Five Sets of Summer

7.19 Bill Graham (Michael Stein)

7.19 Bill Graham (Michael Stein)

When presented with care, Phish sets are more than a collection of songs. They have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and carry the listener on a journey with strategically placed jams and songs. Though such artistically created statements were few and far between this summer, here are five that stood out from the pack.


5) 7.15 II The Gorge, George, Washington

The Gorge M. Stein

The Gorge (M. Stein)

Every time you thought Phish was going one way, they threw a head fake and veered another in a set anchored by misdirection, teases and all-around zany Phishiness. Though it didn’t always flow so well, the band certainly went for something on this night, never settling into any one jam and keeping the audience on their toes with segues, hijinks and musical theatrics. Though the set didn’t contain a whole lot of meat, the band came closest to a central jam in the opening sequence of “Crosseyed” > “What’s the Use?,” building the former into a sublime space, before quickly jumping ship into the latter. “What’s the Use?” took on a larger-than-life, feel amidst the majestic surroundings of The Gorge. Phish used “No Man’s Land as a recurring theme throughout this frame, continually referencing the song both musically and lyrically, while featuring a mash up with “Crosseyed” in its jam segment. “Meatstick” > “2001” contained the most fluid improv of the night, as the band locked into a hypnotic outro groove that flowed seamlessly into the Deodato cover. In a set that never stopped bobbing and weaving, Phish delivered a dynamic listening adventure on the first night of their west coast swing.

Crosseyed and Painless > What’s the Use?, No Men In No Man’s Land > Stash, Ghost > Chalk Dust Torture, Meatstick -> Also Sprach Zarathustra, Cavern


4) 7.18 II Bill Graham Civc Auditorum, San Francisco, CA

7.20 Bill Graham M. Stein)

7.20 Bill Graham (M. Stein)

The second set of Bill Graham’s first night possessed four distinct segments that pieced together to form a pretty fluid frame of music. The first segment came in the pairing of “Golden Age” and “Twist,” the former featuring a fiery groove excursion that carried a hybrid feel of “2001” and “Tube.” It seemed as though the band would revert to playlist form with mid-set versions of “My Sweet One” and “The Line,” but they rebounded nicely with the combo of “Simple -> Sneaking Sally.” “Simple” briefly moved into ethereal territory before giving way to the jam of the night in “Sneakin’ Sally.” A relentless peak highlighted this centerpiece before the set concluded with standout versions of “Limb by Limb” and “Slave.” Phish engaged in some patient jamming on this night which came as a welcome shift from their previous several shows.

Golden Age > Twist, My Sweet One, The Line, Simple -> Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, Limb By Limb, Slave to the Traffic Light


3) 7.1 II SPAC, Saratoga Springs, NY

SPAC Andrea Zimmerman Nusinov

SPAC (Andrea Zimmerman-Nusinov)

Sometimes a massive jam sequence can hold down a set all on its own, and this is what took place on the band’s first night in Saratoga Springs. After a solid set-opening “Sand” the band took flight in their most outstanding improvisation of the summer in “Carini -> Chalk Dust.” Masterful interplay rolled off the stage with the sense of effortlessness that characterizes Phish’s best playing as the band connected multiple themes in a cohesive, thirty-five minute explosion. This sequence felt like a breakthrough after a week plus of building improvisational momentum and it seemed as though the band would take off from here for the rest of tour. As it turned out, however, “Carini -> Chalk” proved to be an anomaly in a low-key summer, but this portion of jamming certainly stands up to the band’s most proficient work of the last several years. Although it did contain some rarities, the rest of the set devolved into a series of songs, but after the peak that Phish had already reached, everything else felt like gravy.

Sand, Carini -> Chalk Dust Torture > Prince Caspian, Bug, Shine a Light, My Sweet One, Sleeping Monkey, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Fire


2) 6.28 II The Mann, Philadelphia, PA

BGCA M. Stein

BGCA (M. Stein)

The three elements of a great Phish set are flow, jamming and song selection, and the band hit on the trifecta on the first night of the Mann. Phish navigated this second set with nary a hiccup, offering two tour highlights and connecting everything quite smoothly. High quality excursions stemmed from “Fuego” and “Breath and Burning,” as both jams navigated the darker side of things. “Fuego” likened a revamped soundtrack to Super Mario’s dungeon lair and “Breath” took a bass-heavy path towards a similar vibe. These jams were complimented by a searing version of “Jibboo,” an intense Page-and-Trey-led “Timber,” and a peakier-than-thou version of “Slave,” creating an airtight set that possessed non-stop action throughout.

Fuego > Runaway Jim, Gotta Jibboo, Breath and Burning -> Timber,  Slave to the Traffic Light, You Enjoy Myself


1) 7.19 II Bill Graham Civic Audirorium, San Francisco, CA

7.20 Bill Graham M. Stein

7.20 Bill Graham (M. Stein)

The second night of Bill Graham contained the best set of summer and, frankly, it wasn’t even close. Amidst a tour in which second sets often lacked jams and flow, Phish swam fluidly through series of jams in this one and closed with authority. This musical statement featured one of tour’s upper echelon improvisations in a high-octane and cathartic “Ghost,” a long-form, angelic-turned-demonic “Down With Disease,” and a wide-open couplet of “Scents and Subtle Sounds” and “Light.” The band assumed a different demeanor than they had shown for the majority of the summer, favoring artistry and improv over songs and simplicity, and they came up with a winner. Capping their jam-laced escapade with the high energy combo“No Quarter” and “Fluffhead,” Phish left everyone with a smile on this Tuesday night.

Down with Disease > Fuego > Ghost > Scents and Subtle Sounds > Light  -> Manteca > No Quarter, Fluffhead


Honorable Mention

6.25 II Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL: Though nothing crazy happened on this night, flow alone pushes this set into contender status—a comment on the quality of this summer more than anything else. A compact, blissed out “Carini” provided the lone highlight of the night.

Carini > Tweezer > Fluffhead, Piper -> Steam, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Harry Hood, Tweezer Reprise

The Mann A. ZImmerman-Nusinov

The Mann (A. Zimmerman-Nusinov)

9,460 Responses to “Five Sets of Summer”

  1. lumpyhead Says:

    there were some good set 1s this summer

  2. Calpain Says:

    Press releases just circulated for a Huge medical cannabis conference in the Bay Area in December. UCSF is hosting it which is a big deal.
    Clinical trial/regulatory/DEA focused.
    Special areas are epilepsy/cancer treatment and animal-human translational models. Trying to attend.

  3. Calpain Says:

    And these first sets are nice. Gotta jiboo chomp chomp

  4. dorn76 Says:

    US just won the bronze in fancy horse dancing (Dressage)! Actually a great result considering the competition, we usually have the 4th or 5th best team out there for big events.

    Came down to our last rider, the youngest and most inexperienced on the team. She is actually a great story, and a bit of a contrast to the usual off-putting blue blood pedigree of this sport. Her horse, Verdades (Diddy for short), has been lasermagnetized, or I wouldn’t be boring you with it.

    Laura, sup?

  5. sumodie Says:

    I can’t decide which jamband tier these guys belong in. Perhaps a wholly new category?

    Beware, weirdness awaits:

  6. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Your lazermagnets?

  7. dorn76 Says:

    Yessir. Cool story, actually, bro.

    I’ll text group ya

  8. Sex&City Says:

    Loring Commerce Center… I forget how good that was until I listen again. I did it again!

  9. Lycanthropist Says:

    We are tier 6 sumo

  10. vapebraham Says:

    12.16.99 LxL – clipped or not, shit is going off in the living room/office. $$$. Trey!

  11. vapebraham Says:

    Welcome to the weekend!

  12. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    speaking of weekends, these guys could jam

  13. Jerome Garcia Says:

    That has def made its way around the BB before sumo. Pretty sure he’s an ATX legend. Baddest motherfucker since David Allen Coe.

  14. vapebraham Says:

    some of the baddest jerry band I’ve ever heard: 10.12.73 Someday baby (merl with the liquid clav tone. chill. flows like a river.), Funny Valentine (epic, best version ever), Harder They Come. jerry and merl. merl and jerry. killer.

    picked it up off etree. the other tracks have issues. these tracks smoke.!W512CS6K!8PnaHp7mbYZlQzrR_uQ_cw

    humid AF

  15. vegas wolfmans Says:

    While a sixth tier jamband, Lycan, you cats are also a third tier Nirvana cover band. So there is some crossover appeal there IMO.

  16. Lycanthropist Says:

    very true that makes for an aggregate 4.20 tier level

  17. Jerome Garcia Says:

    ^the h3ttiest of tiers!

  18. Lycanthropist Says:

    the teen smelliest even

  19. snowbank Says:

    I caught 3 of the 5 best!!!
    In an off year.
    Back to the basement…

  20. Mr.Miner Says:

    added wrigley 2 as an honorable mention

  21. bobby weird Says:

    wow, very cool Dorn. feather in your (dandy) cap!

  22. gavinsdad Says:

    Miz Ren a way to cut costs in Vegas is to not stay at the Luxor.

    I’ve done it hi and low at Vegas including some time sleeping in my car in circus circus parking lot but that wasn’t quite intentional. The Barbary Coast may still exist on the main strip and is as down and dirty a place that u could imagine. Perfection in a way. I’ve eaten at Olive Garden twice. Once was in Vegas.

  23. phlorida phan Says:

    Noice dorn!

  24. dorn76 Says:

    Danks fellas! High fives were had in the office. Now to put some hop juice in my orifice.

  25. snowbank Says:

    Oh damn. Twiddle is playing the Summer Meltdown. Wanna carpool Vegas?

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