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:

    great article from wax poetics with questlove. 33 reasons why Prince is hip-hop

    also one of their always great DJ mixes

  2. ElJefe Says:

    Halcy- the 2 work perfectly well together. Now. Just imagine the train wreck of 09 whale and 96 hand waving.

  3. gavinsdad Says:

    hershey 10 bomb

    @guyute – you get my note from last nite? i’ll bring you a sub from wegmans, but i’ll deliver it with resentment.

  4. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Is the consensus that AC tix will be a layup? I don’t need to buy them know, do I. I’m guessing i could wait till the week of and get them, or day of even?

  5. gavinsdad Says:

    @T3 – this one is for you bro

    nice shutters

  6. Mr. Palmer Says:

    now, not know… ugh ^^

  7. Foul_Domain Says:

    I hear that @ElJefe

    There were some examples where it just didnt ‘fit’ (see Portsmouth Gin). I just dont think it was a fall-back option when things werent going well (a crutch). Rather, I think, like you said regarding ’10 or ’11 whale usage, that it was just another trick in Trey’s arsenal – A means to inject a new feel.

    Having said that, Im not a HUGE fan of that method of pitch bending. Theres a time and a place and it can’t be forced. It certainly was forced at times in ’09.

  8. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    that is fantastic @gdad
    thanks for the chuckle

    in other news, the Greek Hood is freaking beautiful

  9. Guyute711 Says:

    I did not see that gdad but that would be sweet. The first thing I purchased right before Super Ball was a sub from my beloved Wegmans.

    I don’t think you will have a problem Mr P. I’m pretty sure everyone who ordered them pre-sale got them.

  10. gavinsdad Says:

    nerd confirmation please:

    is the Norwegian Wood teasing after min 12 in the JB 10 #line “whale”? it’d appear so.

  11. Kaveh Says:

    now, not know

    ^ my two cents; if you are going to do AC, buy the tickets now and put your feet up until then. the less worries between now and shows the better.

  12. tela'smuff Says:

    @GD – what bands did you dig at SXSW?

  13. cwc Says:

    Ive been thinking about selling my Theremin. Haven’t had my hands on it in years.

    Har Har

  14. Jtran Says:

    I don’t think AC will be a “find tickets under face day of” type of place though. Seems like people that want to go are buying tickets and nobody else is.

  15. Duder Says:

    I’ll take the whale over that ridiculous theremin BS hands down, straight up Bitches!

  16. Duder Says:


    You in Charlotte?

  17. gavinsdad Says:

    @telas –

    i did a long post at some point on last thread but basically

    tanlines (wow…live it was just a rave up)
    blondes (their stage presence reminds me of early days of live chem bros)
    choir of young believers (from denmark, great musical skill & arrangements)
    new build (hot chip and lcd members…another band of serious musicians)
    peaking lights (not as good as the album live but dubbish)
    light asylum (dont know how much i’d listen but holy christ the lead singer)
    grimes (she was cotton candy cute…mebbe not worth the hype?)

  18. cwc Says:

    dude, I live in Greensboro. Get down to CLT every once in awhile.

  19. Guyute711 Says:

    Duder, I hear they are touring with a DJ this summer. 😉

  20. gavinsdad Says:

    @guyute – i’ll do it because i can and because i know what it’s like to crave something. but i still want to mention that White House subs are the only hoagies, er, sandwiches anyone should be eating in AC/at the shows. To not bring a few of these into the show in a backpack is silly.

  21. Selector J Says:

    In geology news, Oaxaca is shaking like a leaf on a tree.

  22. marcoesq Says:

    Commencing Greek Hood

  23. Mr. Palmer Says:

    theremin >whale……sorry dude.

    If the theremin is taken for a spin we are usually in the midst of a fine, type 2 jam.

  24. Duder Says:

    DJ Logic G$$ ???

  25. Guyute711 Says:

    That’s cool, I don’t eat hoagies anyway. Ha ha

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