So now that we know exactly when and where Phish will play, the logical trivia question for fans that will be tossed around over the next five months is, ” What will they open with?”  Always a fun topic to debate, even for a regular show, the reasoning used to support these theories are far more detailed and thought out for this comeback show.  Everyone has different opinions on what Phish will start with, because everyone has different opinions on what message they will be trying to send with those first notes.  What will they welcome us home with?  The most highly anticipated show of the band’s career, the opener will be used to not only set the tone for the run, but for all of Phish 3.0.  Let’s explore some of the possibilities and reasons for some potential tour openers.

1. You Enjoy Myself:  The magnificent song that has long defined the band is one obvious choice for the opener; getting back to where it all began right off the bat.  YEM has always been Phish’s quintessential song, merging precise composition, loose improvisation, and silly lyrics.  Earlier this summer, Trey said he would give his left nut to play YEM five times in a row every day until he dies; odds are they will only play it once.  A YEM opener would signify the enthusiasm of the band to return to their glory, and would get Hampton bumping in no time.  Usually reserved for the end of a set, YEM would be the perfect reentry into Phish’s kingdom.  If I were a Vegas odds maker, YEM would be the favorite to open up the next chapter of our lives.

3. Chalk Dust Torture: One of the most often played songs in the band’s career, and a clear favorite of Trey’s, this song could be used to open the run and whip the crowd into an immediate frenzy.  A common set opener, this is another likely candidate.  Lyrically fitting, the reprise of, “Can’t I live while I’m young?” still has profound meaning for Phish and their aging fan base, and it would be a poignant message to deliver right away.  If the band wants to start back with some straight rock and roll, you can be sure that Chalk Dust will be leading off.

4. Tube: If Phish wants to use Pulp Fiction‘s technique of giving us an adrenaline shot directly to the heart, they will choose Tube.  Can you imagine if the lights went out, they stepped on stage, and an asteroid crashed?!  The place might just pop- the energy this would produce is straight up, unfathomable.  This would be the opener in a crazy dream you might have, but it could happen, this is Hampton after all.

5. Punch You In the Eye / Wilson:  Either Punch or Wilson would serve as a rowdy Gamhendge supercharge, right from the get go.  Both of these songs would bring forth amazing energy and get the crowd re-situated in Phishland very quickly.  While both are classic openers of the band’s past, I feel these songs won’t start off the show, as they are relics of their college days, and the band is simply not there any more.  Nothing too improvised, these songs would, nonetheless, get Hampton sweating and bouncing in no time at all.

6. Mike’s:  If Phish were to come out to the opening licks of Mike’s- forget about it.  We would witness the immediate implosion of the venue and surrounding Hampton area.  This would be the ultimate statement that “We are back, and we mean business.”  Hampton Mike’s Songs are a staple of Phish’s past, and this would be the perfect time to drop the sixth one ever.  Imagine three minutes into Phish 3.0 cannonballing into a militant Mike’s jam!?  Whew- just the thought of it makes my heart pound faster.  A Mike’s would catapult us back into the thick of things with little time to mentally or physically warm up for the madness.  This would be my dream- a Hampton Mike’s straight away- that would be incredibly powerful.

7. Get Back On the Train: If this song were selected, it would obviously be a lyrical choice that would reflect the band’s personal battles they have overcome to reach the stage together once again.  Although the lyrics fit the situation, this would be an incredibly underwhelming choice for an opener.  An average song at best, this one wouldn’t have the same musical effect as previous choices.  But who knows, Phish could open with this and drop right into YEM, something not so far fetched.  Although there would be legitimate meaning here, I think the opener will be a bit bigger.

8. Undermind: This song, the title track of Phish’s last album, was never played in 2004.  Only played by Trey’s solo band a couple of times, this song would be a perfect musical and lyrical fit to open up the rest of time.

Relocated, not retired
Reprimanded and rewired

Mystified and mishapen
Misinformed, but not mistaken

Reinvented, redefined
Rearranged, but not refined

9. The Curtain (With): This would seem like the natural choice to start out with since they closed Coventry with an absolute trainwreck of their hallowed classic.  Beginning in the wrong key, the band had to stop and take it from the top on their last song ever played.  It was sad.  But now there is a chance to right the wrong of Coventry, and they could very well choose to symmetrically open up their next chapter by nailing the gorgeous composition leading into an uplifting jam.  It would give a nod to the fact that Coventry was not the way it was supposed to end, and that Phish is back to do things the right way again.  Used as a launching pad into a larger jam vehicle, they could use a Curtain > YEM combo to open the show in incredibly Phishy fashion.  Curtain could also be paired with a lot of other songs to kick off the show.

10. A New Song: It is very possible, since Phish will evolve into a different band than before, and with all the new material Trey and Tom have been writing, that the band will come out to something we’ve never heard before- ignoring the obvious choices of their classic jam vehicles.  It would be a very Phishy move to welcome people to the future with a song that nobody has heard.  It would send the message, “We are back, don’t expect us to be the same.”  Matured with a greater perspective, the band could come out and drop something brand new- a proposition I, personally, find very inviting.  Phish will be different, that is for sure; so we might as well start off on a new foot.  While I, personally, think “Backwards Down the Number Line,” will open up a second set during the three night run, it could be what they come out of the gates with.  Again, it all depends on where the band is coming from at this point in their lives.

The first notes that emanate from the stage at Hampton will spark joy and jubilation in the Coliseum, and it could take so many different routes.  These are merely some of the possibilities I have conjured up, and I am sure there are more legitimate guesses out there.  They could always open up with Runaway Jim, like most every other show in history- who knows?  What do you think?  One of these?  Something different?  Respond in comments and let’s hear what you think!


DOWNLOADS OF THE DAY: 11.25.95 Hampton Coliseum <<LINK

Keeping the theme of the week going, this is the show that got it all started- Phish’s first visit to the Mothership.  Featuring a terrorizing 30 minute Mike’s song in the second set that included the bands first “Rotation Jam,”  Phish dropped a heavy show in the Coliseum the first time they stepped foot in the door.  Starting off with a great improvisational first set that set the palate for the dark second frame, this is a great memoir of Phish past.  With three versions of Poor Heart played in this show, one slower than the next, this night combined Phish’s ferocity and humor into a classic evening.

I: Poor Heart, A Day in the Life > David Bowie, Billy Breathes, Fog That Surrounds, Bouncing Around the Room, Rift, Wolfman’s Brother, Runaway Jim

II: Timber (Jerry) > Kung > Mike’s Song > Rotation Jam > Mike’s Song, Long Journey Home**, I’m Blue I’m Lonesome**, Strange Design-> Weekapaug Groove, Harry Hood, Hello My Baby, Poor Heart^

E: Fire#

from PT user dyland23:

“A while back a buddy of mine was working up at the barn assisting a video crew who was interviewing Trey about “Time Turns Elastic” for a DVD that i guess fell through.  My friend managed to rip the audio of Trey playing the song on acoustic guitar and sent it to me to check out before the big debut in
Nashville.  Apparently during the interview at The Barn, Trey talked about doing this song with Phish, so given the big announcement yesterday I figured it would be a good time to let it out. Enjoy!”

I listened to this, and it is very cool acoustic playing.  It makes it sound like Time Turns Elastic could be a Phish song, which I never would have thought after seeing the orchestral performance.  Check it out.  It’s only 13 minutes; the second lyrical movement only.

Thanks to Christopher Stearns and Lawrence Pinkham  for bringing this to my attention.

So now that we know exactly when and where Phish will play, the logical trivia question for fans that will be tossed around over the next five months is, ” What will they open with?”  Always a fun topic to debate, even for a regular show, the reasoning used to support these theories are far …

Where To Begin? Read More »

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