What A Run!

7.4.2012 (George Estreich)

The Phish from Vermont have arrived—again. If 2009 and 2010 provided building blocks for this era, and 2011 was the year the band began to forge new ground again, 2012 is the year they have hit full stride. Each and every night of Leg One, Phish came to play with a polished musical consistency that all fans have longingly sought since 2009. Practiced and adventurous, the band left a wake of fire across the eastern US over June, addressing almost all of their fan base’s grovels while crafting timeless jams with the effortless nature of lore.

The band’s collective patience that popped up in certain jams of 2011, quickly became the hallmark of 2012. Beginning with Worcester’s opening-night bomb and carrying right through SPAC, Phish—especially Trey—displayed a willingness to let the music breathe. This patience gave all jams a far more dynamic quality right off the bat, and the resulting interplay left us with hordes of highlights to debrief throughout the next month.

Throughout summer’s opening leg, Phish certainly righted several issues that had plagued their shows in the modern era. Trey’s infamous “ripcord,” though not gone completely, didn’t play a large role in disrupting summer shows. In fact—in quite the opposite direction—the band dropped handfuls of stunningly seamless segues of the like we hadn’t heard in years! In addition to a wide array of bust-outs this summer, including one we thought we’d never see in “Skin It Back,” the band diversified their central jam vehicles to include “Ghost” and “Twist”—two songs that were in desperate need of revival, “Golden Age”—used primarily as a single last year, and “Back on the Train.” The band also included noteworthy one-off jams on “Roses Are Free,” “Birds of a Feather,” “Fee,” “Skin It Back,” and two-off jams on “Light Up or Leave Me Alone” and “Sneakin’ Sally.”  Notably absent from setlists were long-form compositions, as “Divided Sky” and “Guyute” made only one appearance each, though “Fluffhead,” a veritable 3.0 anthem,  still dotted several sets.

7.4.2012 (George Estreich)

The guys’ musicianship shone all month, but none more brightly than Jon Fishman’s. Arguably, one of the last band members to fully get up to speed in 3.0, Henrietta-turned-Friar-Tuck absolutely owned his kit this past tour. Fishman’s next-level beat science drove the band all June and became the defining facet of so many tour highlights. Creatively steering so many jams this summer, Fish’s leadership has been crucial to the band’s enhanced communication. And when The Greasy Troll is on fire, the backbone of the band—Trey and Fish—becomes far more daring. Though Phish is unquestionably a four-minded monster, the symbiotic relationship that has always existed between Trey and Fish blossomed in 3.0-style this summer, pushing the band further and further into new territory. When reviewing your favorite sequences from this run, be sure to hone in on how tour MVP, Jonny B. Fishman, kicked them up a notch.

And the highlights! Oh, the highlights! Far to many to list in a summary piece like this, suffice it to say that we will have plenty to talk about for this month and beyond. Almost every single night of tour, Phish dropped at least a sequence, if not several, of to-die-for jamming. Taking the concept of “musical density” to a whole new level, the band covered staggering amounts of ground within single jams, moving fluidly through many diverse feels.

If 3.0 is the “The Golden Age” of Phish, 2012 sure seems like the start of “The Rennaissance.” Reaching levels not approached in the past three calendars, the band has melded their modern foci of enchanting sound-sculptures and “plinkofied” rhythmic bliss with the rest of their musical repertoire, forming a refined style that encompasses their entire career. Using this wide musical palette, Phish painted different styles of shows over summer’s first act, ranging from from dark and improvisational to playful and song-based, speaking to everyone in their audience. And if the contour of the past few years stays true in 2012, we are in for one hell of a second leg!

7.4.2012 (George Estreich)


Jam of the Day:

Sneakin’ Sally > Ghost” 7.6.12 II, SPAC

One of 2012’s most engaging sequences.



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279 Responses to “What A Run!”

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  1. chris Says:

    Yes Miner! This was a special tour. I have to disagree with you about the mvp though, it was TREY. This was no longer the gordon show, there was no doubt about Trey’s chops this entire tour. A confidence not seen since 2000 as he tore through compositions and jams with ease. Great jam to start off the conversation, that sally is my favorite jam of tour. Talk about covering new ground. The interplay between trey and fishman in that jam is unreal. And that jam couldn’t have been without fishman playing ‘lockstep’ with trey’s shredding.

  2. RoosterPizza Says:


    I would like to say congratulations on YOU getting the chance to write the write-up you have been dying to write since they came back. I am happy to read it, and I am sure that it was a pleasure for you to listen to everything that transpired during leg one.

    Here’s to leg 2!

  3. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Greasy Troll FTW!

  4. buddysmyles Says:

    Gotta love a Sneaky Ghost! What a Jam… What a Tour!

  5. MiA Says:

    Mark of this year was definitely the consistency of which they playedz.

    Great article Miner. Thanks for all you do.

  6. dognamedwilson Says:

    @roo, Ive got oak mtn>Lakewood>clt will be it for me this summer.

    @mia, which model denon are you using? @beantownBoyand I were looking at the same one before his move to PNW last year. He bought it and loves it, I was scared off by another board suggesting that the denon was optimal for pristine sounding, highly produced material but may not be ideal for substandard live. Are you confident its the amp you’re hearing and not another component causing the muddyness? Ymmv but I notice huge differences in sound quality from different model year iPods playing the same files. Just another piece to consider. I’ve stopped pre-empting my outboard dac and therefore no longer run any handhelds into the main stereo. I plug iPods into the computer, which runs the signal thru the dac on the way to the receiver. Big difference for me.

  7. dognamedwilson Says:

    Also, putting switches on all your components makes isolating a problem a snap. Troubleshooting is much easier but also you can sample different setups with ease to determine which player/receiver/amp/speaker combo sounds best with a given recording.

  8. st8 of mind Says:

    Thanks Miner. Been waiting for you to get back. Can’t wait for summaries and music links.

  9. McGGGGG Says:

    Saw Paul Simon’s Graceland 25th Anniversary show last night…. smokin’ hot

    Now that would be a fantastic Halloween Cover!

  10. Iriewalton Says:


    Great write up!

    Thanks for chronicling an amazing tour!

  11. cal Says:

    I wouldn’t even say Fish is most improved–Page gets that award. Everyone stepped it up this tour, but Fish was still most often responsible for holding improv back, being resistant to changing things up when the others tried to push forward, and made quite a few awkward transitions that could’ve been smooth if he’d just kept the beat.

    Them again, it’s most obvious when Fish bungles a segue, so I suppose I shouldn’t be too hard on him. He’s got the hardest job of the four. Agree with all the other points you made, Miner. Amazing tour. Hope I can squeeze in a leg two show somehow.

  12. Litteringand Says:

    Where? I’ve been on the look out for when the US run of that tour is going to start. Top five all time album for me and the Mrs.

  13. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    I have no opinion on the matter, thanks goodness someone writes what I need to be aware of and promote.

    Thank goodness!

  14. Kevin Says:

    Have to agree that Fish was the MVP from night one.

    To me, he’s had my ears perked up since the DC1. That jam (and many others this tour) never happens without him pushing the band forward, something he seemed reluctant to do since 09.

  15. Chonz Says:

    Fish and Phish FTW!

  16. sumodie Says:

    Miner, thanx for pumping out lively reviews all tour!

    Looking forward to your more granular tour analysis, what a thrilling array of leg1 highs

  17. alf Says:

    morning all

    first, let me say thanks for your amazing work and dedication this summer, @miner. your reviews night after night are truly impressive and, without question, a huge part of the scene and collective experience (as is the collection of characters carrying on below the reviews each day). with 2012 as the last year of phishthoughts as we know it (from what you have said), i don’t take it for granted – thank you.

    really looking forward to your breakdowns of this amazing tour in the coming weeks. lots of excitement for leg 2 & i’m glad the west coast gets the next handful.

    second, great weekend from which i am still recovering – great to see @stitch & her smf on saturday night at ghostphunk’s show. fun fun night, and i think my dad (a HUGE dive house union fan) got a real kick out of seeing a few fish kids cut it up at his band’s show. GP’s band, by the way, is straight up crushing it right now. love it.

    third, long phishthoughts post forthcoming

  18. Snigglebeach Says:

    I saw some talk other day about the whAle effect and I’m curious on Miners take on its use this tour.

    I thought Troy really mastered when and where to drop the whale bombs this year. Thought in “10” it was way over-used and in “11” it almost disappeared to the point I actually missed it. This year (so far) I thought Troy has had the patience to drop into it at the right time.

    I also feel Troy has been laying off and letting Page be a lot more aggressive. Pages solos have not been interrupted or one-upped by Troy at all. Past years It seems he is a lot quicker to enjoy and embrace Page’s chops. Quite a few times Trey completely took a backseat to page. Like spac Split. 2 years ago Trey always had to drive the pinnacle jam.

  19. alf Says:

    i’ve been saying fish is responsible for cutting jams for a while – like, bethel was the first time it really hit me that it was fish’s ‘ripcord’ nearly as often as trey’s, though trey of course gets the blame for everything. that fish is cutting jams is now becoming conventional wisdom. early in tour, he cut up some segues pretty bad, yes.

    but i’m reconsidering. fish ‘cutting jams’ is really just a shift back to what made phish phish in the early-mid 90s. i think in 2012 fish is locked in with Trey in a way they haven’t been since the mid 90s. fish follows trey around, plain and simple, you can hear it in jam after jam – and that’s why many of these jams have such a retro feel AND why they are so dense – the pocket never settles, giving trey no opportunity to just vamp on the wah for 5 minutes.

    trey got the blame for cutting spac roses – started pyite. but the jam was actually lost b/c of the trey-fish interplay. anytime trey settles down – lands on the root chord and stays there, starts with the effects & more ambient soundscape stuff rather than identifiable rhythm & melody – basically, waiting for something to develop among his bandmates so he can insert a new idea – fish also settles down. Fish loses his ‘marker’ in the jam – he has nothing to follow all of a sudden, nothing to play off of. also slows down, gets quieter, shifts the focus to cymbals (more coloring space and less of a driving beat), sometimes drops out altogether.

    sometimes this led to beautiful, drum-less passages of music – dead-esque at times. AV light comes to mind. they were really developing these soundscapes this tour, which i love. which is to say, there was collective INTENT to push jams. JB golden age another ex.

    other times, though, with trey and fish both ‘waiting’ for something to latch onto, the engine sputters (still waiting): mike and page also fade out or go ambient, and the momentum is lost. this trey>fish>band fadeout happened a LOT this tour (and played out in really identifiable and compressed form in 30 seconds of spac roses). personally i think it is a hugely POSITIVE development, because fish and trey are locked in to a level they have not been since pre 97. this also helps explain why Dan is loving 2012. the jamming is not long funked out vamps with loops, where fish is linked with mike. the pocket never settles when fish is locked on trey – and so when trey is not out front leading the jam (which he can’t possibly be at all times, and it would really suck if he was anyway), fish has nothing obvious to play, he can’t fall back on the pocket, because a stable pocket was never there. he shifts gears to something more minimal, sometimes they take off again, sometimes they don’t. leg 2 i think we’ll see a big improvement in this area, with less fade outs.

    this fish-mike vs fish-trey axis is central to what phish is/was in all eras. I think we should be damn excited about the true return of the trey-fish axis.

    we talk about the collective interplay all the time, and yet, when it comes to the end of jams, somehow we can only blame an individual. it’s all about the interplay, yo.


  20. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    This phish I have heard from leg one blows the holy mutherfucking shit oof that phish that was playing in 2008! ymmv

  21. Dr Pronoia Says:

    Great I sights Alf. I agree with you

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this will happen in the sweet spot between legs…

  23. alf Says:

    horrible eye sights, great i sights

    have a good one comrades!

  24. MiA Says:

    I bought the 2312ci. I’ve read that a firmware upgrade (?!) makes a big difference in the sound output. I’ve directly connected to my home network,
    But it won’t download it right now.

    Nothing else has changed about the setup from before.

    I hooked up another amp I own, and the speakers and sounds good.

  25. Lycanthropist Says:

    jammin in the TT…

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