First Night Fiestas

With Bangor fast approaching, and everyone anticipating quite the banger in Maine, I figured it would be a good time to take a look back at the other tour-opening throwdowns of this era. For the past couple years, the band has come out practiced and polished to kick off tours, and—very often—these tour openers have blossomed into one of the most memorable nights of the season. Putting all these shows side to side, it’s quite eye opening to see all the amazing music that has come in 3.0 tour openers. Let’s look back at the making of a 3.0 tradition.


Toyota Park—6.11.2010

Toyota Park

Toyota Park

Phish sparked Summer Tour 2010 with their first mega-opener of 3.0. During 2009, opening shows were a clear warm up, but starting in Chicago on this brutally hot day, the band laid the groundwork for future tour-opening blowouts. This show featured two sets chock full of improv and full-tilt playing. One can tell from the setlist alone, that the band meant business—but the setlist was just part of the story. Six months after playing their best modern shows to date in Miami, the band hit the stage in The Windy City with a similar fire and cohesion, and what resulted after setbreak was a thing of beauty. Framing the set around the centerpiece jams of “Light” and “Ghost,” the latter of which remained a highlight of tour well after tour’s final show, Phish sculpted a flowing stanza of music that never once hit a road bump. The “Limb” was spectacular, “Caspian” was placed perfectly, and “Antelope” was more shredding than usual, all before they closed the set with the debut of “Show of Life.” I can still remember the glow of everyone faces when the lights came on after this one—this night was a keeper.

I: Down with Disease, Wolfman’s Brother, Possum, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Reba, Jesus Just Left Chicago, Divided Sky, Golgi Apparatus > David Bowie

II: Light -> Maze, Ghost -> Limb By Limb > Prince Caspian > The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Run Like an Antelope, Show of Life

E: Cavern > Julius



Bethel Woods—5.27.11

Official Bethel Print (Stout)

Official Bethel Print (Stout)

The Bethel run, or at least the first two nights of the Bethel run, is the stuff of modern era legend. Bursting out of the gates with far more improvisational bravado than we had heard from the band in 2010, Phish set their community afire with these two shows. This leg of summer tour would be a game-changer for the band, as they dropped far more complex jams than we had heard in the previous two years—and it all started here in Bethel. The opening show has lived in the shadow of the brilliant performance on night two, but has almost just as much to offer. To begin with, the band dropped “Tweezer” to open the show and jump-start the summer. The opening half also saw high points in “Wolfman’s -> Walk Away” and the best “Kill Devil Falls” outside of Bonnaroo ’09. The meat of the second set, however, would remain one of the elite jam sequences of the year. “Boogie > Waves > Prince Caspian > Crosseyed” contained some of the most dynamic playing of the era to that point, but more improtantly, it showcased Phish’s intent to bring things deeper. A transcendent “Waves” jam saw the band sculpt abstract soundscapes with staggering, leader-less interplay—a revelation at the time, and quite the blast off for the opening night of the year. Not to mention that the guys had just masterfully deconstructed and dissolved a “Boogie” jam to segue into “Waves.” “Caspian” provided an anthemic comedown before they took “Crosseyed” right back out into a deep improvisational space. A murky, evil groove emerged from the hard-rock playing, absolutely slaying the audience while tallying the the third open jam of the sequence! I think we spun this  chunk of the set ten times through before coming to Bethel the next day. Phish had taken five months off and had come back way better!

I: Tweezer > My Friend, My Friend, Poor Heart, Roses Are Free > Funky Bitch,Wolfman’s Brother -> Walk Away, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, Kill Devil Falls, Bold As Love

II: Carini > Back on the Train, Boogie On Reggae Woman > Waves > Prince Caspian > Crosseyed and Painless > Wading in the Velvet Sea > Possum, The Squirming Coil

E: Julius



The Gorge—8.5.11

Gorge Print (Klaussen)

Gorge Print (Klaussen)

Few other things need to be said about this show than “Rock and Roll > Meatstick.” Playing—arguably—the greatest jam of this era, rivaled only by Dick’s “Light,” the story of this show began and ended with this unforgettable sequence. Spanning so many different feels within one jam, the band flowed through distinct sections of melody driven improv, the dirtiest funk you’ll ever hear, and evil, storage-laced abstraction. This “Rock and Roll” in the context of The Gorge created an experience that tapes can never translate. This is the type of jam that steals a show—in fact, it stole the entire weekend as the second night was a fun, though straightforward, show. To illustrate the magnitude of this jam, people debate it versus Big Cypress’ monstrous “Rock and Roll” for the best version ever! I’m not picking a winner, but I think that tells you the level of jam we are dealing with here. Then, the final bass-led jihad into “Meatstick”—an all-time Phish moment—to bring us into the heavily funkified segment of “Meatstick > Boogie On.” That three-song run is what everyone remembers about the show—and rightfully so—but there are a couple other points of note. First and formost, a sunset version of “Roggae” that transformed into a wide-open daydream, easily the most impressive version ever played. And the delicate “Farmhouse” placed after the second set theatrics is as good of a rendition as you’ll ever come across.

I: Kill Devil Falls, The Wedge, Bathtub Gin, Nellie Kane > My Friend, My Friend,Cavern > Taste > Roggae > Walk Away, Funky Bitch, Roses Are Free > David Bowie

II: Backwards Down the Number Line > Rock and Roll -> Meatstick ->Boogie On Reggae Woman > Farmhouse, Show of Life, Julius, Character Zero

E: Loving Cup




NYE 2011 Logo

NYE 2011 Logo

Although Phish’s Summer ’11 tour was their best modern jaunt to date, many were not sure how the extended layoff between Labor Day and New Year’s Run would treat the band. If the first night of the run was any indicator, however, they hadn’t missed a beat. And then the next three nights happened. But the first night was legitimately awesome. First set standouts included a third-song “Cities” that stopped abruptly deep into open waters, the promising first set sign posts of “Stash” and “Bathub Gin,” and a rare “Ballad of Curtis Loew.” The second set was straight fire start to finish, and one of the better Holiday Run sets of this era. “Carini” flipped into major key territory, taking the show on an uplifting journey before Trey seamlessly wove in the opening lick to “Tweezer.” This prime-time combo exploded the arena and before long, the band was ripping off a plinko highlight reel amidst the “Tweezer” jam. One crack lick led into another in this swampy, urban dance monster which smoothly rolled into a mid-set “My Friend.” The darkhorse jam of this show, however, is the “Rock and Roll.” Overshadowed by “Carini -> Tweezer,” this jam puts a magnifying glass on the dark, glitchy, abstract, plinko-esque jamming style that was prevalent during 2011. “Harry Hood” rounded out the night, a version in which Trey led with notable passion, evoking his “Hood” playing of old, if even for a little bit. Walking out of MSG after this one, I thougvht we might be looking at one of the elite New Year’s Runs of all time. We weren’t.

I: Free, Glide > Possum, Cities, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Stash, Contact >Sample in a Jar, Kill Devil Falls > Bathtub Gin

II: Birds of a Feather, Carini -> Tweezer > My Friend, My Friend -> Rock and Roll -> NICU, Bouncing Around the Room, Harry Hood > Bug

E: Tube > Rocky Top > Tweezer Reprise




The band opened last year’s touring schedule with one of their strongest shows of 2012. A complete show—bookended by “Buried Alive”—possessed a retro feel and intensity that was certainly welcome after MSG’s anticlimax. This night has been discussed so much that I feel I don’t need to go into it here. It was outstanding on every level.

I: Buried Alive > Runaway Jim, Torn and Frayed, Funky Bitch, The Moma Dance, Rift, Nothing, Ocelot, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Possum, Rocky Top

II: Carini -> Taste > Ghost > Boogie On Reggae Woman > If I Could, Quinn the Eskimo, Harry Hood > Cavern > Buried Alive Reprise

E: Loving Cup



Long Beach—8.15.12


Long Beach Official

Leg One of 2012 was unquestionably the band’s most impressive tour to date when it ended. Exploding through their staple sheds on the East Coast and in the Midwest, Phish had themselves at a crossroads. Despite their clear musical proficiency, none of the jams had surpassed 15 minutes (or so). Obviously, time is not the central factor in jam quality, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a Phish fan who’s favorite jam is under twenty minutes. The band often finds musical gold mines 17 minutes into a piece or deeper, places they just weren’t going in this era. But on this night in Long Beach, everything changed. Taking the next logical improvisational step, the band opened the second set with 40 minutes of jamming, including 25 in “Rock and Roll” alone.” And it was awesome, exploratory improv, the type of stuff fans had been yearning for. This show sparked the modern trend of long form jamming that would culminate at Dick’s two weeks later—and we all know what happened there. That road to glory—however, at least in the short term‚ started at Long Beach. Oh, and the “Hood” that ends set two is the best of the year.

I: Suzy Greenberg, Cities > Kill Devil Falls, Guelah Papyrus, Cool It Down,Rift, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, Bathtub Gin, Quinn the Eskimo

II: Rock and Roll > Ghost > Limb By Limb, Guyute, Dirt, Harry Hood > Good Times Bad Times

E: Julius





12.28.12 (G.Lucas)

A year later when Phish was heading to MSG after a long layoff, people were confident Phish wouldn’t tank again—and they were right. The magic of Dick’s carried over to MSG’s jams, and the most dynamic and far reaching of them came bursting out of the gates on the first night in the form of “Tweezer.” Taking their classic vehicle on a multi-staged odyssey with their new-school musical sensibilities, the guys gave us a message that Dick’s wasn’t just a Rocky Mountain high. And when the dust settled on the New Year’s Run of 2012, an argument could be made for the 28th as the most complete show of the four. A hot “Stash” and a “Little Drummer Boy” infused “Wolfman’s” set the improvisational stage for “Tweezer,” while the band filled out the second set with solid playing and selections all the way through.

I: Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, The Moma Dance, Funky Bitch, Army of One, Tube > Stash, Nellie Kane, Kill Devil Falls, Free, Wolfman’s Brother

II: Tweezer > Maze, Twist > Theme From the Bottom -> Fluffhead, David Bowie

E: Bouncing Around the Room, Good Times Bad Times

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367 Responses to “First Night Fiestas”

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  1. angryjoggerz Says:

    Only when I abroad do I get to be first!

    Great write up, this def helps to get the stoking for summer tour going. What has seemed like an endless wait (especially since not catching MSG) is finally coming to an end.

    Cannot wait for Chicago. Stairway to the stars.

  2. RoosterPizza Says:

    I have intentionally not been posting first. Performance enhancing posting.

  3. MiA Says:

    Miner has boned me up for some Phish. I needed that.

    6 days. Woo hoo!

  4. Ravishing Rick Rude Says:

    Past four or five years I’ve be slow to commit to tour openers. I really hope those that make Bangor get rewarded with a through down.

    Some of my favorite tour opener shows in the past…summer 93 Cayuga, fall 94 stabler/GMU Guyute debuts, summer 96 in utah with page’s thermin start, VA beach in summer 97 finally seeing a ghost live for me, Vegas Fall 97 BEK, Cap center for start of holiday run w round a bout tease.

  5. RoosterPizza Says:

    Long Beach is one of my favorite 3.0 shows. A little cool it down in the first set with some respectable-by-3.0-standards gin and stash. Don’t need to talk about the 2nd set.

  6. P.S.H.S Says:

    July 3rd, 1973: Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars played their last show together. Bangor=Suffregate City

  7. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    love this piece. the perfect kind of excitement-building stuff that built this city in the first place.

  8. Guyute711 Says:

    Wow, listening to this 6-26-04 show which was to be my last is actually kind of hard. Enjoy the tour folks. I hope for everyone’s sake the ride continues for a while.

  9. angryjoggerz Says:

    One glaringly missing first stop is the Greek, no? Wasnt that the opening of a run?

    Suffregate City would be awesome. Has the Phish covered that before? My fav Bowie tune.

  10. willowed Says:

    Thanks for the post Miner.

    Hey Miner, I know you’re always looking for new ideas to elaborate on. I was thinking of one the other day. Before each tour we typically discuss the transitions or styles that the band may take on for an upcoming tour. In a similar sense, i was hoping you would be comfortable enough to share your feelings and inner turmoils regarding your transition with regard to this upcoming tour.

    This is the first time in 3.0, I believe, where you will be taking a break. If you’re comfortable, I would like to hear how you’re feeling about the changes that are happening for you. How are you dealing with the decision? You’ve been (and will continue to be)a great guide on this ride and I know I am interested in hearing your thoughts. Only if you’re comfortable of course. We’re all sort of family on this thing, so I’m hoping you’re doing well with the choice.

  11. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Aaron Hernandez taken away in cuffs…. See ya..

  12. jdub Says:

    Miner gets me pumped for ter like Obama gets his frat mates pumped for the greatest party ever

  13. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    ok, folks. I need your help. I’m going to look in depth tonight, but I need to locate a quality recording of this show:

    I’ve looked at a couple of the db.etree ids and each one has a different list for this show. now that you know what I need, here’s the why…

    my boss (the SVP of my dept.) is an old head. like, toured in the late 70s and early 80s old. I was on a trip with him recently and driving home from the airport I had on one of Mr. C’s JGB comps* (Only Passing Through) and we started talking about shows. he related a story about seeing Jerry at a tiny place in Berkeley in ’79 and sitting about fifteen from the stage, not fully understanding how amazing that was until years later. I decided to track down the show for him.

    once I figured out which show it might be (thanks to voopa for steering me towards the Jerry site) my boss zeroed it in to this date. and that brings us to my goal of trying to locate this show for him.

    so any help will be appreciated. like I said, I’ll look in earnest tonight when I can get onto the torrent sites but I bow to the knowledge of those who might have better resources for this than I.

    thanks in advance, BB…

    *big thanks to Mr. C for that comp.

  14. ren Says:

    As if I wasn’t pumped enough already!!!!! Slowly transitioning myself into a better headspace to set next week off proper.

    Thanks Miner!

  15. bouncin fan Says:

    wow. great read. great memories of a bunch of these.

    remember Toyota one of the earlier shows chillin with Butter and jig and crew. def a rippin whale drenched 2 setter. still remember getting down to that wolfman’s as the hot sun started setting. love the flow of set II. very unique feel to the jams. hot Trey night. whale and all.

    Bethel was just perfect. opening tour with tweezer. chillin with Palmer and dancin and alf, bobby d and folks. such a relaxing run with epic music. it’s like no one knew how sick the venue would be so everyone was relaxed and kicking it. very mellow 3.0 scene.

    DCU will always be a fav of mine. indoor in classic phish country to open summer tour and trey busts out what is def a top 3 3.0 set II and a fun great flowing set I. other than the BGCA Light peak Trey tossing the room upside down with the “Boogie Lick” is one of my fav crowd/band interactions of the return. and fuck that Carini. ghostphunk, alf, plord, butter and crew. just blown away by that set II. amazing flow and intent.

    Bangor gonna be bangin
    KYS comrades. peace.
    tour excitement building.

  16. ren Says:

    My only question is:


  17. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I think the issue moving forward with Bethel is that it is very difficult to accommodate the Phish fan base for 3 -4 days and nights up there.. Not a lot of hotels and most are a good 1/2 hour drive away, not to mention on back roads, etc…

    Most of the shows up there are 1 and done. No multi night runs. This rumor that Phish isn’t allowed back due to them messing up the lawn or being messy isn’t the case.

  18. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Great thoughts, Miner! I’m a believer.

  19. ren Says:

    I think the Bethel experience for many was more like a mini-festi kind of deal. There was a great campground scene up there and being bused in and out at night was actually kind of fun. Then you throw custy cribs into the mix etc…..good times. But yeah, I can image how getting in and out of the show would have been a hassle for many.

    Surrender to the flow…get on the magic bus…holler at your bus driver named “Debby” who clearly got IT enough to let us carry on like fools….definitely a unique experience.

  20. sumodie Says:

    These two tour openers, 8.05.10 Greek & 10.10.10 Broomfield, are not standout shows like the rest described by Miner

  21. ren Says:

    Official Daft Punk Remix of “Get Lucky” up on Spotify….sickness

  22. ren Says:

    You sneaker headz are gonna dig this stuff:

    Protect’ya’neck….serious sneaker force field type shit

  23. Snigglebeach Says:

    Hernandez in cuffs, Gronk has multiple surgeries and now Tim Tebow might be the starting tight end for the Pats. Oh yeah and the bruins blew it and the celts are blowing it up. Wish I liked baseball.

  24. marcoesq Says:

    Great read, Miner. Certainly some of the most standout shows have come right out the gate.

    Rock and Roll seems to be the glue sticking a lot of these shows together.

  25. Guyute711 Says:

    6-26-04 Ghost is pretty interesting.

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