What Might Bethel Bring?

Bethel Woods (smartertravel.com)

Opening a sprawling summer tour on the grounds of the original Woodstock festival, Phish will settle in for three nights in the rural atmosphere before hitting the road. Within three shows, we can be fairly certain some serious stuff will go down. Assuming the band is coming into the summer off of rehearsals—as they did last year, when the first three shows were among the strongest of June—Bethel’s trifecta holds promising possibilities and should kick the summer off in style. Here are some things I feel we may see over the first three nights in New York State.


Bethel 5.29 (Masthay)

New Songs: Phish came back with Joy in 2009, and we haven’t seen too many new songs beyond those on the album thus far. As the band traditionally debuts new material at the beginning of tour, I would imagine we’ll hear some new songs over the nights in Bethel. Before the band’s comeback, Trey and Tom, allegedly, wrote a large group songs, many of which we’ve yet to hear. One of the duo’s efforts—”Pigtail’—popped out on 12/28 in Worcester, and sounded like one of the most promising new pieces from 2010. Hopefully Bethel will bring out more of these unplayed Anastasio/Marshall selections. Summer Tour will provide the band plenty to develop whatever new material, they have in store, hence the beginning of the season is the perfect time to break it out.


A New Jam Vehicle: I would also imagine that we’ll hear a new jam vehicle during the first three nights of tour. “Light” has been the band’s sole cosmic launchpad written in this era, with a jam spouting from “Number Line” here and there. It’s high time that the guys add a new vehicle to their repertoire. Whether this new jam takes the form of a comeback song a la “Scents and Subtle Sounds” or “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing,” an expansion of a current song a la “Stealing Time” or “Pigtail,” or a brand new song we’ve yet to hear, I think Phish is ready to add another springboard into the mix. I know we are all ready to hear one!


12.30.2010 (Graham Lucas)

The Rebirth of “Tweezer”: 2010 was a tough year for “Tweezer,” as the band rarely focused their improvisational energies on the classic song. Producing the most impressive—though still contained—versions at Hartford, Merriweather, Alpharetta and the Greek, the band, subsequently, took the song much farther than any of these instances during the New Year’s Run at MSG. On the 30th, the band used “Tweezer” to push musical boundaries for the first time since Miami (12.29.09) and took the song on its most extensive explorations of the modern era. With a massive summer tour staring them down, I think Phish will get “Tweezer” back into the improvisational mix and, once again, use their seminal springboard to explore new ground again during 2011.


12.31.10 (George Estreich)

More Staccato Jamming: Phish seemed to hit on something during the New Year’s Run, as several of their standout jams featured staccato leads from Trey and, in response, similarly-styled phrasings from his bandmates. A jamming style that coaxes equitable offerings from all band members and has already sculpted some of the best four-part conversations of the era, the band may have just found themselves a direction to explore come Summer Tour in their staccato interplay. This type of improv has already infused a spectrum of standout jams spanning “Harry Hood” to “Sand,” illustrating its versatility—a key to any stylistic focal point. I can only assume the guys, themselves, have noticed some of these same things.


With three nights to settle into Summer Tour before hitting the road to PNC, we will get a mini-preview of what the band has in store for us this summer during their first-ever visit to Bethel Woods. Kicking off tour with three-night stands, though a rarity throughout the band’s career, has become their latest M.O., as this will mark their third consecutive tour to start with such a stand (Broomfield, Greek).  Giving the band members, as well as their audience, a chance to ease into the rigor of the road, a three-night stand is just what the doctor ordered. Whether camping, staying at a rental property in lake country, or simply raging a hotey, Memorial Day weekend will be far more laid back staying in one place. And we are almost there.


Jam of the Day:

Tweezer” 12.30.10 II

This exploratory version that passes through a staccato segment, hits on two of the day’s themes. Bethel, here we come…

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/ph2010-12-30t16.mp3] Tags:

1,008 Responses to “What Might Bethel Bring?”

« Previous12345678...4041Next »
  1. BrandonKayda Says:

    Hopefully Bethel rips. 11 days until tour!

  2. garretc Says:

    Enter The Dragon owns. What a great movie! Love that soundtrack too…

    Can’t wait for new Phish!

  3. BrandonKayda Says:

    Hey @garretc

  4. Corey Says:

    Alpine’s tweezer was Bass-tastic. And an outstanding, although contained to some degree, version. i thought that it was fairly blusey and always makes for a heady opener.

  5. garretc Says:


    What’s happening brother? Don’t you have school in a few hours? I know I’m turning in now, got my first final tomorrow…

    Keep it real folks, happy monday. Don’t let it get you down, it’s only castles burning…

  6. ihatepockets(beepaphone) Says:

    That venue, from that photo, looks like The Masters of the Phish Tour.

    Starts the season out, and the greens are oh-so-green.

    Those shows, regardless of the content, are going to be a great experience for those attending.

    Oh and I’m raising my whiskey to some “staccato jamming” too.

  7. BrandonKayda Says:


    Yep..it’s 3:24am over here.

    I’m at a lull in Sunlight Dialogues, need to pick it up again. Just about 200 pages in. Forgetting some of the character backgrounds. Hm.

  8. thedayman Says:

    great piece, getting it waves’ed as we speak, oh yeah.

  9. jdub Says:

    I like the Masters analogy Beep. Those pastures look so enticing. Hoping that the weather cooperates for the weekend for all you cats attending. I’ll be on my couch.

    Time for the “will Liquid Time debut”? question. It could kill a few birds with one stone. A new song, new jam vehicle, and has some Staccato funk potential.

  10. Corey Says:

    For the record, ^that Corey is not this Corey. Although I too enjoyed the Alpine Tweezer. Carry on.

  11. AintNoTele Says:

    staccato jamming=plinkofunk

  12. Mr. Palmer Says:

    the two corey’s. Wasn’t that a horrible reality show starring Haim ( rip) and Feldman?

  13. willowed Says:

    New Jam Vehicle will be: Birds of a Feather

    I hope they break this one out hard and often this summer.

    Talk about full energy pop with loads of potential to explore.

  14. Foul_Domain Says:

    I know its been said before, but I’d really like to see ‘Free’, ‘Gumbo’ ‘Halleys’ and ‘Tube’ jammed out.

    Though a new vehicle is always warmly welcomed by this fan.

    I second the ‘Birds’ comment too @willowed.

  15. Foul_Domain Says:

    oh yeah…


  16. AintNoTele Says:

    Plinko-funk gumbo?

    Yes sir, may I have another?

  17. Mike in Austin Says:

    morning y’all

    Great write-up Miner. Great Monday read.

    I think they’re out there practicing, and they open with Glide.

    Phish encores with Santana’s Soul Sacrifice.


  18. punkmug Says:

    Thanks for the thoughts and perspective Miner. Good stuff as usual.

  19. litteringadd Says:


  20. Guyute711 Says:

    Went back and listened to the Exile set over the weekend. I don’t think they get enough credit for such a great set. I just read that Robert “Tractor” Traylor died last week. WTF

  21. halcyon Says:

    Morning folks….Questions and discussions we have been thinking about. Good writeup Miner.

    Awesome Video MiA….

    I wonder how Santana’s live shows have been lately. He is playing in Red Rocks with George Lopez opening(?!?). I am thinking about getting a ticket for that show.

  22. marcoesq Says:

    morning folks. man, that ’00 Twist>Slave sbd from yesterday is still doing me right. Hoping for the rest of that ’00 mpp set Mango>Jam>Free

    Great piece, Miner. Whats this Bethel camping could be headed to litigation? Too many campers being allowed? Nice time to figure this out

  23. marcoesq Says:

    Also hoping PNC’s d/l is either the ’00 Drowned>RnR or BOAF>Catapult
    Great Woods: 9.11.00 Piper>WTU?

  24. Dr. Pronoia Says:

    Relistened to the Madison 98 SOAM on the way to work this morning, and I think we all could get behind a jammed out SOAM or two this summer…

    Oh, and the Bulls looked straight nasty last night

  25. Mr. Palmer Says:


    My favorite line in the Bethel Phish guide:

    “Enjoy your hulu-hoop in the parking lots, but leave it in your car before entering gates”

    ^^ got that Rivertrance!

« Previous12345678...4041Next »

Leave a Reply