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. verno329 Says:

    Looking to pick 30 PJJ tracks to help with a blog doing a project for the lead up to Magna Ball. He wants to do a 30 posts in 30 days serial type of thing and wanted our input. Going from 2000+ to 30 is a challenge. No real theme to the selections, can be anything. Any suggestions?

  2. verno329 Says:

    And great call there @tela’s. The whole segue into WMGGW would be ideal

  3. The Flesh Says:

    Love my coffee but not a huge dunkin guy. Always tastes burnt to me.

  4. The Flesh Says:

    Can you do thirty festival jams? Just an idea

  5. dorn76 Says:

    Re-read now that the family is asleep and I have been with them and with my own stink (it’s humid) all day, with as much vigor as my nearly 40 years can muster.

    The thing that sticks out it the mention of the Halloween material. I kinda think it might be left behind. Hope I’m wrong. If it inflects some jams, then shit, I will be the happiest wrongest mofo in the building.

  6. verno329 Says:

    Thats an interesting idea @flesh. I’ll take a look

  7. The Flesh Says:

    One of the live baits was all festival jams leading up to superball tho

  8. GWKush Says:

    Yo Flesh, you or any buddies have an extra Friday Lakewood pav?

    Also still on the hunt for MPP2 pavs is anyone out there has some to shake

    Much obliged. Bring on de pheesh!

  9. dorn76 Says:

    Couch tour starts after the ladies go to bed.


    The British Open is on while American males are at the office with high speed internet tomorrow AM.


  10. The Flesh Says:

    Unfortunately not GWK. Have a few friends coming in from out of town that are looking for pavs Friday too. I still am trying to upgrade my lawn to pav sat night.

  11. little umbrellas Says:

    100 Songs as an autobiography of jazz. Dope.

  12. MrCompletely Says:

    It waves on repeat thirty times

  13. bob dylan Says:

    Similarly, Vegas Wolfmans x30

  14. little umbrellas Says:

    Feeling the Out vibes huh..

    I was just listening to this playlist of the most classic material, shows the arc..

    But Vegas Wolf and It Waves huh?.. .. ya think the boys in Phish ever listened to this
    : ?
    -a fav true spacecamp record from 68

  15. dorn76 Says:

    Correction: shoed American males.

  16. MiA Says:

    Polaris Disease is a monster. I could use a best of Ohio” list. Tons of greatness across that State.

    Spun the 6/20/95 Chalkdust. Great stuff too.

  17. MrCompletely Says:

    they have this sign up as the ampitheater in Bend

    pretty classy

  18. sumodie Says:

    I’ve seen a few questions that might be answered by the SBD recordings index at all full show sbds, LBs, FTAs, and LP releases are indexed here (w many dl links)

  19. vapebraham Says:

    Great times

  20. little umbrellas Says:

    Havent heard the Polaris Disease, will have to fix that.

    .. home made Pho tonight, pressure cookers are sweet..
    gonna try The Life Aquatic a second time, so far the only Anderson film that I haven’t connected to (not including Darjing which i don’t really count as being in the same series).
    .. I think because I had no sympathy for Bill’s character, just didn’t seem to learn or care about anything..

    Open Perspective and a bigger screen should help this time.


  21. MrCompletely Says:

    no blankets at Les Schwab, huh

  22. vapebraham Says:


  23. dorn76 Says:

    At least bad possessive vibes and smallpox won’t be spread.

    Marco B review will have to wait. Kaya is going to sleep until Tuesday.

    I’m out, past self imposed insomnia beating deadline of 12:30 EST. Old course watching will get me in the office early.

    Also, still watching Tremain FTW vids via LazyL. Not over it. But Tuesday is coming, and right soon!

  24. MrCompletely Says:

    food in the venue, cash only

  25. MrCompletely Says:

    I fucking love pho. Wife not as enamored, so probably never going to invest the time to learn to make it. Sounds great.

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