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. poop goblin Says:

    Missile Command was the goods I had one of the arcades at the crib as a kid. that and a centipede.

  2. Mr palmer Says:

    That’s really cool Plord. I wonder if a piece of music from Phish was ever added, what would it be. Cypress is a bit long.

  3. Mr palmer Says:

    My best friend had Commando and Tron arcade games in his basement.

  4. voopa Says:

    Defender FTW!

  5. Mr palmer Says:

    Pretty stoked. Got contacted by both Sirius/XM and Clear Channel last two days about potential gigs . Things are looking up. Sirius is where I’d like to land, so hoping that’s the one. Would be working on a a Stern – like show on the Opie and Anthony Channel.

    More details to follow.

  6. marcoesq Says:

    just shazam’d the 11.11.98 Halley’s and got “Moscow Girls” by DJ Shevstov

  7. oldskool Says:

    Kid of a ripoff here of Phish’s musical costume countdown…

  8. marcoesq Says:

    thats awesome, palmer. i love sirius, listen to stern everyday

  9. phoammhead Says:

    Spy Hunter

    the music on this was classic . . . phish should definitely break this out as one of the 200

  10. Mr palmer Says:

    Howard had his own wing of the building. His own , personal elevator also. He is the man.

    Ideally I’d like to get into the music programming or Sports side, but you got to put time in and get foot in door. So , if I need to do some sophomoric talk radio stuff…. Bring it. I am a clown, or so I’ve been told.

  11. tela'smuff Says:

    Track and Field, Donkey Kong Jr., and Star Wars were big games for me. Dragon’s Lair was like the holy grail of arcade games for a sec.

  12. tela'smuff Says:

    that’s awesome Palmer! good luck man. i’m a huge Stern fan. lots of talent in the Sirius building, so at a minimum you’ll be sponging off some pros. i like Ferrell for sports talk. Artie Lange is doing a sports show now as well with Nick Dipalo.

  13. Jtran Says:

    Palmer that’s awesome. Seems so quick (at least to me, not doing the work you’ve been) that you decided to go down this path. I bet you’ll get one of those gigs.

    Now to subscribe, so I can hear “Mr. Palmer’s Opie and Anthony Thoughts”

    Not sure who Opie and Anthony are, exactly…

  14. joe Says:

    Howard had a good interview with Greg Allman this week. Greg’s voice sounded so weak, I can’t imagine him performing. Haven’t seen them since Dicky got the boot. When he sang “good lord I feel like I’m dying” in whipping post even back then it really sounded like the truth. Slash interview was good as well.

  15. willowed Says:

    Pit Fall and Spy Hunter

    enough said

  16. poop goblin Says:

    if we’re talking second gen more late 80’s early 90’s arcades

    Kung Fu and Ghosts and Goblins

    those were the 2

  17. phoammhead Says:

    now this is good news

  18. joe Says:

    The arcade version of punch out was my game (not the nintendo mike tyson version). The funspot in new hampshire has all the old games. Featured in the doc, the King of Kong. A must see if you have never seen it

  19. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Palmer, that sounds fantastic. seems like you really grabbed that bull by the China shop. Or something.

    Huge galaga fan. Never as good at stand up boxes ads I wanted to be, unfortunately… Later gen, but played a ton of double dragon at the 7-11.

  20. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Donkey Kong, Dragon’s Lair, Kung Fu, Dig Dug

  21. jerseyjim Says:

    fwiw: they are streaming the whole London Strand 5/24/72 show, over at Also 5/23/72 there.

  22. jerseyjim Says:

    @Mr. P
    random…I just passed Howard Stern walking down the street. Even under an umbrella…So Tall, hard to miss.

  23. Guyute711 Says:

    Mr P, you gonna be working on Ron & Fez?

  24. punkmug Says:

    Spirtualized has been ripping off Phish for years! J Spaceman has not had an original idea ever. 😉

    On a serious note, if you’ve never heard Spiritualized’s seminal work, Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re floating in Space” its worth seeking out at all costs.

  25. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    totally remember the hype when dragon’s lair came out. that $1 price was a big deal too iirc

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