Are You Ready for Summer?!

12.28.12, MSG (G.Lucas)

12.28.12, MSG (Graham Lucas)

With only a little over a week left before Bangor’s opener, the anticipation of the band’s 30th Anniversary Summer Tour is beginning to reach a fever pitch. It will have been been the longest off season in the band’s history—outlasting ’99’s drought by four days—when the band takes the stage in Maine, and fans are feeling the excitement across the country. In only nine days, the long and winding road of Summer 2013 will begin, and this week we start with a series of Summer Tour-based articles. Today I present my five wishes (in no particular order) for Phish’s upcoming month on the road.

1. New MaterialTrey has confirmed that the band is collaboratively writing a new album, though it doesn’t sound like it will be done before tour. Phish, very often, have debuted new songs in the live setting before they have come out on an album, so if any tracks have been completed, we might be hearing them come next week. Regardless of what new songs they feature, be them originals, side project contributions, or covers, I can’t remember a time in the band’s career when they were so glaringly in need of new material. Hopefully we’ll see some debuts in Bangor and SPAC, as the guys tend to drop fresh music at the front end of tour.

8.15.12 (Sam Heller)

8.15.12 (Sam Heller)

2. Continued Improvisational TrajectoryAnyone who has been paying attention to Phish for the past few years has to be on the edge of their seat with anticipation of what this Summer Tour will hold. The last seven shows—Dick’s and MSG—have produced the most astounding music of 3.0. Many fans were a tad apprehensive heading into MSG, concerned that Dick’s would be an outlier in the band’s improvisational course. The jams in Colorado were both emotionally powerful and technically complex; a retro run with a distinctly new-school vibe. Any doubts about this were erased, however, with 12/28’s “Tweezer”—another instant classic. All of a sudden, Phish was reliably excellent again! Though 3.0 has been an amazing ride, consistency hasn’t exactly been their strong suit. But after witnessing the level of jamming we heard in Colorado during the first show in New York, we realized the paradigm was shifting. Despite a throwaway on the 29th, the band followed up with a couple more of the year’s most impressive jams in 12/30’s “Disease” and “Carini,” and sealed the deal with an underrated “Ghost” on New Year’s Eve. If my calculations are correct, Phish should come out in Bangor ready to let things loose with more wide open, multi-tiered adventures. The band has improved considerably with each and every tour of this era, and assuming that trend continues, things are gonna get really, really interesting on Phish tour next month!

The Ocedoc (Phish FB)

The Ocedoc (Phish FB)

3. The Ocedoc—During this winter’s TAB tour, Trey primarily played his old Languedoc (the Ocedoc was nowhere to be seen). Just the other day, Phish tweeted a picture of his guitar tech setting up his rig with Trey’s old guitar in the shot. This combination has gotten some folks wondering if Trey will be using his former axe for Phish this summer as well. In all probability he will travel with both, but I—for one—hope he doesn’t leave his new six-string wonder child sitting at the back of the stage. As soon a Trey debuted the Ocedoc at the Greek in 2010, the enhanced sound and dynamic of his new instrument was obvious. He confirmed what everyone was hearing at the end of the first show when he introduced his “magic guitar.” The tone and clarity of the Ocedoc is unparalleled, and, in my opinion, was a huge improvement over anything he’s played before. Let’s hope Trey hasn’t changed his mind about his new axe, and the Ocedoc remains his central guitar this tour.

4. A Shift/Diversification in Jam VehiclesI realize that beggars can’t be choosers,  but this is a wish list, so here’s my wish. Throughout this era, Phish has grown more predictable than ever. That takes nothing away from the quality of their playing, but for anyone paying attention to their patterns, few things come as surprises in the live show anymore. Inevitably, the biggest jam of any given night will stem from “Disease,” “Light,” “Piper,” “Rock and Roll” “Sand,” “Tweezer” or “Ghost.” “Carini” and “Sally” provide wild card platforms, and occasionally the band will expand a cover like “Crosseyed” or “Drowned.” But what gives at some point? What about everything else? Just as the band adopted big staple jams from their former Halloween albums, why haven’t they brought one aboard from Exile and Waiting for Columbus—that’s a whopping 4 records to choose from! Wouldn’t it be fun for them to jams songs they have never jammed—or haven’t jammed often (or at all) this era? I gotta believe it would be. Think of “Yamar,” “Cities,” “The Wedge,” “Waves,” “Pebbles and Marbles,” “Seven Below,” “Scents and Subtle Sounds,” “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing,” “Halley’s Comet,” “Free,” “2001,” “You Enjoy Myself,” “Gumbo,” “Mike’s Song.” Let’s get songs like “Bathtub Gin,” “Simple,” “Reba, and ‘Wolfman’s” back into creative space. I’m not sure what’s holding the band back from jamming most of their catalog. Perhaps they don’t think people care that much any more? Someone should let them know that we do.

6/20/04 Setlist (Coventry Blog)

6/20/04 (Coventry Blog)

5. Complete ShowsThroughout the modern era, Phish’s musical high points mostly exist as jams, jam sequences, or segments of shows. Occasionally, the band will keep things focused and on point for an entire set and even less often, for an entire show. I’m sure this is a facet of their age and stamina as much as anything else, but it sure would be great to see them put a bit more forethought into their setlists and play start-to-finish performances. They don’t have to spell something with their song titles to make a great show, but a basic road map could greatly assist the cause, as Trey’s ability to call shows from the hip has flown by the wayside. On the rare occasion that Phish does play two smoking sets (see 8/31/12) we react as if the heavens parted and we were bestowed with a miracle. It didn’t used to take divine intervention for the band to put together two tight frames of music, and I honestly don’t think it takes much more than a bit of planning and focus. Hopefully, to celebrate their 30th year together, the guys will come to ready to play from note one through the end of each night this summer, and we will be left with a bunch of shows we can throw on the system years from now and just let roll without having to fast-forward the lulls.

What are your wishes for this Summer? Respond to @mrminer on Twitter with the hashtag #SummerWishes so everyone can follow the responses. And, of course, share your ideas in the comments section below!


Winged-music-noteJam of the Day:

Light > Ghost” 7.1.12 II, Alpine Valley, IN

One of the high points of Leg One 2012.

[audio:,,] Tags: ,

283 Responses to “Are You Ready for Summer?!”

  1. little umbrellas Says:

    Grooveshark is an easy way I use to listen to Ph shows which have seen official releases. very easy and they have tons. been enjoying the Phish Destroys America comp on there. that gumbo.. wow…

    here’s a link to the official 2/28/03 Tweez!/album/Nassau+2+28+03/4134030

  2. mmmhmm Says:

    The 3/1/03 tour closer is also an oft-overlooked smoker from Greensboro, NC.

  3. bobby weird Says:

    Bergeron played tonight w broken rib and separated shoulder. Ever had either if those, esp broken rib? Ok im done. I admit hawks were better.congrats hawks/fans. Well done.

  4. phishm Says:

    Played with a separated shoulder. Sucked. That’s some painful shit without the needle. Got hit hard once and I almost wanted to cry. Painful as hell. Never with broken ribs. Fuck that. You can’t breathe with that injury, let alone hit anyone. Not worth it unless it’s the Stanley Cup Finals. Of course he would play. Why not. It’s the cup.

  5. phishm Says:

    He didn’t feel a thing. Shot up to the gill I’m sure. Harder shit then you see at a show. Anything to get back in the game. ESP in the playoffs. Everyone is hurt. You just can’t be injured. Injuries are for the off season. This isn’t baseball.

  6. little umbrellas Says:

    Who’s gonna have my Unsung Cities link in the morning?

  7. bobby weird Says:

    Or NBA

  8. phlorida phan Says:

    Check @ telas orange for the page album.

  9. little umbrellas Says:

    Guess for a Toews I should care about Hockey, or sports for that matter. Phish tour is my sports.

  10. phishm Says:

    I hear ya again lu. If I grew up on Phish then I would be burnt out by now. I grew up playing all sorts of sports, year round. Guess what I’m burnt out on. Bring on the Phish.

  11. mmmhmm Says:

    Just made my first batch of homemade bread. Its a sourdough and damn that stuff is bangin! I don’t know that I ever want to buy bread from the grocery any more. Hot out of the oven with some butter and some homemade tomato sauce for dipping. Its f’in transcendent!

  12. voopa Says:

    The only reason commissioners are popular enough to become commissioner is because they are also so unpopular.

  13. little umbrellas Says:

    Thanks Phlorida and Telas.. Still havent heard.

  14. MiA Says:

    Sourdough and spinach dip. Yes.

  15. bobby weird Says:

    Nothing like homemade bread.

    My dream bangor kickoff: daniel saw the stone. Saw it again.

  16. DavidSilver Says:

    3/1/03 is a bomb ass show.

  17. phishm Says:

    And I’m not sure I could get burnt out on Phish, but it’s crossed my mind on a few occasions. 19 years is a long time, but sports have been there since birth. I love both, but will stick with my true current passion. I love music. Love to play and listen to it. Takes me to a place that is very hard to find. Blah blah. No more it comments until I hear it first hand. Live and in the zone. About time for bed. Night all.

  18. voopa Says:

    Mmmhmm, what about the personal freedom of those who want clean air?

    Oh sure, I quit smoking (over 100 days ago!) and now start getting all preachy. How typical.

  19. DavidSilver Says:

    I know u ain’t serious voop, but I love the people who bitch about smoke outside when there are coal plants belching everywhere. Hilarious. (Quit on Jan. 1, feel good)

  20. little umbrellas Says:

    Hmm I grew up on James Brown, Sam & Dave, Vivaldi, Miles Davis, Jimmy Cliff and Stevie Wonder and I’m not burnt out on any of that.
    I did burn out on Phish. Thought I was over it/disliked the boys from around 01-08. When a friend dragged me to Shoreline 03 I was surprised to be so amped about the show. for some reason I didnt like the second set, second night at the time, and continued to hate for some time.
    Obviously I’m once again a rabid fan. endless listening doesnt seem to phase me now…. Know what I love and never turning back.

  21. mmmhmm Says:

    Voopa, true. Didn’t think of it like that. I took that side when the smoking in bars ban went down but out in the open is a different story. I guess I don’t like walking into a cloud of tobacco smoke when leaving the library or other buildings. hmmmm…. Cheers to 100 days smoke free though. Ive been trying (unsuccessfully) to get my girl to quit. Makes her taste and smell terrible and looks really dumb doing it. I guess bc I don’t smoke tobacco Im more sensitive to the stench on my pillows and such. Thats the worst.

    I like that Tela’s Unsung Cities dl has the vinyl crackle to it. Bet the digi download will be crystal clear.

    Fresh baked bread and nutella FTW!

  22. DavidSilver Says:

    The jam that set up todays jam. #fuckfee

  23. Skyballs Saxscraper Says:

    You know what works extremely well for bread if you’re in a pinch?

    Pizza dough.

    Just buy some of the pre-made stuff, thaw it, bake it.

  24. voopa Says:

    I had an old “Herman” Sunday comic on the wall years ago. Couple is at a restaurant entrance w/a No Smoking sign. They turn up their noses and say to the maître d’, “We will take our business elsewhere.” The bottom 2/3 of the strip is a single panel showing them driving away, spewing exhaust all over the place.

  25. mmmhmm Says:

    a revisit: great site: 100 greatest bootlegs.

    For you Feat fans, you need Electirf Lycanthrope! Lowell band in their prime.

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