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”

  1. willowed Says:

    The pickle in a bag. That’s some weird shit.

    Only in AC.

  2. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Kaya- Metermen- NYC 11/1/12, BB King’s

    The Metermen features three quarters of the original Meters lineup: drummer Zigaboo Modeliste, guitarist Leo Nocentelli and bassist George Porter, Jr and Page McConnell of Phish.

  3. GhostPhunk Says:

    SRV saved my life when I was kid. This I will not joke about. Saved.My.Life. I could be dead many times over if I hadn’t had revelations listening to that man both talk and play. Half sleeve on the right arm, all him.

  4. snow Says:

    what needs to happen:
    someone, probably paul allen, needs to build a kick ass ampitheater in western washington that MrC will design. then move Jimi’s grave there. Only rule is that only good music, as determined by the BB, can be played there.

  5. voopa Says:

    *purchases orange brim Giants cap to increase confusion*

  6. garretc Says:

    Tryna swoop in on that smoke out, eh voops?

    Too bad you ain’t got no hair, old man, that’ll give you away

  7. snow Says:

    that’s awesome when you find a connection like that GP. I know the feeling. For me it was snowboarding. Somehow it was where I found my passion… which has since spilled to other areas.

  8. snow Says:

    voopa- how are the BGCA post party plans going?

    what was the name of the place you were contemplating?

  9. MiA Says:

    GP, definitely have been down at SRV’s statue at 3 AM in the morning many nights. Drinking beers and puffin’.

    Guys would bring their guitars down, and just blow off steam after gigs.

  10. snow Says:

    this is a trip.

  11. garretc Says:

    As opposed to 3 AM in the afternoon, MiA?


  12. GhostPhunk Says:

    @MiA – that billiard hall I played at (a reference from a month or so ago) was Buddy’s I think. Loop 1 and Research was the exit I would take.

    Yeah, acoustics abounded down there.

  13. GhostPhunk Says:

    Nice vid snow

  14. voopa Says:

    snow- I was thinking about Edinburgh Castle, but haven’t contacted them yet. Thought there might be some interest here and suggestions for which day, but that hasn’t happened yet, so I’ll ask:

    Who’s up for a post BG BB meetup? Friday or Saturday?

  15. MiA Says:

    GP, knew a place called Slick Willies (around there), but don’t know a Buddys.

    Always wanted to learn how to play “Wait Until Tomorrow” sometime.

    On my Phish “wish list” but don’t think that will ever happen.

  16. MiA Says:

    “Who’s up for a post BG BB meetup? Friday or Saturday?”

    I think that is completely inevitable. Hopefully.

  17. garretc Says:

    I’m down voopa, even if it’s at a bar, since I can go to those now. Woo

  18. GhostPhunk Says:

    hmm, yeah wasn’t slick willie’s that was a chain because we had those in Houston. Not sure. Wasn’t Buddy’s either. Damn it. oh well.

  19. snow Says:

    I am Voopa. Can we call it a party instead of a meetup? I think we are past the meetup stage.

    And yes @MiA. The question is where and/or what it will be.
    Butter has indicated there may be post show shows. So we need to get him in the loop. He said he would have more info later.

  20. Robear Says:

    Albert Walker gets all the extra handles and avatars. I get the nicknames’.

  21. garretc Says:

    ” I get the nicknames’.”

    – Robriquet

  22. voopa Says:

    I’ll grab some Mesquite Robriquets for the BBBBBQ.

  23. Robear Says:

    Nice Garret. U coming up after leg 2?

  24. snow Says:

    well played @garret.

    I dropped a line to Butter. we’ll see if he has any new info.

  25. snow Says:

    well played @garret.

    I dropped a line to Butter. we’ll see if he has any new info.

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