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. poop goblin Says:

    what a shit facebook quarter. $100B marketcap. biggest scam ever. in 5 years shit is gonna be myspace.

    ZNGA is goin to 0

    shit cracks me up.

  2. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Going to the Dog Show on Acid.

  3. MiA Says:

    Just saw that poop. Love it.

  4. marcoesq Says:

    Fuck Zynga. They opened an office right next door to mine, douchefest all day

  5. marcoesq Says:

    Senegal ties it up.

    Dog vid pretty funny

  6. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Someone cross post this to PT to start a riot and shine poor light(pun intended) on the scene.

  7. SillyWilly Says:

    I can’t wait til it’s no longer socially acceptable to use facebook as the reason friends get pissed at other friends for missing their parties posted on facebook.

    I always get busted for that.

  8. Xpun Says:

    There’s a whole series of doing ______ on acid from a London reporter. Funny as shit.

    The one where he takes the girl to the fashion show is good too

    Also watch The Warriors if you want a good gang movie. 

  9. Robear Says:

    For your reading pleasure. Tales from Behind the Redwood Curtain.

  10. Xpun Says:

    I cannot unpack enough adjectives to describe how much I love this DC Waves.

  11. gavinsdad Says:

    work work work

    yesterday booked a room at hotel Monaco in SF. today since I have a work hookup i’m checking on rates at this tiny little spot two blocks away on sutter called the Hotel Rex. might save me $1000. starting to get pumped up.

    i have a shortlist of SF stuff written down…dunno if i’ll get to any of it:

    gravel and gold for hippie vibes
    la taqueria for burritos
    isaac lin art exhib at parklife
    fecal face gallery
    toronado bar
    huf for sneaker nerding
    outer lands for grub
    mollusk surf shop
    barry mcgee exhib at BAM in berkeley
    union made for not having money

  12. Xpun Says:

    The only waves Ive caught was at SB and wookette passed out cold right in the middle of our groove hole. Kinda ruined it for me. Thanks bitch.

  13. marcoesq Says:

    When did Phish start taking a bow after every set?

  14. snow Says:

    GD is going to SF too? unbelievable. The BB crew is going to be the whole floor.
    Definitely our best chance to take the PT in a brawl.

  15. kayatosh Says:

    even housebound shut-ins like me are going to SF.

  16. SillyWilly Says:

    i hope you guys still want to chill with me despite some of my recent convos.

    will definitely be posting up at the toronado at least once, Gdad
    i love that place.

    might need some more breathing exercises, kaya. I mean, I quite obviously do.

  17. SillyWilly Says:


    humboldtians need to keep their head on a swivel.

    they need to keep a tight community up there right now. not talk to anyone they don’t need to.

    i wish i was good at lawyering because people are going to need some help

  18. Jtran Says:

    Very nice LF show I’ve been spinning this afternoon

  19. snow Says:

    I’ll hang with you silly.
    You seem to have fewer words in ya at phish shows though.

  20. poop goblin Says:

    Apologies in advance if I’m not my typical friendly self in SF

    Plan on being a wookish drugged out mess from the minute my plane arrives til it takes off.

  21. MiA Says:

    This is awesome GDad. Seems like a place you’d dig.

    MrsMia loves it.

  22. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    poop goblin Says:
    July 26th, 2012 at 2:45 pm
    Apologies in advance if I’m not my typical friendly self in SF
    Plan on being a wookish drugged out mess from the minute my plane arrives til it takes off.

    ^ this will be different from other Ph excursions?

  23. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Silly, go buy an electronic metronome.

    Set is to 60 beats per minute and start your own breath work now.

    Not in 3+ weeks.

    or not…

  24. garretc Says:

    Or, Silly, follow PB’s advice but save a few bucks and hit up:

  25. MiA Says:

    AC Birds. So fantastic.

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