Miner’s Picks: Summer 2011 Leg I

Bethel Woods - (Michael Mesenbourg)

As I sat at my computer yesterday, I pondered how in the world I would come up with “Miner’s Picks” for such an extensive Summer that was strewn with so much spectacular music. Summer 2011 was the first tour of Phish’s Golden Age that truly held up to tours of old. The creativity was back, new jamming styles developed, and Phish pushed the improvisational envelope like never before since their return. Back in 2009, many fans doubted if the band would ever achieve the heights reached this very summer. In 2011, the band wove timeless music again—music that not only brought us back to a place we once knew, but also brought us forward into spaces yet discovered.

Summer 2011 brought all that and then some. Beginning with the very first show in Bethel on May 27th, things felt different. The band’s confidence and risk-taking was front and center  in a way we had rarely seen through 2009 and 2010. After catching up to speed in the first two years of their return, Bethel began a summer of reinvention—a process we’d been waiting two-plus years to witness and left us with a trail of amazing highlights. Today I will focus on the opening leg of summer tour and list my favorite jams of June in chronological order. (Many selections have audio accompaniment, as it is Friday and all…)


“Kill Devil Falls” – 5.27 I, Bethel, NY

In the very first set of tour, one of my least favorite Phish songs blew up into, perhaps, the best version ever. Putting an improvisational focus on the usually rock-based piece illustrated the band’s willingness to take their music to unconventional places.



“Boogie On -> Waves > Caspian > Crosseyed” – 5.27 II

With this segment of unwavering psychedelia, Phish officially announced “Game on!” for Summer 2011.”Waves” remains one of  my favorite jams of summer.


“Cities” – 5.28 I, Bethel, NY

In this first-set version, Trey layers a well-phrased and snarlng solo over the whole-band funk—the spark of a standout show.


“Halley’s Comet > Runaway Jim” – 5.28 I

The jam that everyone had been waiting for—the return of “Halley’s Comet”—rolled out in dramatic fashion, as the band crafted one of my top jams of summer with a prowess and focus applied to the song unseen in ages. This “Halley’s” stands on the top-shelf of summer offerings, and then bled into the reinvention of “Runaway Jim” with the debut of its new “plinko” section. This combo left fans wide-eyed and wondering what type of musical steroids the band was on.



“Bathtub Gin -> Manteca -> Gin” – 5.28 I

Official Bethel Print (Stout)

And just when this first set couldn’t get any better, the band dropped a jam that stood out as brightly as any in the entire show. Closing the frame with a groove-centric “Bathtub Gin” that built into a full-blown “Manteca” and then back into the “Gin’s,” Phish absolutely tore the summer wide open with a version that had the venue buzzing at setbreak.



“Backwards Down the Number Line” – 5.28 II

Though the entire second set stood out in context, as we moved through the entire summer, this is the piece that deserves the most attention. In a summer where “Number Line” didn’t entail much adventure, this morphing version (that still doesn’t totally depart from the theme) contains a meditative musical conversation that shines above most other summer versions.


“After Midnight” 5.31 II, Holmdel, NJ

To open the main event of the first post-Bethel show, Phish employed “After Midnight” as a jam vehicle for the first time since Big Cypress’ sacred reprise of the song in the wee hours of the morning. And when they did, they spun a groove-based-then-melodic gem that showed us Bethel’s jams were no anomaly



“Drowned” – 5.31 II

If “After Midnight” set the improvisational tone for the second set, Phish used “Drowned” to take it much further. Passing through gorgeous and abstract realms of sound, the only version of summer was a highlight for the season.



“Down with Disease -> Fluffhead > Bowie” – 6.3 II, Clarkston, MI

One of the most compelling segments of music in the entire summer. the opening leg, I think we’ve been here before.


“Sneakin’ Sally through the Alley” – 6.4 II, Cuyahoga Falls, OH

Hyper-funk turned-dissonant psychedelia—the standout jam in a very popular show.



“Tweezer” – 6.5 II, Cincinatti, OH

Though Phish wasn’t too kind to “Tweezer” this summer, they still eked out two stellar versions, and this is the first. Focusing on whole-band groove, the band locks into an infectious jam that seems to have flown way under the radar this summer. The antithesis of Denver’s melodic mind-meld, this version gets downright dirty on the dance floor.



6.18.10 - Raleigh, NC (John Crouch)


“You Enjoy Myself” – 6.5 II

This summer “YEM” became a “rarity.” Appearing only 4 times over 34 shows, this version from Cincinnati is the unquestionable champion. Departing from generic “YEM”-funk, the band closed a dark-horse two-setter with a sparkling rendition of their classic.



“Rock and Roll” – 6.7 II, Mansfield, MA

An improvisational monster—one of the most impressive pieces of June. I wrote about it here.



“Golden Age > Mike’s > Fast Enough > Weekapaug” – 6.8 II, Darien Lake, NY

The opening sequence of Darien Lake deserves a place on this list. The first quasi-jammed out “Golden Age” was backed by one of the strongest “Weekapaugs” of the summer. “Mike’s” is still missing in action, a nostalgic shell of its former self.


“2001 > Harry Hood” – 6.8 II

In a show focused on groove for most of the second set, this combo fit this theme quite well. The most impressive “2001” of the season included prominent “Golden Age” and “What’s the Use?” sections, creating a mash-up of aural delight. The “Hood” departed from its normally intricate rhythms as Fishman caught a groove and band went with it in a divergent and interesting rendition.


“Stash” – 6.10 I, Camden, NJ

This mid-first set version stood out as one of the strongest pieces from Phish’s 2011 visit to Camden. Though never veering far from the theme, the band, nonetheless, engaged in an intricate and extensive exploration through the song’s darkness.


“The Curtain With” – 6.10 I, Camden, NJ

Phish closed the set with this cathartic masterpiece. Playing as a single entity, the band reached mind-bending realms of musical cooperation, resulting in a piece a version that needs to be heard to be believed. Truly awesome.



“Down with Disease > Free” – 6.10 II

This two-song combination seemed to be a single song for the beginning part of the summer, but I’m not sure any of the early-tour “Diseases” that weren’t played in Michigan plunged the depths of this one—a huge momentum builder to kick off the second set. Growling and uncompressed Trey came out to play as the band got serious in New Jersey.



6.11.11 - Columbia, MD (Brian Ferguson)


“Piper -> Velvet Sea” – 6.11 II, Columbia, MD

This “Piper” brought the most intriguing jam in a set that traveled a little bit of everywhere. Within an improvisationally-light two night stand, this excursion stands out as one of the most impressive at Merriweather.



“Wolfman’s -> Boogie On” – 6.12 I, Columbia, MD

Getting creative in both halves of this funkified combo, Phish would place its most significant jam sequence of the night in the opening set on this evening.


“Light Up or Leave Me Alone” – 6.14 I, Alpharetta, GA

Page and Trey absolutely tear it up in this always welcome bust-out and no-brainer highlight of Alpharetta.



“Down with Disease > Maze” – 6.14 II

This sequence opened Alpharetta’s second set in style, as “Disease” found ambient musical textures and “Maze” brought the experimentation to a blistering head.


“Rock and Roll > Ghost” – 6.17 II, Charlotte, NC

One of the most enduring sequences of the opening leg featured two exploratory excursions in a row, and—by far—the “Ghost” of the summer.



6.12.11 - Columbia, MD (Moshe Cohen)


“Reba” – 6.17 II

Out of nowhere, the band dropped into this second-set “Reba.” Feeling the flow following the set-opening “Rock and Roll > Ghost,” the band slayed a jaw-dropping rendition that peaked for what seemed like ten minutes.



“Split Open and Melt” – 6.18 I, Raleigh, NC

Phish got deep in this late-second setter, descending into a sinister sonic dungeon and saving a piece-meal set that had started to fizzle.



“Slave to the Traffic Light” – 6.19 II, Portsmouth, VA

The resolution of a set-opening combo of “Crosseyed > Walls,” this version of “Slave” bled a purity and a majesty that I’m not sure was touched by any other outing this summer. On the closing night of June, Phish left us with an nugget of soulful magic for the break.



“Sand” – 6.19 II

Though Phish crushed every single “Sand” of summer, this version brought leg one’s jazzier versions to a head. Standing out from the pack, this jam moves away from its traditional contours into some unadulterated funkscapes. The band is locked into some experimental and next-level grooves that just might put this version over the edge as the “Sand”of summer. Add some addictive stop/start jamming and a “Sand” reprise to the mix and we just might have a winner.



“Light > Number Line” – 6.19 II

This compact versions of “Light” that came late in tour’s final show, reached some musical depth for one of few times in leg one. With this version, however, the band warmed up the gears of the traditionally intergalactic vehicle for a monstrous second half of summer. The band even displays some musical forethought before moving into “Number Line,” making the always-choppy transition far less so than usual.



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1,012 Responses to “Miner’s Picks: Summer 2011 Leg I”

  1. Robear Says:

    Mike in Austin, Big Cypress was not one show, dog.

  2. MiA Says:

    Well, anyone can defend any word, any way they want. To turn it into a semantics discussion, is probably how I figured this would end up.

    Golf teaches kids, that even if nobody saw the foul, to take it against yourself. There are rules, and if you do break them, then you take the penalty. You don’t hope to grab someone’s wrist, and hope not to be seen, and calculate out the risk/reward.

    So is Honor about accepting the rules, and living by them and trying not to break them and living by some moral “code”. I say yes.

    GoT is a great example of Ned and his commitment to Honor. In the end, he dies for it. And arguably he is pretty stupid because he’s in a den of snakes, and he thinks everyone should follow his rules. Which they don’t.

    Teaching kids that Honor is a stupid idea is arguably one of the best ways to ensure that they get ahead. The lesson of “Cheat, but don’t get caught” probably isn’t a terrible one, if the ends can justify the means.

  3. MiA Says:

    I would drive from Philly to NYE BC for that one show.

    I know it wasn’t one show Rob. I was there.

  4. lumpyhead Says:

    litteringand Says:
    April 3rd, 2012 at 9:23 am
    Do we think that Chi-town will get some love on leg II?

    I think that’s still up for debate… I heard one night at toyota park but that’s complete heresay.

    whereas, BGCC & dicks are pretty much 100%.

  5. kayatosh Says:

    new toys: 1) iaudio 10 32GB. very sweet. longer and thicker (humpback) than the iaudio 9, but double the memory. 2) arizer solo (still chargin). portable vprzing

    getting fat from beer and animal flesh. so deliciously fattening. svelte yoga body fading. had 1.75 Young’s Double Chocolate stouts on sunday. yummy. filling.

  6. SillyWilly Says:

    in contracts people often breach contracts with the full knowledge of the remediation they’ll be forced to pay or offer. They do this in full knowledge of the advantages gained by the breach.

    is it dishonorable to breach a contract and pay the remediation?

    I don’t know. I’m really not interested in honor as such.

    Just in the deconstruction of the abstract concept of honor.

    I’m mainly just being a contrarian, here. Because I’m bored. (well, and I am a faithful disciple of Derrida)

  7. kayatosh Says:

    didn’t even watch a minute of the game last night. went early to bed. no nothing of what happened other than Kentuck win.

  8. lumpyhead Says:

    Robear, can you make dicks happen? That would be your move, it appears.

  9. MiA Says:

    Garret, I think the great thing about this board is how it usually doesn’t get personal. Occasionally it falls off of that, but mostly, it’s pretty civil.

    Sorry for calling you a douche. I was fighting fire with fire by going personal. It was like arms escalation.

  10. Robear Says:


    If we knew ahead of time about an all night show in so cal, I’d be there too.

  11. Robear Says:

    Lumpy, it just depends on how late in August it falls. Kids are back to school end of August now.

    I don’t think West Coastphans with kids are on the radar for RLM.

  12. litteringand Says:

    Yeah dont have high hopes considering the DC/Alpine four pack. Me thinks the Great Plains/Western Midwest need some of the phish. I have weird feeling that if they played a show in Iowa, it would sell out quickly.

  13. Multibeast Says:

    I will send on that link to the Phish Lullaby treatment to friends with brand new kids….seems kind of silly that they did not include ‘Billy Breathes’….wasn’t that song written as a lullaby by trey for his daughter?

    Nuff lullaby talk. That sneakin sally from blossom is the bizzness. Me and the wife made an executive decision and we will be heading to blossom this year. Stoked.

  14. MiA Says:

    “is it dishonorable to breach a contract and pay the remediation?”

    Good question. Especially if both sides signed the agreement. They knew the rules, they knew the remediation, and they (hopefully) understood the court and how it would rule for or against them and that is consistent.

    The person who rented Robear’s house, signed a contract to pay, and destroyed it, is that honorable? Of course not. There was probably no language in Robear’s contract that said “If you destroy my house, then you pay for it.” But should you be allowed to do that, because it wasn’t specifically called out in the contract? No.

    The problem is that you can’t shake hands with a person to do work anymore. You have to Lawyer up, and know UCC code, and what happens. Instead of two people having honor in their negotiations and doing what they said they were going to do.

  15. Robear Says:

    Island Tour ‘Paug slays

  16. MiA Says:

    Robear, there you have it.

    Phish should do an all night show in SoCal.


  17. BTB Says:

    Ya’ll seen this new AJ Mathasy print? Damn this dude is good!


  18. Robear Says:

    MiA is correct:

    Love Life, Loathe People

  19. MiA Says:

    Grabbing lunch, and finding some fish and chips for my vinegar. Peace guys. The next MiA you read will be the kinder and gentler MiA.

  20. Robear Says:

    it’s a bad joke of epic egotistical proportions, that Phish does not have AJ Masthay do ophishal prints.

    fucking people and their egos

  21. dusty Says:

    I try never to go personal on the web/email. I’m a math head, so my grasp of language is shitty. I wasn’t trying to attack…just curious about your thoughts.

    Example of honor for me not related to rules, in soccer when your opponent goes down with an injury on the field you kick the ball out of bounds to get a stoppage. After the injured player is removed, opposing team kicks the ball back to the other team. Rules are not something to live by where as honor is honesty, integrity, or fairness.

  22. MiA Says:

    Need me some Albany YEM over lunch too.

  23. SillyWilly Says:

    Here’s the most controversial thing I’ve said in months on the board:

    Maybe we shouldn’t always be teaching kids to follow the rules?

    Many of us cheat and try not to get caught everyday

    it’s just that “cheating” for many of us involves things like SWED’ing

  24. MiA Says:

    Me too Dusty. Love your thoughts. I was putting on my sparring gloves this morning. My apologies to all if I offended.

  25. kayatosh Says:


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