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. MiA Says:

    Burnt and Eerie.

    Ha ha.

    I’m a one upper for sure.

  2. snow Says:

    That be good custy’s shot makes me feel like I need to work on my middle finger style. the way the other fingers kind stick up but are bent is intimidating. I usually do more of literal middle finger up.

  3. sumodie Says:

    Click my name to dl both the 2012 & 2008 Spiritualized shows broadcast by NPR

    (yes, the shows are still avail for dl at NPR but this is easier imo)

    grabbed J Spaceman’s Guitar Loops album off the ‘noid, very curious to give that one a spin

  4. Jtran Says:

    very, very droney sumo

  5. phoammhead Says:

    too much fun around here today. . . . where’s that pal of ours

    damn driveby flamers!

  6. Robear Says:



  7. thnkfstpal Says:

    I’m here. Love Phish and Miners site. Bought the book etc.

  8. phoammhead Says:

    in that pic . . . i’m ernie with my tongue hanging out

  9. phoammhead Says:

    ahhh . . . nice, pal. like mia said a day or so ago, stick around. but, don’t throw stones at your supporters . . . i mean . . . geez, man!

  10. lumpyhead Says:

    we got a new rock thrower in the building?

  11. thnkfstpal Says:

    Whatever, I’m over it.

  12. lumpyhead Says:

    I’ll tell you what I’m not over. The tweezer from yesterday’s live bait.

  13. phoammhead Says:

    dude, just playin’ . . . snarky over here. throw stones wherever you like. like someone said earlier . . . comes with the territory.

  14. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Gracias, Sumo!

    downloaded both shows.

  15. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    hasn’t been a a-hole day in a while, plenty of a-dub days though.

    Throwin stones…

  16. MiA Says:!

    AW posts that parkinglotlife link and I’m totally sucked in with the random craziness.

    Those stories made mine look like “I went to a Phish show and some people had dreads.”

    Watch about an hour of those videos, and then come back and tell me, “That’s crazy talk that there were needles at a Phish show.”

    That’s the least crazy thing that could be posted to that site.

  17. [an unrelated] Wilson Says:

    Krukow/Kuiper/Miller/Fleming = the best.

  18. MiA Says:

    Hey pal, no harsh feelings. It’s like just an opinon dude.

  19. thnkfstpal Says:

    Any site named parking lot life is a site I would prefer to avoid tbh.

  20. MiA Says:

    Good idea Lumpy. Need to take this Tweezer for another spin.

  21. thnkfstpal Says:

    I’m good everybody. MIA is fine with me. No big deal.

  22. MiA Says:


  23. thnkfstpal Says:

    Haven’t heard that Tweezer yet, loved the Jim though.

  24. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Going with Portsmouth Sand as per Butter’s hype earlier.

  25. RoosterPizza Says:

    THanks snow and MIA. I will be workig on it!

Leave a Reply