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”

  1. Selector J Says:

    @dusty Don’t know how SXSW stacks up against Jazzfest since I’ve yet to make it to one. Need to. Any excuse to get to NOLA…

    What separates SXSW is the decentralized aspect. There is no designated festival grounds. It’s quite literally everywhere in Austin. Every venue is filled with an all day line-up. Plus, there’s a ton of makeshift stages in parking lots for official and unofficial SXSW stuff.

    By the way, the unofficial stuff is the best part. No wrist bands necessary. Most of it is free admittance and often with free beer, food, homeless guy wi-fi hotspots, etc.

  2. 20 Minute Halley's Says:

    Willowed, if you make it here tonight, I will talk to you Friday afternoon! Hope those tickets worked out in all our favors!

    Much Love,


  3. snowbank Says:

    Have you ever seen a whale Cry?

    No, but I have seen a whale blubber.

    Long live the BB

  4. snowbank Says:

    What do you call a group of whales that play instruments?
    An orca-stra!

  5. 20 Minute Halley's Says:

    @ Selector

    Drove to Jazz Fest in 2004 Before Katrina, from CT. Lost my head and a whole lot of marbles in one scorching afternoon, watching Galactic drop it heavy on an inside Stage with Bobbie Rait living it up in the background.

  6. BingosBrother Says:

    Snow just went next level.

    Chi town kids alert. My boy is promoting a hip hop show with Chali 2na, haiku d’etat, and Granola Funk Express in May. Venue tbd. Update soon.

    GFE 4th Estate

  7. lumpyhead Says:

    snow DID just go next level.

  8. Robear Says:

    T3$, there’s just something about that Greek show, the Hood, everything, has some intangible beauty and wow factor. gets me everytime, even on listen back.

  9. Robear Says:


    *ting ting ting ting

  10. butter Says:


  11. lumpyhead Says:

    kinda like how bethel has somethin to it that you can’t really put into words. at least, to me.

  12. lumpyhead Says:

    kinda like how bethel has somethin to it that you can’t really put into words. at least, to me.

  13. voopa Says:

    Heh, just got the Phish update email. My inbox says it was delivered at 3:30pm today, but the mail itself says it was sent 6 days ago…strange.

  14. DukeOfLizards Says:

    If you’re just focusing on the nascent whale work in the Chicaghost and ignoring the invisible orca-stra, you’re only calf-listening.

  15. butter Says:

    boring apple computer post ****

    great genius appointment today, im all schooled up on icloud and how to manage it with a number of devices

    unfortunately, my 2 year old 27″imac’s hd is shot, and i may or may not be able to retrieve my data. i’ve had great luck with apple products, its just disappointing that the most expensive purchase i’ve made, also had the shortest lifespan and most problems. the disc drive is also broken. its all free fix from apple,(as i bought 3 year wrty) but my data is at stake. its nice to now that the rest of my a/v system is fine, as music had been cutting out due to the faulty imac serving it

    im partially backed up, but my “time machine” quit working properly or was full about a year ago. anyway all i care about are pics and tunes. the music is all replaceable but the pics not. luckily i’ve roughly backed up a bunch of pics over the past few years, so of the 10,000 pics on my imac, im guessing 7,000 are backed up somewhere. all the recent baby pics are still on a sd card…

    ….not to bore ya’ll, i actually have a point and its something i read: treat your hd’s like the light bulb in the storage closet, not the storage closet. it will burn out, its just a matter of time

  16. voopa Says:

    Wise words butter…back up yo’ shit!

  17. Selector J Says:

    @20min Sounds like fun. I tried to get some people to roll with me on a road trip to JazzFest from Charleston, SC when I was an undergrad. Everyone bailed. Should have called you! Haha.

  18. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I only back my stuff up onto 1 HD. I’m not making discs or any of that nonsense. Its enough to drive a man insane. Like Butter said, only music and pics that i care about. And while the music would suck to lose, it is replaceable and 1/2 the fun is actually collecting it. Pics are irreplaceable.

    I should get a cloud education myself. My Mac is almost 2 years old also. Sometimes when i play music through itunes the song pauses momentarily then continues. It sucks because its dead air for a second or two. This ever happen to anyone else? Just curious.

  19. BingosBrother Says:

    very whale done Duke.

  20. alf Says:


  21. Robear Says:

    lumpyhead, yes, Bethel. apt, apt I tell you. SBIX day 3 feels that way too. live and relisten

  22. butter Says:

    Palms – that was exactly one of my first flaws with the iMac

    the little pauses while playing music

  23. Mr. Palmer Says:

    shit, thats not good. Thanks butter. Is there anything to remedy that?

  24. Robert Champion Says:

    No problem Kevah. We talked for a good five hours about pretty much everything. Travelers And Thieves is my personal favorite too.

  25. kenny powers Says:

    i just fell in love with a 20 yo waitress at the local billiard joint.

    lord help me.

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