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?”

  1. sumodie Says:

    Better a mule from the past than one in the future (though I’ll admit the odd set 1 version works for me, like from Manchester)

  2. Mike in Austin Says:

    +1 to Mike’s 6/20/95

  3. sumodie Says:

    @marco: actually I enjoy reading what others’ would pick for the latest SBD comp. I kinda suspected that the Mule wouldn’t make anyone’s list, though I’ve yet to spin it

    (and why was that Mule show called the 3rd Ball? Geezsh, I’m already forgetting my phistory, what sacrilege)

  4. Moby Dick Says:

    Theres always room in my belly next to Ned, marco…


  5. Mr palmer Says:

    Me too, Sumo. What’s the Third Ball? Don’t recall

  6. Mike in Austin Says:

    Juan Hung Low and “Third Ball” was the alias of the band.

  7. sumodie Says:

    The Third Ball:

    “Phish took the first part of 1996 off to start recording their follow up to 1994′s Hoist entitled Billy Breathes. Phish pretty much stayed holed up in the studio trying to finish things up. The quartet managed to come to the surface twice in the Spring. Once at The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the second being at a small club in Woodstock, NY called The Joyous Lake. In classic Phish humor, the band booked themselves into the club as Third Ball w/ special guest: Juan Hung Low.”

  8. sumodie Says:

    @MiA: email sent

  9. bhizzle Says:

    Line up for ROC’s $2 admission party in the park (used to be free, but, ya know, economy and all)

    June 16: Los Lonely Boys
    June 23: Ozomatli
    June 30: Bootsy Collins
    July 7: Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad
    July 14: Spanish Harlem Orchestra
    July 21: moe.
    July 28: Big Gigantic
    Aug. 4: Robert Randolph and the Family Band
    Aug. 11: The Romantics
    Aug. 18: Shooter Jennings

    prolly go see Ozomatli, Bootsy, Gian Panda & moe. Can’t stand Robert Randolph. But not sure about the rest. Any info re the rest?

  10. Mr palmer Says:

    Thanks sumo. Wonder if the Joyous Lake club is still open?

    Late night set?

  11. butter Says:

    Juan hung low can really jam

  12. AintNoTele Says:

    Just pulled the trigger on my custyball ticket. Paid for and in the bank.

    Now for something completely different:

    Just got a HTC EVO and am wonderingif I can get the LivePhish or Freshjam apps if they are only accessble through the iphone store. Any music apps that you droid users like?

    I just got Live Music Android and it links to any streams on archive for free, which is super nice.

  13. butter Says:

    just got my Japan Relief, at LxL – lovin Trey’s tone

  14. bhizzle Says:

    waiting for my utica dvd and mike at the town ballroom…..1, 2 , 3, 4, …..

  15. halcyon Says:

    Some friends went to the Third Ball. Unfortunately my roomates and I were a bit too spun to head down from Albany to Woodstock. They called us to come down, and at the time they entered, there was only around 40 people in the bar.

    That show was a week before I hit the road for the summer hitting up national parks, state parks, visiting friends across the country, causing numerous scenes in Deadwood SD thanks to our drunkenness, and then Summer Tour back home to the Clifford Ball. Good Times.

  16. halcyon Says:

    Aint No Tele

    If your Evo run Honeycomb, there is a new Flac player available. I don’t remember the name of it, but read it on HydrogenAudio’s forum. Might want to check that out.

  17. willowed Says:

    In less than an hour that ticking clock is going to be down to single digit days until Phish ter.

    Woot woot

  18. kayatosh Says:

    eat your Lettuce, yall:


  19. joe Says:

    I’m about as close as the distance between willowed thumbs from telling this job to stick it and hopping on tour. I should be too old for acting irresponsibly but the urge is great right now. More so because I work for people I hate and less so because I want to relive the 90’s and spend summer with phish (but it’s a nice daydream to keep me tranquil)

  20. sumodie Says:

    4th SBD track has surfaced -duanebase is the man!

    NO2 from 7.13.99 Great Woods


  21. mitch Says:

    brooklyn roll call. work fucking blew today. anyone wanna go get drinks and shmooze with ladies? asking around here cause everyone else has prior obligations or were too pissed at work too and wanna go crash.

    duke, where you at??

  22. AintNoTele Says:

    Halcy: I saw that FLAC player, looks legit. Need a bigger memory card though if I want to put all my flacs on this puppy.

    Lovin the new phone

  23. garretc Says:

    Dear BB,

    Thank you for being higher quality people than your average internet denizen.

    Love, garretc

  24. DukeOfLizards Says:

    So I live with two guys with less-than-ideal tastes in music. I usually have about a half hour to play some tunes on the living room stereo before they get home.

    But I got home a little bit ago and threw on Cannonball Adderley – Somethin’ Else. Roommate #1 comes home… not a peep for the last 15 minutes. His bedroom is right off of the living room, and not even a snide remark.

    I’m going to explore this.

  25. garretc Says:


    Well, that IS a marvelous album…

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