The Summer Debuts

6.18.09 Star Lake (M.Stein)

6.18.09 Star Lake (M.Stein)

As we turn the page on a new chapter of Phish history, one of the most exciting facets of this era is the plethora of new songs that were introduced in June.  As we begin our reflections on the past tour, I thought that their new songs would be a good place to start.  Showcasing diverse songwriting and various musical styles, the band has come out with a slew of new material- with more waiting in the wings.  Let’s take a look at each song one by one, in the order of their summer premieres.


“Ocelot” – debut: 5.31 Fenway Park I

Unveiled as the first new song of tour, many fans had heard the band’s rehearsal of this piece at The Centrum from the previous night, which somehow made it to the internet.  A playful song that evokes memories of the ’70s folk-rock tradition, “Ocelot” hopped into rotation from day one.  Trey’s lyrical melodies complement the the song’s loafing, casual grooves, creating a catchy piece that would stick in your head far after the show was over.  Growing in improvisation each time out, the band stretched the final Deer Creek version into a real jam.  Expect much more to from “Ocelot” in August- “Won’t you come out to play?”

“Light” – debut 5.31 Fenway II

6.18.09 (M.Stein)

6.18.09 (M.Stein)

Debuted as the landing point of Fenway’s colossal tour-opening “Tweezer,” “Light” was the one song that I really anticipated making the jump from TAB to Phish.  Sped up from its Trey Band incarnation, “Light’s” jam has adopted a feel of a new-school “Piper.”  With soaring guitar work and full-band improvisation, the Bonnaroo version, which emerged from “Rock and Roll’s” ambient jam, provided one of the weekend’s highlights.  An open-ended jam that even found its way into some funk grooves at Manchester, it seems that “Light” has limitless potential.  I have a feeling that this could develop into one of 3.0’s shining stars.

“Time Turns Elastic” – debut Fenway 5.31 II

6.18.09 (M.Stein)

6.18.09 (M.Stein)

This controversial opus was showcased on the first night of tour, and played several times throughout.  Certainly a great piece of music, its place in a live show is questionable, in my opinion.  As soon “Time Turns Elastic” started, we knew we were in for nearly twenty minutes of straight composition.  Appearing in the middle of three second sets, “Time Turns Elastic” played the role of vibe-crusher more than once.  But when placed as a first set closer at Alpine- coming out of “TMWSIY”- it worked much better.  If Phish is going to continue to play this song, which I’m sure they will, they need to be extra-selective about where they place it in a show.  A complex musical accomplishment, this one seems better suited for at-home couch listening than at an energetic, psychedelic Phish show.

“Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan” – debut 6.2 Jones Beach I

“I got a blank space where my mind should be”- centered around this intriguing refrain, this heavier song became an instant favorite when they broke it in the second show of tour.  Featuring a slower pace and ominous feel, “Stealing Time” seems like an ideal launchpad for dissonant, psychedelic improv.  Throughout June, however, this song remained largely in the box, with it’s final version at Deer Creek extended with some blues-rock, guitar led improv.  This piece won’t remain shackled forever, and when the band finally steps to it, the results could be astonishing.

“Kill Devil Falls” – debut 6.2 Jones Beach II

6.18.09 (M.Stein)

6.18.09 (M.Stein)

Sounding distinctly like a TAB piece, “Kill Devil Falls” is essentially two songs in one.  First, we have the straight ahead rock and roll composition, that to be honest, leaves a bit to be desired.  Yet, when the verses end, the band enters a segmented jam that sounds almost identical to a “Birds of a Feather” jam.  (In fact we were sure they were soundchecking “Birds” at Fenway while they played this.) Once its improv section began, this song heated up considerably, with its most exploratory and enticing version coming during Bonnaroo’s late-night set.  Producing one of the standout “type-II” jams of tour, Trey clearly loves this song, and we have only begun to hear the places it will go.

“Twenty Years Later” – debut 6.5 Jones Beach II

With a chorus that approaches the sound of an “indie” Phish song, “Twenty Years Later” features engaging lyrics and layered vocals that almost sounds like a different band.  The song then progresses into a heavier section reminiscent of “I Saw It Again.” Clearly a reflection on Trey’s journey over the past two-decades, this song seems more autobiographical than any other.  Only played this one time, we have yet to see what really in store for this one.  But after only one version- I like it.

“Let Me Lie” – debut Great Woods 6.6 I

6.18.09 (M.Stein)

6.18.09 (M.Stein)

Originating from Trey’s solo album Bar 17, Phish transformed “Let Me Lie” into their newest ballad- just as predicted.  A poignant memoir about recovery and resilience, this one also contains metaphorical imagery about Trey’s trials and tribulations.  A gorgeous composition, the rest of Phish really fills out this song in the way that TAB could never do.  Appearing a second time as an interlude amidst Deer Creek’s monster second set, this one will be a 3.0 staple before all is said and done.

“Sugar Shack” – debut Camden 6.7 II

One of the songs that I wish we had heard more often, Mike’s newest contribution to the Phish catalog made an impressive debut in Camden’s second set.  Combining quirky changes, segments of groove, and carnival-like guitar lines, “Sugar Shack” is one of the most unique songs of the new bunch.  Only appearing once during June, we can only hope that this gets pulled into rotation come the second leg of tour.

“Joy” – debut 6.7 Camden Encore

Played only twice this June, “Joy” is another new ballad, describing the emotional plight of a woman and her connection to the outside world.  The lyric, “We want you to be happy, because this is your song too” also carries figurative meaning for the entire audience, as we are all a part of this great Phishy experiment.  An outwardly emotional song, this one will probably gain mixed acceptance in the larger Phish community.  I think it’s great.

“Alaska” – debut 6.9 Asheville II


6.18.09 (M.Stein)

Another TAB > Phish transplant, this may be the least interesting of the June debuts.  A comical blues-rocker with a guitar-based “jam,” this one appeared twice in three shows, and then we never heard it again.  As any Phish song, its jam has potential, but the composition of “Alaska” falls a bit flat.

“The Connection” – debut 6.19 Deer Creek I

album-undermind-bonus-dvdIt was a complete surprise when the band broke out “The Connection” towards the end of Deer Creek’s first set.  Off of the band’s last album, Undermind, this song never made it into a live show in 2004.  The debut of “The Connection” came off quite well, with catchy hooks and Jerry-esque noodling.  More proof that any song is fair game this time around, “The Connection” is a welcome reminder of its wholly-underrated album whose 2004 release was squeezed in just before Phish called it quits.  It will be interesting to see how this song develops come August.

Eleven songs made their Phish debut in the band’s first tour back on the road, most which will find their way onto their upcoming album, Joy. Differing in musical quality, most all of these songs hold great potential for improvisation.  We have only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of what these songs will grow into, as Phish mostly played basic templates this tour.  As they embark on a new era of their career, Phish has ushered in their most impressive batch of new songs in over a decade, adding a distinctly fresh feel to their ’09 setlists; and I foresee even more debuts in August.  Stay tuned – to Red Rocks and beyond!

What do you think of the Phish’s new songs?  Respond in Comments!



Yesterday, a story on Rolling broke some new information about Phish’s forthcoming album, now officially titled Joy. Later in the day, issued a small news release about Joy, with an official track listing.  A clear theme about the passage of time and a reflection on life runs through the album, starting with “Twenty Years Later” and concluding with “Time Turns Elastic.”  The only song hasn’t been played live is “I’ve Been Around.”  Look for the album some time in August.

1. Twenty Years Later
2. Backwards Down the Number Line
3. Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan
4. Light
5. Joy
6. Sugar Shack
7. Ocelot
8. Kill Devil Falls
9. I’ve Been Around
10. Time Turns Elastic



6.21 Alpine Pollock

6.21 Alpine Pollock

6.21.09 Alpine Valley, East Troy, WI < TORRENT LINK

Set II contains some of the tightest and most exploratory improv of the run.

I: Brother, Wolfman’s Brother, Funky Bitch, The Divided Sky, Joy, Back On The Train, Taste, Poor Heart, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, Time Turns Elastic

II: Crosseyed and Painless  > Down With Disease > Bug > Piper > Wading In The Velvet Sea, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Slave To The Traffic Light

E: Grind, Frankenstein

Source: Schoeps CCM4V’S(din) > Lunatec V2 > Benchmark AD2K > Sound Devices 722 (24/48) – Recorded by Z-Man

Tags: , ,

223 Responses to “The Summer Debuts”

  1. c0wfunk Says:

    The jaded musician in me says practice your guitar and put down the rock band. God the last thing I want is a bunch of kids who think they are better than trey cuz they nailed yem on expert.

  2. Pence Says:

    I got 360, and its on the RB 1 disk but idk if its available, but I do know Allman’s Blue Sky is available on wii, which is sick, sick, sick. I suggest you look for both today!

  3. Frondoot Says:

    new song highlights for me are ocelot, sugar shack, and stealing time. cant wait to hear them nail down sugar shack, have been having alot of fun listening to the camden version

    while i like bdtnl and alittle disappointed on how they translated from rothbury to now, def thought they both seemed to have more potential then

    dont really have a solid opinion on the rest of them yet, have to hear tte live and see where they place it to form a better opinion..saw joy at camden and wasnt very overwhelmed, i`ll have to go back and give it another try

  4. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    @cowfunk, 100% agree about rock band, i’m so anti those games, check out the south park episode on guitar hero from a couple years ago, it’s amazing

  5. lambo Says:

    Joy drops the Tuesday before Red Rocks!!!

  6. halcyon Says:

    R.I.P Farah Fawcett

  7. Weyoun42 Says:

    I have little to no actual guitar ability. I’ve tried, believe me. I can play a trumpet and that’s it. I also have zero creativity. So, I love the Rock Band games. They’re great for parties (especially for vocalists). Also, the games have opened me up to new music (had never heard Green Grass and High Tides before, WOW what a song) and given me new appreciation for bands I did know (had no idea how talented the lead guitars for Pearl Jam and Oasis are). It’s just a different, slightly interactive way to appreciate music. Would I rather be able to play a real guitar? Hell yes, but I honestly don’t have the time or money to put into that.

    Also, yes, Wilson is only a so-so song for the game, but it’s better than nothing. I’m very tempted to go out and buy a used copy of Guitar Hero World Tour for the Phish three pack that drops this week.

  8. Mr. Completely Says:

    no offense f0ol, but that SP episode is just snarkiness. I thought it was kinda funny before I tried playing the games, now I know it’s just more meanspirited SP nonsense like that show has been since about season 3. In the ep aren’t they playing the game with the sound off or something? Now *that* would be lame.

    @c0w, I’ve tried 4 times over 20 years to learn how to play guitar. It ain’t happening for me. Period. My hands aren’t wired to my brain the right way. Same is true for a lotta folks. So it’s not one or the other for me, it’s the game or nothing.

    Also, ask music teachers – RB and GH are leading to a huge explosion in interest among kids who want to learn how to play real guitar. So *again* it’s not one or the other. It’s both.

    *And* it leads to a huge wave of interest (and sales) for the bands that take part – bands that otherwise have no way to reach the new generation.

    Plus it’s just really, really for for those of us who aren’t musicians.


    I have played Blue Sky so many times it’s driving my wife insane. As a young hippie growing up in NC that song – and the twin solos – permanently embedded itself in my soul (“goin’ to Carolina…”). Playing those guitar parts makes me so happy I just about lift out of my body. It’s a pure joy feeling. Completely unlike any other “game” experience I’ve ever had.

    Another cool, unique RB thing (like the extended outro jam in China Cat” is the way the guitars on Blue Sky are mixed more forward – when Duane starts his run he becomes MUCH more prominent in the mix than he is on any regular release of that song. You could just dive into his tone and swim around in it for days. It’s completely sublime – IMO Duane Allman had the finest tone of any guitar player in history and that is really a shining moment for him.

    Anyway, enough RB talk. But don’t judge that stuff, please. It’s awesome.

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Weyound, what other Phish songs are coming?

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    oic – Sample, DWD, Chalkdust. Cool. Chalkdust was the main song my wife and I thought “why didn’t they release that instead of Wilson?” And now I want to know what live version of DWD it is.

  11. snigglebeach Says:

    My early fave of the new songs is Stealing Time. Hooked me immediately.

    I actually like Alaska. First time i heard it was at Roo, and although a bit folksy, i thought it was a nice in between piece, something fun, that you can catch your breathe during. Like Horn or Sleep.

    But Kill Devil Falls. Decent song, but first time i saw it, JB3, totally turned into Birds of a Feather jam. If i thought that was a tease, cool, but i think they just jammed and accidentally turned it into Birds, like they forgot what they were playing.

    They did it again somewhere, spacing out right now, and I feel they should either fully put them together, KDF into Birds, or figure out something. At one point they tried to get back to KDF to finish it, and it led to one of the bigger flubs of the show.

    All in all though i love the new stuff. I have said before, i really dig music that is unfamiliar. Love seeing new bands with material i have never heard. Just so fresh and original. Somehow after 18-20 Disco Biscuit shows they always sound new or different. Keep the new music coming

    Anyone know anything about “I’ve Been Around”??? Is it a TAB crossover? a Mike song? or just something they have been saving.

  12. c0wfunk Says:

    hey I hear you guys and I understand for sure – if it’s fun it’s fun and I’ve played it and had fun at parties…. and I won’t judge anyone I was just throwing that out there…

    but I personally ascribe to the theory put forth in the “effortless mastery” book that is basically that we are all creative musical beings at heart and can play – there are just blocks put up all around us by our culture, ourselves, and our experiences. It’s in there somewhere, though. I used to think I could never learn to play – when I was doing a lot of phish shows I couldn’t play a thing – and granted it took me a 4 year degree in music to learn – but anyone can learn the process given enough time and effort and the willingness to sit and play the same friggin 3 notes over and over and over and over and over until you pass out from exhaustion.

    So it’s in there somewhere boys and it’s never too late! But rock that video game if you want cuz whatever gets you through the night … its alright.

  13. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    that show/episode is brilliant satire, that episode uses a satire on cliche movies about musicians to make fun of guitar hero and to show how kids would rather play that game and when they see someone actually play a real instrument they’re bored by it, it’s hilarious

  14. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    @completely, 1971-04-26 (dead show), the solo by duane allman on BIODTL is amazing

  15. Weyoun42 Says:

    For anybody who wants to keep talking about Phish in the rhythm games without cluttering up the talk here, I use the official Rock Band message board and a great thread a guy started on Phish there. It can be found here:

    Per that thread, these are the versions hitting GH:WT today (sad that they’re edited, but it doesn’t look like they cut too much):
    Down With Disease – 12/1/95 – Hershey, PA – Original Version (7:24) – Edited Length (6:16)
    Chalk Dust Torture – 11/16/94 – Ann Arbor, MI – *A LIVE ONE VERSION* – Original Version (6:49) – Edited Length (5:49)
    Sample in a Jar – 12/1/94 – Salem, OR – Original Version (5:40) – Edited Length (5:00)

  16. old dude Says:

    sniggle – hopefully “i’ve been around” is a Page tune

  17. Weyoun42 Says:

    Okay, my last video game post (maybe…), I find it funny that not too long after that South Park episode mocking the rhythm games, Rock Band two came out and it had a South Park song on it. Whoops.

  18. Weyoun42 Says:

    @Old Dude,

    Yes. More Page, please.

  19. El Duderino Says:

    Do you think the band will add more tunes to the 122 they went on the road with for the first leg of the tour?

  20. old dude Says:

    how dare they edit down the Chaulkdust from ALO. I was there, every minute was sweet rage! (and if i may gloat for a moment: i was also at the Wilson and Bouncin from ALO)

  21. old dude Says:

    ^yes. Llama = 123

  22. Phish...Yup Says:

    Mango = 124

    Sneaking Salley = 125

    HARPUA = 126

  23. El Duderino Says:

    I think they need more than just one tune. I’m thinking another 20 is about right.

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    at this point, Duane Allman is just about the only guitar player who can make an extended blues solo interesting for me.

    Thanks for the link Weyoun42. Too bad they’re editing them. A strange thing to do, they have plenty of really long songs. Jesus, I hope that doesn’t mean the Live Dead Dark Star will be edited when it comes out.

  25. oneshowatatime Says:

    thank god they didn’t name the new album “party time”

Leave a Reply