Thinking of Summer

Bethel Woods (G. Estreich)

Summer Tour is just around the corner and it seems like nobody knows just what to expect come Worcester and beyond. Almost 10 months have passed since Phish tore apart Dick’s in Colorado, and with the tame New Year’s Run, it feels like ages since we’ve seen the band do what they do. Traditionally, Phish has started off tours quite well in this era, often spring-boarding from a few days of focused practice in the city of their first show. Examples of these strong opening stands or runs include, 6.11 through 6.13.2010 at Toyota Park, Blossom, and Hershey; 8.5 through 8.7.10 at The Greek Theatre, 5.27 and 5.28 in Bethel, and 8.5 and 8.6.11 at the Gorge. If this pattern follows, the Worcester shows could serve as musical defibrillators for a Phish community that seems to hold less anticipatory excitement for this tour than any in this era. If Phish doesn’t blow the roof off The Centrum in the way they have sparked their recent tours, it will be quite interesting to hear everyone’s reaction—but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here!

I’ve been wondering which band will come out at Worcester—the jammy version we saw at UIC and Dick’s or the rock version we saw at MSG. Related to this thought, two days ago on Twitter, @eward leaked a Trey quote from this week’s Rolling Stone saying that Phish “plan to break out at least 200 tunes at their gigs this summer.” Ummm—great—just what we need to hear, a song-centric sound byte from Red. One would hope that within this ballpark figure are a handful of new songs and jam vehicles to spice up the rotation, but I’m not gonna’ hold my breath. One thing is for sure, if this tour becomes bust-out and setlist-oriented, there will be a communal groan throughout many groups of fans. Hopefully, this alleged song barrage will be centered in the first sets of shows.

Bethel Woods - 5.29.11 (D.Lavery)

After three years back, however, it’s second sets that need the most tender loving care this summer. Instead of placing jams within a set of songs, one would hope the band would perform more complete, start to finish frames that have been relatively elusive in this era. In 2011, though the band progressed in this department, the two areas that still need the most improvement is fluidity and set-closing. In terms of fluidity, I mean moving from song to song with thoughtful concept and diligent execution. Hopefully the jarring instances of Trey pulling the string on jams will lessen and there will be a more group-think in determining where the music will go. In terms of “finishing,” Phish often kicked off many second sets with prowess last year, but the second half of many them fizzled in momentum, and band often “stumbled” to the end point. While they used to employ big-time second set closers like “YEM” and “David Bowie,” “Antelope” or even “Weekapaug,” last year they were just as likely to punctuate a set with “Character Zero,” “Stealing Time,” “First Tube” or “Suzie”—not exactly the same effect. I feel if these two elements of second sets come together, whatever happens in the firsts is fine.

In terms of jamming, in addition to anything new they bring to the table, I hope to see Phish further explore the two original styles that have emerged in this era— “Plinko” and “Storage.” Last year, the band engaged in sporadic “Plinko” jamming after they really honed in on the style during New Year’s Run 2010. “Storage” jamming was born last year, and Phish integrated the style into the live show—often with Theremin—during leg two. I find this to be the most promising and original direction for their music right now, as some of the best jams of 2011 were born of this darker, abstract focus.

More than anything, Leg One will give the band a chance to get rolling again. A month-long tour, though susceptible to ups and downs, provides far more opportunities than three or four night runs for the band to hook up and create adventurous music. As we embark on 2012, the fourth year of 3.0 Phish, one can only hope it will surpass the year before, as each has during this era. And if that happens, I think everyone will be happy.

Bethel Woods (George Estreich)


Here’s a link to my “2012 Wishlist” which relates to this topic.


Jam of the Day:

Gumbo” 8.3.98 II, Noblesville, IN

If you didn’t catch it, Kevin Shapiro dropped Live Bait 7 yesterday, including this gem from the Cornfields in ’98.

[audio:] Tags: ,

422 Responses to “Thinking of Summer”

  1. Robear Says:

    Me and G money, rocking couch tour from the infirmary.

    Bring more meds.

  2. Robear Says:

    M I A, I should talk to her. I did go through some physical therapy already. Seems like a really minor tear.

  3. voopa Says:

    Shoot, I used to believe everything MiA posted. Now what?

  4. xpun Says:

    thanks dayman, been stressful here, looking up

    WOW was at palmers 1057 comment when i started typing my last one, had yet another phone call with realtor and when i posted came back to this??

    phoamm nailed it though mia 😉

  5. MiA Says:

    Definitely. You still have my #?

  6. Guyute711 Says:

    dayman, I am still getting stuff done. 2 appointments next week. Looked at one tooth today and I think I lost part of a new filling. So 2 root canals, an extraction, getting a bridge and several cavities still to be filled. Hoping there are no more surprises. I actually get at least two permanent crowns the day before I leave for AC.

  7. MiA Says:

    Still like a good rock thrower. Comes with the territory.

  8. Luther T. Justice Says:

    I found a guy shooting up in an unlocked bathroom stall on the first night of ’03 Cincy run. I was helping a friend who was sick (from the flu, not heroin) and I aimed my friend at the heroin man just in time to have him vomit all over the heroin man. Didn’t do it on purpose. Just kinda happened.

  9. phoammhead Says:

    somebody drop a double post so mia can issue a paddlin’ and redeem himself

  10. xpun Says:

    @robear – i know people that say they wish they’d never had shoulder surgery, small problems made worse by it. also one of the most painful recoveries also, so i’ve heard. fwiw

  11. MiA Says:

    Awesome Luther. Pronoia.

  12. phoammhead Says:

    make sure to stock up on the percs, g7

  13. xpun Says:

    luther t servin up the justice!

  14. dorn76 Says:

    Poor baby babbly bullshit

  15. MiA Says:

    Protip: Do not type “dancing bear” into Google Images with safe search off.

  16. thedayman Says:

    hope it all works out, guyute. what a hassle, teeth are so freaking expensive.

    same to you @robear, hope you don’t end up needing surgery.

    have a good one, bb. great place and people here.

  17. Kaveh Says:

    @Jtran: Doin That Rag (at this show) and Mountain of the Moon….69 was really a glorious time for the GD.

  18. phoammhead Says:

    damn, i’ve kinda missed hangin’ out around here . . . need to do this more often

  19. Guyute711 Says:

    Already got some pharmies for tour phoamm. 😉

  20. snow Says:

    I won’t double post!!

  21. snow Says:

    I won’t double post!!

  22. snow Says:

    I won’t double post!!

  23. garretc Says:

    Doin’ That Rag is a great song

  24. phoammhead Says:

    raise your hand if you have ever gone to doctor or emergency room or, while you were there for legitimate reasons, faked pain to get a script

  25. Robear Says:

    The doctor called it a scoping. Is that basically the same as surgery?

    This could definitely have a negative effect on my dance moves.

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