Starting Things Off

7.8.2012 (Ryan MacNeil)

Openers, though not crucial to a standout show, necessarily set the opening tone of the night. Often used as a slot for a warm up song or a bust-out, when the band expands on show openers, the vibe of the night is immediately elevated. Phish featured a mixed bag of openers, hitting on all parts of the spectrum from token to stellar during Leg One, and following were the top five.

5.”Soul Shakedown Party” 7.1, East Troy, WI

A welcome beginning to any show, when the band opens up with the Bob Marley cover, it usually foreshadows good things. And looking back on Alpine’s second night, this occasion certainly fits the bill. A bust out that everyone loves, “Soul Shakedown” began a theme of rarities that carried throughout the first half. Nothing too serious, this opener, if nothing else, gave everyone plenty of time—and the perfect soundtrack—to burn a show-opening spliff before the action got going in earnest.


4. “Mike’s > Hydrogen > Weekapaug” 6.16, Atlantic City, NJ

Regardless of how insignificant “Mike’s Song” has become on the modern improvisational landscape, when put at the front of a show, the guitar lick, the drop into the jam, and the menacing textures take on a whole new role. Far more akin to its original format of the early ‘90s than its late-’90s jam-fiestas, “Mike’s Groove” will, nonetheless, always hold a special place in the annals of Phish. In this more compact format, the front of the first set is, arguably, the best placement for the musical suite, demonstrated perfectly by this Atlantic City version.


3. “Buried Alive” 6.7, Worcester, MA

This old school shredder kicked off the entire tour, illustrating the band’s intent to thrill right off the bat. Instead of warming up with “Sample” or “AC/DC Bag,” the guys dove head first into summer with a fierce take on”Buried Alive.” A good omen, no doubt…


2. “Wolfman’s Brother” 6.22, Cincy, OH

When Phish starts the show with a chunk of improv, a different sort of energy grips the crowd, and when the guys dropped a thick and extended “Wolfman’s” to spark Riverbend, that is exactly what happened. Digging into a plinkofied, funk exchange that blossomed into the most significant version of tour, the band strapped on their seat belts right away for one of the best two-setters of summer.


1. “Skin It Back” 7.3, Wantagh, NY

One of the greatest openers of their career, the band kicked off Jones Beach with their biggest bust out off all-time—and they jammed it! Though everyone thought the band was bringing back “Spanish Moon” from Waiting For Columbus, Phish was, in fact, digging far deeper—1,417 shows to be exact—playing the eleventh version of Little Feat’s “Skin it Back.” Jamming significantly in the bluesy, percussive sound, the guys combined everything one could look for in an opener into a single experience. It will be tough for any second-leg opener to dethrone Jones Beach’s shocker.



Jam of the Day:

Light > Twist” 7.8 II, SPAC

The fourth “Light” of Leg One; all were tour highlights.

[audio:,] Tags: , ,

206 Responses to “Starting Things Off”

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  1. Cheard Says:

    Not only did Cincy have Wolfman’s; it was a sick opening suite of Wolfman’s, Peaches, Shaggy Dog, Jim!

  2. Cheard Says:

    Happy 14th birthday to 8.6.98; another great Lakewood show!

  3. dognamedwilson Says:


    Last tube: 1:47am >
    First tube: 7:26am

  4. btb Says:

    Pulled the trigger on the Denvah shows over the weekend thanks to some incredible cheap flights.

    Stoked for some Leg 2 PH. I haven’t been able to see any second leg shows in 3.0.

  5. poop goblin Says:

    morning peeps.

    a set of our BGCA tickets feel through and are now in need of a Friday and Saturday ticket. any help would be greatly appreciated.

    CinCi LUOLMA – love that little jam. can’t stop spinning it. so slick.

    leg 2 excitement building.

    let’s hope Troy waits for SF to drop that massive Tweezer.

    have a good one kids. weir5877 atgoogle shits for my email if any tickets. thanks peeps.


  6. Kaveh Says:

    Morning BBers!

  7. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Hey hombres. It is so nice that if one hit any leg 1 dates, they likely experienced some leg 1 highlights. Every show seems to possess something magic.

  8. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Skin it back was such a sweet indulgence.

  9. Robear Says:

    Damn Poo G. I’ve only seen extra Sundays floating around. Will ask around. May have a Sunday for trade bait.

  10. voopa Says:

    Lost track of my Friday BG tickets…TM sent them back in April and I had forgotten about them (a few things have happened since then). 10 minutes of panicked searching and all is good now.

  11. Xpun Says:

    Only at the AC of the above. My first set spent w the BB after Leo’s wings and beers at the Chelsea. And mikes groove opener! Sharing in the groove.

    Only other times for me were Hampton 97 and island tour so def good memories there.

  12. Xpun Says:

    Drove past Hampton coliseum on the way to the beach. Why have they not played it in over 3 years?!? We need some damn fall tours.

  13. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    man i wish i scored more bg tickets

  14. Leo Weaver Says:

    Morning guys! Hope y’all have a great start to the new week.

    @Robear…just sent ya an email.

  15. SillyWilly Says:

    You guys:

    Africa must be free by the yeaaaa-aaaar nine-ty eighty three.

  16. SillyWilly Says:


    Lesson for the day:

    Pay your Illinois tolls, kids.

    I sailed a bunch on the way back from Cinci

    Rahm must be a SCI fan because he’s not fuckin around with these fines.

  17. Kaveh Says:

    Hope you all watched this Friday night! Killer!!

  18. Kaveh Says:

    At least to listen too; video quality is alright:

  19. Kaveh Says:

    If anyone can find video the the Morning Dew they played at the end of the broadcast….PLEASE pass that along.

  20. tela'smuff Says:

    nice that the Cincy Wolf gets some respect. killer opener to the best first set of leg 1.

  21. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Thanks kaveh! Missed it this weekend.

  22. saul goodman Says:

    excellent piece, mr miner. first day back in school, woof. fuck. my. life.

  23. marcoesq Says:

    mornin all. That Mike’s opener in AC was fresh to def, for sure. Got things popping off.

    Getting ready for Southern Cross run!! Booking plane tix today

  24. st8 of mind Says:

    Mornin’ BB- Cool topic today. Thanks Miner.

  25. xpun Says:

    Anyone know what the plan was for the story/song during the aborted harpua at the ball?

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