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.

Magnaball

Magnaball

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.

Tags:

6,610 Responses to “Paradise Waits”

  1. MrCompletely Says:

    if I can’t get a cappucino wet with proper marshmallow consistency in the venue I’ll be pretty snippy I tell you what

  2. dorn76 Says:

    It was a lovely view of Heaven but he would rather be with us.

    #Ihope

  3. garretcorncob Says:

    Believe it. C’s got a personal hipster barista in his kitchen, complete with pretentious condescension.

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    His name is Armand but he hopes you will all call him Demitasse. You shall know him by his awesome sleeve work and the complexity of his mustache.

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    Not just anyone can make a proper wet capp though. Fact. Once you get used to the top shelf it’s hard to drop back.

  6. Mr.Miner Says:

    just checked out the venue…looks pretty small and unorganized. Just a field with a tiny bandshell. Not a lot of room on Page side up front, the scene will be pushed back a bit or possibly elsewhere. Seems like an odd venue to be honest. Why are they playing Bend I wonder? A tiny out of the way nothing town with a nothing venue. seems odd imo

  7. bob dylan Says:

    Trying to get caught up on TotD and saw this post: https://thoughtsonthedead.wordpress.com/2015/07/20/cut-and-pasties/

    Mildly NSFW.

    anyway… mango song’d

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    it’s a beautiful resort town and a boutique venue, I’ve never been there but pretty much everyone I know that’s seen shows there loves it, why would they not? out of the way is great. first shows on tour, plenty of time to get there

  9. bob dylan Says:

    I’m guessing bend was chosen for a couple reasons. Band prob had fun in eugene in the fall and Oregon is legal now. Gotta think they take that into consideration a bit. Notice no deer creek since 2012 cause indiana is a pain in the ass.

    just throwing out possibilities.

  10. bob dylan Says:

    also seems the band has been trying to keep venue selections fresh. people aren’t touring in full anymore and a lot of shows are “destination” events. oregon is pretty rad from all accounts I’ve heard. haven’t been myself, hope to change that soon.

  11. BingosBrother Says:

    Just read

    “Number of Ripples played after 1981”

    1

    Make that 2 motherfuckers. I am a lucky bastard. Yall best be Bending time AND space. Do eeeetttt.

  12. StoneyCase Says:

    Bravo Mr. Miner! Great article. Well written, enjoyable read.

    Mr. C, want that room?

  13. little umbrellas Says:

    Definitely got a different take on the film this time. But a complex one, not exactly didactic in terms of what the film is saying about how it values or what it’s saying about its character’s progressions.

    Dug it though, artfully done of course.

  14. Mr.Miner Says:

    I guess. The venue is really nothing. It’s a band shell and a field. We’ll see how it goes. The town is super small. It’s pretty chill though…i don’t know. Seems like Portland would make more sense, but what do i know

  15. Mr.Miner Says:

    Be hard pressed to call bend a resort town from what I’ve seen though 🙂

  16. little umbrellas Says:

    Portland makes more sense to me sure.. But I think the word boutique is appropriate in describing what would be the appeal behind the choice.

  17. little umbrellas Says:

    It’s definitely a destination location for folks trying to get away to some nice outdoors. Perhaps not tons of amenities, so not sure how that fits into the concert goers scene, but def a lot of rustic wilderness.

    Those phishies I’m sure will be getting up early on a sober clear head to see the sunrise and take long beautiful hikes during the day before the shows.

    –but BH though, actually doing that. Gonna be glowing from all that hiking and health.

  18. Mr.Miner Says:

    Yep. Going on a long hike with my brother tomorrow.

  19. Fatbunch Says:

    Locust the Lurker has been workin a fire in Alaska / had to bail on Bend. Now he’s called off the fire and being flown back to Seattle landing Tues 6 am. Anybody have Seattle peeps heading to the shows who could give this cat a ride to Bend? Better yet with extras?

  20. More Says:

    Email sent Marty

    I still have xtra bend tix but driving there from the south

  21. Jerome Garcia Says:

    gonna try The Life Aquatic a second time

    ^son of a bitch I’m sick of these dolphins

  22. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Morning phreaks. 8/17/12 Tweezer > Twist on the LP App to start my day. That’s some good shit right there.

  23. tela's_muff Says:

    Stopped in Bend for a day and night betwen Gorge and Tahoe. Loved it.

  24. garretcorncob Says:

    “A bandshell with a field”

    Isn’t that the dream? Why we love Festis and Bader and Randall’s? Just smaller?

  25. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Morning gang. Hug your loved ones. Seize the day and rage tomorrow night. Giddy-the F-up. Live Bait is the shiznet. Be good fellers. Safe travels.

Leave a Reply