Fitting In Fuego



This summer tour felt very much about integrating the band’s new material into their live show. Having debuted all but one of the songs in a single set lasst Halloween, Phish played seven of their new pieces over the New Year’s Run, but their roles were totally unknown going into this summer. And after twenty-two shows, the guys have sorted most things out, with only a couple selections whose placement remain elusive. Let’s look at a track-by-track analysis of how Phish has worked their newest batch of songs into their summer performances.

“Fuego”—After much speculation, “Fuego” was the only true jam vehicle that developed from Phish’s newest album. Though the song spawned three of tour’s most significant highlights with its SPAC, Mann and Portsmouth outings, “Fuego,” was still hard to pin down, as it was played far more times without a jam than with one. Perhaps this was due to the band’s “Everyone Gets a ‘Fuego’ (Except Pelham)” policy,  and they decided that it would be overkill to improvise from the song at every tour stop. Perhaps they didn’t even think this deeply about the issue at all. But when the promotional dust settles on Fall Tour and “Fuego” slides back into regular rotation, I bet we see it extend into a jam more regularly. The band has already proven how prolific a springboard it can be, as they crafted three twenty-minute excursions from the title track, all plunging different musical depths. One commonality between all three jams, however, was the group-wide patience that allowed the guys to collectively explore and discover some awesome spaces. Between SPAC’s unforgettable peak, the Mann’s bliss-turned-funk theatrics and Portsmouth’s clav-laced groove workout, “Fuego” has certainly proved its value quickly this summer. And we have only begun to see what this piece has in store. (Check out Philly’s version here.)

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Chicago (G.Lucas)

Chicago (Graham Lucas)

“The Line”—Despite placing “The Line” just about everywhere in their show this summer, Phish still hasn’t found a routine use for this song. The two most common placements have been in the middle of the second set as an interlude between lager improvisations, and as a standard first set song. I can’t say it has totally failed in its second set role, but its natural place in a show seems to lean towards the first. “The Line” appeared nine times this summer, trailing only “555” and “Fuego.”

“Devotion to a Dream”—This upbeat tune was used solely as a first set song this summer and that seems just right. Phish paired “Devotion” with “Wolfman’s Brother” on three of its last four outings of summer, using the two songs as a stylistic juxtaposition within the opening half of shows. I foresee more of the same for “Devotion,” as its structure and vibe don’t lend themselves to the second set.

“Halfway to the Moon”—Unfortunately, I have nothing of interest to report on “Halfway to the Moon.” The band has kept the song harnessed to the first set and has showed no interest in opening up what could be a promising jam vehicle. As previously noted before tour, Mike’s and Page’s songs don’t usually get jams in this era, and the trend continues with this number.

“Winterqueen”—Phish seamlessly integrated “Winterqueen” into their repertoire during SPAC’s opening show as a second set landing pad for the sequence of “Bathtub Gin > Limb by Limb.” “Winterqueen” was also used in this vein following Chicago’s “Down with Disease,” as it appeared in set two on three of five occasions this summer. Its most improvised version, however, came in Charlotte’s first set when Phish pushed the piece beyond its traditional contour for the only time of tour. This song translated incredibly well this summer and brought us “Fuego’s” most pleasant surprise. (Check out Charlotte’s version here.)

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7.16/14 (J.Herzog)

7.16/14 (J.Herzog)

“Sing Monica”—Another one of summer’s surprise developments was the emergence of “Monica” as a late-second set rock breather in smoking stanzas of music. Trey called for the song in both Randall’s iconic final set and Merriweather’s opening, jam-heavy performance. “Monica” also appeared in a SPAC encore before “Tweeprise” in much the same vein. But after Merriweather the song disappeared—perhaps because Trey didn’t feel another set of tour was hot enough to warrant the kickdown? Maybe that’s where this song has settled, and who’d have thunk it?

“555”—When Mike’s newest song opened up Charlotte’s second set, the potential of a jam loomed momentarily in the air. But it wasn’t to be, as the song simply kicked off the set before a long-form “Chalk Dust.” Every other appearance of “555” came in the opening set of shows, and that certainly seems to be where Trey likes the song the most. This one could get dirty if they opened it up, but as predicted before tour, it doesn’t seem like that will happen. “555” was performed 11 times in 22 shows, trailing only “Fuego” (12).

“Waiting All Night”—This was another song that slid into rotation with ease, as the band used it effectively as both a second set cool down and a first set single. Interestingly, the band paired “Waiting All Night” with “Reba” on three occasions this Summer, twice being placed poignantly after the revitalized classic. Mike’s bass lines give this one a smooth and groove-based feel in the live setting, and Trey seems to like playing the song quite a bit, as he called for it eight times this summer.

7.16.14 (J.Herzog)

7.16.14 (J.Herzog)

“Wombat”—“Wombat” was just getting loose when Phish shelved it for the tour. In Canandaigua’s first set, the band stretched out the funk number into its most significant incarnation to that point in tour. And then days later they blew it wide open on the first night of Chicago, taking the jam out of the groove realm and into the spiritual and wide open. Phish fully broke through with Chicago’s “Wombat” jam, and then we never heard from the song again. As we left it, however, the jam was just growing legs—and that is an excellent sign for the future. (Check out Chicago’s version here.)

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“Wingsuit”—“Wingsuit” found a couple effective slots in shows this summer, most significantly used as a landing pad for improvised, second set passages. Beginning in Randall’s middle performance, the band opened up the end of the song into a “Curtain With”-esque jam, and it became all the more worthy of its second set employment. “Wingsuit” truly came into its own this summer, featuring massive, emotionally-laced crescendos and serving as a powerful infusion of psych rock into the live show. Phish also used “Wingsuit” as a first set closer a couple times this summer, a slot that also felt fitting for the dramatic piece. One place it didn’t work so great, however, was as a mid-first set song, as it seemed a bit too slow as shows were building momentum. (Check out Randall’s version here.)

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Alpharetta (Chris LaJaunie)

Alpharetta (Chris LaJaunie)

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625 Responses to “Fitting In Fuego”

  1. Kaveh Says:

    @mrC: you have used this term a couple of times; I’m missing something. Why do you call it Tiger space?

  2. sumodie Says:

    Also currently listening to that Playin’!

  3. Kaveh Says:


    @mrC: you have used this term a couple of times; I’m missing something. Why do you call it Tiger space?

    @sumo: I still am listening to that Playin. 🙂

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    @kaveh – as a huge fan of screamingly aggressive atonal/abrasive Tiger meltdowns in Playin’ (and elsewhere, but that’s the signature original placement), it’s ironic to be sure that my very favorite versions of the song are the ones that avoid that territory

    still love dat 6.8.74 doe

  5. Gavinsdad Says:

    Hadn’t seen any Mingus vid lately @C.

    In college we enjoyed “let my children hear music” which will always in my mind be the germ for Boards Of Canada’s “music has the rights to children”

  6. Kaveh Says:

    @mrC: I keep thinking the Tiger was referring to the guitar that Jerry was playing but Tiger wasn’t until ’79/80. – a very cool page.

  7. tzara's Says:

    Thanks, @lilum. Not a bad primer for someone just branching out into jazz.

    Part 3: The Wilderness

    Albert Ayler–Spiritual Unity, Live in Greenwich Village
    Cecil Taylor–Live at the Café Montmartre, Unit Structures
    Art Ensemble of Chicago–Jackson in Your House, Fanfare for the Warriors, Urban Bushmen
    John Coltrane–Ascension (maybe the wooliest of them all), Interstellar Space
    Ornette Coleman–Free Jazz
    Charles Gayle–Touchin’ on Trane, Repent
    Anthony Braxton–For Alto, The Montreux/Berlin Concerts, Oortmund (Quartet)
    Sun Ra–The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra Vol. 1, Other Planes of There
    Henry Threadgill–Which Brings us to Vol. 1 & 2
    Peter Brotzmann–Machine Gun

  8. Mr. Palmer Says:

    The new Dave’s Pick has been my in car listening for the last 4-5 days.. The whole thing is super solid… Many of those “1st set tunes” that I would normally ignore seem to have a little extra pizzazz to them.. A release that I can listen to from the top, no problem..

    I do believe we get one more this season.. Again, the $125 investment for the 4 releases per year has been well worth the investment for me.. I highly recommend it to anyone with any interest in remastered, somewhat obscure GD shows…

  9. sumodie Says:

    Denmark’s Oresund Space Collective lays down some great space groove. A modern day live improv collective

    Keep meaning to dig thru more of their output but thus far all I know is The Black Tomato, which is terrific (& courtesy of Tela’s)

    Def not an early 70s space groove sound tho

  10. Stoney Case Says:

    Waiting to pick up water tank and fire hose fittings. Will check that reading Reba. Usually napping by the encore. If it has whale, someone’s gonna PAY!

  11. Gavinsdad Says:

    @T3 – I see that dude who made that 2014 soundcloud mix quite a bit at shows getting down…he’s one of miners homies too

  12. MrCompletely Says:

    the (fan-named) Tiger jam is the super intense wah’d 64th note shredding meltdown typically with Phil bombs and full band explosion that was a feature of many or most deep jam segments in 73-74. You’ll recognize it. It was born out of the middle of Playin’ (the fast wah runs) and became a focus in the Wall of Sound era. I can’t even imagine what it must’ve been like on the Wall.

    Most deep space segments in the 73-74 era are either Seastones-y (washes, drones and pulses of feedback and effects) or Tiger-Y

    6.8.74 Playin > Wharf Rat > Playin’

    this one has a fast lead-in (some take 8-10 minutes to develop) and is fully Tigered by around 15′ with the signature riff kicking in at 14:55 or so

    this one a little light on the Phil bombs actually. partly the YT audio though

    this one comes out into a great little jam. A lot of their best shit in that era would be right after the Tiger meltdown

  13. Gavinsdad Says:

    Be safe @stoney.

  14. sumodie Says:

    Guess it’s back to uninteresting summer phish to fuel my arboreal psych run

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    I can see that the guitar would confuse the issue but the OG tapers had applied that name to the “tiger jam” in the mid 70s I guess

    @gd – Mingus

    2nd take on “So Long, Eric” –

  16. Jerome Garcia Says:

    I’m still learning to decipher the whale Stone Loc so if it’s whale heavy my apologies in advance.

  17. MrCompletely Says:

    ” Many of those “1st set tunes” that I would normally ignore seem to have a little extra pizzazz to them..”

    that is a huge part of why it got picked – has a signature jam but the whole thing is good – for instance that’s why the OKC show itself didn’t just get picked, all the “little tunes” are much better on 11.17

    good “little” tunes, signature/centerpiece jam, no huge cringe moments, master tape is in the vault = the basic formula for an official release. Harder than it sounds.

  18. sumodie Says:

    Stoney, be careful out there. Fire can be very crafty

  19. Jerome Garcia Says:

    snow did you end up making it out to Pickathon? Looks like a great festie. I’m kind of enamored w/ Valerie June aft streaming her Mtn Jam set…

  20. MrCompletely Says:

    so once you know Jerry’s Tiger riff you’ll hear it all the time both in actual Tiger meltdowns and in Playin’s starting early ’72 (in prototype form) – and in open jams where he hints at it but they may or may not actually drop right into it

    clearly one of his favorite things

  21. MrCompletely Says:

    also when you’re on acid and it’s really loud something about that Tiger shred goes directly to the spinal column & base of the skull…it comes at you like entropy and the heat death of the universe

    it’s pretty fucking primal. Another phase of the Insect Fear psychic assault

  22. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Thanks for the jazz recs tzara’s; copied for later consumption.

  23. Kaveh Says:

    Thanks @mrC, in all my years of listening to the GD, I have never heard of the Tiger shred. I always thought of it as Jerry blazing trail on the wahwah. Thus would you consider the Dark Star’s of 72 to have this Tiger shred as well?

  24. MrCompletely Says:

    ….yeah I should’ve said ’72 for start of Tigerosity….most ’72 Dark Stars have one somewhere after the first verse. Not sure exactly where it crept in though.

    eg. DP36 9.21.72 Dark Star right around 25 minutes it’s gone full Tiger after a long conversational intro….daves 11 Other One is pretty Tigerish around 17′

    one of the reasons I think Veneta is so popular (besides being great, and well known) is it doesn’t go right into deep space & tiger mode right after the first but instead flows into that more accessible bubbling jam

    giving it a name is just an arbitrary act of convenience, but it’s a much more common theme than MLB or Spanish jam for instance, and equally identifiable

  25. MrCompletely Says:

    and most Other Ones through that era too. Most of the big jam segments from at least mid 72 through 74 at least flirt with the theme

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