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. Dorn76 Says:

    Lit o’ Bit!

  2. aj Says:

    I couldn’t resist making this:


  3. tela's_muff Says:

    @AJ – i’m in a Todd Terje – Inspector Norse bliss state right now.

    BB needs to recognize AJ is the pimp of the Chicago beer scene. for real. hooked me up after my visit last week.

  4. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Waaaay behind like pg 22’d. Intern’d & Island Twist’d. Expect copious posts. Sorry in advance.

    Welcome btjoe! Think rl might have 3 day GA fields he’s tryin to offload. Maybe so maybe not 😉 In all seriousness stick around. Lurkers delurk #terrisneigh

  5. Jerome Garcia Says:

    2014 the return of the Island Twist tone or ROTITT if you will. Discuss…

  6. Jerome Garcia Says:

    smuff’s Winter ’03 > current state of Phish & more specifically Trey’s role & as Miner said democratic new way forward in respects to jamming is straight $$$. Well thought out & well said. Cheers. Love this place.

  7. Stoney Case Says:

    Guys, what’s an “Aviici Concert”?


  8. Jerome Garcia Says:

    It’s gonnah be be good summah

    ^I can get on top of this. Fun read. Molly Gobblers. It’s cool. Just please STFU during h3tty jams.

  9. Stoney Case Says:

    need the hetty taper420 stream for the Mann Vagic run

  10. Jerome Garcia Says:

    EDM brah. Of the Swedish varietal me thinks. Picture Molly Gobbler version of the Swedish Chef & you’re on the right track.

  11. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    swedish edm, stoney. Reports are pretty bad potentially. More bad news for that scene it would appear…

  12. Dorn76 Says:

    Gonna get Avicii’d up and dance to Tweezah.

  13. Jerome Garcia Says:

    RoyalGoldCase taking my RGS tshirt for it’s inaugural spin @ Brownout w/ Hard Proof on Funky Friday. MiA Elihu & perhaps the infamous Dr J. Maybe we’ll tweet or ‘like’ RGS in the process but i don’t really ‘get’ Social Media so No Expectations. Deal? Deal.

    LB10 UIC Space Camp Gin…the gift that just keeps on giving.

  14. Dorn76 Says:


    The kids are allright!

  15. Dorn76 Says:

    And my link is MASSIVE.

  16. Jerome Garcia Says:

    ^its. Fuck. That’s my second possessive infraction tonight. corncob’s gonna be pissed. & rightfully so.

  17. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Big D you porch’n it? I sure as shit am.

  18. sumodie Says:

    Huh, I thought Dorn was being funny by creating the term ‘molly-gobblers’

    But it’s Rolling Stone phrase, and it doesn’t even refer to Phish fans

    Love this paragraph:

    “While appearing increasingly old-fashioned next to the molly-gobblers of the swelling EDM nu-hippie kingdom, there remains nothing on the American musical landscape quite like Phish and their fans. Building a vocabulary of jerry-rigged improv classifications, internal metrics and coded pleasures that are sometimes unrecognizable to the band themselves, the Phishheads speak a finicky but essentially optimistic language. Many analyze, but most just dance. Sometimes it’s hard not to when presented with these esoteric Vermont musicians capable of producing old-fashioned ecstasy and maintaining community, even when crammed into the low-bandwidth medium of a 45-minute set on a television soundstage.”


  19. sumodie Says:

    Fuego as a whole is winning me over in spite of its faults. Hooked on the quick syncopated groove in Sing Monica, pure sugar pop but so effervescently addictive

    In some respects I dig the glossy over produced vibe because it pulls the whole album together and gives the album a unique feel very unlike live phish.

    And so I look forward to exploring how the band, for better and worse, makes these songs sound uniquely live

    Forgot to mention that the RS article on Phish Letterman made mention of the Echoplex:

    “Nearly each number uncoiled into efficient solos featuring Anastasio making atmospheric Echoplex loops, adjusting his custom guitar’s tone and/or leaning his head back in giggling bliss.”

  20. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Scoop you check flights to AUS? I’ve got your airport chauffeur service lodging (word on the st is that Chez MiA is the preferred BB B&B) Brown Sabbath ticket local Heady Machinery dank nugs rainbows delicious fiddles Barton Springs whopping $3 entry fee sundry items etc. You can doeeeet!

  21. Jerome Garcia Says:

    LB10 Moma>Jim eliciting back porch dance party. Beloved canine Romeo digs it too.

  22. Random Poster...Nutbag Says:

    I could be stoked for a long weekend but I really dug that Letterman set. I thought there was a lot of cool stuff going on, especially given the unique nature of the performance. Those Rolling Stone quotes are cool as well. Seemingly on the pulse.

    Here’s to Phish zagging when we think they’re going zig!

  23. Dorn76 Says:

    How could you miss my huge link? Scoop’d scoop.

  24. Dorn76 Says:

    Scooped Scoop, even.

    It’s late. Phish in days. Need my beauty rest.

  25. bob dylan Says:

    tried playing the wingsuit fuego LP that came in the mail today (thats right, pre-order it and get it a day late) ((not custy, had to spend a gift card someone got me)) but the dang thing skips about 5 times on each side. warped in transit most likely. even left a note for UPS to leave it in the shade, which they did.

    put on In Rainbows to make sure my needle didn’t have dust and its playing fine.

    Anyone got tips for flattening vinyl? i’m sure as shit not dealing with dry goods when I’ve got a digital copy.

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