First Sets of Fire

Atlantic City, NJ (Chris Klein)

First sets—though fun all tour—never made or broke a show. Comprised of bust-outs—large and small—and one or two contained jams, firsts sets largely spoke to people  based on song preference. Phish never botched a set this summer, using most opening halves to get some songs under their belt before the main event after dark. But on a handful of occasions, the band dropped first sets that contained plenty of action of their own. These four first sets not only flowed well and contained some legit jamming, if any rarities were included, they didn’t seem sprinkled in just for novelty’s sake. And when the band starts off the show with an power-packed opening half, only good things result.


6/8, Worcester

Free, Kill Devil Falls, Roses Are Free > Theme, Axilla, Julius, Bouncin, Maze, Bathtub Gin

Long forgotten in tour’s second show, this first set may just be the best of tour. Following the first night’s monumental throwdown, the band and crowd came ready to rumble on night two. Jumping right into the thick of things as if coming off an extended setbreak, Phish cranked through “Free” and “Kill Devil Falls” before starting up “Roses.” Out of nowhere, Phish slid into a “type II” wonderland, and nearly fifteen minutes later, everyone—us and them—emerged from only the third improvisational escapade to ever stem from the Ween cover. Though many would select Alpine’s “Fee,” this “Roses” certainly gets my pick for the first set jam of tour. Coming down into “Theme,” the guys kept the energy high with “Axilla” and “Julius” before punctuating the set with “Maze” and, arguably, the finest “Bathtub Gin” of tour.


6/22, Riverbend

Wolfman’s, Peaches, Shaggy Dog, Runaway Jim, Light Up Or Leave Me Alone > Wilson, Alaska, Stash, Llama, Buffalo Bill, Saw It Again > David Bowie

Phish stepped off the East Coast and into the “Rust Belt” with a smoking first set in Cincinnati. Lacing their jamming shoes tightly from the jump, the guys dug into a thick “Wolfman’s” to spark the show. The annual bustout of “Peaches” was followed by the first version of “Shaggy Dog” since Fall ’95—and only the third since 1988. A fine-tuned “Jim” led into a dense groove collaboration in, “Light Up or Leave Me Alone.” Phish followed a strong “Stash” with two botched song beginnings, prompting Trey to invite Fishman to play all the songs that start with the drums. Stringing together three rarities—”Llama,” “Buffalo Bill,” and “Saw it Again”—with a “Bowie” closer, the band had clearly come to play on this Friday night.


6/28, Deer Creek

Birdwatcher, The Curtain With, Fuck Your Face, Old Home Place, Pebbles and Marbles, Weigh, Chalk Dust, Wolfman’s, Cool It Down, Tweezer, Tela, Stealing Time

One hundred plus degree weather and ridiculous levels of humidity made the first set on Deer Creek’s first night almost unbearable. Sweating by doing nothing at all, one had to pick and choose his place to rage in this opening frame, less he didn’t fall flat on his face. Recognizing the circumstances, Phish responded with one of the more powerful first sets of the tour. Battling the heat with the serene stylings of “The Curtain With,” the band wouldn’t stay relaxed for long. “Pebbles and Marbles” upped the momentum of the set, while “Weigh” and “Chalk Dust” maintained the flow. But when the ferociously danceable trifecta of “Wolfman’s,” “Cool It Down,” and “Tweezer” hit, everything transformed into moisture. The rare Gamehendge ballad, “Tela,” gave everyone a figurative breath of fresh air, before the guys closed the set—a bit anticlimactically—with a standard “Stealing Time.”


7/6, SPAC

Runaway Jim, Ocelot, Heavy Things, Back on the Train, Funky Bitch, Tube -> Psycho Killer -> Tube, HYHU > Cracklin’ Rosie > HYHU, Stash, Bouncin, Paul and Silas, Horn, Corinna, Light Up Or Leave Me Alone

 Coming off two holiday shows at Jones Beach, things felt primed to explode when Phish got into the woods of SPAC—and explode they did. The band loosened up with a couple tight jams in “Jim” and “Ocelot” before picking up the pace with “Back on the Train” and “Funky Bitch.” Things got nasty, however, as Trey led the band in a “Tube -> Psycho Killer -> Tube” dream sequence. Placing Fishman in the first set, a welcome trend of 2012, the band followed his best Neil Diamond with a demonic “Stash.” Rarities “Paul and Silas” and “Horn” filled the gap before a stellar and unconventional, one-two punch of “Corrina” and “Light Up or Leave Me Alone” slammed the door on the opening frame. The band really let loose on “Light Up,” stretching out the piece into a rousing set closer.


Honorable Mention: 6/7 Worcester, 6/19 nTelos, 6/30 Alpine Valley, 7/1 Alpine Valley, 7/3 Jones Beach


Jam of the Day:

Fee” 7.1 I, East Troy, WI

Though I didn’t select its set as one of the top first frames of summer, Alpine’s “Fee” goes head-to-head- with Worcetser’s “Roses” for frist set jam of the tour. It’s amazing Trey lasted so long without a beat.



7.4.2012 – Jones Beach (Graham Lucas via webcast)

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361 Responses to “First Sets of Fire”

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  1. Kevin Says:

    Good write up. Love that Atlantic City picture. I am in agreement with everyone yesterday. SPAC3 is tier 1 stuff.

  2. MiA Says:

    Morning everyone. Have a great day!

  3. viola Says:

    ouch, no 7.1? whenever you get the “yee-haws” from fish in the first frame your know your getting good. lonesome cowboy bill vultures dirt meat asihtos fuckfee maze access me. miner you lost you mind.

    i like the 7.6, and 6.28 curtain with in the second slot always delivers.

    big time agree with 6.8 as well. i will continue to fan the dcu2. sandy kane is timeless ph and this first set goes old sckool with theme axilla julius bouncin maze gin. a real throwback there.

    fuck shaggy dog signs and fuck troy for giving in to them. you already have 7.6 hyhu antics, one set with fish antics is enough, you really felt the need to include 2 out of the 3 hyhu parades?? 6.22 is getting the shaft, 7.1 takes 6.22 to the shed. good work miner

  4. Robear Says:

    Agreed 7/1 needs to be on there.

    No competition between #FuckFee and Roses. Fee slices and dices that long stemmed weener

  5. btb Says:

    During AV “Fee” I was just thinking to myself “this is happening”


  6. seif Says:

    i know i don’t post here that often…but if anyone knows of an extra for friday and saturday in SF let me know. i’m flying in from NYC but no tix yet. i don’t mind paying a bit, buying you dinner, drinks, other things…whatever. just looking to get in those two nights. thx in advance.

    can be emailed at seif @ althepal dot com

    thanks again.

  7. seif Says:

    and for any Lebowski fans ( i believe there are a few on here) check this out if you haven’t seen it…it is genius:

  8. MiA Says:

    Not sure sure about 6/28 and “Weigh and Chalkdust maintained the flow?”

    Huh. Breath of air “Tela” into anti-climactic “Stealing Time?”

    I’d rather have a first set that ended with the first YEM of the tour.

  9. Robear Says:

    I’m getting grief from my west coast friends. At the mere suggestion of helping east coast kids find Bill Graham tickets.

    I’m no help with tickets. But can help with hosting a good time.

  10. Litteringand Says:

    Also note, i think the only time the Thermin came out was during the mule duel at star lake. And the maze and torn are keepers

  11. PigSong Says:

    I see on the spreadsheet that some shows are available with the soundcheck included, is there another way to grab only the soundchecks?

  12. seif Says:

    robear…no worries. i’ll get in there somehow. thought this would be a good place to start.

  13. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    RIP Sally Ride

    a true pioneer from when a lot (most?) of us were growing up

    play your favorite Sally today in her honor

  14. Kaveh Says:

    Morning BBers!

    the finest “Bathtub Gin” of tour

    ^ Indeed…this version made me like Bathtub Gin’s again.

  15. Litteringand Says:


  16. Litteringand Says:

    Actuall those are old ones but there is some choice stuff in there

  17. Robear Says:

    Seif, best to post that request early. When the jaded west coast phans are still snoozing.

  18. barack_ollama Says:

    @viola the riverbend set was pure goodness though. I agree with you that 7.1 needs to be on this list, but not at the expense of 6.22. Personally I think AV2 set 1 is better than the first sets of spac1 and dc1 that are listed.

  19. bob dylan Says:

    Still not understanding why you don’t like woosta roses Robear. Check your head dude.

  20. Kaveh Says:

    Out of nowhere, Phish slid into a “type II” wonderland

    ^ Still an great memory, as the crowd held it’s breathe as the song reached the point of “will they” or “won’t they.” And when they did; the crowd erupted. Getting goosebumps (or pimples) just writing it.

  21. bob dylan Says:

    Just sayin, you woulda been doing the biggest sprinkler those 15 year olds have ever seen.

  22. Dr Pronoia Says:

    I’m just gonna go find a cash machine…

  23. bob dylan Says:

    I did yoga for the first time last night. Besides almost hyperventilating from trying to breathe when the lady said to and me being out of shape I gotta say I feel good today. Feel all stretched out. Used the inversion table last night too.

  24. Robear Says:

    Bob, Worcester Roses is fine. Cracking on that jam is my last feeble attempt to troll @albert walker and @mr miner. Butter knew to ignore me from the jump.

    FTR, at no time did I feel like busting into the sprinkler at Further. Also, FTR, my daughters friends’ informed me I’ve been doing it wrong. Watch for the improved phlow on leg 2.

  25. GhostPhunk Says:

    Fun couple of breakdowns the past couple days Miner, thanks.

    Fee was extra special delicious…. for a custy.

    lol @seif

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