The Brightest Stars of Summer

(Dan Shinneman)

Though many different songs took center stage throughout Leg One, the following four jams were undeniably the brightest stars of summer. While “Light,” “Ghost,” and “Golden Age” consistently forged innovative paths, “Sand” consistently brought down the house. Let’s take a closer look at the four improvisational pillars of Phish’s opening run of 2012.


The signature jam of the modern era continued to grow expand this summer, as every version provided a totally unique take on the ever-changing jam. Beginning in AC with a hard-edged groove mashup with “Manteca,” and continuing with Star Lake’s new-school venture into a plinko paradise, Phish pushed improvisational boundaries with “Light” each time it hit the stage. At Alpine Valley, Phish wove a minimalist, melody-driven and ethereal tale that transformed into one of the more cerebral highlights of tour. And in their tour finale st SPAC, the guys took the jam for one last joyride, landing in a stunning melodic theme. Sculpting a tour highlight each time they played the song—less a standard run through at Bonnaroo—the boys put “Light” in strong position inb the MVP race. But its main competition would come from a revival story.


6.30.12 (K.Harris)

Resurrecting “Ghost” from the dead, Phish revitalized their late-‘90s jam vehicle in profound fashion this summer. For the most part, modern-era “Ghosts” had remained a springboard into groove or guitar-led jamming, but rarely a launch into full-band exploration. That all changed on the opening night of tour with a seductively, laid-back rendition that saw the band forge original ground with the tune for the first time in ages. Remaining in the background due to its location at the beginning of tour, it deserves a rightful place at the table with any summer versions.  Then came Blossom. Emerging from a standout “Golden Age,” “Ghost” settled into a sinister full-band groove before moving into the abstract on the backs of Fishman and Trey. Getting into a very creative, drone-like pattern, the band was now infusing totally fresh ideas into “Ghost.” And speaking of new ideas, out of a new-age, synth ending of “Light,” came the Alpine “Ghost.” With virtually no time in conventional realms, the band moved into a “live-tronica” sequence that knocked down yet another music door before slithering into a slow musical dungeon. The band also showcased “Ghost” in, arguably, the set of the summer, once again rising from the depths of a jam—this time, “Sneakin’ Sally.” Carving out a stunning version that spent zero time vamping, Phish used one-minded interplay to sculpt a quasi-ambient jam that covered all sorts of ground before a cathartic arrival. Easily the comeback player of the tour, the only question is whether “Ghost” brings home one trophy or two.

 “Golden Age”

7.3.12 (S.Lehrman)

In 2012, the band finally decided to settle on “Golden Age” as a jam vehicle. After a demented pinko foray at Super Ball, 2011 only saw the cover come off the shelf as late-set filler. But that all changed this tour. When the song’s first summer outing fused into “2001” at Bonnaroo, the guys found a go-to combo that would come out twice more over the rest of the run. At Blossom, however, when breaking “Golden Age” to open the second set, they stretched it out far more significantly. Following an super slick rhythm sequence, Trey initiated a more intricate groove in which Fish followed right along, soon blossoming into a deep space sound sculpture. Alpine’s version featured delicate textures and plinko theatrics before smoothly moving into “2001.” Jones Beach’s version, however, may be the most complete of tour. Migrating from throw-down funk into a percussive palette, and gradually into a slowed down piece of Floydian psych-rock, Phish jammed this one to absolute completion. Entering a totally different style of music altogether, Jones Beach gets my nod out of the several of tour. Ending with a brief version at SPAC that, again, segued into “2001,” the band capped a run of standout jams from their modern era cover.


7.8.12 (R.MacNeil)

“Sand” has become the Phish’s preeminent launch pad to crack-like grooves. Filled with whole-band, rhythmic passion, each time the guys seeped into the millennial-era jam, everyone knew they were in for a treat. Kicking off the tour with, arguably, the most dynamic version of 2012, the band cranked through eight of the densest minutes of music you’ll ever hear. Laced with melody and evoking the sound of late-’70s Dead, the band annihilated a piece that segued seamlessly into the bluegrass juxtaposition of “Nellie Kane.” AC’s late-set version also popped out of the usual groove, and growled with a bit more guitar-focus than those sandwiching it. Cincy’s late-set version was in the dance floor, melodic variety of Worcester’s and segued smoothly into “Roggae.” But Deer Creek’s “Sand” was far more extended with outstanding—and stylistically diverse—guitar narration from Trey throughout. Jones Beach’s July 3rd version built into a second, consecutive multi-tiered scorcher that touched on several variant textures before landing in a plinkofied, looped out segment that brought them into “Golden Age.” The final version of tour came our of a gnarling “Carini” at SPAC and became the third spotlight version in a row that moved through several distinct segments of lockstep jamming.


Jam of the Day:

Light -> Ghost” 7.1, East Troy, WI

Summer’s two heaviest hitters wrapped into one staggering sequence from Alpine.



Tags: , , ,

501 Responses to “The Brightest Stars of Summer”

« Previous12345678...2021Next »
  1. BrandonKayda Says:

    AV Light = in my top 10 jam of tour easily.

  2. MiA Says:

    Love that first photo. Haven’t read the post yet, but that is awesome.

  3. kurt } indy Says:

    Ha, the first photo is cool, miner: I thought you didn’t like glow sticks!? Glad to finally read some new thoughts, can’t wait fr denver, although I feel there’s some people that will get me to some others first, this midwest run will forever be on my mind, can’t argue with any of those 4 but I might add twist to the mix, but you touched on that yesterday, well done sir

  4. MiA Says:

    That’s addresses to Miner, but to me its not the glowsticks, as much as throwing them at the band (or tapers rigs.)

    Phish fast mostly worked. Except for some odd reason I had Lushington in my head last night all through my dreams.

    Like the chorus of “mile and mile of Lushington miles, and everyone is brutal”

    1000x over.

  5. Guyute711 Says:

    Worst multimillion dollar drug kingpin ever.–abc-news-topstories.html?_esi=1

  6. st8 of mind Says:

    Nice write up Miner. Thanks!

  7. Luther T. Justice Says:

    There goes my source @G$. Have to find another HS king pin.

  8. McGGGGG Says:

    Hey Litteringand,

    The Paul Simon concert was in London, a small city that Phish USED to play.

    But I still dream of their return….oh yes then it will be mine.

    I had seen Paul Simon before but the band seemed really tight and he particularly was much more engaging this time around.

  9. Guyute711 Says:

    When are you getting in Luther?

  10. sumodie Says:

    Was thinking my tour highlights would include no more than 2 versions of each of these brightest stars, but now I’ll probably keep most every version

    and arent all of the sand, ga, ghost & light jams paired with at least one other keeper? I dont think ive been able to spin a stand alone version of any of these versions without also hearing the song that precedes or follows it

  11. Luther T. Justice Says:

    I should be in CLT by 4ish tomorrow @G$3000.

  12. Robear Says:

    Stayed in a Holiday Inn last night.

    Untucked the sheets with authority before going to bed. Up way too early. Heading toward the Mitten.

    Phish jamming style beyond words. Keeper almOst every single night.

  13. Guyute711 Says:

    Cool deal Luther. I get out of work at 4:30 and will probably just head home for a minute and then I’ll be over at Leo’s.

  14. MiA Says:

    The Mitten is calling. Good luck in your travels Robear.

  15. Dr Pronoia Says:

    It’s very promising that last year’s heavy hitters: tweezer, R&R, DWD, waves all somewhat receded this summer and others stepped into highlight roles

    It really feels like with whatever they end up showcasing in leg 2 that they’ll have a deep bench of jam-platform centerpiece tunes as they move forward into NYE or 2013

  16. dognamedwilson Says:

    Last! From last nite:
    ” watching Trey play guitar is like watching some one play air guitar.”
    ^i love this. Perhaps it’s why I’m do mesmerized by a players proficiency even though all instruments feels like foreign objects in my hands.
    I wanna see that Scratch doc but it’s not on Roku’s Netflix. I guess I could watch it on the laptop or send it to the tv but then why do I have roku?

    “Robear Says:
    July 17th, 2012 at 5:45 am
    Stayed in a Holiday Inn last night.”

    ^was hoping for some special insight to follow this.

  17. Mr. Palmer Says:

  18. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Mia- I know you love the Weekapaug from Starlake, but the Simple>Light is the bees knees. Great set. Your pimpage is justified!

  19. butter Says:

    Nice heavy hitter/jammer recap article Miner

    Sign me up for more gooey unconventional Ghosts and spacetronica Golden Ages, ect.

    Love me some 3.0

    Light and Sand rule too, they way theyre playing them

  20. ThePigSong Says:

    Thanks for reminding me of typeii cast Palmer, busy day and I think I’ll make that my soundtrack.

    First morning home in almost a month, woke up to no coffee in the house. June me was a slacker.

  21. RicksFork Says:

    I was fortunate enought to see enough shows to catch at least one of each of these. DCU1 Ghost and DCU 2 Sand were both great for me and had great surrounding acts/transisitons. Caught Golden Age at AV1 and it was in the midst of some fire as well, but my highlight of Leg 1 was the Star Lake Light in the Mikes Groove. Such fresh, flowing amazing music that night. Really enjoyed the Light at SPAC 3 as well. Really want this list to have a #5 in Twist becuase there were some great ones. Twist Cincy for me is what its all about. Dark and funky. Feel so lucky to have seen such good music in such a short amount of time. Cant wait for Leg 2!

  22. Dudactic Says:

    this Ghost jam reminds me of some 8-bit Mario Bros type ish.

  23. plord Says:

    Arrived in MA. 8 hours driving today for a 4 hour meeting. 2012 highlights got me here and will get me home 🙂

    Much better than 6 hours of time spent dealing with air travel, much of that in a “no iPod zone”. Also way cheaper. Yeah, that’s it, I’m a fiscally responsible business traveler, that’s the ticket!

  24. marcoesq Says:

    Morning all. So great to see some “new” songs getting the treatment in 2012. It truly is a Golden Age right now and the boys are finally giving that song it’s due.

    Light really came through this year. In a HUGE way. I can’t get enough of that SPAC version with the Piper redux, taboot. I think that might be my favorite with Star Lake in close second. This AV Light is pure sublimeness and love it also.

    It seems so simple but when Troy can just lay back in the pocket, not on top of it, and play those little rhthym chop chords instead of jazzy minor key modals, it really makes a HUGE difference. Star Lake Simple>-7 is just such perfectness to me.

  25. kayatosh Says:

    spent the last half hour w/ the tokoyo tweezer. $$$ piece w/ many interesting jam segments (and some that get a little long in the tooth), but at 30 + mins, it’s a commitment.

    i prefer the relatively more concise jams of today over the long forms of 2000.

    viva la phish

« Previous12345678...2021Next »

Leave a Reply