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.

Tags: ,

662 Responses to “Looking Towards Summer Tour”

  1. Stoney Case Says:

    Phew!

    CouchTour confirmed, as exSPACted

  2. little umbrellas Says:

    Loving all these streaming music links @MiA. thanks, feel free to keep em coming. my current playlist, deep snip’ing.

  3. little umbrellas Says:

    @JeromeGarcia, GOOD luck brethren! you got this!!!! massive Vibes sent to a smooth transition.

  4. xpun Says:

    Just witnessed two things back to back that I found hilarious

    1- a woman with a Melissa Mccarthy body type and a low cut tank top is walking around with a 32oz to go cup shoved between her boobs. I can only imagine she has drinking out of the straw while walking around

    2- a man legitimately trying to talk on a cell phone as a marching band went by. He kept trying to put his finger further in his ear like it was going to do any good.

  5. butter Says:

    Miner!! freshie article

  6. xpun Says:

    And now it takes 6 white cops to confront 4 black teens. I mean they were being kinda teenish asses but in a totally douchey white teen kind of way. Should I try to explain that to the cops?

  7. MiA Says:

    They will taze you Xpun.

  8. butter Says:

    AC Birds from 12 has lil tastes of pre Tahoe Tweezer sprinkled in there

  9. xpun Says:

    I’m wearing my “don’t taze me bro” tshirt. I should be good

  10. dorn76 Says:

    WHO THE FUCK WAS TALKING TO YOU?

    STEP THE FUCK BACK.

    uh, sorry officer.

  11. jdub Says:

    taking in the letterman stream right now. On Devotion to A Dream… I like the set but also hear way to much plastic shininess for my taste. Chalk it up to Ed Sulllivansyndrome.

    Devotion to a Dream is so Touch of Grey. Kind of funny. Dreamheads come out in droves this summer. mark it.

    Looking forward to the Mansfield Mikes

  12. jdub Says:

    555 is so badass. Skin it back in disguise.

  13. jdub Says:

    What sucks is I live 1.5 hrs from the tour opener and don’t think I can make it do to work. Trying to get shit done so I can relax for the SPAC 3 pack. But I have a feeling Mansfield gets the goods. Band is rehearsed, feeling stoked about playing some fresh material… They sound pretty tight on this Letterman stream.

  14. xpun Says:

    Great woods gets Bangor’d. SPAC gets SPAC’d

    Mark it.

  15. jdub Says:

    Great Woods gets DCU’d.

  16. Fly Says:

    Mansfield is due. Two clunkers in 3.0, save a nice RnR.

    They’ll come out of the gates firing. Won’t disappoint. Hardbody, album are done, band is inspired, as we’ve heard from multiple voices. Not an A+ show, but a big time start nonetheless. Punch opener, sans flub, bustout, and Fuego and Light in the second set. Cherry.

  17. jdub Says:

    Mansfield RnR most underrated jam from 3.0? Possibly.

  18. xpun Says:

    Haha. Great come back jdub

  19. BooVT Says:

    Let’s not forget the Mansfield Dr. Gable…

    What a craptastic song that was.
    Do NOT go back and listen.

  20. George W. Kush Says:

    Fuego thoughts after first spin:

    Title track is pretty decent. Fish has some funny “ooooooohhhhh stolen” lyrics and the tune has a sinister outro that could seemingly morph into dark style jams

    The Line is what it is. D2D reminds me of The Connection album cut in sound and feel. Have dug 1/2Way since SPAC ’10. Hope it gets the treatment this summer finally. Old enough to repeat myself. Monica might be cool in an acoustic Fest 8 set but thats about it. Catchy though and groovy tones from Page. Nice contribution from Mike in 555. Could have good potential and nice version on Letterman set. WAN is floaty and dream-like. Hope the Moog Taurus pedals make it into the live sound outside of this tune (or maybe thats where the bass bombs come from already?). Wombat was nice live but sounds sorta overproduced on the album. I still like Wingslut just as much as on 10/31. Floaty and yearning to the listener to take a plunge into life’s unknown.

    tl;dr

    Fuego is decent but a touch overproduced. Mature sound from the band. After not spinning any of the preview material, 1st spin is a lot less meh than I had expected after BB chatter.

  21. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Fuego is pretty good. I like it. I don’t own it..probably won’t. When does the next live album come out?

  22. George W. Kush Says:

    frackin Madison Split! SBIX archives and Leaked SBD pt. 2 for those that have that comp.

  23. George W. Kush Says:

    Funny you mention live album Palmer. I just got my $3 copy of ALO in the mail from Amazon today after a thieving woman took my original years ago. Looking forward to spinning it on the way to work mañana. Been quite some time.

  24. George W. Kush Says:

    hi-jacking ceased. One week ’til fresh Phish folks! Pack your positive vibe crystals and wook-spray. Its gonna be a hot summer.

  25. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Along with that RnR, the Divided (yes, I am serious) from that show and Rhymes are takeaways. P&M was nice too but maybe just stood out because it isn’t played so much.

    Not for nothing, Zero was the oldest tune played for Letterman.

Leave a Reply