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 clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


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

  1. gavinsdad Says:

    sumo – *smile* – my wife was so harrassed this weekend by Bethel going friends of ours but she held firm. memorial day and july 4th wknds are typically our familys. gotta respect the woman this year. last year i got a little ahead of myself.

  2. sumodie Says:

    and Tom Marshall in disguise doesn’t count!

  3. sumodie Says:

    @gdad: word

    y’all are filling my head with too much phish fantasy, time to split & crank the good ole GD on the pod (finishing up 2.13.70)

  4. butter Says:

    was only in possession of my Bethel tix for a short time. got them earlier today and already gave them to one of my dearest oldest bros, who has a lake house 10 miles away from Bethel

    i love tour openers

  5. kayatosh Says:

    i still can’t believe i’m going to tour opener in woodstock. I have you folks to thank.

  6. kayatosh Says:


  7. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Sly was awesome, but which phish member could possibly fill his shoes?:


    Uh, Fishman?

  8. albert walker Says:

    AC Stash. shit is legit. takes a few bars to get going but once it does some real nice turns and themes.

    love when you spin a jam you haven’t heard in a while and it sounds even better than you remember

    AC fuckin Stash. fuckin nice.

    exciting of Bethel starting to set in.
    the boys are gonna come out swinging no doubt.

  9. voopa Says:

    Duke & Sumo-

    New York!

    Trey Anastasio – guitar
    Mike Gordon– bass
    James Harvey – drums/keys/tromone
    Paul “Pistol Stamen” Jaffee – guitar
    Tom “Tommy Law” Lawson – keys/guitar/drums

    New York! was a one-off gig performed at Burlington’s Club Toast with local jazz musician James Harvey as well as members of the popular local alternative punk band The Pants. The setlist included the first public performances of two Phish originals (“Dirt” and “Saw It Again”), Pants originals, and a selection of covers including Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone and My Bloody Valentine. Page McConnell also joined the band for the encore of “New York Groove.”

    5/21/97 Club Toast – Burlington, VT

    Set I:
    Never Too Late To Spend, Headache, Peter’s Dad, Dirt, Big Bird, Only Shallow > Noise of Carpet

    Set II:
    She’s Not The One, I Saw It Again, Melody, Stand > Izabella, 2000

    E: Hello Violence, New York Groove

    Download Dirt here: http://www.trey.com/_content/bands/newyork/19970521ny_Dirt.mp3

    I think I have this show in shn or flac, but can’t find it right now…I’ll keep looking.

  10. voopa Says:

    ^^The first track became First Tube.

  11. voopa Says:

    Scratch that, I was confusing this w/the 8 Ft. Fluorescent Tubes show.

  12. voopa Says:

    I remember now. I have Stand>Izabella as filler on a CD of another show. Which one? Hell if I know.

  13. thedayman Says:

    hell yeah, AW. more to come this summer no doubt

  14. garretc Says:


    Wow, you’re pretty useless…

  15. voopa Says:

    That’s what she said.

  16. jdub Says:

    Nice Relix article. Gordo may be the quiet one but I love his candor. Figures Trey threw him under the bus at IT with the “Mike doesn’t want to play Fluffhead” bit.

  17. sumodie Says:

    @voopa: another one off show to track down -thanks for the heads up

    here’s the etree page:

    NEW YORK – May 21, 1997

    Club Toast – Burlington, Vermont


  18. voopa Says:

    Thanks Sumo, I saw that, but didn’t link since there’s no seeders..but I’ll see what I can do.

  19. voopa Says:

    …and I’m grabbing it from the hub…will reseed when it finishes.

  20. Mr. Palmer Says:

    AC stash. hitting play now.

  21. sumodie Says:

    but this random Trey show is seeding:

    Surrender To The air
    April 2nd, 1996
    The Academy, New York, NY


    Setlist unknown – entirely improvised show. Two sets plus encore.

    Marshall Allen: saxophone
    Trey Anastasio: guitar
    Kofi Burbridge: flute, keyboards
    Oteil Burbridge: bass
    Damon R. Choice: percussion
    Jon Fishman: drums
    Bob Gullotti: drums
    James Harvey: trombone
    Page McConnell: keys (set II only)
    Michael Ray: trumpet
    Marc Ribot: guitar

  22. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Just looked at the PNC seating chart. My seats are right next to the soundboard. I love that. i’m excited. oh boy!

  23. KfL Says:

    stand>izabella from 6-6-97 is the sickness. wore out my cassette of these two. just double checked phish.net to make sure i had the date right, & to my surprise they encored the next show with the same combo. gotta cue that one up i guess.

  24. Mr. Palmer Says:

    wtf is Stand?

  25. KfL Says:

    sly tune

Leave a Reply