TTFT: The Season of the Whale—June 2010

6.26.10 - Merriweather (Graham Lucas)

We last left our modern-era audio retrospective after wrapping up the comeback year of 2009 in Miami. This week, let’s take a look back at the the year that was 2010. After six long months off—a time filled with promise—Phish came back at Toyota Park in Chicago, kicking off Leg One of summer with a blistering two-set effort amidst sweltering heat. Coming off a practice session at UIC Pavilion, the band’s beginning-of-tour momentum carried through Blossom and Hershey Park as they opened up the run with three of its stronger shows. The following weekend featured two nights in Hartford and two in SPAC, before the band hit an improvisational breakthrough at Camden and Merriweather with jams such as 6.25’s “Chalk Dust,” 6.26’s “Rock and Roll,” and 6.27’s “Piper.” After popping north to Canandaigua, the band finished out the tour with four shows down south, each featuring flashes of greatness, but little whole show consistency.

This tour was also the month that Trey favored his whammy pedal for pitch bending, a technique affectionately (or not) nicknamed “The Whale.” Many fans lamented this more mimialist playing by Trey, but by laying back, Trey allowed Page, and specifically, Mike to step up and lead jams like never before. When Trey got finally debuted “The Ocedoc” and a more fiery style of play at The Greek, a new improvisational dynamic had emerged over Leg One that allowed the band to communicate on a more democratic level. Phish threw down many great jams during this month, and today’s playlist represent ten of my favorite in chronological order.


Ghost” 6.11, Bridgeview, IL

The improvisatioonal centrepiece of a big-time second set that opened tour with a bang.



Number Line” 6.12 II, Cuyahoga Falls, OH

One night later, this jam topped Chicago’s “Ghost,” showcasing a single-mindedness rarely seen in 2009.



Disease -> Sand” 6.17 II, Hartford, CT

An intense throwdown on night one in Hartford.



Rock and Roll > Free” 6.19 II, S.Springs, NY

This “Rock and Roll” set up the following weekend’s tour highlight version. This one from SPAC, however, ain’t too shabby either.



Drowned > Swept > Steep” 6.20, II S.Springs, NY

This sequence provided the meat of SPAC’s second performance.



Chalk Dust > Caspian” 6.25 II, Camden, NJ

Phish hadn’t dropped a jam like this all summer long. It felt like a monumental breakthrough at the time, and it still holds up just fine.



Rock and Roll > Free” 6.26 II, Columbia, MD

Right up there with the best jams of tour; a gorgeous piece of improvisation. This comes from the Saturday night of tour’s peak weekend.



Piper” 6.27 II, Columbia, MD

Amidst a thematic second set strewn with allusions to “Saw It Again,” Phish dropped the gnarliest “Piper” of the era up to that point.



Light” 7.1 II, Raleigh, NC

This was the top version from a tour in which “Light” became Phish’s preeminent jam vehicle.



Tweezer -> Slave” 7.3 II, Alpharetta, GA

Believe it or not, this was the first time that “Tweezer” and “Slave” had been paired in the band’s career—and it made for a no-brainer tour highlight.




The latest from Robert Champion of The Sloping Companion:

The Philler by The Sloping Companion on Mixcloud

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320 Responses to “TTFT: The Season of the Whale—June 2010”

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  1. garretc Says:

    Woot, Camden>MPP! What a great long weekend that was!

    Camden Chalk Dust
    MJ 2001 (Seriously, this was a quasi-religious experience dead center on the lawn with my high def senses in full gear [Better living through chemistry!])
    MPP Tweezer, Wolfman’s, Saw It Again madness (Piper very much included)

    Plus some nice bustouts in Nothing, Walfredo, and Tela.

    Not to mention the hospitality of GDiddy and road tripping (and Baltimore Sam’s club parking lot sleeping) with Jtran!

    Not too shabby a little outing for this 3.0 kid’s first non-festi Phish

  2. Snigglebeach Says:

    I was pretty sick of the whale in summer 10. But by late 11 I was hoping to see some more.

    Seems silly but the new guitar has seen the “end of jamming” , hopefully not.

  3. gavinsdad Says:

    the whale was such an abrupt tonal shift for me…my dislike of it had more to do with my unwillingness to change than anything else. i just honestly felt, as i said back then, that it sounded “clipped and macho”….that sustain-y singing tone always seemed to fit inside the music like a proper puzzle piece to me…the whale didn’t “fit”.

    later, after many a respin, i came to appreciate the whale but it took awhile to put it into proper perspective.

    thanks for the tunes Miner…another chance to look at where we’ve been in anticipation of where we might go this Summer.

  4. MiA Says:

    I’ve never come to appreciate the whale. After hearing the Portsmouth Gin, it was so pitchy it sounded like Phish had gotten a fake Trey.

    It can be used for mild effect sparingly and acceptably. DTE Bowie is a good example.

    I think they’re gonna rally and come out swinging.

  5. MiA Says:

    I’ve never come to appreciate the whale. After hearing the Portsmouth Gin, it was so pitchy it sounded like Phish had gotten a fake Trey.

    It can be used for mild effect sparingly and acceptably. DTE Bowie is a good example.

    I think they’re gonna rally and come out swinging.

  6. Jtran Says:

    Whale kid here

    My first run was SPAC > Canandaigua June 10. Still the longest I’ve been able to do to date. Got a great jam every night imo.

  7. Jtran Says:

    And first time meeting many BBers at GD’s pre Camden BBQ. Missed out on most of you at SPAC. SPAC night 1 ended up being my SLF and my first “date”.

    We were hanging out in Burlington that summer, as friends, but she was getting sad I’d be on the road for 2 weeks to see Phish. I said “well, I don’t have anyone to go to the first show with and it’s only 2.5 hours away. I can get you a ticket, you’d just have to drive back after.”

    She said yes to the trip, we hung out, we talked the rest of the run, I got back and the rest is history.


  8. MiA Says:

    Nice Duke.

    I love Garret’s quick hitting, fast wit and untempered humor. Almost always makes me laugh. Poor spelling and grammatical errors are the source of great rood pampin’ humor here daily.

    If the ball gets dropped, kick it.

    Can’t wait til we have 19 pages about how great that entire Woostah first set was.

  9. MiA Says:

    I must be the only person who has problems with the “return to front page” link. Seems like I somehow hit that when typing on the iPhone way too often.

  10. Guyute711 Says:

    This may be fun to check out.

  11. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Hey Folks. Judicious use of whale is cool with me. He definitely was over doing it but it was part of his process for sure. He found what he needed and took that from the whale experiment. Today’s selections are some great music. I rememember thinking this Challkdust was off the charts amongst others on here. I have no doubt Phish will be busting out some large and original jams of high quality this summer.

  12. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I hereby submit that 3.0 kidz be henceforth referred to as the Children of the Whale ™ . they can even make t-shirts for themselves referencing the movie that came out before they were born. here. I worked up a design to get you started.

  13. Spasm Waiter Says:

    T3- brilliant

  14. DukeOfLizards Says:


    Nice, Free Willy is my favorite.

    What’s with all of those stalks in the background?

  15. Robear Says:

    The Whale = the conversation killer

  16. dusty Says:

    That camden-MPP run was my first show back since maybe one in 04 and then nothing since cypress. Camden was enough to make me hit creek through JB. MPP reminded me how lame columbia is with ghetto birds up after the shows like normal…but really. Saw it again was a nice treat I don’t think I got since summer ’97 in phoenix.

    I admit…I like my phish dirty. Hmm..maybe a night in trenton to show what jeerz really has….

  17. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    are you trolling or serious? the reference is to Children of the Corn, a seminal 80s horror flick. scared the shit out of many of us bitd, particularly those (like me) who lived next to… wait for it… fields of corn.

  18. Guyute711 Says:

    I thought it was the conversation starter Robear, at least while at the show.

  19. Robear Says:

    Miners seriously wavering on his fluffiness, going forward.

    I like it. Reality bites.

    My sarcastic t shirt business is exploding with new ideas. Here’s the latest:

    “Every lesson I learned in life cost me a broken nose, or a ton of money”

  20. Robear Says:

    Lolololololol @ G$$$.

    Ting ting ting

  21. Spasm Waiter Says:

    It is sort of amazing to me that Numberline occasionally blows up big. It is sort of a crowd pleased a la GDs Touch of Grey. And then they just take it incredibly deep every 15 times they play it or so. Odd choice of songs to fire up the spaceship for. My $.02.

  22. Spasm Waiter Says:


  23. Leo Weaver Says:

    I dig the camden chalkdust.

    Hatford Light (I think it was light) was whale-drenched, but in a tasteful way iirc. Trey just floated that whale way up above the canvas that Mike, Fish, and Page to an extent were laying down. Robear likened the whale to impressionist style of painting. To me that particular instance was more like Trey was pulling a Jackson Pollock throwing small buckets of paint at the canvas. I need to listen to those again to confirm whether I am or am not talking outta my arse.

    It seems that now Trey has mastered the whammy use such that you hardly notice, or when you do it’s very purposeful with intent to crate a certain sound (a la Greek light with the whining sound that tugs at your heartstrings…there was some early in the Gorge RnR I think).

    OK…back to work for me.

    But first, another



    Thanks now.

    Oh, BTW, I have one pav for Starlake up for grabs…don’t all jump at once!

  24. DaNcInG fOoL Says:


  25. Kaveh Says:

    Morning BBers…a little late to the party, but down at the govt center getting working permits for our basement project.

    @Miner: thanks for the tunes!

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