Thinking of Summer

Bethel Woods (G. Estreich)

Summer Tour is just around the corner and it seems like nobody knows just what to expect come Worcester and beyond. Almost 10 months have passed since Phish tore apart Dick’s in Colorado, and with the tame New Year’s Run, it feels like ages since we’ve seen the band do what they do. Traditionally, Phish has started off tours quite well in this era, often spring-boarding from a few days of focused practice in the city of their first show. Examples of these strong opening stands or runs include, 6.11 through 6.13.2010 at Toyota Park, Blossom, and Hershey; 8.5 through 8.7.10 at The Greek Theatre, 5.27 and 5.28 in Bethel, and 8.5 and 8.6.11 at the Gorge. If this pattern follows, the Worcester shows could serve as musical defibrillators for a Phish community that seems to hold less anticipatory excitement for this tour than any in this era. If Phish doesn’t blow the roof off The Centrum in the way they have sparked their recent tours, it will be quite interesting to hear everyone’s reaction—but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here!

I’ve been wondering which band will come out at Worcester—the jammy version we saw at UIC and Dick’s or the rock version we saw at MSG. Related to this thought, two days ago on Twitter, @eward leaked a Trey quote from this week’s Rolling Stone saying that Phish “plan to break out at least 200 tunes at their gigs this summer.” Ummm—great—just what we need to hear, a song-centric sound byte from Red. One would hope that within this ballpark figure are a handful of new songs and jam vehicles to spice up the rotation, but I’m not gonna’ hold my breath. One thing is for sure, if this tour becomes bust-out and setlist-oriented, there will be a communal groan throughout many groups of fans. Hopefully, this alleged song barrage will be centered in the first sets of shows.

Bethel Woods - 5.29.11 (D.Lavery)

After three years back, however, it’s second sets that need the most tender loving care this summer. Instead of placing jams within a set of songs, one would hope the band would perform more complete, start to finish frames that have been relatively elusive in this era. In 2011, though the band progressed in this department, the two areas that still need the most improvement is fluidity and set-closing. In terms of fluidity, I mean moving from song to song with thoughtful concept and diligent execution. Hopefully the jarring instances of Trey pulling the string on jams will lessen and there will be a more group-think in determining where the music will go. In terms of “finishing,” Phish often kicked off many second sets with prowess last year, but the second half of many them fizzled in momentum, and band often “stumbled” to the end point. While they used to employ big-time second set closers like “YEM” and “David Bowie,” “Antelope” or even “Weekapaug,” last year they were just as likely to punctuate a set with “Character Zero,” “Stealing Time,” “First Tube” or “Suzie”—not exactly the same effect. I feel if these two elements of second sets come together, whatever happens in the firsts is fine.

In terms of jamming, in addition to anything new they bring to the table, I hope to see Phish further explore the two original styles that have emerged in this era— “Plinko” and “Storage.” Last year, the band engaged in sporadic “Plinko” jamming after they really honed in on the style during New Year’s Run 2010. “Storage” jamming was born last year, and Phish integrated the style into the live show—often with Theremin—during leg two. I find this to be the most promising and original direction for their music right now, as some of the best jams of 2011 were born of this darker, abstract focus.

More than anything, Leg One will give the band a chance to get rolling again. A month-long tour, though susceptible to ups and downs, provides far more opportunities than three or four night runs for the band to hook up and create adventurous music. As we embark on 2012, the fourth year of 3.0 Phish, one can only hope it will surpass the year before, as each has during this era. And if that happens, I think everyone will be happy.

Bethel Woods (George Estreich)


Here’s a link to my “2012 Wishlist” which relates to this topic.


Jam of the Day:

Gumbo” 8.3.98 II, Noblesville, IN

If you didn’t catch it, Kevin Shapiro dropped Live Bait 7 yesterday, including this gem from the Cornfields in ’98.

[audio:] Tags: ,

422 Responses to “Thinking of Summer”

  1. BTB Says:

    Live Phish 2003 Sampler

    Tweezer 2-28-03 Nassau, NY (26:44)
    Piper 7-9-03 Mountain View, CA (19:09)
    Twist 7-9-03 Mountain View, CA (11:18)
    Seven Below 7-13-03 The Gorge, George, WA (21:34)

  2. MiA Says:

    Slow applause for BTB today. Nice man.

  3. butter Says:

    been workaholic n it up

    June is looking badass over here: kick off Phish tour in Woost and leave for family vaca in Tahiti for a couple weeks June 19th

  4. Phamily Berzerker Says:


    Never seen needles at a show.

    Smoked primos, snowcapped a bowl, key hits, paper, liquid, Js, capsules. pills, etc

    Love the hieny pop. 😉

  5. BTB Says:

    I never contribute shit to the BB music wise, so today, while I’m in the office by myself, I decided to help out. There’s some top notch PH and crispy recordings.

    Live Phish 2004 Sampler

    Song I Heard The Ocean Sing (6-19-04 SPAC)
    Alpine Jam (6-26-04 Alpine)
    Ghost (6-26-04 Alpine)
    Carini (6-18-04 Keyspan)
    Tube (6-24-04 Deer Creek)
    Waves (6-20-04 SPAC)

  6. Guyute711 Says:

    I’ve seen needles on the ground at shows but never seen people using. I saw a needle on the ground at Super Ball. I always just hope it’s for someone with diabetes. Still pretty damn irresponsible to leave it on the ground so probably not. Anyone who has seen Trainspotting knows heroin is bad m’kay.

  7. butter Says:

    just put the needle on the record, yo

  8. lumpyhead Says:

    it’s nice to hear that stash stacked up against such monsters… that really is an out of this world stash, especially for this era

  9. lumpyhead Says:

    it’s nice to hear that stash stacked up against such monsters… that really is an out of this world stash, especially for this era

  10. lumpyhead Says:

    it’s nice to hear that stash stacked up against such monsters… that really is an out of this world stash, especially for this era

  11. Mr.Miner Says:

    @MIA wow. never seen that at a show. gross.

  12. lumpyhead Says:

    whoa, what the fuck? sorry bout that…

  13. lumpyhead Says:

    i saw someone do the H at super ball. But he was NOT a phish fan.

  14. Jtran Says:

    miner, glad to see you dug spiritualized. Was definitely one of the best shows I’ve seen lately. Didn’t think of a Phish 99 comparison, but definitely hear it.

  15. Mr.Miner Says:

    one song sounded a LOT like wtu in guitar tone and backing textures…

  16. phoammhead Says:

    i personally love the triple post

    with the double post you just look stupid

    but with the triple post we know you’re really trying to get your point across

  17. MiA Says:

    Sorry for bringing that up. Was not a positive memory. The rest of the show was fantastic. By the end of Slave, I was completely reset and having a great time around a bunch of new great people.

    Attitude is everything.

  18. MiA Says:

    I agree

  19. MiA Says:

    Dammit, my joke of “I agree” x3 didn’t work on the browser. I think it’s mostly an iPhone thing. Or Smartphone or something.

  20. plord Says:

    Not sure if this has been discussed yet, but the SBD of Cornell ’77 just got added to the National Recording Registry. Pretty exclusive list, only 350 songs, albums, wax cylinders, etc. are on it. Being in the Registry means that the Library of Congress is committed to maintaining listenable versions of the material in some format basically forever. So there you go. For better or worse, the “permanent” record of the Dead’s live power will be Barton Hall.

    Full list here:

  21. phoammhead Says:

    i’m betting lumpy was pretty good at space invaders back in the day . . . bam, bam, bam . . . and astroids . . . and galaga

  22. plord Says:

    I would have gone with “Live/Dead” myself but part of the point seems to be acknowledging the taper culture and yeah, sure, Cornell was the best sounding cassette I had for ages and ages.

  23. phoammhead Says:

    oh wait . . . those were before lumpy’s time.

  24. MiA Says:

    Lumpy wasn’t even born when Galaga first came out. But that explains me for sure. Loved that game. Had the whole two and three finger thing going.

  25. plord Says:

    Galaga ruled so hard…

    But it was no Tempest.

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