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

Tags: , , ,

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

  1. tela'smuff Says:

    sounds like fun to me @GD. i still haven’t heard Alabama Shakes. i do like Peaking Lights, and agree, Grimes is cute…

  2. Duder Says:

    Best Trey whale I can recall is the Curlew’s Call solo from the Chicago Theater ’03

  3. Robert Champion Says:

    Hey everyone. An excerpt from my full length interview with Jim Pollock is up @

    The entire interview will be available on an upcoming Record Store Day edition of The Philler. Keep up the good work black board. You are one of the most positive things going within the Phish Internet culture. You should be proud.

    Check it out when you get a chance and don’t forget to surrender to the flow.

  4. ElJefe Says:

    Tba- I think yer thinking of a loop. Boomerang prolly. Like in Ghosts etc. The Whale sounds more out of tune well whale-y sounding.

  5. Spasm Waiter Says:

    TBA- Every 5 or 6 notes, Trey would use the whale effect to bend the note and it ends up being not totally in tune, sometimes quite so.

  6. Spasm Waiter Says:

    rethinks going to AC based on potential for famous Leo’s wings and large type 2 jams…

  7. Cable Hogue Says:

    Hey people. Noticed the whale talk going on, and it so happens I have a theory about the whale:

    Rehearsing/learning/playing “Waiting for Columbus” was the turning point in Trey really figuring out how to use the whale in a controlled, subtle way. I could be way off on this, but it sounded to me like he was using the whale all through that performance to approximate some of the album’s slide parts without using a slide. This necessitated a lot more precise and controlled use of the effect, and all through Fall 10 and since, the whaling has been a lot more precise than in Leg 1 2010, when he just seemed to be riding the pedal through most every solo.

  8. Selector J Says:

    re: SXSW

    All of y’all really need to come to SXSW next year. It’s an outrageous event. Unlike any other festival. It’s like the Daytona Beach Spring Break for music junkies.

    I don’t get out much (even during SXSW) but here are a few things that I’ve heard high praises steeped on:

    Spoek Mathambo an MC on electro beats from South Africa.

    Blitz The Ambassador, a Ghana-born MC from Brooklyn. Dude’s flow is a lot like Nas’ with a little Black Thought thrown in. The music itself strikes me as kinda like the West African version of The Roots. Been digging his Native Sun album. (The orangeness takes you to a 44 min youtube stream of the whole thing.) Good stuff.

    On a non-African tip, Gza with Grupo Fantasmo was apparently damn good, too.

  9. Spasm Waiter Says:

    @selecta- sounds sweet. blitz oarange link doesn’t work fyi. Would be psyched to check it.

  10. tba Says:

    el jefe thanks yup, i was mixe up, and i love the loop. u know what i do also love is the scratchy sounds trey makes on his guitar, the first time i really heard it really ponounced in a while was second night Jones beach 10′, kind of that chunky chic chic chic during the Tweezer then he carried it over, blew my mind. i use it all the time when i play, it’s fun to try and use that style.

  11. Duder Says:

    the whale was used during the WFC to emulate slide guitar… IMO
    It would have been nice if Trey would actually learn a few slide licks.
    Can’t ever be too old or good to learn a new trick or two

  12. dusty Says:

    bingo @ Cable Hogue. SXSW is on the best run festies anywhere. However, I still judge all festies compared to jazzfest.

  13. Duder Says:

  14. plord Says:

    Stop me if this is a repost, but to tide you over until June, here’s Kimock’s Spring Tour announcement:

    Kimock and Worrell and…after that does it even matter?

  15. Duder Says:

    G. Porter?

  16. Kaveh Says:

    @RC: Thanks for the interview link.

    Travelers and Thieves by the band Blues Traveler.

    ^ Easily their best album. A personal favorite.

  17. BingosBrother Says:

    Whale drenched Light was a revelation for me at Toyota Park. My fungi bent brain wished it to last forever.

  18. plord Says:

    Dude, no Porter this tour. Reed Mathis or Andy Hess on bass, Wally Ingram on drums. I stand by my original statement and am super psyched they are coming to Higher Ground 🙂

  19. albert walker Says:

    Fav whale heavy jams

    Blossom #line
    Toyota light > ghost
    Greek light
    Gorge RnR

  20. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Bethel KDF

  21. albert walker Says:

    Good one DF

    Love that fuckin jam. That truly is some of the more on point good use of whale.

    Trey didn’t start prancin til night 3. Wasn’t fuckin around first 2.

  22. 20 Minute Halley's Says:

    Hello all, I am galevanting in St Maarten, posting from a villa steps from the sand, which is steps from the mother trucking ocean!?! WTF. Just a glorious evening!

  23. Selector J Says:

    D’oh. Sorry for the bad link to Blitz The Ambassador – Native Sun.

    Here it is again:

  24. 20 Minute Halley's Says:

    Spinning Piper now, lost int the cloud structure forming above Pic Paradis.

  25. 20 Minute Halley's Says:

    Sorry about the long windedness, but watched jet planes land feet above people seated on the ocean’s bank, at Princess Juilianna APT. Then got jet-blasted by a Jet Blue taking off! Unbelievable day.

Leave a Reply