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. BNCB Says:

    phishm, i think jtran was making a light hearted comment. getting balls busted is pretty much a ‘welcome to the club’ around here.

    my ex sucked from day 1 and has only gotten worse. you all should see the text meant for her new beau, that she accidentally sent to me. NSFI

  2. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Definitely, Kaya. As Mr. C has routinely pointed out, they could be wildly inconsistent at times, but when Hopkins was “on” that was such a tight unit and with only 4 players they were able to go a lot of different directions in a relatively short period of time. But in no real hurry to get anywhere. Hopkins wasn’t afraid to push Jerry around a little bit, which brought out some of the best, emotive playing of his career (IMO). That Let It rock release is top shelf and the sound quality is stunning.

  3. BNCB Says:

    thanks for the dropbox!

  4. Jtran Says:

    cheers, bncb.

  5. phishm Says:

    Thanks BNCB. Never can be sure. If that’s the case then sorry jtran. I have taken a lot of shit since joining this site and am never sure. It’s a me thing. I take things about home life way too seriously. It’s real life after all. This internet thing is different. I brought it up and should be able to take it. I went off the deep end. Actually just received a nasty email from her a few minutes before that post and was already pissed off. My bad.
    And yes, I like wacko chicks. They are amazing in bed, but not right in the head. Sorry folks. Need a drink.

  6. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    ^ or a whacko chic! 😉

  7. BNCB Says:

    try out this ‘Junip’ album. on spotify, maybe grooveshark

    we all need to go surfing. maybe they can shift the bollywood show to Ventura!!

  8. Jtran Says:

    would love to go surfing with bncb and phishm. would even consider bucket listing that.

  9. phishm Says:

    That’s funny Jtran. I was mistaken for Spicoli on spring break many years back. Not sure I’ve changed much. All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I’m fine.

  10. BingosBrother Says:

    David Silver is the shit. 😯

    “my ex sucked from day 1 and has only gotten worse. you all should see the text meant for her new beau, that she accidentally sent to me. NSFI”

    High Larry Us

    Looking at a pic I took of my boy drinking from a faux Lord Stanleys Cup at Toyota Park 2010. Hope I can do that again at COP. Fuck Boychuck and his pal Patrice. Go Hawks!

  11. garretcorncob Says:

    Did some vinyl shopping today, scored a few good ones:

    Fine Young Cannibals “The Young And The Cooked,” a secret masterpiece hidden under an ’80s pop album
    The Meters self-titled, new sealed copy for 12.99, opened it up when I got home to discover it’s pressed on clear orange vinyl. Fuck yeah!
    “Louis Armstrong Plays WC Handy”
    “Songs In The Key Of Life” with both discs, a bonus 45 and 24 page lyrics book, $10
    Coltrane “My Favorite Things”

    And my roommate grabbed, among other things, a Japanese pressing of Bill Evans Trio “Live At Town Hall”

  12. voopa Says:

    Like no one else
    Ooo ooo

  13. BingosBrother Says:

    gc is killing it. Have a clear orange Ryan Adams Easy Tiger vinyl. Don’t tell AW.

    Got my Chitown Masthay poster in the mail a few minuts ago. #69/125. Highly rec’d if still available. Smells fantastic.

  14. RoosterPizza Says:

    Thanks for all of the kind feedback on the page. We have a little more work to do on it, but it’s close!

    Any fall rumors at all?

  15. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Easy Tiger is a great album. I won’t be convinced otherwise.

  16. phishm Says:

    Ahhh, nothing like a few beers to take the edge off. Wish I had some smoke. Time to make a phone call.
    Listening to 2.26.03 Worcester. Pretty decent show IMHO. Some tunes in the 1st set that I didn’t recognize, but the final flight one was pretty good and a ripping maze to end the 1st. 2nd set is much better. In the middle of Ghost. Still love me some 2.0. Waiting on the waves that I hope is good. Not willing to look at how long each song is as that ruins it. OK, nothing else much going on. Once again, sorry for being an ass Jtran. I feel bad. Peace.

  17. cooter brown Says:

    really been digging the junip lately.

  18. little umbrellas Says:

    Howard Wales!

  19. little umbrellas Says:

    also i’ve been on a Song in the Key of Life tip. makes me think about my dad. Village Ghetto Land.

  20. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    vw- thanks so much for the jg. i am a huge jgb fan.

  21. MiA Says:

    Bruins look to be leaving it on the rink. Hopefully they don’t wear themselves out before the 3rd period.

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Yeah, they are pressing for sure, MiA.

  23. phishm Says:

    Ahhh, now that’s even better. Nothing like a good phone call.

  24. DavidSilver Says:

    So No penalty on boychuck for blasting toews in the head last game, but we’re gettin these rinky dink bullshit penalties called against us. KMS comradz.

  25. RoosterPizza Says:

    Prance Thespian is still making me laugh

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