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”

  1. ren Says:

    HAahA!!! Yes! Clearly had the BB on the mind when writing that.

    Here is a kind bit if wisdom: when buying clementines go for the ones that feel heavy for their size…and if you don’t trust that you can always pull one out of the bag while you finish your shopping. Gots to protect your investments yo!

  2. neemor Says:

    I’m not sure I wanted to make the case for replicating the Dead scene.
    I’m talking about general kindness at a show.
    You know.
    How to be respectful when the music is playing, clean up after ourselves, have empathy for those around us.
    Utopian, I know.
    When I finally found myself surrounded by a good group of fans back in the day (East Coasters, btw), we knew how to do those things. But we all had to learn by recognizing that we didn’t like walking out of a show into a filthy lot, so we cleaned up our mess. We didn’t like the idea of selling bunk strips, so we didn’t.
    I think my point is that the hating going on is somewhat a product of the pervasive mentality that it’s every man for himself on tour and if you weren’t there at Nectar’s, you own no acres here.
    I know that’s a sweeping generalization and had I met most of you guys sooner, that probably wouldn’t be my experience.
    I also agree that the scene today by and large has changed to the good. Maybe that’s come with maturity.

    There was a review of Fuego that said that you can find a million reasons to hate Phish. But then it might just be time to dedicate yourself to another band…

  3. sumodie Says:

    Both your descriptors of the phish scene (exclusive /not exclusive) are true and illustrate how large and varied our scene is and was. Same goes with the Dead scene.

    Many subcommunities are part of phish touring, we sometimes forget that here in BBtopia

  4. ren Says:

    I see where you’re coming from Neem but I think just as much onus needs to be put on the student as the teacher.

    I seeked out the tapes as a yun, tagged along with the older guys, bugged them to let me into their circle and show me their ways.

    I don’t see too much of that these days. Everyone has the internet and already knows everything better.

    That spirit I had as a yun is still a part of me when I tell one of my now lawyer friends I’m hitting some shows and get scoffed at. I do it cause its what I want to do and adds to my life…not cause its cool, what I should do or because I saw someone else do it.

  5. Jerome Garcia Says:

    ren & other NYC area peeps go funkify your life. nolafunk presents Crawfish & Music Fest this Fri 6/27 @ Governor’s Island w/ Rebirth Bonerama Billy Iuso High & Might Brass Band & DJ Logic. Nawlins fo lyphe!

    Seriously ren you & mrsren should go get your funk on. Sounds like just the thing your soul needs before live Phish hits upside your dome piece 😎

  6. ren Says:

    Thanks for the heads up mang! Doing some hiking this weekend…training for Randalls…but this could be on tap for when we get back

  7. Kaveh Says:

    @miner: nice writeUp. Adding fuel to the excitement fire.

  8. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    can anyone confirm whether the rail riders are posted up yet?

  9. ren Says:

    Those “rail riders” need some acid washed denim vests with matching back patches

  10. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Adrian Belew (power trio) FALL TOUR

    10/22 Charlottesville, VA Southern Cafe
    10/23 Vienna, VA Jammin Java
    10/24 Philadelphia, PA World Cafe Live
    10/25 Boston, MA Sinclair (early show)
    10/26 Ridgefield, CT Ridgefield Playhouse
    10/28 New York, NY Highline Ballroom
    10/29 Pittsburgh, PA Rex Theatre
    10/30 Buffalo, NY The Tralf
    10/31 Cleveland, OH Beachland Ballroom
    11/2 Turtle Lake, WI St. Croix Casino Turtle Lake Event Ctr
    11/4 Boulder, CO Boulder Theater
    11/7 Vancouver, BC Rio Theatre
    11/8 Portland, OR Aladdin Theater
    11/9 Seattle, WA Triple Door
    11/11 Sacramento, CA Harlows
    11/12 San Francisco, CA The Chapel
    11/13 Santa Cruz, CA The Catayst
    11/14 Santa ica, CA McCabes Guitar Shop
    11/15 Big Bear Lake, CA The Cave Big Bear
    11/16 San Diego, CA Casbah
    11/18 Scottsdale, AZ Talking Stick Resort Showroom
    11/20 Oklahoma City, OK Acadamy Of Contemporary Music @ UCO
    11/21 St. Louis, MO Old Rockhouse
    11/22 Nashville, TN 12th & Porter
    12/3 Asheville, NC New Mountain Theatre
    12/4 Atlanta, GA Terminal West
    12/5 Carborro, NC Cats Cradle
    12/6 Annapolis, MD Rams Head
    12/9 Dunellen, NJ The New Jersey Proghouse at Roxy & Dukes
    12/10 Bay Shore, NY YMCA Boulton Center
    12/11 Falls River, MA Narrows Center For The Arts
    12/12 Laval, QC Salle Andre-Mathieu
    12/13 Quebec City, QC Salle Sylvain Lelilevre
    12/14 Trois-Rivieres, QC Salle J-Antonio Thompson
    12/16 Gatineau, QC Maison des Culture
    12/17 Toronto, ON Mod Club
    12/18 Ferndale, MI Magic Bag
    12/19 Indianapolis, IN Radio Radio
    12/20 Knoxville, TN The International
    12/21 Cincinnati, OH 20th Century Theatre

  11. jtran Says:

    does phish play on letterman today?

  12. garretcorncob Says:

    There’s that live stream thing at 5 our time, JTran

  13. Jerome Garcia Says:

    bearito Says:
    June 24th, 2014 at 8:37 am

    Miner, I cannot thank you enough for your 5 years of perspective, imagery, and overall allegiance to the Phish experience. Im amazed that you were able to sustain these reviews for this long, especially in a post-show headspace. There is no other forum like it and that is why we come back.

    So cheers to the Fluffers, the Haters, the Trey Fan Boys, the Phishies, the Jaded Vets, the nOObs, the one’s that get IT & the one’s who don’t, the downed Wooks, the Spunions, the Lurkers, the Trolls, the Creepy Glowstick Wranglers, the Flatbrim’s, the Spinners, the Hetty Betty’s & anyone else who gives us something to talk about ad nauseum.

    Thank you Mr. Miner!

  14. Jerome Garcia Says:

    ^bear pulled a JG & wrong post’d it 😉

  15. Stoney Case Says:

    top of the morning’!

    Miner, that echoplex received a good bit of use throughout Fall. Didn’t notice as much until I began listening back. Really enjoyed over NYE run. See AC for some Fall explorations. A little concerned Trey combines the Digi and The Plex creating the Echo-Moby, we shall see.

    TL;DR obvs

    Yep, GSBG just spoiled Phish fall announcement. As all the other bands announce fall, we wait over in the Red Light district.

    I believe that “Fuego” will be one of the bands central jam vehicles this summer.

    ^going out on a limb there big fella! The song def ends on a springboard!

    Hoping for some surprise extensions where we least expect. Praying that Trey has his guitar tone dialed. If nothing else, might be a dry summer tour out east for once!

  16. Gavinsdad Says:

    Nice posts. Im w Sumo. Lotta niches out there in the lot. From the one show a year kid to the dirtiest of the Ds.

    Guy I “know” from twitter posted up first in line at Dave’s theater as of 9:30 am. Not sure what that’s all about but I’ll probably watch Sing Monica later tonite what the hell. But for real tho its time again…time for a show.

    Neems – will run into u as per usual at the Mann and Randalls. Glad ur making it to both.

  17. Stoney Case Says:

    great post by bearito. nice job bringing it forward, JG. I resemble all of those. Maybe except the Wranglers part.

  18. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Chris Tomson (Vampire Weekend) on Fuego

  19. little umbrellas Says:

    @T3, Adrian!!!! Awesome. 11/12 San Francisco, CA The Chapel.
    Stoked about that. Def gonna be there. Kinda cool for me aswell that Sun Hop Fat is playing the Chapel on 11/15. Just putting the bill together.

  20. Stoney Case Says:

    my word. forgot how sick this DWD from Pine Knob is on LB10. The first 8 minutes or so just ringing guitar leads and runs.

  21. little umbrellas Says:

    LB 10 to ring in the morning. Ye!

  22. Luther T. Justice Says:

    I began seeing the Dead in ’89 and saw Phish for the first time in ’92. Slowly I began seeing less Dead and more Phish up until Jerry died. I had already begun the transition because the Dead scene had become a mess. After Jerry died, I think most of the Dead converts to the Phish scene were mostly around my age and made up the “last class” of the Dead scene. We brought some of what we learned from the Dead scene, but were also happy to integrate ourselves into the existing Phish scene. Some of those from the Dead scene that didn’t come over to Phish are some of the worst haters you’ll ever meet when it comes to Phish. I have many friends who fall into this group. Great people, just don’t bring up Phish or you’ll have to listen to why they hate them. I would chalk it up to jealousy but I still don’t understand it completely.

  23. IrieWalton Says:

    Thanks for all the good you do, Miner! I can’t believe that I’ve been a part of this community for five years and the numerous friendships it has spawned online and in real life. I hope you have a great tour without the added stress of feeling like you need to meet a deadline.

    Also, Greensky confirmed that they’re continuing the tradition of doing a double dip in PDX at the cozy and epic, Wonder Ballroom on Nov. 7 & 8! Looking like Fall in the Pac NW is shaping up quite nicely, but first we got to get back to enjoying the best season: summer!!

  24. DryIceFactory Says:

    The echoplex! More of that thing please.

  25. Joe Says:

    Fishman interview from other day is an excellent listen.

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