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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?”

  1. ae Says:

    i was at michigan for the fab five and for tractor traylor. i’m just a little freaked out.

  2. EL Duderino Says:

    Mornin’ folks’.

    1st week in the new crib!
    We fuckin’ love this house.

    Even I was surprised @ how GREAT the C. Bulls looked last night.
    They may have the best 3 players on a team but WE have the best TEAM!

  3. EL Duderino Says:

    …and when I said they I meant the M. Heat

  4. BingosBrother Says:

    staccato jamming=plinkofunk=clockwork jamming

    @Haim and Feldman : Tweezer opener was raging at Alpine.

    Did Miner spell hotel wrong?

    Morning fLEGIONAIRRES! Had a BB dream last night that is too weird to describe, but was very real.

  5. Mdawg Says:

    Happy Monday BB! Summer Tour leg 1 is just around the corner!

    Da Bulls!

  6. EL Duderino Says:

    how ’bout this French IMF MF’er?

    Just when you thought investment bankers couldn’t get any more slimy

  7. Dr. Pronoia Says:

    ^^ especially SOCIALIST bankers (or at least he was running for French prez on the socialist party ticket)

  8. Kevin Says:

    Miner, head’s up:

    The Tweezer from MSG is throwing a file not found.

  9. JMelby Says:

    Nice Monday piece Mr. Miner. For songs popping up at Bethel, I think there will be a Golden Age (since that band has lost a member since Phish last played) and Izabella (for that wonderful crazy shit that happened years ago near by).

  10. fat bastard Says:

    what up freaks? its been a while. just got back from a nice trip to san fran. went to “oysterfest,” good times. el dude congrats on the new pad.

  11. Mr.Miner Says:

    the Tweezer is fixed.

  12. fat bastard Says:

    miner you go to the frst? that duo to close it was cool. one hot mexican senorita guitarista

  13. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Wonder if they’ll do anything to pay homage to the original Woodstock? “Woodstock” opener, YEM>Oye Como Va Jam>YEM, Ghost>I Want To Take You Higher, etc.

    Tweezabella bustout, anyone?

  14. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Miner- Great piece today. All relevant themes and worth of discussion.

    FB- That sounds so fun. I could eat a hundred oysters. My favorite thing about weddings is the raw bar.

    Melby- Both good points. Bet you are right.

  15. Mr.Miner Says:

    @fb i did not.

  16. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Plinko Phunk

  17. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Not sure who pimped Sufjan. Maybe AJ? Been listening to Illinois. Really interesting music. Guy is crazy talented.

    Also spent the weekend with Toyota Park ’10. Really great show. I think everybody was pimping that but with good reason. Solid solid show with some standouts in Ghost, LxL, Light, Wolfmans, DWD…

  18. butter Says:

    great table setter article Miner

  19. angryjoggerz Says:

    what up, y’all? Tooth extraction weekend, not one for the fun record books. Not recommended. To top it off, the vicodin is boring and does not seem to effect me at all. Bo-ring! (well, that is not true, it has made me more stupid than usual I guess – showed up to work with no plug for my laptop, pretty hard to work without a computer).

    Wookstock is close!

  20. Kaveh Says:

    @Miner: Thanks for the write up today. Good thoughts, and as mentioned on Twitter, a new style/sound for the band is going to be interesting to see/hear. Hopefully this new style/sound takes over the music, thus making anything fair game for exploration.

  21. EL Duderino Says:

    I’m down with the Izabella talk and a Fire encore with a Bold as Love thrown in for good measure

  22. Guyute711 Says:

    Spasm, I have been pimping Sufjan a lot with others chiming in. I am absolutely hooked.

  23. Spasm Waiter Says:

    I’d guess they do all their Hendrix tunes, which is nice.

  24. EL Duderino Says:

    How about a return of Sparks please!!!!

  25. lastwaltzer Says:

    Spent a good chunk of yesterday listening back to some 2010 highlights. They really did have a great year. So many great jams.

    I’ve been really digging the saw it again set and providence light lately.

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