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.

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6,610 Responses to “Paradise Waits”

  1. garretcorncob Says:

    Fun Tedeschi Trucks Band video at Red Rocks a few years back.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vZqjg-9gTg

    Everything you’d expect from TTB

  2. MiA Says:

    Love the comment in the “Gonna Fly Now” video Vape.

    “How awesome were the drugs back then that white dudes with afros and creeper beards, dressed in sushi chef’s outfits, were considered cool?”

  3. MiA Says:

    If you haven’t heard ZpZ, this is a great DVD to watch online with a great setlist.

  4. MiA Says:

    Spieth!

  5. MiA Says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOtuqYzJTsM was the video I meant to post.

  6. vapebraham Says:

    glad you saw that, MiA. hilarious b/c it’s true.

  7. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Wow I’m fucking dumb. The Zappa show is next Tuesday hahahaha

  8. Bwana Says:

    @Sumo and @More shooting @MartyParty (a random drive poster) emails with their extras. Not saying I deserve them but just trying to figure out if I’m being trolled or not… I’m sure everyone will get their extras that needs them. I have 7 tickets total for Bend — scored in the onsale on two computers. #beatthebots. 5 of those are going to friends. I have a lot of friends. Still have two friends looking…

    Bummer @Stoney that you’re not making it to Bend. Thought I might get to meet you finally. I know we have mutual acquaintances behind the Redwood Curtain. #butwebcastsavestheday

    @Telas, are you going to Bend? I know you’ll be tuned in proper from the couch either way. Boulder Theater also offering free live screening one of the nights

  9. MiA Says:

    Seeing ZpZ in the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills would be pretty cool too. Gorgeous theatre.

  10. Bwana Says:

    I’m thinking I’ll still check in with the Waterwheel table for chance meetings with BBers.

    Re: venue. As long as the sound is dialed and they don’t overfill the space, we should be all good. I posted this before, but a local friend who plays in a band in Bend said Phish paid to break the curfew and can go until 11pm if they want…

  11. StoneyCase Says:

    yeah Bwana, me too. Definitely not Phish or the prospect of The Line > Wingsuit keeping me away. Nope, just simple logistics. Too far and a pain in the ass to drag the little man. Would have to rent a mini-van, hire a baby sitter, and me and the SLF take three ill-advised days off of work. I absolutely love Bend. I went there before it was completely blown out, and after. It’s still awesome. Might do Shoreline, as it’s a couple hours closer, plus only one night to deal with the kiddo.

    Spun Miami 1/1/15 again. Could care less about FTW and the new toys, if THAT Trey shows up, IT’s on again!

    It is funny what a petulant child we treat Trey like, and he acts like.

    “I hope Trey is in a good place.” “I hope he doesn’t cut off his band mates.”
    “I hope he lets the jams breath.” “I hope FTW reinvigorates him as a band leader and guitar player”

    I mean, my lawd. It is a little pathetic.

  12. sumodie Says:

    Bwana, when do u arrive in Bend?

  13. butter Says:

    I almost moved to Bend instead the Bay back in 97

  14. dorn76 Says:

    Trey Dick Riders, mount up!

  15. StoneyCase Says:

    butter, head up the 101 and stop by. Then cut over on the 199 through Smith River. #EpicDrive #FuckTheI5inThisHeat

  16. StoneyCase Says:

    dorn, no, we are calling for the Treypologists to sharpen their keyboards.

    I’m challenging Treyceratops to destroy the doubters and shove crow down our proverbial throats!

  17. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Tough Love Trey.

  18. Lycanthropist Says:

    That moment when you realize Phish starts tomorrow….

    Not today.

    :/

  19. Bwana Says:

    ^Sumo, I fly into Redmond tonight at 1030pm. Staying at my friend’s house in town.

    @Stoney. Hope it works out for Shoreline for you… LOL the rest. Curious to see whether Fuego material or Halloween material gets more play this summer. What’s gonna be the most played song following last summer’s Fuego/555 race…

    1/1/15 the most underrated of the Miami shows. Slower pace to that second set but great playing by Trey. Always keep that sequence up through Winterqueen on standby for a needed chill night vibe

  20. BrandonKayda Says:

    Phish tour starts tomorrow? Holy shit, that went by fast. I didn’t even realize that.

  21. Bwana Says:

    Great link @Irie to the rehearsal video clips. Plus commenting on new originals being practiced and Dead tunes being explored.

  22. StoneyCase Says:

    Gone are the days where I hope for new Phish tunes.

    #Architect’d

  23. Gwkush Says:

    Afternoon, BB. Psyched for all you Bend-goers.

    For the vinyl lovers, looks like Rift gonna be pressed for a Magnaball release! Probably the album after Lawn Boy that really hooked me on this band.

    Trey as a petulant redhead child is a funny mental image. Throwing fits, spilling mushy Cheerios all over the kitchen counter crying about being forced to play outside and missing Lost In Space. “But Mike’s mom lets himmmmmm watch!”

  24. voopa Says:

    butter, head up the 101 and stop by. Then cut over on the 199 through Smith River.

    Great advice. That’s the route we took back from camping 2 weeks ago. Some of those towns in the Smith river valley are time warped about 35 years or so, but it’s a cool drive. Just don’t get caught in Grants Pass during a rush hour/thunderstorm combo. Or do.

  25. voopa Says:

    Stoney- I saw some ADA’s available through TicketBastard for Shoreline last week.

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