The Songs of Summer

6.22.12 (Michael Stein)

Before this summer, Phish declared they would break out 200 songs over their tour, and when Leg One ended, the tally was already at 207. Fresh first sets became proving grounds for once-a-year rarities, old covers, and—on several occasions—legitimate bust-outs that few fans had ever heard live. Keeping setlists spicy while playing notably fewer 3.0 staples, song selection was another factor that played into Phish’s best tour of the modern era.

With so many different songs coming from every angle, repeats were never an issue this tour. Though the band kept a far tighter second set rotation than first, few people had any problems hearing four to five versions of “Disease,” “Sand,” “Light,”  “Piper,” and “Ghost.” Believe it or not, Phish played only one “Divided Sky” and one “Guyute” over 20 shows! If one had the flux capacitor he could go back six weeks and make some big money on that statistic! And the “Divided Sky” (in Portsmouth) was magnificent. By staying true to their 200-song pledge, the band didn’t have time to repeat copious filler songs, giving the contour of tour a far fresher feel throughout.

6.23.12 (M.Stein)

The term “bust-out” has become a bit overused these days. When Phish plays a song that consistently appears once or twice a year—like “The Wedge” or “Contact”— it’s not a bust-out. But when the band opens up a show with a song they haven’t played since 1988—as they did at Jones Beach with “Skin It Back,” well—“That’s a bust out!” (In my best Crocodile Dundee voice.) In fact, the appearance of the Little Feat cover for the first time in 1,417 shows made it the “largest” bust out of all-time! And to celebrate the occasion, the guys stretched out the blues-funk number into a legitimate jam in what has to be considered one of the most significant openers of all time. Later in the very same set, Phish dusted off The Beatles’ “Happiness Is A Warm Gun,” for the first time since their 1994 Halloween performance of The White Album! The third-longest gap between song versions came in Cincinnati, when the band took “Shaggy Dog” off the shelf for the first time October ’95, and only the third time since ’88! Practiced and polished, the once-extinct, old-school ditty rolled off the stage like it was in rotation. Contrary to the past few years, when Phish played rarities this summer, more often than not, they nailed them.

6.22.12 (M.Stein)

In addition to the aforementioned trifecta, the band also threw down three 3.0 debuts in “Shafty,” “Dog Log,” and “La Grange,” a threesome of the most sign-requested songs, for the first time since ’03, ‘03 and ’99, respectively. Fishman also broke out a few modern-era debuts of his own, performing “Purple Rain” and “Cracklin’ Rosie” for the first time since ’99.  Also making their first appearance in some time were several Velvet Underground songs off Loaded, all played during a second half of tour that sometimes felt like an homage to Lou Reed’s protopunk outfit. In addition to playing “Cool it Down” and “Lonesome Cowboy Bill” for the first time in over a year, the guys dropped the only versions of “Sweet Jane” and “Head Held High” since Halloween ’98. Both of these tunes were given the treatment, as Trey took a spirited and extended solo in each. Needless to say, Phish played some bust outs this summer!

Beyond all the first set variation, second sets never stagnated either. Diversifying their launchpads at just the right time, the band began jamming on songs like “Twist” and “Ghost” for the first time in ages, while adding “Golden Age” and “Back on the Train ” to second sets as a legitimate springboards. Phish also threw down several tour highlights with one-off jams, such as Worcester’s “Roses Are Free,” Deer Creek’s “Waves,” and Alpine’s “Fee.” Additionally, the band took new approaches on so many jam they encountered. No longer did “Bathtub Gin” have the same ten-minute path. The band  played beefier, more intense versions of “Ocelot.” “Carini” was totally unpredictable, producing different results each time out. A couple “Hoods” and “Antelopes” even contained enhanced interplay. Revitalized and recharged, Phish came out this summer with the intention to shake things up.

6.28.12 (M.Stein)

If one was on tour last month chasing a particular song, odds are he caught it. Leg One of Summer 2012 featured the widest song selection of any tour in history, while only on occasion feeling like an attempt to do so. Towards the end of tour, some first sets felt as though band was playing rarities for the sake of song count (see Alpine 1 or Jones Beach2), but most of the band’s elusive selections shrewdly fit within the context of their shows. Concerts, regardless of how improvisational in nature, are composed of songs. And aside from fizzling out of some second sets—which is another topic for another day—the band used strategic song selection to bolster their shows all tour long, transforming their eternally debated setlists into assets more often than not.


Jam of the Day:

Roses Are Free” 6.8 I, Worcester

One of tour’s first shocking surprises.



“Shakedown” 6.16.12 – AC (Steve Lehrman)

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382 Responses to “The Songs of Summer”

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  1. sleeve Says:

    pretty sure Divided Sky was not played in Cincinnati

  2. RoosterPizza Says:

    Jones Beach Antelope was a definite highlight for me for the first leg. I remember listening to that and being like, “Heeyyyyyy, there it is.”

    Don’t forget about My Left Toe in DCU Carini.

  3. Zutroy Says:

    They played Divided Sky in Portsmouth II not Cinci, but I agree it was awesome.

  4. Cable Hogue Says:

    “Head Held High ” sounded great. I hope some of this stuff stays in rotation. It’d be great to hear some Quadrophenia deep cuts too.

  5. Arglebargle IV Says:

    Factual error: Divided Sky was at Portsmouth 2, not Cincinnati.

    With all the VU songs, I was really hoping Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ would also make an appearance.

    Also, a mention of the ballads: If I Could and Billy Breathes were both just absolutely nailed. Here’s hoping for a Lifeboy in Leg II (ideally in Charlotte…).

  6. phoammhead Says:

    gotta love the way roses jumps off into the deep end . . . gave me chills just now

  7. st8 of mind Says:

    When does TTE become a bust out? Anybody ready to hear it yet again? 🙂

  8. tim Says:

    divided sky was in portsmouth!

  9. Robear Says:

    If u are looking down and reading this on a laptop or mobile device STOP!

    Look up, hold at eye level. U are stressing your spine. Heading for iNeck. Bad.

    PSA. Now back to your regularly scheduled scrolling.

  10. Luther T. Justice Says:

    Hope your dad’s doing better @Robear

  11. Gavinsdad Says:

    Great posts this week Miner.

    Some how I was at charlotte FYF bust and sneakily attended JB1 this summer and stumbled into that Skin it Back (which I thought was Spanish moon for at least 2 minutes into the song…burnt)

    Enjoy the day

  12. Selector J Says:

    Good morning, BB!
    Reggae show links with my orangeness.

  13. MiA Says:


  14. phishnin Says:

    Trey never said they’d play 200 songs this summer, Rolling Stone mentioned Phish has over 200 songs in their repertoire. With all the repeats, I don’t think they’ve even come close to 200 different songs.

  15. phishnin Says:

    Maybe they have though, I’ll leave the stats to others.

  16. Dr Pronoia Says:

    ^^ I think it was Page who was quoted wrt the 200 song goal

  17. bob dylan Says:

    Whoever said I was a fake jer noob was right. I had a sandlot moment reading page 9 from yesterday’s comments. You mean that’s the same guy??!! I didn’t know fake jer was in uncle johns band. They used to play at IU. Weird.

  18. Robear Says:

    LJ, thanks for asking. Pops is chugging along. Not improving, not getting worse. He is stubborn about lifestyle changes. Trying to get him to drop the hydrogenated oils, and aspartame sweetened soft drinks. Two absolutely evil and terrible substances, approved for our demise by the FDA. Since his heart is not responding to medication, they want to try electric shock. We are nervous. I’m trying to get him to a holistic chiropractor. We shall see.

    U around the great lakes? I’m up here until Sunday.

  19. Luther T. Justice Says:

    Vibes to you & your family @Robear. Making lifestyle changes are hard but sometimes you get scared healthy.

    Not super close to the lakes. I’m down in the south. South Ohio, that is.

  20. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    the number you seek is 207

  21. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    best wishes, robear. and good vibes on your NH venture too. the hostel sumo posted is a good option. I wish I had a connection for you up near there.

  22. Robear Says:

    When you start to add it all up, there’s a ton of stuff readily available, that’s killing us with varying degrees of speed. He quit alcohol and cigarettes years ago. It’s hard for our parents to believe that the FDA regularly approves poison for consumption.

    Consider the latest re: Hydrogenated Oils

    “No amount of Trans-Fat is good for the body. Instead of banning it, we will require it to be labeled now on products” – FDA

    which means:
    they knew it was bad all along, and only recently, after public outcry, are they requiring it to be found on lables

  23. Guyute711 Says:

    Selector, you have come through before. Do you know a reggae song about supreme anger towards co-workers?

  24. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    hey guys, the newest michelle jenneke video is out

  25. Luther T. Justice Says:


    I just got diagnosed with diabetes in June and for the first time in my 40 years, I’m paying attention to what’s in everything I eat. It really is scary. I’ve made big changes in my lifestyle & diet, but also changes I can sustain for the long haul. Telas can attest to my new found dedication to health. I was a very good boy on the Rustbelt Run.

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