Phish played so well this summer, these lists are getting harder and harder to make. But as we go into Fall, there are still a few things I am hoping to see.
1. The First Set: The last remaining weakness of modern Phish shows is undoubtably the first set. Aside from SPAC’s “Split Open and Melt,” there were no open ended jams in the first half of any shows this summer. There is rarely even much contained jamming of note in opening frames, causing these sets to be musically uneventful. At no point in the last few years have I spun any first set from start to finish, and rarely do I dip into first sets at all but for the random “Reba” or “David Bowie.” Why does Phish choose to keep their first sets so mellow? Sure, lots of fans are there to hear their songs, but how about mixing it up? When the band throws down a great second set, I consider it a great show at this point. Imagine if they infused both sets with creativity? I’m not saying it should be like 1997, but just a bit of interesting music, some meat—and not always “Stash,” “Bathtub Gin,” or “Antelope.” An air of unpredictability has returned to Phish’s second sets this year, but their first ones have remained quite routine.
2. “Energy:” We’ve just seen the birth of Phish’s newest jam vehicle—”Energy.” In only three versions after its debut, the band has built an open-ended psychedelic juggernaut. Sprouting a jam in Alpheretta, the cover was soon placed in the hallowed spot of second set opener in Chicago and San Francisco. The band first opened up “Energy’s” jam in Chicago, charting an uplifting course with an ambient outro, while in San Francisco, they took it down a less cathartic, darker path. I believe we will see this song really blow up this Fall, starting right away in Hampton. I also believe we will see the band take “Energy” jams in wildly different directions, making the new Apples In Stereo cover all the more intriguing.
3. Get In Set Two! : There are several songs that have been begging for the second set treatment, though Phish has been quite stubborn in in keeping them as structured, first set jams. They are: “Wolfman’s Brother,” “Bathtub Gin,” “Tube,” “Stash,” “Split Open and Melt,” “Ocelot,” and “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing.”
4. New Phish Material: Before every tour for the past couple years, this hope has been listed. Let’s be serious, the band hasn’t written a song in ages. “Steam” is the only original that has debuted in this era and stuck around. Joy songs have been played into the ground and then some. A new album has been hinted at all year, though nothing—even a rumor—has materialized. Does this mean another run with no new originals? Most likely. They did great this summer adding “Energy” to the mix. “Say Something” has potential. But how ’bout an actual Phish song? It’s about time.
“Rock and Roll” 8.3.13 II, BGCA
This monster version provided the centerpiece of Bill Graham’s second show. PS—Thanks for your feedback. I am keeping the links.
Tags: 2013, Fall '13