the “best”, I think those work

  6. Lycanthropist Says:

    I feel like I got scolded by the teacher for talking too much in class 😉

    That is a pretty solid list of shows Miner.

    6-14-00 must definitely be on it

  7. RamblinOnMyMind Says:

    @zzyzx that’s pretty heavy on the early stuff (nothing between Halloween ’95 and Big Cypress? You missed the whole funk revolution!)

  8. Mr.Miner Says:

    i always feel 6.22.94 gets a bit too much credit…5/7/94 has to be on either list for sure

  9. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    the one guarantee you can count on with making lists of “best shows ever” (or “essential” shows or whatever) is that no one will agree completely with your list.

  10. Mr.Miner Says:


    I am sorry if I have over extended CF.

    I will surely pull pack.

    ^ Lycan, that was a total joke that i made…damn internet getting in the way of intonation again. Fisch away! I’ve told you that bro!

  11. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Cross reference Miner’s and ZZ’s lists and you can find yourself a few gems.

  12. ThePigSong Says:

    just started up Lakewood ’97 – I was planning on going all the way through, but then againnnn…

    inspired by what I read on here much earlier. thank ya

  13. Mr.Miner Says:

    the one guarantee you can count on with making lists of “best shows ever” (or “essential” shows or whatever) is that no one will agree completely with your list

    ^ I feel a top 10 could be agreed upon. at some level.
    I mean, there is no question that, without ranking:


    are all in there. No one can argue those.

    Once we start getting to eras with TONS of great stuff like Fall ’95, Fall ’97, shit even Summer 93 and Fall 94 for thaht matter, is when it becomes very subjective

  14. zzyzx Says:

    Rambling – I would like one more in there but I can’t decide what to kill…. I started on the early years. I love the early years. I want fans to think of Phish as a band that had eras, the silly bar era, the compositional era, the hey let’s speed up all of our songs era, the hmmm we can jam era, the funk era, etc.

    That way when Phish change, you can be patient knowing that if you don’t like this version, there might be a new one in a few years.

    Mr M – 6/22/94 doesn’t get ENOUGH credit 😉 OK maybe not but it’s a peak moment of Phish silliness AND Phish interesting playing at the same time.

    It pains me not to have the OJ show there btw… PAINS

  15. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    llfa 😆

    nanner nanner, lycan. take your tail back out from between your legs, son!

  16. zzyzx Says:

    See I thought 12/29/97 couldn’t hold 12/30/97’s jockstrap.

    There’s a good missing show, 12/30/97.

  17. Mr.Palmer Says:

    what happened between IT and the Turkey Run in ’03 ? Seems to be a big drop off in quality of shows.

  18. Mr.Miner Says:

    it’s a peak moment of Phish silliness AND Phish interesting playing at the same time.

    ^ defintely

  19. Lycanthropist Says:

    word thanks miner

  20. RamblinOnMyMind Says:

    @zzyzx – I agree with you on that last thing and was surprised Miner has 12/29 over 12/30/97. I’m a huge cowfunkhead though, so 12/30 is perfect for me

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    12/29 musically is superior in my opinion. 12/30 has the great Bag, and the Harpua, but 12.29 has one of the best of that era Anetlopes in the first set, and the best second set of that bew years run.

    dwd>Bowie>possum, tube yem.

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    yeah, can’t argue with any of those, that’s for sure. where it becomes “gray” in my mind in deciding what to include is when you start to get into preferential things (like segue fests vs. uber jams vs. phishiness vs. whatever).

    I guess a good way to look at it is, if I could only choose X number of shows to give to a person who wants to get a fairly “complete” picture of what phish is, which ones would I choose? that (to me) is not an easy task. I suppose that’s why we have guys like you and timer to help us all out 😉

  23. Mr.Miner Says:

    harpua isnt music really. go listen to that 12.29 set II on headphone plus the antelope. you wont believ yourselves 🙂

  24. zzyzx Says:

    12/30 vs 12/29 is actually a pretty balanced debate over the years, with people in both camps.

    To show how people can differ, Mel hates Big Cypress, thinks it’s sloppy and overrated. Some people would call that grounds for divorce 😉

  25. RamblinOnMyMind Says:

    yeah, i can’t say i’ve spent much time with that Harpua Miner

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