Paradise Waits

Miami 2014-15 (Andrea Nusinov)

Following Trey’s outstanding performance at the Grateful Dead’s Fare Thee Well shows, there has been an anticipatory buzz around Phish’s forthcoming summer tour. With many questions on the horizon and a full slate of shows in which they will be answered, it’s once again an exciting time in the world of Phish. With Bend just around the corner, here’s what’s been on my mind about Summer 2015.

Trey @ FTW (Jay Blakesberg)

Trey @ FTW (Jay Blakesberg)

It wouldn’t be a stretch to posit that Trey’s preparation for Fare Thee Well represents the most focused guitar practice that he has undertaken since returning to the Phish stage in ’09. He has mentioned in interviews that he isolated himself for up to over five hours per day to study Garcia’s playing, to learn Grateful Dead songs, and to practice. When asked in a Rolling Stone what he’s taken away from his work, he said “One is just guitar stuff. I’ve made a conscious effort to learn everything I could about Jerry’s incredible style. I’m playing in different positions on the neck. It’s opened up a whole world of people I’d never listened to before.” While I wouldn’t bet on any stylistic crossover into his own band, there is no doubt that this preparation will affect his sharpness and readiness to tear things apart on the with Phish. During much of 2014, Trey lacked the powerful leads that traditionally have directed Phish jams. He often laid back with quasi-aimless rhythm playing while his band mates stepped up to varying degrees of success. During the Fare Thee Well shows, especially come Chicago, Trey’s lead playing was the undeniable force driving the band and holding jams on course. He took magnificently passionate solos all over the place, often flooring the stadium-sized audience with his six string prowess. If there is one thing that I feel that will certainly carry over from his Grateful Dead project, it will be his assertiveness. I surmise that Trey, the lead guitar player we know and love, will be back in full force this summer, and that alone is enough to make the any fan giddy with excitement. Phish is the best when Trey takes the lead, not necessarily dominating jams, but directing them. And with his chops as polished as they have been in years, things bode well for his musical leadership this summer. It remains to be seen if the overhauling of his tone for Fare Thee Well will spill over into his Phish articulation. While I doubt he’ll bring his full-fledged “Jerry sound” into the mix, he could integrate some new phrasings and effects that he picked up in such a diligent case study of Garcia.

10/31/14 II. Las Vegas, NV (Eric Battuello)

10/31/14 II Las Vegas, NV (Eric Battuello)

While many people in the community have been hypothesizing about Phish covering Dead songs this summer, I think the more pertinent question is what will come of the Halloween material? In Miami, we saw a slight integration of some of the band’s universally loved Halloween set, but will they commit to the material in full this tour? Will we see some of these jams reworked into actual songs? Inquiring minds want to know. Using “Martian Monster” as a set closer over the Holiday Run seemed to imply that it would become a legitimate part of the band’s rotation. I would imagine we see this infectious funk number fully integrated into the live show this tour. But what about everything else? The band used the “The Birds” as a jam motif during the New Year’s “Theme From the Bottom,” and it is more in this fashion that I think we could see these Halloween passages come to life. Most all of the vignettes from the Haunted House set weren’t fully fleshed out pieces of music, and if they stay that way, it would be really innovative for the band to use them as instrumental themes to jam in and out of within larger improvisations in the vein of “”Tweezer -> Shipwreck -> Tweezer,” “Bathtub Gin -> The Very Long Fuse -> Bathtub Gin,” or “Tube -> Your Pet Cat -> Tube.” They could also use them as bridges between pieces like “Tweezer -> Shipwreck -> Carini” or “Chalk Dust -> The Dogs -> Light.” In fact, we already saw this latter use on 11.1.14 in “Light -> Dogs -> Lengthwise.” While there is a possibility that we see a couple of them reworked into legitimate songs, I almost feel that it would be cooler to see them kept as improvisational devices. If any, I think “The Birds” has the best possibility of becoming a formal song. In terms of any real integration of Grateful Dead material? I seriously doubt it.

Summer '15

Summer ’15

Summer tour’s routing sees the band play nine one-off shows, with five of them coming in rarely visited markets. While small market, out-of-the-way shows were not to be missed in the Phish’s earlier eras, they have more or less become greatest hit sampler platters that lack truly adventurous jamming in 3.0. The overnight travel segueing into soundcheck and a one-night performance hasn’t always treated the guys well over recent tours, and from experience, I would be wary before chasing them through their stretch of the Southern and Midwestern single night shows. They represent a serious grind with potentially small payoffs. Or perhaps I’m just getting old. The band’s wheelhouse in this era has clearly been multi-night stands, and if I had to predict where the strongest shows of summer will materialize, it would be within the two and three night affairs—Bend, Lakewood, Alpine, Philly, Merriweather, Magnaball and Dick’s.



Finally, for the first time since IT in 2003 (excluding Coventry), Phish’s summer tour will culminate in a festival. This format of their earlier years always provided a larger than life showcase for the band’s musical achievements of their current tour. They traditionally used their festivals to show what they had learned through their month-long journey, and put their improvisational foci and successes on full display at their August fiestas. This was arguably the best aspect of placing festivals at the end of their tours. Instead of having to gear up for a massive event in isolation, the band was fully in the flow of playing and jamming as they will be this year, and I think Magnaball is primed to explode far more significantly than Festival 8 or Superball, both which were played in detachment. And at Magnaball, we will—in all likelihood—get to experience one more of the band’s hallowed “secret sets.” I find it fruitless to speculate on what will transpire in this year’s installment, because Phish is always one step ahead of their fans and come up with something that we could never have guessed. That said, following their avant-garde Storage Jam, folks will be anticipating this set as much as any other of the three-night festival.

Only a few days separate us from the beginning of another summer tour. When Phish came back in ’09, nobody knew exactly what to expect from them, how long they’d stick around or to what level they’d perform. Now, six years later, the band is going strong, surpassed most expectations for this era and the guys seem committed for the long haul. They have struck a balance in their personal lives and have no signs of slowing down. Having fully righted their ship and restored their legacy, it’s full steam ahead into 2015.


6,610 Responses to “Paradise Waits”

  1. garretcorncob Says:

    Okay, Jtran, that news is good enough that I forgive you.

  2. little umbrellas Says:

    Neems, some of Aphex stuff is pretty dance accessible.. I can only imagine that his unreleased stuff is either more if the same, or the really weird shit.

  3. neemor Says:

    3PO, holy shit.
    There goes my weekend.

  4. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Poor Gloucester, losing out to aphex…

  5. little umbrellas Says:

    Yeah T3. He put out three hundred songs or something for free right after his latest album dropped.

  6. neemor Says:

    Guy I used to hang out with that created his own brand of electronic music was a huge Aphex fan and for a long time my evening car trips to Spanish Harlem were set to the soundtrack of that stuff.
    He professed extensively that “if you had robot ears like I do”, I would get it.
    I’m not sure I ever did…

  7. MrCompletely Says:

    seriously neemor I had the same experience when someone dropped that concept on me awhile back

    I was familiar with the idea (though not the name) from the left wing versions of it, specifically the west coast “Timber Wars” of the 90s with all the tree sitting and spiking in the old growth

    in addition to the fact that their direct action saved huge groves of old growth from the chainsaw, Earth First and all those radicals actually normalized the rest of the environmental movement that wasn’t as extreme. Before that, Greenpeace was the “fringe” – they moved one step towards the center, perception wise, and the mainstream environmental orgs (Sierra and all that, as well as the progressive arms of the Clinton administration) became very attractive to a lot of people as promoting “reasonable compromise” settlements…that in the larger view amounted to a massive, though not total or permanent, victory for the anti-logging side.

    So it works both ways, but it’s an overt, fundamental, planned part of right wing strategy

  8. neemor Says:

    Only Twin in my future that weekend is the Twin Lights.

  9. Snow Says:

    Duh dunt
    Duh dunt

  10. MrCompletely Says:

    him and Ciara gonna be hittin that Loophole tonight

  11. sex&city Says:

    sorry for the political mention but it just cracks me up that people are voting for Trump. I’m not political at all but it just seems like Mr. C’s points make sense. Like someone else has the idea that he will stir up some other emotions for other candidates. Political or not… I love how angry Bernie is.

  12. neemor Says:

    Day 43:
    It’s hot out today.
    My trusty feline companion, Stitch, and I decided to give it one more attempt.
    One more shot.
    We were able to weave our way through the crusty dreadlocked sea towards the front of the stage.
    We wanted to be close when the band dropped lyrics for the first time in over a month.
    We’d heard from some local fans that we were sure to hear them and that when they came, our lives would be different.
    We so wanted that to be the case.
    They said that there was one jam, one song they’d all been chasing since Barstow in Spring 2010 that indeed contained words.
    Someone was going to sing, they said.
    The last time they dropped it in the desert, they said a portal opened up, a portal not dissimilar to the Went Hood that has become a part of my DNA.
    Stitch and I weren’t going to miss that. For God’s sake, it’d been 40 days! How far can one band go without lyrics?
    Turns out, the answer to that question is not only evidently “more than 43 days in a row”, but as of yet is truly undetermined.
    But the chicken fingers on the way out of the festy grounds were delicious.
    More to come….

  13. neemor Says:

    The true answer is that Lettuce is not the band to carry the torch.

  14. little umbrellas Says:

    Newly renovated

  15. Loveisreal Says:

    When it comes to government. The more divided the better. Government makes laws. We have enough already.

    Trump is a clown. If he was for real he would have brought up how Mccain POW experience was very different from your average POW.

    He would have brought up how the war in Iraq was a fraud that mccain voted for, he would have brought up how Mccain was spearheading funding Syrian rebels who then took the money and formed ISIS.

    Trump is an elite plant to keep stirring up the race baiting and grease the skids for Hitlery.

  16. little umbrellas Says:

    Moondog, Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Jon Gibson – 1969 House Sessions

  17. little umbrellas Says:

    New post!^

  18. neemor Says:

    He was a clown well before that.
    But my favorite now is how he’s convinced and attempting to delude voters that he will win the Hispanic vote.

  19. sex&city Says:


  20. dorn76 Says:

    You know what’s classy? 20 foot televisions and a commode decorated in the style of the finest palaces in Baghdad.


  21. Loveisreal Says:

    Hispanic Americans, at least the ones I speak with don’t like paying for border jumpers either. Food stamps, housing subsidies, medicare. None should be provided to people that come here without going through the process. Why should my labor pay for anyone other than my fellow citizens.

    I think this is what Trump is trying to convey if he wasn’t the current court jester.

  22. m00nshake Says:

    I’d like to puff down before the show. I hardly ever do anymore. Anyone here in Atlanta that can help me? Haven’t found anything good on the lot yet.

  23. Random Poster...Nutbag Says:

    C…windows 7 machine. I thought I book marked one a while back but couldn’t find it this morning. Thanks.

  24. [Not Tom] Says:

    Weakest set of tour which sets up the mammoth second frame … Get it boys!

  25. [an unrelated] Wilson Says:


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