The Fizzle Factor

Atlantic City 2012 (Shelly Siegal)

The only any real criticism that bubbled from the fan base over Leg One was how second sets sometimes fizzled out. Sometimes front-loading sets with the heaviest improv of the night, only to coast to the finish line with a series of out-of-place singles, Trey fell prey to this phenomenon a handful of times this summer. This is quite an odd occurrence for a bandleader who would, self-admittedly, pore over setlists for much of his career, ensuring Phish shows flowed quite well. These days, that is not necessarily guaranteed. But, let’s not overstate things. Only five shows out of 20 second sets of tour fizzled out significantly. That means that 15 finished strong, or at least with a sense of completeness. All in all, I think this issue will right itself naturally, especially looking at the percentages, but it is something worth inspecting.

6.20.12 (M. Stein)

The sets I am referencing in this discussion are AC3 (6/17), nTelos1 (6/19), Deer Creek2 (6/29), Alpine2 (7/1), Jones Beach2 (7/4), and SPAC2 (7/7). In each case except nTelos—a set that never got going—Phish played a legitimate improvisational passage to start the second half. Interestingly, however, only one of those sequences—Alpine’s “Light > Ghost”—sits among tour highlights. Does the fizzle factor come into play when the band isn’t feeling musically hooked up? The general pattern of sets that fizzled might suggest this. Let’s look a little closer.

The third night of Atlantic City kicked off with “Drowned > 2001 > Reba,” a high quality, but mostly contained, run of jams. The first night of Portsmouth was a song-based second set, with only a “Split” jam to speak of, thus its hard to say this set fizzled as there was no place to fizzle from. Phish front-loaded Deer Creek’s second night with an extensive, though unspectacular chunk of jamming in “Disease > Sand.” While this sequence wasn’t bad by any means, it didn’t pop with anything original—fun while there, but without much playback value. After “Sand,” the band quickly moved from song to song but for a brief, though interesting, “Bathtub Gin.” Alpine’s all-star set, fizzled to near-boredom with a run of “46 Days,” “Heavy Things,” “Joy,” “Julius” over the final thirty minutes. The band’s July 4th performance started with a promising sequence of “Boogie,” “Tweezer > Twist,” only to transform Singlestown USA, less “Harry Hood” for nearly an hour. SPAC’s second show started promisingly with a strong “Disease -> Blister in the Sun -> Disease,” but morphed into a novelty show of “Blister” teases in a run of standard songs.

7.8.12 (R.MacNeil)

Interestingly, sets that fizzled—as a whole—produced few pieces of timeless music. Out of the five sets above, we are left with “Light > Ghost” in the upper echelon, Jones Beach’s “Tweezer > Twist” on the second tier, “Disease > Sand” on the third tier, and contained highlights of “2001 > Reba” and “Harry Hood.” In five second sets of 2012 Phish music, that’s not that much. Perhaps this is a coincidence, or perhaps Trey has a propensity to call for singles when jamming isn’t necessarily clicking as usual? In the end, we’ll never know, but—at times—it seems a tad of forethought might go a long way in closing a show with authority.

It often feels that Phish has gone away from show-stopping set closers. Aside from the over-used “Antelope” and the occasional “David Bowie” or “Slave,” sets were prone to end with “Zero,” “Julius” or another innocuous single. Though not a huge deal in the scheme of a summer filled with riches, second set closers are the final taste of real Phish for the night, often determining the immediate post-show vibe. Encores, though occasionally significant, are as much for reorientation as anything else. The biggest change in this department has resulted from the band moving away “You Enjoy Myself” to close sets without a new replacement emerging. Though dubious, perhaps one will rise in the coming weeks, or perhaps the band will just keep playing “Antelope.” But if this is the only flaw to write about—effecting one in four shows—we’re doing pretty damn well!


Jam of the Day: 

Carini > Sand” 7.6 II, SPAC

The heavy-hitting pairing came at the front of the second set on SPAC’s first night.

[audio:,] Tags: , ,

253 Responses to “The Fizzle Factor”

  1. MrCompletely Says:

    there are reasons. hopefully one day it’ll get fully remastered. but the idea was one show from each location, and everyone already knows that show.

  2. Dr Pronoia Says:

    Thanks everybody. Definitely heeding the lesson. Love to all

  3. lumpyhead Says:

    you guys seen the trailer for “The Master?”

  4. Kaveh Says:

    one show from each location

    ^ I hear you; everyone does know that one, but to hear it remastered. Holy smokes that would be great! I’m completely satisfied with the choices. I’ll support this release. It’s going to be a great way to get through the cooler fall weather with Jerry and Co. ripping through the sound system.

  5. GhostPhunk Says:

    love the branford night, his coloring on the DS intro is pretty… well… great.

  6. voopa Says:

    Revisiting 3-24-90, Miller SBD is still streamable on LMA:

  7. Kaveh Says:

    The Bird Song from that night is killer too; that was released on the So Many Roads boxset.

  8. voopa Says:

    And the Branford Eyes is on Without A Net, but we all knew that.

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    dammit I just posted a long post about how to download mp3s from the archive but it vanished, maybe I had too many links? I’ll do it in steps

    start by installing DownloadHelper or similar for Firefox. Seems like setting up downloaders is a pain in Chrome. Set up the Downloader to grab Mp3s. It’s in the settings or options or whatnot. Figure it out.

    this part’s optional but speeds things up a lot

  10. MrCompletely Says:

    then go to voopa’s link, or another one like it

    change “details” to “download” in the URL, thus

    you will see that it redirects you to another URL

  11. MrCompletely Says:

    NOW BEFORE YOU GET TO EXCITED no you can’t actually get flacs or shns this way

    it looks like you can, but you can’t. so chill.

    But download helper can swoop up all the VBR mp3s like mad

    with my settings, I have to grab them one “disk” at a time

    and that’s all there is to it

  12. GhostPhunk Says:

    this trick has been there forever, I’m surprised it’s still working. I mean, this isn’t a tough thing to fix.

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    I like having them locally because of the skip between tracks in their streaming player

    plus if a show is good I want to keep it, that will remind me to look for a lossless torrent if I want that…and I can easily playlist groups of favorites…

    there are a lot of shows (particularly this early 80s stuff I’m listening to) that I’m glad to have the mp3s but don’t necessarily need the lossless in any hurry…highlights shows and 4-star specials

  14. MrCompletely Says:

    yes but I am often surprised to learn that people don’t know the trick so I like to just post it every now and then

    here’s the thing, GD/rhino only care about lossless really, it’s all basically just plausible deniability

    no one really gives a shit if we can yank the VBRs

  15. tela'smuff Says:

    love Jerry’s take on Spike Driver Blues.

  16. IrieWalton Says:

    I’m probably late to the party but the UIC ’94 box set is now up on Spotify.

    Sick Tweezer action.

  17. butter Says:

    re: Snoop Lion

    proof that if you puff enuf herb Jah’s spirit will inhabit you

    good on ya Snoop

    Evolution bitches!!!!

    now lick the damn chalice yo, and give thanks

  18. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    remember when snoop quit smoking weed?

  19. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    from the spring ’90 description: “and the non-inclusion of any other shows from the tour definitely does not preclude their future release”

  20. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    oops, forgot the ! at the end of that quote.

  21. snow Says:

    Dear SnoopGimmick,
    Reincarnated: I don’t think this word means what you think it means.

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    @df if this sells out there will def be a second box in a few years

    mark it

  23. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    It will sell out for sure. They said it will.

  24. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    I’ve learned through the dead and phish that the best marketing is to put a limit on something. Anything with #/# written on it will do well.

  25. MrCompletely Says:

    it also makes it much easier to write a business plan for it that actually makes sense

    we will make this many. it will cost exactly this much to produce. we need to sell exactly this many to break even.

    and yes it is definitely good salesmanship as well

Leave a Reply