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

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223 Responses to “The Summer Debuts”

  1. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Noah – I bought 3 shows of LivePhish SBDs. Unfortunately they sound horrible. They’re like a joke really – actually they literally are a joke. I played them for some friends in the music profession and we laughed and laughed about them, in sheer disbelief. The degree to which Mike is absent is beyond explanation. It is unprofessional and very unlike Phish to release them.

    If the boards were awesome, I wouldn’t bother looking out for matrix upgrades. And I’m also trolling around for the really great AUDs as well – I want to hear this mk41 fob by itself. Love the down front stuff!

    But…you know…the matrixes *really do* sound way better than the boards. Why shouldn’t those be out there? Why shouldn’t they be available?

    On a more philosophical level: I give Phish every dollar I can afford to give them. We buy every studio release and major DVD release. We own hundreds of dollars worth of official merch, including Waterwheel stuff. We buy tickets to shows. And we do everything we can to turn other people on to Phish.

    Phish is making assloads of money, for themselves and their charities. We contribute our share, I think.

  2. whole tour! Says:

    what about us folks WHO DID PAY for everyshow?
    i have one such matrix: greensboro 2003. not only did i buy a ticket, but i also bought the flacs…not once but twice because the discs wore out. then a friend sent me the matrix (schoeps + livephish sbd), which is the BEST recording i have ever heard.

    this tour i already preordered every show, not impressed whatsoever about the lack of kick drum/bass.

  3. playitleo Says:

    Thanks R1, that second set was certaintly was some good shit!

  4. msbjivein Says:

    @F00L, The Piper jam is outta this world. I never heard any sloppy versions of anything @ Alpine or DC. Maybe some miner flubs but that’s gonna happen every show. You should listen again. The only very sloppy songs I’ve heard all tour were early on @ JB the Mike’s, Simple, wolfmans and The Camden Fee and Lizards. There was nothing that obvious at either Alpine or DC. IMO

    @Phisyup,I was just ranking the debuts of this tour. BDTNL would be top 3 for sure.

  5. Noah Says:

    “what about us folks WHO DID PAY for everyshow?”

    Morally, you have a point; but it still violates Phish’s trading (and taping) policy.

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    @r1 – on first listen I thought it sounded clumsy and disjointed, but I was listening at work and not in proper frame of mind for weird music, if you know what I mean. So I have no opinion yet.

    Some of the AUDs I have heard are great. And I won’t link to the matrixes if people object, I understand that stance. But I want to hear the best possible recording I can, and except for a real genuine A+ FOB which happens about once a tour, that means matrixes.

  7. whole tour! Says:

    i have seen trey ‘jedi’ it many times, especially in 99/00. he usually waves the guitar and uses his pedals to make the feedback/effects.

  8. Mr. Completely Says:

    I would certainly say that from a moral standpoint, though perhaps not a legal one, if you bought the download to a show you have the right to a matrix version of that show. *especially* since these SBDs are bad to the point of unprofessionalism.

    From my personal ethical perspective, if I am giving the band hundreds of dollars a year, every dollar I can afford to spend, I am not going to worry about conforming exactly to legality or policy.

    FWIW, taping outside the OTS is a violation of policy. You against FOBs?

  9. msbjivein Says:

    I agree about the SBs. The vocals Trey & Page are the only things that sound decent. Fish sounds very distant and Mike sounds very Thin. They need to improve that shit for the 2nd leg. I wonder if it’s the mix or the gear they’re using to record it???? Maybe a little of both.

  10. Albert Walker Says:

    what’s the rush anyway
    do we really need them the same night
    and I thought the 2003-2004 boards were bad
    take your time and do them right

    I found Alpine’s almost un listenable

  11. larrybirdflu Says:

    i for one love KDF, and ocelot for that matter. i think that Stealing Time was perfect as the opener at great woods, i think it has the potential to become one of those great show openers ala Pyite and bag, the kind that really get the crowd into it early. also, i think TTE is best employed as a first set closer.

  12. R1 Says:

    Agreed – the SBD’s are extremely poor. Fishman sounds like he’s in another room.

  13. Mr. Completely Says:

    Final thought on this and then I have to get to work crunch for the afternoon – if Phish was still the little band I first saw 19 years ago, or even the size they were in the mid 90s, I would never consider not paying for music. I always pay for up and comers, and bands stuck at that mid level, your MMWs of the world. They need and deserve every dollar they get.

    And I don’t like the idea of people not paying for anything, ever. If you collect a bunch of SBDs and matrixes, you should buy a fair amount of stuff too.

    But if you’re the kind of person that bought Walnut Creek DVD, and pre-ordered Clifford DVDs, and own 10 official merch shirts, and bought tickets to every show you could afford, and paid for a few LP downloads…well…

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    For second leg I’m sticking 100% with the No Spoilers during tour and we’ll just see how the boards turn out. If they get their shit together, the heat is off the matrixes – it’s that simple.


  15. Frondoot Says:

    Sorry to take the conversation even more off topic..

    I need some Miles Davis suggestions (besides bitches brew and kind of blue) and some Coltrane suggestions…thanks your suggestions will be very much appreciated!

  16. halcyon Says:

    Maybe in todays world of instant access they released the sbd’s as fast as possible..hopefully with time they will go back and remaster / remix the boards and put out some quality.

  17. halcyon Says:

    Miles Davis On the Corner. Also check out The Hot Spot soundtrack with John Lee Hooker. Late 70’s early 80’s noir style music.

  18. R1 Says:

    Miles: Live Evil with John McGlaughlin DARRRRRK

  19. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    just listened to the piper again, still sounds sloppy but i liked it more this time – cool little “can’t you hear me knocking” lick by trey, the ending sounds like a version of space by the dead, almost sounds like they’re about to go into “the other one”, i like the ideas contained in this piper but wish they played it tighter

  20. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    miles davis – in a silent way, and a tribute to jack johnson will blow your mind

  21. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    miles – sketches of spain
    coltrane – a love supreme, live in japan, my favourite things, giant steps, blue train

  22. halcyon Says:

    Live Love is a good one too. In a Silent Way is bliss.

  23. c0wfunk Says:

    miles on the corner is great – it has a lot in common with phish fall 97 jamming.

    as for coltrane – the obvious is a love supreme of course, but one that I really love is the recent release of coltrane and thelonious monk at carnegie hall – it’s beyond the pale and catches a really interesting point in jazz – coltrane’s ready to fly off into his new lands, the rhythm section is still swingin it hard and monk is – well, monk. It’s a hot mix and was buried in the archives until just a few years ago when it suddenly came to light (my friend was actually working at the library of congress archives at the time and her boss found the recording – crazy stuff!)

  24. El Duderino Says:

    @ Mr. Completely,

    CM just put up a fresh transfer/up-grade of 10/30/77 @ Workingman’s Tracker

  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    …waiting for publish to live server….


    “real jazz” i.e. if you like Kind of Blue – go for mid 60s “second quintet” albums with Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock.
    Live at Plugged Nickel

    “transitional” albums are my favorite. Between the acoustic stuff above and the full raging rock stuff.
    Filles de Kilimanjaro
    In a Silent Way <– prob. my #1 suggestion

    "fusion" albums i.e. post Bitches Brew. Most of this stuff is even more aggro than BB by a long way.
    Jack Johnson is a favorite.
    Live/Evil, Pangaea, Aghartha, and now several more – all very crazy.



    My Favorite Things – more like regular jazz, very amazing tho. The end solo on the title track is stunning.

    A Love Supreme – my favorite work of art by any artist in any medium. The perfect blend of technique and spirit.

    Complete Village Vanguard – 4 disks, every one of them epic. Heavy improv and moderate atonality – a good intro to the heavy/weird stuff, not TOO out there, but somewhat. Versions of India and Spiritual are unreal.

    Om, Ascenscion – very abstract "avant garde" music – not my thing anymore, but worth hearing if you like it weird. I mean really weird.

    Live in Japan/Live in Seattle – very extreme, heavy blowing, extremely long crazy jams. Grad level Coltrane. Not totally abstract like the above, though.

    Also the Thelonious Monk/Coltrane Carnegie Hall release from a few years ago is just great, in a "real jazz" way. A great intro to Monk as well, who is another of the jazz players I think most ppl would really dig.

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