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. MiA Says:

    Um. Snow. I’m disappointed.

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    the long Voodoo Chile and Merman are legendary tracks. Ladyland such a great psychedelic album. A little unfocused but really great. Lots of killer deep cuts on that thing. there are very few albums i was listening to at 13-14 that are still in my rotation…that one definitely is

    for me that album is the start of the really interesting Jimi stuff, the earlier stuff I don’t listen to as much…Band of Gypsies and the posthumous Eddie Kramer releases… First Rays of the New Rising Sun and South Saturn Delta both have lots of great tracks on them.

  3. Phamily Berzerker Says:


  4. angryjoggerz Says:

    I get the ladies.

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    and every once in awhile you just gotta turn your shit up to 11 and play Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) with stupendous force

  6. dusty Says:

    Edinburgh Castle is quality…although it doesn’t open until later in the day. They do have quality tap selection including moonlight Death and Taxes black lager which I highly suggest out of towners try…since you ain’t finding it outside the bay area.

    Amsterdam Cafe is across the street from the castle with a decent tap and bottle selection…but its small. Maybe Zeitgeist? Outside beer garden in the sun and puffer friendly. Or lucky 13…only small area out back outside though.

    I’d be up for making this though as I’d love to put some names to faces.

  7. Robear Says:

    Wait, Phish is playing in California this year?

  8. dusty Says:

    ah post. Castle is a good choice. I’d also suggest the Page on divis. Pliny plus old Rasputin on nitro.

  9. TrippingBilly Says:

    Anyone else going to be at the gorge over labor day?

  10. GhostPhunk Says:

    @C Gypsies was the real evolutionary step in my mind. Basically from Woostock on you had a different mind set and approach to sound with what I describe as an emphasis on roots. I mean, 3 piece groove’s galore on that official release of the NYE run. While I love the psyche Mitchell sounds, Buddy and Billy certainly provided that soul backbone that made a huge difference.

  11. MrCompletely Says:

    ~~~~ SEATTLE PEEPS ~~~~~

    looking for recommendations for food in the downtown/belltown type area – not cuisine stuff, kid friendly, good real food, particularly lunch and dinner…yes I know it’s all trendoid, but that’s where we’re staying to take the kiddo to all the usual Seattle sights next month…

    your input appreciated! reply here or my email if you have it or on the twitters

  12. plord Says:

    Dr. Alex Patterson doing a 20 year retrospective of U.F. Orb on fnoob right now.

    Dropping unreleased mixes and answering questions from a chatroom on the air. Fun.

  13. garretc Says:

    Well Robear, I was hoping to maybe get up there before Leg 2, but I think that would have to happen next weekend (not this, but next), which may or may not work out.

    The week after the BG shows I’m heading back to school though, so maybe a day or two pit stop in sunny, Sunday-y Humboldt will do the trick…

  14. tela'smuff Says:

    when i get to do business at Ska Brewing in Durango, i do pinch myself. #jahblessings

    Leg II Warmup -> Dick’s

    hope all is well in BB land.

  15. snow Says:

    and I was on such a streak, MiA. At least I bottom page’d myself.

  16. plord Says:

    GhostPhunk my son wore out our Jimi@Montere and SRV at the Mocambo DVDs before he was 5.

    Took me a while to get him to stopp calling him “Jimboree Hendstrix” though. Kids and their funny words.

  17. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Bored at work yesterday, threw this together; top 15 albums of 2012 so far:

    1. Spiritualized – Sweet Heart Sweet Light
    2. Beach house – Bloom
    3. Frankie Rose – Interstellar
    4. Lee Fields & The Expressions – Faithful Man
    5. Grimes – Visions
    6. Mind Spiders – Meltdown
    7. Japandroids – Celebration Rock
    8. Purity Ring – Shrines
    9. Ty Segal Band – Slaughterhouse
    10. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel
    11. Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan
    12. Twin Shadow – Confess
    13. Chromatics – Kill For Love
    14. Perfume Genius – Put Your Back N 2 It
    15. Burial – Kindred EP

  18. Robear Says:

    Yeah, stop by then. August 4th or so? Come on by! The waters fine.

  19. Albert walker Says:

    That dirty projectors shit was terrible live DF

    I’ve been digging the chromatics. That chick is smokin

  20. Albert walker Says:

    Killer mike rap music

    2 great albums DF

  21. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Yeah I can imagine them sucking live AW. That album didn’t really grab me the first time I listened but liked it a lot more the second time.

    Need more albums like the Lee Fields on my list.

  22. MiA Says:

    Just played “Tied Down” and thought of you Robear.

  23. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    yeah, i didn’t put any hip hop on there, what’s quakers?

  24. Albert walker Says:

    Quakers is a hip hop collective of 35 peeps put together by Geoff Barrow

    Great album

  25. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    word, i’ll check it out

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