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. BillyCampbell Says:

    B ig
    B oat

    Does Trey love us?

    Treys done the Still Waiting at 4 shows thus far that I know of. UIC and AV I was at. It’s a spiritual throat grabber.

  2. Mr.Miner Says:

    Miner, I think it works through that whole set. For me personally I thought it was a little much in the encore but like we said who cares about encores anyway.

    ^ for sure. never thought it wasn’t good. they largely do it over the present musical texture so it doesn’t disrupt anything

  3. Sex&City Says:

    Having an issue listening back to Dicks… I feel like I need time to listen to at least the entire set at a time, right?

  4. dorn76 Says:

    Any Miley fans on here?

    Sex, you need to hold a glowstick and stand in the dark too.

  5. Sex&City Says:

    I’m a Miley fan and I just paint neon on my shaft and stand under a black light.

  6. Sex&City Says:

    Can’t wait for Miley on the new Voice season…

  7. little umbrellas Says:

    Had my first fully attentive and proper headspace’d listen to Dicks 3 set 2.


  8. little umbrellas Says:

    Read back saved for manana. Still goin . No , sleep, till oakland.

    Opening for an act called Y La Bamba from portland. Interesting soundcheck.

    But yeah , Sunrise driving south on the 5 in Oregon whIle blasting dicks3 set!
    Glowing. Super connected band. Hose was on.

  9. dorn76 Says:

    Describe that headspace. Try to use words that don’t indicate preference. Tell us how you felt.

  10. Jerome Garcia Says:

  11. dorn76 Says:

    Keep going.. Yes. That’s it. Not you sex.

  12. HadToHaveThat Says:

    Same issue sex….still doesn’t feel like I’ve listed to dicks fri or sat cause I haven’t listened to it front to back

    I feel like that comment could be suggestive lol

  13. HadToHaveThat Says:

    What the what JG?! That sounds amazing. I love life aquatic. Maybe on the roster for lazy time this week

  14. dorn76 Says:

    Not you sex. Same issue sex. It all works out.

  15. dorn76 Says:

    Cool playlist within.

  16. HadToHaveThat Says:

    I really miss NYC whenever I want to see good live music : – /

  17. Sex&City Says:

    HTHT… It’s true. I don’t like watching beautiful movies in pieces either

  18. Sex&City Says:

    Dorn fights with it… Embrace the Sex!

  19. sumodie Says:

    I dig the studio version of Breath and Burning

    Mostly because the band fully won me over with their version at Dick’s

    The worst of the slick & gooey Fuego production is absent

    Would I listen to the track if it wasn’t by Phish? Probably not

    So Trey went over to Playa del Carmen after Riviera Phish (according to npr)

    Nicolas Jaar is in my wish list but Providence RI is likely too far

    and Chainsmokers was a troll comment from me. Just thinking that word makes me want to hurl and hurl again. I’ll take boring heroin every day & twice on Sunday over smoking cigarettes, yuck.

  20. BillyCampbell Says:

    Chainsmokers is a way better song than Blah and Boring.

  21. Hans Says:

    A week later the Crosseyed has grown on me but I still prefer the tweezer. Maybe I am alone on that call. Crosseyed is the consensus jam of the year, no? Or is it SPAC dust?

    Great lists earlier!, instead of adding to it with more we all already know and love decided to drop a list of jams I absolutely LOVE that I rarely or never see anyone mention.

    Overall a mixed bag of great stuff. On a side note this was really fun, band has created so much amazing music, listening to all of it even once is a challenge , let alone the multiple close listens required to fully digest.

    Contained to 99-04 the older period I spin the most. Would love to see a similar list for 92-94 the period I know the least.

    Starlake simple
    Toronto ghost
    Niigata 8/1 tweezer
    09/28/99 Alabama tweezer
    Big cat dwd
    09/11/00 piper- wtu
    07/19/03 alpine piper
    07/21/03 46 days
    04/16 Vegas twist
    06/25 alpine 7 below

  22. HadToHaveThat Says:

    Took your advice and really enjoyed a day of 98′

    Listened to tweezer 4 times before letting it play into 2001, loved the kind of light and jazzy 2001 but that could also just be cause I’m still swinging dicks! Ghostie from 7.2.98 my fave of all! But that’s all I got through today

    Won’t sleep on 7.9 tommorrow will stop by Prague and contrast ghosties

  23. Sex&City Says:

    Starkiller is really enjoyable but I hate the name.

  24. Hans Says:

    I’ve always wanted to get into 02-03 tab but don’t know where to start. Does anyone here know what jam that is?

  25. Mr.Miner Says:

    how do you contact someone via reddit? Ive never used it but there is one guy with a pic or two i’d like to use? Loks like verno may have contacted him already?

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