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. rivertrance Says:

    Two guitars, keys, bass, drums, and two female back up singers

    The new album is the best in a long time. The band is playing guitar tone driven, washy, droney psychedelic shit like a good spaceman project should.

    Recent npr live concert link

  2. MiA Says:

    Just back up singers for me. No horns. Cool pictures in the background. Photos of the Milky Way, clouds, etc.

  3. rivertrance Says:

    As a huge spacemen 3 fan and a guitar cat I prefer the stripped down live sound compared to last time I caught em with the horns and choir and shit.

  4. Dr Pronoia Says:

    Happy for your fam, Telas

    And I remember being very spooked by an obviously overdosing girl being carried by a few guys up the steepest part of the hill at Alpine in 99

    I people watch more than I should at shows and have seen some crazy shit…not an eye closed guy at all, and I’m most often in this reality

  5. MiA Says:

    Really loved “Hey Jane” Great track.

  6. rivertrance Says:

    That’s the track that pulled me into the new album MIA. So great. That VU if they had sick ass psych rock guitarists sound is $$$$

  7. Timber_YO! Says:

    don’t forget me

  8. Timber_YO! Says:


  9. TrippingBilly Says:

    hi guys!
    anybody else going to both the dmb and phish shows in two weeks up in MA?

  10. ElJefe Says:

    After the last time I saw em and they were kinda meh. All the pimping everyone’s been giving them I wanna see em again. Closest local show to me is unfortunately Sasquatch aka the worst festival.

  11. RoosterPizza Says:

    Motherfucking cunt whore. I thought no netflix or pandora was bad enough, but now no turntable because I am in Japan. This is a big crock of horse-shit.

  12. RoosterPizza Says:

    We’re very sorry, but while we would love to let you in and rock out with us, we need to currently restrict turntable access to only the United States due to licensing constraints.

    We are working very hard to try and get you in as soon as possible.

    If you believe this is a mistake and you are located in the United States, please e-mail help [at sign] turntable dot fm

    Again, sorry, and we hope to see you soon.

    Billy Chasen

  13. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    smuff, that’s great to hear. every day during a pregnancy brings its own challenges. good vibes to your family

  14. RoosterPizza Says:

    happy to hear everything worked out. Have a relaxing evening man!

  15. plord Says:

    Tela’s, great news, I’m happy to hear that everything looks ok.

    We had our last two when my wife was 39 and 42. As you may know, risk rates skyrocket after 36 or so, getting worse every year. We didn’t wait for Amnio, we did CVS testing (a different, equally intense giant needle thing) at 10 weeks. Turned out ok.

    The girls outnumber the boys in the house but we’re alright 🙂

  16. Michael Kang Says:

    Come see us this Summer! We’ll buy your ticket!

  17. tela'smuff Says:

    just picked up the kiddo up from bus stop. last day of kindergarten. kind of one of those “perspective” days. makes bitching about Phish expectations seem silly, although fukc that Alaska 2nd set bullshit. 😉

    thx for the thoughts. good people here.

  18. snow Says:

    @Rooster- establish a VPN connection to somewhere in the US and then it should work because it will be coming from a U.S. IP. Do you have a VPN for work?

    Otherwise you could setup one up on your home router (yeah, kind of hard to do from China) or pay for a service. google ‘VPN service’

  19. snow Says:

    @Tela’smuuf – you mean the overwhelming emotion wasn’t the sadness of your child entering grade school in a world without a jam band that actually jams?

  20. DavidSilver Says:

    I’ll be at both trippinb. Slangin haiths to custyz on phish lot and getting my type II fix at DMB. And, for the record, I am NOT an AW alias.

  21. MiA Says: I thinks works.

  22. MiA Says:

    Ha ha ha.

  23. snow Says:

    @Tela just read your post. Glad to hear the good news.

    Kids are best/worst. I love mine so much but I hate how vulnerable I am to her getting hurt in any way.

    Couldn’t think of that before I posted, could ya MiA? Huh? But now you can one up me. You are full of shit!

    Okay, Tripping Billy coming out now is pretty damn good evidence that it is an @AW alias. or isn’t it?

    (J/k of course mia.)

  24. poop goblin Says:

    Although I am no silver his stacy king love means its some other Chicago wook

    I won’t even do a dmb aliases as a joke

    Shit makes arcade fire seem like early solo Curtis Mayfield

  25. poop goblin Says:

    Wheres poop?

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