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. sumodie Says:

    Tempted to hit at least one day of Fresh Grass just cause I love the locale so much. Greensky Bluegrass will be there taboot

  2. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    wow. I might have to be there too, sumo. that’s a nice lineup for fresh grass…

  3. Jtran Says:

    phism, i think you may just inherently attract a wacko wife. sorry brah

  4. phishm Says:

    Now why do you have to be like that Jtran. You know absolutely nothing about me other then what I’ve put on here. Not cool. And it’s phishm not phism. Learn how to read. I guess if it’s not one person then it’s another. Suck it ass hole.

  5. Kaveh Says:

    In light of the new GarciaLive Vol 2 coming out tomorrow, I did some looking into other releases. I knew about Vol 1, but does anyone have a copy of the Vol 1.5 release?

  6. little umbrellas Says:

    ahh funny. Jay Z and JT are playing SF on Candlestick park on 7/26.. HA! I’ll be in Washington.

  7. vegas wolfmans Says:

    @Kaveh. I’ve got it. Gimme a second and I’ll up it…

  8. Kaveh Says:

    @VW: thanks man! I appreciate it. I totally fell asleep at the wheel on this one.

  9. little umbrellas Says:

    Chicken Shack! Jimmy Smith is the man!

  10. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Garcia Live Volume 1.5

    A download released by as part of a package with a purchase of a Jerry Garcia black t-shirt. The tracks are from the Jerry Garcia Band’s first public performance at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco, on 26 June 1981, with Phil Lesh stepping in for John Kahn on bass.

    Mission In The Rain
    The Harder They Come
    Knocking On Heaven’a Door
    Dear Prudence>
    Midnight Moonlight

  11. little umbrellas Says:

    Props to all the happy families, friends, lovers and to all who enjoy celebrating Life through Music.

  12. little umbrellas Says:

    and as always, thanks to those who share great music on here. Really love the wide range of interests, styles and tastes that get expressed and shared on the BB.

  13. Kaveh Says:

    Thanks VW!

  14. Jtran Says:

    bruins at home tonight. thinking they’ve got this one.

  15. vegas wolfmans Says:

    No problemo. Excited for Vol II. I love the archival Jerry releases.

  16. sumodie Says:

    Neil & Crazy Horse returning stateside this fall

    Sept 2 with Patti Smith at the Cap in Port Chester, NY

    Tix on sale Friday

    Another date popped up for 9/3 in Detroit

  17. Kaveh Says:

    Vol I was really good, but I’ll admit a little more excited for Vol II.

  18. vegas wolfmans Says:

    And all of the Pure Jerry releases were $$$. Not sure who makes the decisions about what gets released (maybe Lemieux?), but they know their shit.

  19. vegas wolfmans Says:

    I find myself going often to the Let It rock release from November ’75 with Nicky Hopkins on the ivories. So, so sick.

  20. sumodie Says:

    Get some!

  21. phishm Says:

    No way to sum up a 13 year marriage in a few sentences. I shouldn’t of brought her up as 10 years were really good. Just bitter I guess. I should know better then to talk about personal stuff on here. Too many kids that don’t know what real life is. Oh well. Go bruins. Good call Jtran. Hope they win.

  22. Kaveh Says:

    Let It rock

    ^ Yes that is a great one; and I do find reaching for that myself more often than not. No matter how many times you spin it; it just seems so fresh.

  23. MiA Says:

    Thanks VW!

  24. kayatosh Says:

    love the nicky hopkins jgb shows.

  25. Jtran Says:

    TT kaya?

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