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.



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501 Responses to “The Brightest Stars of Summer”

  1. voopa Says:

    So I had Horn as a ringtone for years, finally got around to redoing it tonight, and added Meat and Rift, also DCU Moma, Cincy Peaches, and DC Tweezer and Mike’s. Phishiest phone in town.

  2. voopa Says:

    I should add Meatstick as Robear’s ringtone…

  3. garretc Says:

    voopa, my ringtone for a year or two now has been the intro to the Target ’99 Tweezer, starting at Trey’s slide up which they just explode into the groove…

    You’d know which part I meant if you listened…

  4. voopa Says:

    Just checked it…very nice! I was looking for some good Jibboo loops or similar to add but haven’t found any that were just quite right yet. I also plan on adding Gin, 2001 and some others.

  5. RoosterPizza Says:


    I have had some out of hand nights here, but none of them ended up with me by myself in a back alley massage parlor with Yakuza. I will have to tell the whole story sometime tomorrow.

  6. Xpun Says:

    Disney article was a fun read. Not so much about pot but if you’ve ever been to Disney with kids in the summer you will relate. Thanks for the link

  7. PigSong Says:

    Thanks @sumo – you got spam’d for some reason.

    That’s a story I want to hear Rooster!

  8. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Did AW hit Further in Chi-town last nite? Looking forward to his review, if so.

  9. Guyute711 Says:

    I need to get out more often. I think I am missing the best part of Charlotte.

  10. seif Says:

    lest anyone thought there might be a Halloween show despite what Phish had announced earlier this year:

  11. revise your despise Says:

    @ Palmer

    My buddy, who has seen 30+ Furthur shows, said it was easily the worst he has witnessed. He also said Bobby looked visibly intoxicated.

    I’m still excited to see them tonight!

  12. butter Says:

    The Meters with Page instead of Art Neville = The MeterMen

    Art Neville did found the Meters, but that should be some nasty funk

    would absolutely love to see Page work over his hammond with pioneers of that genre

    looks sick, i’ll put that on my long shot concert list. most likely i’ll be trick or treating on the other coast, tho

  13. DryIceFactory Says:

    I just listetened to Sally>Ghost for the first time since SPAC, I just remembered around the 7:00 minute mark I totally thought Trey was going for Izabella. I just heard it again. Am I right?

  14. RicksFork Says:

    I saw Furthur in Pawtucket, RI the day after the 4th and I thought the show was really great. I have seen them about 10 times and this was one of the most unique and enjoyable shows I have seen. Some pretty good jams and a lot of energy. When they are nearby, I will see them. Enjoy tonight @revise.

  15. Mr. Palmer Says:

    who has my pavs for hotlanta and Charlotte?

  16. MiA Says:

    Damn this CCCC Halley’s hits it …

  17. GhostPhunk Says:

    The Metermen… that has every chance to be the hot hotness.

  18. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    they really couldn’t find a better picture of page for that announcement than the hot pocket meditation pose?

  19. Robear Says:

    Day 2 of voluntary herb break. Feeling all sorts of discombobulated.

  20. revise your despise Says:

    Last time I checked, earwax has no herb in it 🙂

  21. poop goblin Says:

    Stoney is a masochist. not only is he in the suburban midwest but he’s chilling there puffless.

    cat is nuts.

  22. plord Says:

    @DIF I heard Izabella hints all through SPAC. Was sure we were going to get it.

  23. halcyon Says:

    What Up BB! Hope everyone here has a splendid day.

    Commencing shuffle mode of 2012 Summer. Should make my second to last day of work before we move go fast.

  24. Leo Weaver Says:

    I may have your Hotlanta pav @Palmer. Negotiations with the wife go the right way?

  25. RoosterPizza Says:

    Alright Palmer! On the ATL-Charlotte run?

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