A Look Back: A Macro View

6.27.10 (G.Lucas)

Gazing back over the past month, there are many aspects to the first leg of summer tour that deserve discussion in detail. But before delving into subject-specific posts, let’s begin with some general thoughts on a month that represented a huge step forward in the re-evolution of Phish.

The band showcased bold confidence during June and early July, and this re-found musical urgency brought a sense of tension and drama back to their improvisation. Whether they sat amidst a structured or open jam, Mike and Trey routinely led the band with dynamic interplay of the likes we hadn’t seen since the late ’90s. Often starting jams in  minimalist style, Trey allowed Mike to direct improv, as Gordeaux essentially played “lead-bass” throughout the tour. But the beauty of their partnership quickly became apparent – Trey’s chops had finally caught up to Mike’s – a factor that elevated the duo’s output to the the next level and provided an unparalleled core for their music.

6.27.10 (G.Lucas)

Phish began to reach a balance of open and structured improv before reeling things in a bit through the end of tour, favoring energetic forward rock and roll to exploratory jamming. Busting out of the gate in Chicago and Blossom with “Light,” “Ghost,” “Rock and Roll, and a “Number Line” that still sits amongst the most creative pieces of tour, it seemed that experimentation would, once again, become a focus of Phish. But as tour moved on, the band backed off their exploratory mission, leaving “Light” as the only guaranteed sonic experiment, but their playing and their shows remained strong. A Hartford-heavy weekend in the Northeast, led by 6.18’s second set, was promptly blown away by the tour’s peak the following weekend in Camden and Merriweather.

7.3.10 (W.Rogell)

In a weekend that featured the most adventurous playing of the month, Phish seemed to reach a breakthrough on the second night of Camden, taking the unsuspecting anthem of “Chalk Dust” for one of the most transcendent rides of its career. Playing a stunning second set, Phish also included a thick exploration of groove in “2001” and one of the tour’s most experimental versions of “Light.” Riding this cresting wave, Phish tore apart two nights in Merriweather with, arguably, the two strongest second sets of the moth. The first night shone with one of the tour’ s top excursions in “Rock and Roll” and a demonic “Tweezer,” while the second night’s main event takes the cake for the most conceptually unified and Phishy set of the summer – not to mention massive exploration of “Piper” that stood at its center. Overlooked in this set is also a swampy “Meatstick” jam that preceded the  “I Saw It Again” sequence that whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

After the weekend in the Mid-Atlantic, the community looked at the final five shows, salivating with anticipation. But while the final stretch of shows boasted consistently strong two-set efforts, with stellar flow, the shows never reached the cosmic liftoff that we experienced the previous weekend. Raleigh’s “Light,” Charlotte’s “Drowned,” and Atlanta’s “Caspian > Tweezer” and “Piper > Ghost” provided stellar musical treks that came as a side dish with the fiery energy, precise playing, and non-stop setlists of the final stretch of shows.

6.27.10 (G.Lucas)

In conjunction, one of the most encouraging trends of leg one was the revitalization of Phish’s structured jamming, an element of the band’s repertoire that had grown stale in their latter years. This summer, songs like “Harry Hood,” “David Bowie,” “Reba,” “Bathtub Gin,” and “Stash,” have taken on new life, providing considerably more engaging jams than in their recent past. The creativity of their structured jamming has fomented the unknown rather than the routine, providing excitement where there used to be stagnation. This upswing has given the overall contour of Phish shows a huge boost over the past month. The same trend has held true for newer songs such as “Ocelot,” Stealing Time,” “Twenty Years Later,” and “46 Days.” Thus when Phish wasn’t in the stratosphere, their shows always maintained a fresh and creative energy that had lacked through ’09.

7.4.10 (W.Rogell)

And then there was the onslaught of new covers. Evoking memories of Summer ’98, Leg I saw the debut of several one-time covers. The question now remains, “Which, if any, of these songs will stay in rotation?” Highlighted by Led Zeppelin’s “The Rover, The Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus,” and the now-famous July 4th rendition of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing In the Name,” Phish has more than a few choices. Coupled with several new originals, setlists took new twists during the opening stretch of 2010.

With four strong sets in Alpharetta, Phish punctuated a tour that oozed progress and positivity, while forging a new sound for the new decade. With less than a month before the band hits the Greek Theatre, we’ll barely have enough time to inspect the amazing month that was before heading west for Leg II. But every journey has a first step, so off we go.


Jam of the Day:

Chalk Dust > Caspian” 6.25.10 II

This wide-open exploration of “Chalk Dust Torture” in Camden, New Jersey, sparked one of the most adventurous second sets of summer.




6.25.2010 Susquehanna Bank Center, Camden, NJ < Torrent

6.25.2010 Susquehanna Bank Center, Camden, NJ < Megaupload

Official Camden Poster

This second show in Camden sparked a three-night stretch that stood out among the rest Summer’s opening leg.

I: Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues, Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, Runaway Jim, Army of One, Free Man in Paris*, Summer of ’89, Split Open and Melt, The Sloth, Time Turns Elastic, Golgi Apparatus

II: Chalk Dust Torture > Prince Caspian > Heavy Things, Alaska > Also Sprach Zarathustra** > Light > Possum, Character Zero

E: Shine a Light

*Debut, Joni Mitchell

** w/ “Wanna Be Starting Something,” “Billie Jean,” and “Thriller” teases

Source: Schoeps mk4v> KC5> M222 > NT222> Aeta PSP-3 > SD 722 (@24bit/96kHz) (Taper: taylorc)

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830 Responses to “A Look Back: A Macro View”

  1. dognamedwilson Says:

    Drifting would have been a fine choice, Mr. P

    We played lots of carefully chosen phish & dead tunes in the mix.

  2. ChefBradford Says:

    Eh, the nastiness went down a bit over a year after the big C fiasco. But still, she had a horrible time for most of that weekend. Fortunately (?) she retired to the camp during day 2’s second set

    last week was the best though. I stopped listening to this tour’s SBD’s after the first couple of shows to cleanse my palate

    no expectations = best time

  3. Corey Says:

    Reba: 12.31.93>all this tour
    Harry: 8.2.97outdoor experience>all this tour

    Discuss. 🙂

  4. KWL Says:

    the slf & i have been discussing wedding plans, and so far the leading option is rent a huge vacation house for a week & throw a big time party

    as for music, a best friend’s band will be playing most of the day/night, and the slf wants to play crappy dance music late night. at that juncture, i will commandeer a different spot of the compound to play whatever the hell i want for myself & the rest of the non-bad music dancers 8)

  5. jdub Says:

    @Corey, yup my initial thoughts on Reba and Hood exactly. Although I have to give credit to Trey for the whale of a Reba at Hartford as I think it played nicely with the Hartford Whale Callers sentiment that was pervasive all night. They capped off set 2 with a theme (obvious connection), a Hood that swam in the deep blue, and a wading in the velvet sea. Pretty clear the Hartford Whalers were back in town.

  6. jdub Says:

    And how is this for Phish synergy. tuesday morning, first day back at work after Phish wraps up tour with a monumental Mikes Groove, and a potential client visits my shop with a proposed project located where…..

    Wait for it…

    Weekapaug, RI

  7. Jeffiem Says:

    Hey BB, been reading through, picked up the 4/10-11/78 shows that got referenced here earlier, and I’m highly enjoying them. I’m home from college for the summer, and the fam was going nuts from all the Phish, so GD is a great change of pace for me.

  8. jdub Says:

    I literally had to contain myself. Some upity house wife with dog in tow totally clueless about anything except that she wants a a nice built in for her vacation home. Loved the juxtaposition of circumstances.

    @Wilson’s dog, you have taken some heat for your sign but I give you credit for doing that for your girl. Don’t mind the jibes by BBers.

  9. DukeOfLizards Says:


    SerendiPHity is the best. Two recent personal examples:

    Show up at work the Monday after Sunday SPAC, first e-mail I open up is from a potential client in, guess where, King of Prussia, PA.


    On the way down to Camden I, I heard, for the first time EVER, in God knows how many man-hours of listening to the radio in central NJ, an ad for Hood milk.

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    From the Desk of: Mr. Completely

    ========= W00K STATUS REPORT =========

    Subject: Tzara’s Ghost
    [ ] w00k
    [x] non-w00k

    Confirmed? YES

  11. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Wow. Just got to listen to the whole Harpua thing in a proper state. Pretty powerful song, for sure. Fishman hysterical on vocals. Trey destroys it. I don’t care how you interpret it, that’s up to you. I do know that it kicks some ass.

  12. Mr. Completely Says:

    I totally missed the conversation today but if it touched on April ’78 Dead I will chime in late with a hearty Fuck Yes

    I believe that 4/11 is the Iko to end all motherfucking Ikos?

    “cocaine’s a hell of a drug!”

  13. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Those two Fox Theatre shows popped up in bt.etree today. New source by CM i believe.

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    and yeah I second that emotion about hanging in there re: the Waste sign

    what’s a good burn between friends?

    doing something romantic for the sweetie and catching flak about it from the dudes is pretty much par for the course in all walks of life I think

  15. Mr. Completely Says:

    hm wonder what sources I have then, I thought those were already all Millered. but mine are a few years old

  16. sumodie Says:

    dognamedwilson: glad to see you sticking around and pushing thru your BB hazing for the Waste sign (which, btw, is fine by me as long as you’re respectful of people’s sight lines)

    I don’t care what songs people request (unless they’re that f@#%ing Tela ass who screams it at every show and thus on my AUD 🙁

    Awesome that your wife got some great IT courtesy of PH

    Velvet can be another excellent one -my ex- swears the band was inspired by her front row velvet obsession (the front of the stage was draped in velvet) at the tiny 2/14/97 Brussels show 8)

  17. Gratefulcub Says:

    Corey, if still around, the manshaft overacheived and should be very proud. Mueller was a big miss today.

    Personally, as a Barcelona guy, seeing my man puyol get the winner was pretty sweet. Spain is just the best team on the planet right now (except for barca, but club v country convo for another day).

    Can’t wait for Sunday. A bunch of barca stars v real Madrid rejects in oranje.

    Oh yeah, go phish!!

  18. Jeffiem Says:

    @Mr. C I’m definitely enjoying the 4/11 show. 4/10 Franklin’s>Black Peter was great. Just starting to get into the live stuff (I’ve had American Beauty & Workingman’s in my classic rock rotation for years). Didn’t realize what I was missing with the live stuff. Jerry FTW.

  19. Gratefulcub Says:

    What’s up with all the USA chanting? I’m not a Chomsky-esque hater, but USA chanting has never crossed my mind at a show.

  20. c0wfunk Says:

    drunk atl redneck kids mostly to overgeneralize starting it and then mob mentality @cub

  21. ChefBradford Says:

    I noticed the USA chanting as well, and chalked it up to July 4th mania. Didn’t participate, that particular fetish isn’t mine. But whatever. Trey acknowledged it a couple of times, and if memory serves, he encouraged it during the Harpua>mindfuck>Harpua, although it may have been meant ironically

  22. Mr. Completely Says:

    @jeffiem if you are interested in GD live mixes see http://tinyurl.com/completely-dead for some downloads

    each one is from a different era/sound, they are certified n00b friendly and made with love

    some folks are only into full live shows which I totally get, but otherwise you might find them fun

  23. jdub Says:

    You need to step away from the code @C, I thought I was staring at an old school mac with black screen and green letters.

    @Duke, phish synergy runs deep. I could go on about this or that regarding the synergistic qualities of said band but my favorite comes from last years Hartford show.

    I went with a group of 10, (never a good idea and one got tossed after first set for pissing where he shouldn’t) but my best bud of the group hadn’t seen Phish since Sugarbush in the early ’90s. Those who where at Willoweds BBQ met him. Pre show he kept talking about Wilson making an appearance, almost to the point of annoyance. Standing in line to get in he strikes up a convo with some very young fans and asks what was the last book they read. He is a book worm, works at a library, and is an encyclopedia when it comes to books. So he rails these kids about reading, telling them to pick up a book after they replied they don’t read.

    We find a spot on the lawn, get settled in, PYITe cones on and I turned around to high five everyone and these kids from the line are there. My buddy Matt gets a good chuckle but even a better one after Iculus. The kids faces were blank. I think they got it.

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    damn @jdub

    I have heard a lot of show synch stories over the years but that book one is sick

    very cool

  25. ChefBradford Says:

    It blows my mind/subconsciously irritates me that most of the people I know and come into contact with (mostly college students; COLLEGE—STUDENTS!) do not read, and most rather proudly admit that they’ve never read a single book

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