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!

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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:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/2.03-Light.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/2.04-Ghost.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/2.05-Back-on-the-Train.mp3] Tags: ,

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

  1. kenny powers Says:

    A real swell Tweezer happened in ATL 13 years ago today.

  2. phishm Says:

    I read somewhere (think it was phish.net) that during that 94 Bowie in Providence that some fans were crying afterwards and not in a good way. I guess that when Trey was whispering (during the Lassie part) that he was going to get into someone’s head and fuck with them, he was staring directly at a couple of obvious trippers. Wow, would that of been intense. Another jam that I just can’t get over. Anyone there that has actual knowledge of what went down?

  3. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Know it, KP!

  4. marcoesq Says:

    Can someone orange me 12.29.94? Or at least the Bowie. I’d like to spin the Jim->Foam also. thx

  5. Jtran Says:

    check your email plord

  6. phishm Says:

    Not sure if you wanted to download, but here is the link on phishtracks. Listening now. Wow. I downloaded the 2nd set from phishows. I’m sure there are better sources out there if you are into the FLAC and ALAC stuff, but i’m not aware of any.

    http://www.phishtracks.com/shows/1994-12-29/digital-delay-loop-jam-david-bowie

  7. cooter brown Says:

    fakedown lot is west of 50 at spac. Not free for all but also not a poachfest either. Free parking over there too but first lot to fill up and close down after show. Lots of trees and grass in lots east of the venue and chill. You can play spun glow frisbee in those lots until the wee hours of the night. Best chill pre game in the shade area seems south of the venue near the springs and picnic areas.

    Kinda wish I had the crib and pavs lined up for this one. Going to settle for just PNC and MPP.

  8. dorn76 Says:

    SPAC is a free for all, as much as it can be with a bunch of NY State troopers all over the place.

  9. dorn76 Says:

    What cooter said, in other words.

  10. Jtran Says:

    2010 they were searching cars for alcohol on the way in to the lot that is NOT on 50 (where shakedown is). Don’t go in that way from my experience, just take 50 to get in.

  11. little umbrellas Says:

    Marco, that Chesney vid you posted. I think that always happens.
    When I worked for Another Planet Entertainment I did the staging at AT&T Park for a Chesney show and it was so freaky.

    There were multiple arrests that night. At this show however most of the arrests were for girl on girl fights. Show had a sea of women with cowboy hats, tank tops, denim cutoff skirts and cowboy boots. Chesney came out in a pyrotechnics Birthday cake with a wireless guitar. I believe Bob Weir and Sammy Hagar came out and joined him at one point.
    what a horrible concert.

  12. ren Says:

    Clocks up! Thanks Miner 😉

  13. phishm Says:

    Ok, about the 22 minute of the Providence Bowie is absolute pure hose. When did the band leave and the aliens take over?

  14. marcoesq Says:

    This Bowie is going to make me soil my trousers

  15. Shred Says:

    @ phishm- We were annoyed by whistling in Bowie at Providence. During the whistling itself we all were a little lost as to why he chose to do that. Not sure about him looking right at someone to fuck w them. But certainly fucking with the crowd. The drive up there killed us. Vibe in Providence was odd. Just a strange night. I only remember the bowie and guyute. Restless crowd. Over all I enjoyed the Philly show more at the time. Probably the drive though.

    That’s how the odd numbered years being better than the even numbered year (for holiday tour) theory started.

  16. marcoesq Says:

    http://whfs.cbslocal.com/2013/06/21/courtney-love-grants-jay-z-permission-to-use-nirvanas-smells-like-teen-spirit-lyrics/

  17. little umbrellas Says:

    marco, hmm, not sure how i feel about that one.

  18. cooter brown Says:

    free for all = native american tribal land

  19. marcoesq Says:

    Youse right, yo….22min into this Bowie and I want to FLY!

  20. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    That’s how the odd numbered years being better than the even numbered year (for holiday tour) theory started.

    that whole theory was correlation based on coincidence and revisionisism
    93 was a band on fire out to prove something
    94 was a run just as good imo. not sure why people discount this run
    95 is hold-on-to-your-hats phish at the top of their game
    96 was a fucking blast but not the best musical showcase for the band
    97 was everything we wanted up to that point with the funk as gravy and dessert combined (grassert? dessavy? i don’t know)

    and then ’98 came along, tripped that even year theory, gave it a wedgie, and laughed in its face before stealing its girlfriend.

  21. dorn76 Says:

    I was at that Prov show, just flashes in my mind from that wild night at this point. Brought my ex at the time along with a couple buddies. Poor girl went down for the count before the Bowie, and was a puddle between us for most of the 2nd set. Don’t think she ever tripped again after that. In fact we didn’t hang out much after that.

    We were on chairs set up in rows on the floor as I recall. Or maybe not.

    19 years later’d.

  22. marcoesq Says:

    “In fact we didn’t hang out much after that.”

    Phish is worth losing lovers over, fact.

    Tshirt worthy

  23. marcoesq Says:

    Here comes the whistling

  24. phishm Says:

    Nice call kp. Figured I’d start that Lakewood show from the top. I mean 16 minute Moma to open. Can’t go wrong. If anyone is bored and pretending to work like I am here’s the link. Not sure if I’ve heard this Tweezer before, but I’m sure it’s a good one based on what I’m hearing in the Moma. Can’t wait for tour. Wish I was catching shows. Oh well. hoodstream and real stream to start and then fall.

    http://www.phishtracks.com/shows/2000-06-24/the-moma-dance

  25. MiA Says:

    Love T3’s post.

    Yeah. Island Run was in ’98. That gets bonus points in itself.

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