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. GhostPhunk Says:

    @snow 10:00 mark of that youtube clip for the next 30 seconds is… yeah

  2. Calpain Says:

    Just sent you some electrons @Kaya

    I thought everyone knew who the identity of TB…

  3. bob dylan Says:

    First class I attended at college was Hendrix. Prof walks in with a guitar covered shirt. Cranks up machine gun and let’s it play. Thought to myself “so this is college”

    Jimi was the man. Used a zippo as a slide to mimmick a sound he heard while dreaming. And he dug dylan so that’s cool.

    AW, I’m laughing at work reading that… Ass. Might have to make a web page Easter egg of patchwork mitch.

  4. dusty Says:

    Hendrix blues compilation is of my favs. Voodoo Chile Blues on there is from the Electric Lady studio sessions I believe with Winwood.

  5. GhostPhunk Says:

    @dusty that’s not the winwood ladyland version.

  6. GhostPhunk Says:

    @bobby D – Dylan was Jimi’s “biggest influence”. I’ve always loved that statement for so many reasons. I love the story of his g/f at the time yelling at him for spending their last dollars on a dylan album and Jimi not understanding at all why she was mad.

  7. GhostPhunk Says:

    the machine gun “note” … damn damn damn damn damn.

  8. MiA Says:

    Well I float in liquid gardens … in Arizona new red sand
    I float in liquid gardens … way down in Arizona red sand

    Well, I…. taste the honey from a flower named Blue
    (Way down in California)
    And then New York drowns as we held hands

    I feel lifted just by typing that.

  9. willowed Says:

    Bobby D’s girls website is great and that granola is fraking yuuummmmeee.

    When I got to back to my room after the AC shows I was shoving fist fulls of that shit down my mouth hole.

    That must have been a wonderful site. Willowed all electric shoveling massive amounts of granola down his throat while slamming back Kettle One and Tonic……at 3 a.m.

  10. GhostPhunk Says:

    I have a humming bird and it hum so loud, make you think you losing your mind

  11. willowed Says:

    Did I mention I borrowed a pair of Glow Banks’ Birks while I was eating the granola.

    I wanted to make sure I fit the part.

    Fatty hemp necklace and Birks FTW.

  12. snow Says:

    I used to visit Jimi’s grave in Renton. Was one of my favorite things to do when I moved to Seattle. then I started to feel like it was disrespectful of the others there. Why they don’t build a shrine….

  13. Jtran Says:

    10/2/99 Split

    nice and loopy thusfar

  14. Jtran Says:

    (as expected knowing how the second set goes)

  15. Dorn76 Says:

    @bobd, abuse was NOT what I was thinking, at all.

  16. GhostPhunk Says:

    This being the only tone to hold a candle to Jimi’s ladyland sound since. And it was developed in 1983…

  17. snow Says:

    you were a shining star in the beauty that is AC at 3am…

  18. Dorn76 Says:

    Should’ve added (sly emoticon) to the end of that sentence…

  19. GhostPhunk Says:

    @snow, spent many a night in Austin at SRV’s statue on the river throwing back beers and puff’n with the locals reminiscing… crazy shit.

  20. GhostPhunk Says:

    Where’s MIA to tell me he was one of those people?

  21. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Willowed- what were you doing with the “pickle in a bag” though?

  22. GhostPhunk Says:

    3:21 of that SRV vid is the tone of tones

  23. lumpyhead Says:

    fuck yeah Garret.

    will be driving straight from work to LB, but would love to run into any BBers in the building. Will be about 7-10 paces in front of CK5.

  24. garretc Says:

    Well lumpy, if you see a real tall kid with long hair and an orange brim giants hat say hi and smoke him out, it’s probably me.

    If it’s not me, well, then you’ll probably have just made a new friend is all.


  25. snow Says:

    oh shit, SRV now. that is a great clip.

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