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. xpun Says:

    holy fuck, that was on the computer and seriously only hit it once, no freezes, blips, bloops or nothing

    commence paddlin

  2. marcoesq Says:

    damn, xpun got the illness. I am also in for the Gorge in 2013, can’t go anymore time without seein that place

  3. RoosterPizza Says:

    Is triple paddle? Is that a firsT?

  4. marcoesq Says:

    Dude, c’mon Artie

  5. xpun Says:

    im sure MIAs done it before 😉

  6. xpun Says:

    vodka + emil’s tabs = rwak star

  7. RoosterPizza Says:

    Just to let everyone know it’s still out of control over here, I have another story.

    The other night my wife’s uncle wanted a piggy back ride when we were drunk. I wasn’t that drunk, but he was straight blasted. I got four steps into the ride and he decided to shift all of his weight forwards. I am still amazed that he somehow didn’t smash his face off the sidewalk because I folded like a card table. My weight went too far ahead, so I went down and catapulted him right on his face and shoulder. Somehow his shoulder took the brunt of it, and we both escaped with nothing more than some scrapes.

  8. RoosterPizza Says:


    You hear he got arrested in France the other day after arguing with his girlfriend and taking a swing at a police officer?

    It’s crazy that he is on Sirius and Stern has not made one single reference about it. There must be some really bad blood there.

  9. xpun Says:

    okay rooster when we talked about your trip in may(ish) i totally had this vision of you going over there playing it straight having a baby and managing to make it through the summer.

    you’ve been an animal my man. rooster’d with the fam. great stories. they prolly think mericans are so fn cool because of you.

    rooster for sec of state ’12

  10. MiA Says:

    I do not triple post. 😉

  11. xpun Says:

    ::begins a back check of every BB page to find MIA triple post::

    while im at it ill try to find posterkids posts

    unless someone has the cliff note version.

  12. marcoesq Says:

    rooster, I’ve been followin him on twittah so not surprised. His Twit and website are ArtieQuitter afterall. Something’s up. dude looks like straight garbage

  13. xpun Says:

    we’ve talked about this before but this board goes down early, or more likely has more exciting lives than i

    either way we;ve got two east coasters. wheres the west coast at? snoop would be ashamed.

    im rooster’d and loking for meaningless babble with my fellow phans

  14. tzara's Says:

    @xpun I hear ya. I used to be part of the “night crew” but it is all but extinct. I’ve been a little bit scarce myself too I guess, but recently trying to stay in touch.

  15. xpun Says:

    we had a discussion in AC about how the BB was mainly a fuck off at work type of thing. i think most of us have real lives to attend to in the evenings. i work night shift, so I’m east coast but ready to go at 10 pm and beyond

  16. butter Says:

    Take it easy on the west coast xspun


  17. tzara's Says:

    Maybe the 2013 30th anniversary surprise is a real west coast run. That’d be a surprise alright.

  18. RoosterPizza Says:

    This summer has been a shit show. It has been great having time to raise a kid and build our business, but it gets pretty loose at night when the work is done.

    Two weeks ago I went with my sister in law and her friend to a movie in Nagasaki. We are in a very small town here, so the 45 minute ride to the city seemed like my chance to break free; I didn’t realize how correct I was about that. I was originally going to go see the movie, but then I realized I knew the party district was within walking distance of the mall/movie theatre. I didn’t know exactly where it was, but I had a general idea. Well, it is legal to drink in cars here, so I had a good five beers in me from dinner and the ride. I decided, fuck it, I am going to walk to find the party district. I had one of those weird feelings where I knew the night was going to get out of hand, but I just had no idea as to when or how that was going to happen.

    So, I took off walking past the old port which is a very impressive building. I knew if I took a left at that old building, I would end up near the party scene. It is this little section of back alleys where there is bar, bar, restaurant, bar, karioke bar, and so on. If you search Dozamachi on google maps and zoom in, you will see how tight the streets are there. So I am getting to some buildings and hotels that looked familiar, but I still had no sense of where everything was. Finally, I see: So, I am like, “Fuck yeah,” I found it.

    Now, my next goal was to find a place to drink, so I started walking around looking for a place. The only way I can compare these alleys to is glade skiing. It’s like you go into the glades for a little bit, then you come out to a main trail, or, in this case, a 4 lane main road. So, I finally find a dart club that looks fun. I am respectable at cricket, so, again, I say “Fuck it,” I am going to go play some darts and chat it up. Wrong. I walk up the stairs and I have five pretty hopeless looking, drunk individuals just staring at me. I order a beer, drink it, and leave. It was an uncomfortable situation really.

    I check the time, and I still had a decent amount of time to meet up back at the movie theatre. I looked and check the streets, “Ok, good. I still know the way back.” I did a really good job with land marks so I would be able to get back. I started walking around looking for a good place to drink and was not having much luck. Two years ago I got drunk at this place and wrote an x rated story in permanent marker on the wall. This was encouraged by the bartender, so I felt obliged to deliver. As I am walking and sweating my ass off, I walk by what appears to be the entrance to that bar. I stopped, and I couldn’t fucking believe it. I walked over to the door and down the stairs to this bar. That’s another thing…you always have to go up or down the stairs to a bar. I walk down and there is a girl at the bar, the bartender who instantly remembers me, and my x rated story on the wall.

    I sit down and chat it up with them as we listen to the Doors live at the Hollywood Bowl on vinyl. The bar is called Panic Paradise and is rock n roll themed. I proceeded to just get trashed for the next hour. I had about 45 minutes left, so I thought I would find one more beer and still have 25 minutes to walk back…plenty of time. Wrong again.

    My wife had explained to me a while back that girls flirt with you to get you to go into a bar. They are like these cock tease hostesses that stand out on the street and flirt with you so you’ll go to their bar. They are not prostitutes, just cock teases. I am walking back, and suddenly a cute girl approaches me and starts rubbing my arm. I am drunk and all proud of my Japanese, so I start chatting and telling her I am looking for a bar. She says she works for a bar, so to follow her for a drink. “Score, I quickly found a bar to get a quick drink and I still have plenty of time to get back.” I follow her to the bar, up the stairs, to this particular establishment. I get to the bar but there is no bar to be found. Instead, there are a series of curtains with massage beds behind them. “Oh shit, this is not a fucking bar and she is more than a cock tease.” Before I know it, a menu is in front of me and it is very clear that beer is not being served. I go to leave, and two bad looking motherfuckers at the door are standing there like, “You aren’t going anywhere.” One kind of started to put his hand on my shoulder and I just pretended I don’t know anything and squeezed between them as I proceeded to walk out the door. I got about five steps and just fucking took off running like a drunk olympian.

    I never looked back to see if they were chasing me; nothing. I just took off. I was running exactly the way I knew how to get back, right past the dart club, but the dart club was on my right instead of my left. I was all fucking turned around and down to about 20 minutes to get back, and this task was beginning to look impossible. I was asking people how to get to the movie theatre, looking over my shoulder, and nobody would tell me how to get back. I found a group of girls who seemed friendly, and two them simultaneously pointed in opposite directions when telling me where to go. Somehow, I finally make it back to the main street, and it is like 85 degrees and 92% humidity and I’m pretty well cocked at this point. Off goes the shirt.

    I make it back to the mall and that bitch is all locked up. I am asking janitors how to get to the parking garage, and my wife’s sister is calling me. I feel like I am stuck in a Mario game trying to find the secret entrance to the parking garage. I get back there drunk and with no shirt on, and all I hear is, if translated, “What the hell happened to you?” I can’t even begin to explain.

  19. xpun Says:

    god 7-2-97 stash never gets old. prolly the best melody trey ever lands on. i think it will be on the soundtrack to my funeral.

    miner did you do europe 97? i know you pimp 98 if im not mistaken. but who saw early europe 97 coming??

    i’m sure if you peel away all of our rough personas we are left with just giddy boys/girls that loves this band in a way that no one but us will ever understand. amazing. i’l never stop coming back for more. the dead talk on here makes me realize that the next tour is never for certain and i should love it for what it is.

    i need to catch further soon an d take my kids. not the same but closest to what started this whole thing. bobby may be cast a fool, but phil is still dropping bombs and i want my kids to FEEL it rattle their soul and contemplate their existence. the best xmas i ever got was a letter from my father saying never stop questioning why youre here.

  20. tzara's Says:

    Epic story, @rooster! Awesome read thanks.

  21. RoosterPizza Says:

    Glad you liked it. I’ve been meaning to get around to typing that up.

  22. butter Says:

    Fear and loathing with Rooster, uh wowzers

  23. Bingosbrother Says:

    Midwest reppin

    Rockin the dells



  24. voopa Says:

    Nice RP!

  25. RoosterPizza Says:

    Happy everyone enjoyed the story.

    I am doing some work and blasting SPAC night three. Gumbo just put me in a really good space. I like it when a song you don’t expect/aren’t really excited for ends taking you someplace you wouldn’t have otherwise gone.

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