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. Mr. Palmer Says:

    really? Joe Buck? He really bothers people, huh? I’ve only heard him call games and while i’m not a fan of his, i don’t find him as annoying as most.

    Does he have a radio show? I know he had that short lived TV show that bombed..

  2. tela'smuff Says:

    thx. sorry for the personal story hijacking. you can get back to dirty needle stories and good AW aliases. love that shit.

    i’m throwing on 6/8/77 NFA per a special request.

  3. MiA Says:

    Johnny Miller drives me nuts.

  4. Guyute711 Says:

    I don’t think he has a show Mr P but in the sports genre he is as douchey as they come IMO. Look at Aikman, smug look back to the camera, look at Aikman. Get him the hell out of the football scene.

  5. verno329 Says:

    Awesome news Tela’s! With no kids myself I can’t imagine how scary that might be. I would be an absolute wreck.

  6. Xpun Says:

    Tela – I prefer the personal bits to Mia’s bs stories.

    Joe buck was young and promising until he spent all those series w mccarver. I always enjoyed Patricks show but don’t listen to radio at all anymore. Tv wise though I think the spectrum goes from Rick Sutcliffe at the bottom to Gary Thorne as the ultimate voice of sports. He is unbelievable at conveying excitement and passion.

  7. sumodie Says:

    Wow, telas, glad to hear things are looking brighter

  8. bouncin fan Says:

    damn didn’t know AW had so many aliases

  9. roberto luongo Says:

    good news Telas. that shit sounds stressful.

  10. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Brent Musburger makes me want to throw shit at the TV…ugh.. Keith jackson was the best at college football.

    Gary Thorne is great. He did hockey for a while too and was excellent.
    College Hoops- Clark Kellogg is great. Bill Rafftery is my guy though..the best

  11. verno329 Says:

    October is the worst month for Joe Buck haters such as myself. He’s on football games with Aikman and then on baseball games with McCarver. I can’t escape the bastard. If he showed up at some fall tour stops announcing the show it might push me over the edge. You know, if Phish played fall tours anymore…

  12. poop goblin Says:

    sports announcers are exactly what mute buttons and record players were created for

  13. Guyute711 Says:

    I miss Gary Thorne doing NHL games with Bill Clement, That was a good team. As far as broadcasters go it is Rick Jeaneret and then everybody else. A living legend. “Top shelf where momma hides the cookies!!!”

  14. MiA Says:

    I was going to type Musberger, but didn’t want to incite another riot.

  15. Guyute711 Says:

    Mr P. is takin it to the tin!!!

  16. rivertrance Says:

    you know you have too many aliases when you couldn’t even think of em all

  17. Mr. Palmer Says:

    ” with the kiss” ” send it home jerome!”.. ” that kid’s got some onions”

    ^ classic Raf

  18. MiA Says:

    Next up, Trippin’ Billies and David Silver?

  19. DavidSilver Says:

    Olah amigos. Stacey King is the best thing goin right now. dagger!

  20. Mr. Palmer Says:

    crazy fucks around here.

  21. Selector J Says:

    As a Tar Heel fan, it hurts to say this but Jay Bilas is my favorite color guy in college hoops. Dude is hilarious on twitter, too.

  22. Selector J Says:

    Speaking of hilarious…

    4 months left! Aggghhhhh!
    This post was sponsored by Rick Perry and ExxonMobil.

  23. thedayman Says:

    so glad to hear everything’s ok, telas. that’s a tough one. such great news!

  24. ElJefe Says:

    Miner or anyone who’s seen the recent Spiritualized- what’s the line up like? Just guitars or is it w/ a horn section and back up singers etc? All this Spirtualized got me going through old CDs. Found Spring Heeled Jack that I had completely forgot about. Two English DJs w/ an amazing group of improvisers and J Spaceman on guitar. Pretty dope stuff I haven’t listened to in years.

  25. voopa Says:

    Palmer- I’m not a big Cowherd guy either. His absolutes and “fans are so dumb” rants get to me.

    Haven’t heard Tierney yet, that station’s out of my range. I like Eric Davis tho, he replaced Gary Plummer on the 49’ers radio broadcast team last year and is fantastic. I’ll check it out.

    With Davis and Ted Robinson for the 49ers, and the Giants’ team of Krukow/Kuiper/Miller/Fleming, SF has the best football/baseball radio teams in the country.

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