Where To Begin?

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.

2. Down With Disease: We all know how much the band loves this song, and how they love to play it in big situations (NYEs, Cypress, etc).  There has never been a Phish situation bigger than the one at hand, and Disease is a strong candidate for first song out of the gates.  Lyrically symbolic of leaving their troubled times behind them, Phish will “be on their way” to becoming the dominant musical force they once were, and the inspiration for so many adoring fans again.  The lyrics, “Trying to stop these demons that keep dancing in my head,” delivers the message of redemption and a focus on the future and not the past.  The future is what this is all about after all- letting the past be over and moving forward, together.

Chris Clark

Hampton - photo: Chris Clark

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

These spot on lyrics, infectious melodies, and chunky grooves could be the perfect opener.  Familiar, yet never played, it would represent Phish bridging their past with a new sure-to-be crowd favorite.  This could be the perfect way to kick things off- with a new jam we have never heard.


Coventry - photo: Andy

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#

*With rotation jam. **Acoustic. ^Slow shuffle version. #With “Poor Heart” tease before the beginning.




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.

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42 Responses to “Where To Begin?”

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  1. themanatee Says:

    How bout…..Sanity. Super Phishy, appropriate lyrical content in a Phishy way, but very slow of course.

  2. andrewrose Says:

    They’re gonna open with My Sweet One.

  3. andrewrose Says:

    or Bathtub.

  4. Matso Says:

    I’ve been thinking maybe Pebbles & Marbles. I know that so far it has had mixed results live, but the IT version convinced me that this can be a serious weapon in the arsenal. Beautiful composed section to get it going, lilting upbeat song, ferocious jam.

  5. kbill23 Says:


  6. Powder Lips Says:

    The more I think about this question, the more one answer resonanates deeper than others which is David Bowie, with a long drawn out, well teased, mind fuck into sending big smiles across everyones face especially trey’s.

  7. Scott Says:

    I think cavern would be a great opener…

    Imagine that initial drumbeat to start things off, people would go nuts.

  8. kbill23 Says:

    is it for this my life i sought

  9. Drinks>Chainsaw Says:

    Antelope……. It’s gotta be.

    Although personally, I would love it if they opened up with 2001 or Ghost or Sand. Something that would say, “HEY, Remember this shit !?!?!?!” …You know something that says….” We’re back and you’ll be lucky if your head doesn’t explode tonight!!!”….I would love it if they set the tone with a jam vehicle of that nature.

    To tell you the truth though, they could come out and play sample in jar over and over again for two sets and a smile wouldn’t leave my face. just to be inside for these shows will be good enough for me.

  10. bigtimd Says:

    the opener will be Theme.

    buried alive- that’s a bit of a stretch.

    if you’re thinking in that vein, what about Frankenstein? That would throw a monkey wrench in the works.

  11. JeremyC Says:

    I think it has to be symbolic, yet something they can rip into. So my pick is YEM, for the same reasons listed above- mainly Trey’s quote of … 5 times a day…, or Chalkdust, as that has been a standard opener to get things going. If its not something to get the crowd into a frenzied release of suspense, it’ll be something new, something to play while everyone is intently listening, something to build suspense for that riff everyone’s waiting for, and something to say, ‘here’s the new Phish.’

  12. ted Says:

    RIFT.I want to hear ’em open with RIFT.
    We’ll see if everybody truly has the poisons out of their systems if they are able to pull this one off.

    Plus …”silence contagious in moments like these” might just be the goofiest lyric to throw down while deafening screams fill the air as they hit the stage.

  13. mp Says:

    Thin Lizzy Cover
    The boys are back….

    Guess who just got back today?
    Them wild-eyed boys that had been away
    Haven’t changed, haven’t much to say
    But man, I still think them cats are crazy

    They were asking if you were around
    How you was, where you could be found
    Told them you were living downtown
    Driving all the old men crazy

    The boys are back in town
    The boys are back in town
    I said
    The boys are back in town
    The boys are back in town
    The boys are back in town
    The boys are back in town
    The boys are back in town
    The boys are back in town

    You know that chick that used to dance a lot
    Every night she’d be on the floor shaking what she’d got
    Man when I tell you she was cool, she was red hot
    I mean she was steaming

    And that time over at Johnny’s place
    Well this chick got up and she slapped Johnny’s face
    Man we just fell about the place
    If that chick don’t want to know, forget her

    The boys are back in town
    The boys are back in town
    I said
    The boys are back in town
    The boys are back in town
    The boys are back in town
    The boys are back in town
    The boys are back in town
    The boys are back in town

    Spread the word around
    Guess who’s back in town

    You spread the word around

    Friday night they’ll be dressed to kill
    Down at Dino’s bar and grill
    The drink will flow and blood will spill
    And if the boys want to fight, you’d better let them

    That jukebox in the corner blasting out my favorite song
    The nights are getting warmer, it won’t be long
    Won’t be long till summer comes
    Now that the boys are here again

    The boys are back in town
    The boys are back in town
    The boys are back in town
    The boys are back in town
    The boys are back in town
    The boys are back in town
    Spread the word around
    The boys are back in town
    The boys are back in town
    The boy’s are back, the boys are back

    The boy’s are back in town again
    Been hangin’ down at Dino’s
    The boy’s are back in town again

  14. Colonel Fred Says:

    What if they started with Hello My Baby or a similar vocal quartet song, then jumped directly into a high energy classic like Golgi or CDT?

  15. Weyoun42 Says:

    If you want a cover:

    Why have they done to the old home place?
    Why did they tear it down?
    And why did I leave the plow in the field,
    And look for a job in the town?

  16. blasphemous Says:

    This is Phish we’re talking about. ForgotMyName is right. It’s gonna be Waste.

  17. GWKush Says:

    It was Fluffhead, kids.

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