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”

  1. Jtran Says:

    I would be in for wine tasting

  2. MiA Says:

    Little Shel Silverstein for you cats.

  3. bob dylan Says:

    Trying to puff with AW the whole show and still be functional at the WW booth has become a fun game I play. Nothing worse than a stoned couple at the booth asking me about kids shirts (which I know nothing about mind you) only to have to dig for 10 mins looking for them and coming back with all sizes so they can just pick one cause I forgot the size.

  4. marcoesq Says:

    Justin Verlander dating Kate Upton? Good grief charlie brown

  5. xpun Says:

    internet back – noid down – grr face

    have a few fantasy leagues brewing, think it would be fun to to have one here. put a little money up, i was thinking it would be cool to have the top prize be a NYE ticket, but not sure if we could guarantee and not sure if the season would be over in time…..googling now….

    week 16 is dec 23rd, i usually end that week because 17s a toss up on teams resting, so that would be cool. maybe have to go for a 30th ticket realistically, or something cool

    prolly try to cap at 10 teams

    if interested at all

    xpun25 @ y’all who

  6. tzara's Says:

    @MiA just Denver for me. But might be able to do that. Let’s see how the hot weather does.

  7. joemeg Says:

    This just in…SuperBall is still the shit. Even in the straight forward stuff you can hear IT

  8. stapes Says:

    @Tzara’s & Mia – some pretty good eats in Denver and Boulder. Nice littel foodie scene happening the past few years with a bigger movement towards local and seasonal dishes. Wouldn’t mind tagging along one lunch and can make some recommendations on places.

  9. xpun Says:

    mia – im missing the shel reference??? read my kids from sidewalk a lot

    tonight i sang my girl sparkle for bedtime, she wanted a song about giggling and that was the first thing that popped in my head. amazing how without thinking i could sing every lyric, and who knows when the last time i actually listened to that song was? i love that we love a goofy ass band. toms def matured over the years, really dig sands lyrics these days. 2.0 was pretty good for the penmen too. still no hunter, but who is really. that guy is merica for me. and no one can delivery like jerry…well cept for that cat AW pimps all the time

  10. tzara's Says:

    @stapes, for sure. I’m a big microbrew fan too so that’s another day, but a BB lunch with some BB wine would be awesome.

  11. xpun Says:

    joemeg knows the secret. first festi in 11 years for me. even had the obligatory TheUniverse loves us sunsets

  12. xpun Says:

    so many memorable sunsets at phish shows. limestone (when can we go back), cypress, watkins, AC (see yesterdays post)

    one a my favs of all time on 10-2-99 in the hills of west VA en route to 10-3 rosemont show.

  13. xpun Says:

    oh yeah and i like wine too

    and vodka it would seem tonight

    and blabbing on here as well

  14. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Marco- you see this?

  15. MiA Says:

    I’m Up for some good food in Denver and Wine Stapes.


  16. Bwana Says:

    ^ @xpun

    @Guyute711 ran a fantasy football league for the BB two years ago that I played in. it was a Yahoo league called BBFFL. we all threw in $50 and top 3 got $. i lost the Championship game to @Andrew. i’d play again. i usually run one league every season with some old h.s. friends and play in a couple others… will send you an email.

  17. MiA Says:

    Most memorable sunsets where at The Gorge I think. With the sun going down behind the band, everyone cheers.

  18. marcoesq Says:

    Just read it off Fake Bill Walton’s twittah. Disguting but not surprised.

    No wonder it took Giroux less than 30 seconds to level him in that game 6.


  19. stapes Says:

    Yea we definitely have to get the microbreweries in there.
    Gonna need more than 3 days to do everything!

  20. marcoesq Says:

    What’s funny is our friend from Pittsburgh is in town and brought me a badass Flyers Legions of Doom shirt. Lindros stylee.

  21. joemeg Says:

    Seriously though, the Super Ball was the best. I mean The Went has always been the best, to me at least.

    I’m not going to start comparing, and maybe it’s just becuase I had my kids there and everything went smoothly, but even as I type that I know it’s not just that. The SuperBall had that magic, why I see Phish

  22. joemeg Says:

    Oops, I guess I hadn’t refreshed in a while. MIA speaks the truth about the Gorge sunsets

  23. xpun Says:

    never been gorge’n

    i suck, im in next year though

    nice mia, never seen that one before. oh kiddos daddys got a new story to tell. maybe stick w peanut butter sandwich for a few more years

  24. xpun Says:

    never been gorge’n

    i suck, im in next year though

    nice mia, never seen that one before. oh kiddos daddys got a new story to tell. maybe stick w peanut butter sandwich for a few more years

  25. xpun Says:

    never been gorge’n

    i suck, im in next year though

    nice mia, never seen that one before. oh kiddos daddys got a new story to tell. maybe stick w peanut butter sandwich for a few more years

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