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. albert walker Says:

    another example is DTE

    DWD and BOwie are just drenched in whale and I feel his pitch in the bends is spot in. especially when considering as you stated he’s using a foot pedal to hit those tones.

  2. marcoesq Says:


    I’d be interested to get your opinion, in terms of MPP ’10 would you take Sat or Sun night?

    Sat had the RnR and fun Tweezer, Wolfmans, Slave Reprise
    Sun had amazing flow set II

  3. Guyute711 Says:

    Duh, Duane Trucks was last week. I don’t even have $10 to spend on a cover let alone beer money until Thursday. Stupid $177 Atlantic City passes.

  4. Al Says:

    The ‘season of the whale’ has been – and will remain an off-season for me.

  5. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    yarn is a fun show
    stringdusters are super talented. love seeing those guys

  6. Mr.Miner Says:

    i love the whale

  7. butter Says:

    And Miner sticks his dorsal fin above water 😉

  8. Robert Champion Says:

    Hey everyone – Plinko – Whale Call – My take is that he is experimenting and then ultimately learning how to manage these techniques even further into the tool box. Let’s see what this Summer brings. Summer 2012 – The Tour of what catch phrase? We’ll see.

    In other news…I have two extra tickets in the pavilion for Alpine Valley Sunday night. Audience Right/Stage Left in Row PP. I am looking for two pavilions for Sat night Alpine. Any takers? If you or someone you know needs these and wants to take care of it early on then hit me up @

    I’d like to see this happen on the black board. You all are good people.

    the next episode of The Philler will be all about Junta and the Record Store Day release coming in April. Mr. Miner will give his favorite pickes for live versions of Junta songs and we talk to Jim Pollock about his process, the world around him and the early days at Goddard. Stay tuned and take care of each other.

  9. Guyute711 Says:

    Sounds interesting RC.

  10. marcoesq Says:

    Re: The whale

    All I know is that as I sit here listening to these picks trying to be quiet to not disturb my neighbor, every 3-5 seconds a whale peak comes out of nowhere and sends soundwaves through the office to anyone within 20ft

  11. ElJefe Says:

    The Whale in 11 is a HUGE improvement over the unlistenable whale of 09. In 09 it was a crutch in 11 it is acceptable addition to Treys arsenal. I can’t listen to a lot of 09, Gd later years(too much synth sounds and plinky keys) or 80s Zappa. The tones/sounds are just hard to listen to.

  12. albert walker Says:

    laterz peeps
    time to close out the day
    always up for a little contrarian whale defending
    get off early and another nice run on the lake
    75% in Chicago in March= $$$$

  13. Kaveh Says:

    Plain and simple:

    the Whale officially took at back to seat to the Ocedoc at the Greek.

    While I don’t mind the Whale, I like the change in the bands progression…

  14. verno329 Says:

    @cwc Evening Muse is definitely just a little bar that happens to have music from time to time. Nice place though. The whole little NoDa area there is pretty chill.

    The Visulite is a really nice venue, imo. When they initially opened in like 2002 or so I was there about 3-4 times a week, but they started booking crappier bands (imo) sometime around 2005 or so and I rarely returned. Still good place to catch a show if they have a show worth catching. I got thrown out of that venue at my first show there (only time I’ve ever been thrown out) for attempting to puff. A few visits later I was puffing with the owner at setbreak. Kinda funny.

  15. Kaveh Says:

    …this band ALWAYS progresses with their sound. It is what makes eras, eras.

  16. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Funny that Alphareta Tweezer is what got my crabby 4 month old to finally crash out. Hallelujah!

  17. tela'smuff Says:

    exactly @ElJefe. my opinion as well.

  18. Foul_Domain Says:

    I have to respectfully disagree with the notion that the whale was ever a crutch.

    I think the opposite is true. It is a forward looking approach imo.

  19. cwc Says:

    Yeah, looking forward to both shows. Yarn has grown on me. Good mix of sounds. First time seeing them live

    TIII, if you like the dusters, check out this vid. From free acoustic afternoon show in a sporting goods store in Asheville a couple weeks ago. They are getting better and better although I do wish they would add back a mando

  20. Kaveh Says:

    Alphareta Tweezer

    ^ Great set of music! The night I meet @G711.

  21. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Whale spawning much constructive debate.

  22. ElJefe Says:

    FD- I just wish Trey hadn’t learned to use it onstage. He would run out of ideas and start dicking w it back in 09. Now I think it’s a great tool. But early days he didn’t seem to know how to harness it. It must be like using feedback in a way. If you don’t know how to get on top of it it can get away from you. He seems to be its master not the other way around.

  23. halcyon Says:

    The Whale or Waving your hands randomly in the air?


  24. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    nice vid @cwc
    though calling the mast general store a sporting goods store is like calling phish a jamband 😉 just doesn’t quite capture it, imho

  25. Guyute711 Says:

    Easy to spot the GB hat down here in the south land.

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