Looking Towards Summer Tour

With all the excitement in the land of Phish these days—Fuego, Letterman, Live Bait X and an upcoming tour, one might forget that Phish left us with some pretty great shows at MSG last December. Coming off a Fall Tour that seems to have has gained a consensus in the community as the best of the era, the band delivered three out of four standout performances to end the year. Now, on the brink of Summer Tour 2014, Phish looks to continue the upward arc of their Golden Age as they step into the Fuego era.

Fuego Live

fuego_custom-e4db94af0938af438397d4147bf82958ba2fb334-s6-c30The most integral aspect of successful shows—from a fan’s perspective—is the band’s excitement, engagement and energy. Based on what we’ve been hearing through media outlets, the guys are excited as ever with their new album and are eager to work the material into their live shows. Trey even went as far as to say that Phish would play less covers this summer, as they want to focus on their originals. As covers usually comprise a significant percentage of open jam platforms, one would conclude that some new ones will take their place. But out of Fuego’s songs, which ones will they be?

I believe that “Fuego” will be one of the bands central jam vehicles this summer. I see it opening—and/or being centered in the wheelhouse of—second sets throughout tour, and extending into diverse improvisations. I foresee the jam coming out of the end of the song—as previewed on New Year’s Eve—and I predict that it will be a completely open-ended affair (much like “Light” has been for the past five years). They changed the title of the album and put the title track first for a reason—“Fuego” is the new school Phish scene and will expand as soon as it is played.

12.28.13 (J.Silco)

12.28.13 (J.Silco)

Additionally, I see “Wingsuit” becoming a significant piece in the band’s live repertoire. Whether the jam opens up at first or debuts as a guitar-solo based piece is the biggest question in my mind right now. Regardless of how it starts out, I bet we see the jam open up a couple times before tour’s end. Though “Wombat” is the clear stylistic outlier on an otherwise cohesive album, I foresee it’s funk jam growing legs this summer. The song has the feel of a first-setter, possibly replacing “Moma Dance” with something a more open-ended. But if ever they decide to place “Wombat” in the second set, the band could take the silly piece for a ride.

The other track that has a possibility of developing a jam is Mike’s “555.” But every time I say that I balk, because when is the last time a contribution from Gordon has blown up. Keep thinking…”Simple” perhaps? It’s been a while. Just saying, I’d give “555” about a less than 50% chance eclipsing guitar solo status. But I’m pulling for more out of this song, because its dark and funky feel give it all sorts of potential. Perhaps this is the one! On a similar note, will Trey finally release lift the shackles from “Halfway to the Moon” from its status as first set filler? Talk about potential! Ever since its debut at SPAC 2010 I have wished it open up, but its inclusion on an album won’t likely change it’s live placement.

The other tracks from Fuego won’t likely be more than solid first-set songs or late-second-set ballads. Maybe, just maybe, Phish will play a one-off jam out of “The Line” or “Waiting All Night,” but seeing as they rarely play one-off jams out of anything these days, this seems a tad unlikely. Jams aside, however, expect a serious influx of fresh music into the rotation, as Phish has never been shy to push their new material!

Trey and the Echoplex

The Echoplex

The Echoplex

For the last four shows of the year, Trey brought an Echoplex on stage with him, and used it extensively in jams throughout the Holiday Run. The Echoplex is an analog tape delay unit created in 1959, that creates many of the effects that Trey’s pedals have digitally mimicked over the years. Remember the final stage of the Carini jam on 12/29, the one where Trey was rocking the Garden and improvising off his own licks with massively dissonant delay? That was the Echoplex. My sincere wish is that Trey brings this unit with him on tour this summer. It brought tremendous nuance and creativity to several jams over the holidays, and with a month on the road, I can see Trey getting even more controlled and inventive with the unit.

Two Sets

Everyone’s eternal hope is that Phish brings more to the table in first sets than a series of singles. Even “Stashes” “Gins” and “Antelopes” have been far to innocuous to truly add any spice to opening frames when they do appear, so in what lies the answer? I am not sure. But as everyone knows, when the band truly delivers two sets of smoking music—think 11/1/13 Atlantic City or 8/31/12 Denver—shows become far more elevated affairs. I guess it boils down to predictability. If the patterns of first sets become utterly formulaic, how does the band want the fan to approach them? The new material should help, but some good ol’ creative jamming—whether of the type-I or type-II variety—would do a whole lot more.

Sail On, Sail On

MSG 2013 (A.Nusinov)

MSG 2013 (A.Nusinov)

Phish has hit a legitimate stride over the past two years. 2012 and 2013 provided the payoff for the three rebuilding years that preceded them, years that have plentiful highlights in their own right. Summer 2013 brought a flood of creativity from the band, as they approached some old jams differently, and generally infused fresh sounds and directions into their open jamming without relying on many conventions of old. It truly felt that every show brought “new” music to our ears, in a way that even 2012 did not. This trend continued over Fall Tour, when virtually every second contained a cohesive narrative, something that had been still missing from several summer shows. Phish’s set-craftsmanship came to a modern peak over Fall ’13, featuring such flowing second frames as 10/20 Hampton, 10/26 Worcester, 10/27 Hartford, and 10/29 Reading. This trend continued over the Holiday Run, as all second (and third) sets flowed well after the night one’s choppy affair.

My overarching point here is that Phish need not tweak to much in their live show. They are doing just fine. If their continuous evolution of 3.0 continues, we are looking at what should be one of the band’s best tours of the modern era. And there is no reason that anything should slow them down.

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662 Responses to “Looking Towards Summer Tour”

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  1. RoosterPizza Says:

    Excited to see where this all goes. I hope things get shaken up in the first set a little bit this summer. I don’t have any huge expectations, and that is fine because I have been satisfied with my experiences since 2009. Looking forward to seeing everyone.

  2. MiA Says:

    Great read. Thanks Miner

  3. Guyute711 Says:

    Start your day with Live on Letterman. You could listen tonight too.


  4. neemor Says:

    I’m ready.

  5. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    a week away from tour starting
    the murmuring is increasing to a roar
    album (officially) drops on this fine summer day
    fresh phish on the menu with the webcast tonight!

    thanks for the place to be who we are, miner

  6. neemor Says:

    MKDevo was cataloging our local fest this past weekend, Soupstock V.
    First year as a two-day event.
    Jen Durkin, London Souls, Kung Fu. Perfect weather.
    Shit gets real when MKDevo is capturing memories.


  7. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I think maybe GSB knows what’s up. they are playing the BKBowl LV 11.1 and 11.2

    pretty good chance those may be late night affairs to capitalize on another band in town…

  8. ren Says:

    Man! Love waking up to these fresh posts. Keep up the good work Miner, however you choose too 😉

    My Excito-meter ratchets up another few notches with each passing day. I’m even excited for Letterman!

  9. jerseyjim Says:

    cool 411 on the echoplex. thx.

  10. Dorn76 Says:

    Cool Neems.

    Rockin’ The Valley.

  11. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Alright Miner you’ve got me officially excited for Summer & to see what direction Fuego & Wingsuit go. Would NOT be upset w/ some serious funk coming of Square Shit. As such I’m giving best of Fuego a spin this AM; gonna freak out & throw stuff. Fuego up on the Spot yall:

    D’oh! Posted on the wrong post. What an idioto. Anyway update on the BB house band. GSBG Fall Tour announced; touring behind new album If Sorrow Swims. Bummed no Austin &/or TX shows but looks like they’ll be the after party for Phish in Vegas over Halloween. Not to mention hitting many of the BBers’ mkts.

  12. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Sweet pics Neemor. I aspire to this:

  13. sumodie Says:

    Miner, thanks for more on point thoughts. And bravo for embracing change. It’s been a wonderful ride in BB land with your review-every-show motivation, but after 5 years it only seems natural to want to approach phish tour & blogging a little differently

    Have a blast on summer tour and whenever & however you decide to post here is fine by me

    Thanks again for all you’ve created here at Phishthoughts!

  14. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Soupstock got some Play On Brother w/ lilum’s boy Danny Mayer taboot. Play On Brother formerly Alan Evans Trio or AE3 dropped a Woodstock Sessions (Vol 1) earlier this spring like another trio + 1 we know & love (Vol 2). Spin some funky organ trio in btwn Phish to keep it fresh ahead of Lettermen & Tour.

    Alan Evans Trio Woodstock Sessions Vol 1

  15. MiA Says:

    Putting CCCC Halley’s and V Beach Fee on back to back makes my heart flutter.

    It moved Jerry.

  16. neemor Says:

    JG: I was going to post the same pic with the same sentiment.
    That guy inspires me. Dance like nobody’s watching. Until my legs can’t hold me up anymore.

    I had a thought (uh oh) pertaining to haters of 3.0 Ph.
    I think it all goes back to the exclusivity that fans tried to maintain in the formative years.
    I experienced this firsthand when I was beginning to grasp the power of live music and specifically Phish. My peers who had been seeing them since ’92 or thereabouts didn’t provide tapes freely, didn’t allow me to tag along and tried to keep a general secrecy around what was happening in the days of early Lollapalooza.
    It’s been documented here that Grateful Dead fans taught newcomers how to act at shows, how to be “kind” whereas Phish fans created a less welcoming veneer to the whole scene. My understanding was that many fans did this to protect the size of the crowds and venues and keep the scene intimate.
    The clearest example is the term “noob” that I’m pretty sure developed with the internet and probably specifically on the .net.
    The derisive nature of that sort of terminology has led to (either purposely or not) keeping a fresh fan base from experiencing the love and acceptance that music like Phish provides.
    As a result, young fans who felt that heavy thumb crushing them were simply waiting for “chinks in the armor” to proclaim that this band is “no longer what it once was, or would never be again.

    Those of us who know the power of this band which, admittedly comes in less frequent bursts today, recognize that there still is no collection of four people who can do what these guys have done.
    The heavenly tear that opened on so many sunny afternoons and allowed us glimpses to IT along the way is still open.
    I make a conscious effort today to bring friends along on this ride today. I feel like the scene is healthy when we share the joy.

    Miner has given us a place to discuss those moments and has opened a million channels in my mind that connect the past and the possibility of what is to come with this band. Aside from a few readicculus moments of haze and ego, this place has brought together many of the shards that would have existed on the scene alone and has been the glue that has created a great tapestry through which to see this thing unfold.

    Fuego points the direction to great things.
    Tour Looms.
    See you at Mann. And try to keep me away from Randall’s or Fall Tour.

  17. sumodie Says:

    Yo, math matters to wombats:

    Fuego rates 3.5 outta 5 at our fav magazine


    And 8 out of 10 at Glide


  18. MiA Says:

    I tried to turn everyone I knew onto Phish and everyone I met at the shows did. I don’t think anyone was being “exclusive” about this fantastic band, unless they were just general douchebags. Your choice of friends is on you though. Maybe it’s an East Coast thing. 😉

    “It’s been documented here that Grateful Dead fans taught newcomers how to act at shows, how to be “kind” whereas Phish fans created a less welcoming veneer to the whole scene.

    Well, Deer Creek ’95 surely wasn’t that. It was an embarrassment to their fans.

    And yeah, the rolling sea of that was the Lot Wooks on Phish Lot were not that welcome at first. Phish didn’t have that at all, until Jerry died, and a whole bunch of bunk strip hustlers and schwag grass liars had no where else where to go. These are the people who never had a ticket, and weren’t really looking for one unless it was a “kickdown bro…”

    Phish fans can be tight, and you can’t/won’t invite everyone back to your campsite. I think this is the nature of people.

  19. ren Says:

    “I make a conscious effort today to bring friends along on this ride today. I feel like the scene is healthy when we share the joy.”

    ^I do my best to do the same. Great thoughts there Neems

  20. neemor Says:

    It is surely a left coast thing.
    For a left coast band.

  21. neemor Says:

    Time to put your wingsuit on

  22. ren Says:

    I don’t think we ever could be nor wanted to be an evolution of the Dead scene. We are PROGRESSIVISTS!!! The music was different, the times were different etc. We often compare because its the closest thing we have to compare but its not really a fair comparison.

    Truth be told I want to say that I feel the more overt “kindness” THESE days over the past but again I guess that comes down to who you surround yourself with and the specific experiences you have.

    Some hetty tour rat with nothing to lose offering me a schwill or a puff doesn’t compare to a grown, productive member of society offering me some super duper rainbows or an intelligent discourse on the band.

  23. MiA Says:

    ^here here

  24. MiA Says:

    I like mandarins at setbreak too.

  25. MiA Says:

    (Or celementines)

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