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. MiA Says:

    Phish is becoming “not a guitar based band”

    Phans overwhelmingly approve.

  2. Dorn76 Says:

    The snark is deep with this one. ^

  3. Absher Says:

    Does anyone know where to get the best possible copy of 11/6/98 Madison, WI? I have loved this show since they played it. Killer show with a smoking first set. The SOAM at the end of the 1st is simply amazing. The Caspian in the 2nd set is my favorite version. They kill it on every song. I would love to know how to get a SBD or at least a 1st gen off a DAT. Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, your my only hope.

  4. Absher Says:

    Friday, 11/06/1998
    Kohl Center, Madison, WI
    Set 1: Possum, Wilson > Roggae, Maze, Meat > Sparkle > Split Open and Melt
    Set 2: Makisupa Policeman[1] > Funky Bitch, Simple -> Prince Caspian[2] > Fluffhead, Hold Your Head Up > Bike > Hold Your Head Up, Harry Hood
    Encore: Birds of a Feather, Hello My Baby
    [1] Keyword referenced “university police rent-a-cop.”
    [2] Began with Fishman on vacuum; unfinished.
    Notes: The lyrics in Makisupa referenced “university police rent-a-cop.” The transition into Caspian (which was unfinished) featured Fishman on vacuum. During Caspian, a naked man jumped on stage and was kicked off by security.

  5. MiA Says:

    Not snarky. True. People love the carnival. Think people are excited to be on the lot.

  6. bob dylan Says:

    xpun, i live streamed the halloween set and then played it back maybe one time. the album was the first time i payed any real attention.


    ^phans already getting in on the lot jokes

  7. Absher Says:

    Does anyone else think Devotion To A Dream sounds like Words to Wanda?

  8. Kaveh Says:

    @absher: great show and a great warmup for the next three nights in Chicago at UIC. I think I only have an audience version, and I got that show a long time ago…in a galaxy far, far away.

  9. Kaveh Says:

    @absher: http://phish.in/1998-11-06

  10. Absher Says:

    I was at the Denver show the night before which was also a good one and for some reason over shadows the madison show. I prefer the madison show over denver.

  11. ren Says:

    Phish.in has great sounding Auds for pretty much everything. The song by song download takes some effort but beggars can’t be choosers. I spoke to the guy that runs it and the framework is there to download full shows but he’s choosing to keep it inactive and keep the site free

  12. MiA Says:

    Absher, you do have the SBD of the SOAMelt?

  13. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    there’s only one source for that show up on bt.etree with seed potential that I could see


  14. Absher Says:


    No! I wish! I’m looking for the whole show SBD but I’d settle for the Melt

  15. MiA Says:

    I’ll dig it up. Should be easy to find. Give me a min.

    Page is Claving for dollars

  16. Dr Pronoia Says:

    My first show! Love it too. That melt is on a livebait or archive release in SBD

  17. xpun Says:

    Just busting collective balls Bobby D, not any one pair individually.

  18. vapebraham Says:

    7.15.98 Free — gooey funk

  19. Multibeast Says:

    The madtown SOAM is definitely on a archive release…I think for Superball. That show and the following UIC run made for a nice lil midwest terr fer sure.

  20. Absher Says:

    @Dr Pronoia

    Now that we’re talking about it, I do seem to remember a SBD of that Melt but I don’t see it in the Live Bait stuff or anywhere else in my collection.

  21. Absher Says:

    Pretty much all of the fall 98 shit rocked

  22. Absher Says:


    Your right, it is in the Superball archive! I do have it. I wish I had that whole show!

  23. Stoney Case Says:


    2nd the fall ’98 love.

    UIC Gin again. In SBD. The reason i don’t need live phish to get off on the music. my lawd. trey right at 6:40 on with the licks

  24. Stoney Case Says:

    then adds even more notes to the lick at 9:19 magick

  25. Absher Says:

    96 & 98 are my favorite years

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