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. MrCompletely Says:

    Cards def screwed up there but didn’t they end up kicking from not much further out than that line of scrimmage? Of course, they might’ve gotten closer without the penalty but who knows

    Garoppolo was ok. Good enough

    Cards needed to win that, tho. Hilarious they couldn’t. Pats are just a first down machine

    Cowboys guy not going out of bounds easily the weekend highlight for me

  2. [Not Tom] Says:

    The SLF and I are already planning Dick’s next summer. Hoping they return to SPAC for Independence Day again and those 6 shows will be my summer tour for Phish (unless they swing through the south of course).

    I’m not gonna road trip to any shows.

    Phish will troll us all and throw down 40 min Tweezers as penalties

  3. Stoney Case Says:

    Agreed C. Anytime the Cowboys shoot themselves in the foot is a win for everyone outside of Texas

  4. MiA Says:

    Stafford screaming at Jones and others for not getting out of bounds was great too. But they pulled it off.

    Honestly I love Stafford. This was great.

    Gotta feel for Oklahoma State though. “Ooops. Us refs didn’t understand the rules so you lose anyway”

    They fixed that by suspending them. Lol.

  5. MiA Says:

    Don’t be confused Stoney. Watching the Cowboys lose is a great experience for 75% of Texans.

  6. dorn76 Says:

    Including 1.1 would be great. Love the 1.1 vibe and hotel prices!

  7. HadToHaveThat Says:

    Having that tweezer for lunch plord! reliving the incredible memories of Christiania
    Listening on phishtracks. Anyone have opinions on audio qaulity between phish OD/phishtracks/phishin? Or is it all the same? Is that what y’all mean when you say “tapes” or do you mean actual cassettes? I’ll check out those contrasting ghosties too C!

  8. HadToHaveThat Says:

    This will be the first MSG we’ll be tracking for. Will miss hosting the usual cast of character in our queens apartment. Lots of air bnb in the city but hate paying in advance. Will probably look to share a room if anyone else is considering that hit up the wombats. So much going on between now and then!

  9. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Planning on heading back east for Christmas but heading back to CO when run most likely starts on 12/29. Dangit. Had an absolute blast @ 1/1 & 1/2 w/ dorn & the BB last yr. Sorry I’ll miss the fun this yr.

  10. MrCompletely Says:

    by “tape” I just mean the recording. At that time, AUD recordings still were always made on DAT as opposed to the direct to HD stuff a lot of people do now I guess? Like physical tape

    just means the sound quality of the recording tho

  11. Stoney Case Says:

    MIA thanks! I feel even better now!

  12. dorn76 Says:

    Check the “tapes”, “spin” the shows.

  13. aj Says:

    @Ren if you are out there, thought you would find this album cover of note.

  14. GWK Says:

    @HTHT, I believe that phishtracks and phishOD app both use that FOB mics-in-hat source

  15. GWK Says:

    ^for the 7.1 and 7.2.98 shows i mean

  16. GWK Says:

    same source for 7/9/98 Barcelona but that AUD is not nearly as crispy as Den Gra

  17. MrCompletely Says:

    he made a great tape of Prague as well

  18. GWK Says:

    but if you stop in on 7/9, don’t sleep on the Tweezer, Drowned, or the Hood > Izabella

  19. GWK Says:

    Nice, C I never knew that about the Prague show. Was that the night that LP released or the other night that he taped?

  20. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    if you are hitting those barca shows, check out the halley’s from 7.10 for a before-it-was-born tease of first tube not to mention a great groove pocket jam

  21. verno329 Says:

    Came across this really interesting Trey interview from 2002 as he was establishing the 10 piece band. I absolutely love TAB from 2002 and 2003 and thought this was a great interview.

  22. Mr.Miner Says:

    barca tweeze is the chron

  23. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Eastern PA boogie. Cabinet 1/24/15 Rex Theatre Steel City USA.

    Making a CO run in Nov. Def catching Denver @ Bluebird & most likely Bolo @ Fox.

  24. MrCompletely Says:

    both, but his 7.6 is the one I always spun

    he taped the whole tour minus like one or two shows. 7.1, 7.2 and 7.6 are the ones that are both killer shows and the best tapes

    I’ve mentioned it many times before but those were the 3 recordings that sealed the deal on getting me back into Phish

  25. verno329 Says:

    And if you like that era of TAB and haven’t grabbed TAB Just Jams yet you can grab it here

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