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. MiA Says:

    I shot the sheriff?

  2. btb Says:

    Shaggy Dog – At burgettestown sound check Trey said something to the effect of “can we practice this so I can learn how to play this song again”

    ::vibes to Robear::

  3. MiA Says:

    Going to get my annual physical today. Hopefully not bad news.

  4. MiA Says:

    Vibes Robear. Still looking forward to a CDT reprise.

  5. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I know I was shocked when I met luther and he was chowing down on the ruby tuesday salad bar

  6. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    wooooo! my company in the news!

    oh. wait. that’s not a good way to get into the news. fuck. hey, at least it wasn’t really our fault!

  7. Luther T. Justice Says:

    You proabably thought you’d meet me chowing down on a fried Twinkie, but for me, that’s so 2011.

  8. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    truth be told, since I had no previous image of what you would look like I just figured you were cut like mr. t. I was a little disappointed in the lack of gold chains and denim vest.

  9. Selector J Says:

    Lots of good ones about Mr. Bossman… I’ll try to think of ones more directed co-workers.
    Any specific grievances?

  10. MiA Says:

    Luther was wearing gold chains and a denim vest at Burgettstown, as I remember.

  11. Guyute711 Says:

    Not doing their jobs and holding me up. I’m good with the boss man. He just took me to lunch yesterday.

  12. Dr Pronoia Says:

    Not cool T3

  13. Guyute711 Says:

    Fucking time wasters.

  14. Dr Pronoia Says:

    The runner vid that is

  15. MiA Says:

    T3, That ain’t right.

  16. Luther T. Justice Says:

    I hate to say it but it was just too hot for gold & denim @ Deer Creek. On the other hand, Star Lake was the perfect weather for gold & denim. Perfect.

  17. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    hey, I don’t make the links, I just post em

  18. MiA Says:

    I think the “I hate you coworker!” is an under tapped theme of music for sure.

  19. Kaveh Says:

    Morning BBers! On the road to Burlington for SSUSA. Just west of Buffalo.

  20. Robear Says:

    and why don’t we all have an ‘EASY’ button yet, Mr. 3?

  21. Lycanthropist Says:

    tt anyone?

  22. bob dylan Says:

    Wishing your fam some health Robear

    Spinning AC Reba before work. Trying to mellow out so as not to tell one of my custies off. Got my life threatened pretty descriptively and severely on the way to work. Dude coulda taken me so I just shut up. Simply asked the guy not to shove when we were all funneling to the escalator. Something’s going on here lately. People are on edge, myself included. Need to move west sooner than later.

  23. GhostPhunk Says:

    Kaveh, wish I would have know you were passing through. When are you heading back?

  24. Guyute711 Says:

    Thank you my good man

  25. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Kuroda at All good…the video…

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