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. phoammhead Says:

    what’s so hard to believe about seeing a needle at a show . . . or anywhere for that matter? and, it’s not an embarrassment or anything. just is what it is.

  2. angryjoggerz Says:

    MiA = not full of shit. He is full of rainbows, hugs and tickles.

  3. thnkfstpal Says:

    I know you get on BB and bring up Heroin usage at Phish shows and everyone hear has seen over 50 shows each in multiple Phish eras and all over the countryand NEVER seen anything remotely close to that so common sense and critical thinking dictate you are either.

    A. exaggerating
    B. Lying
    C. hanging with people that do heroin regardless of what show you’re at.

    All equal no need to bring it up.

  4. snow Says:

    G$ – note that my *positive memories* include being in a pool and then going home to an air conditioned house to play video games.

    Without that, yeah, I moved to the NW where it barely gets to 80.

  5. thnkfstpal Says:

    Maybe I was being harsh, I apologize for the “full of shit” post.

  6. phoammhead Says:

    ^you’re a douche, pal. did you even really read what mia said about that experience.

  7. MiA Says:

    There is one guy on here that gets “hear” and “here” wrong all the time.

  8. thnkfstpal Says:

    Meanwhile 200 songs isn’t that big of a deal IMO. 200 songs divided by what 30 shows this summer is 6 songs per show leaves plenty of room for jamming.

    Half kidding. I do need the JAMZ

  9. dorn76 Says:

    “common sense and critical thinking”


  10. Guyute711 Says:

    Iowa and Missouri are the two hottest places I can ever remember being and both were because I was travelling for wrestling and had to lose weight taboot. Throw in the Oswego Phish show for good measure. That was pretty ridiculous too.

  11. thnkfstpal Says:

    I guess everyone loves to hear about needles at shows. Sorry.

  12. Selector J Says:

    @thnkfstpal What’s with the melting, bro?

  13. xpun Says:

    yes congrats to all.

    last few hours on the phone with realtors, lenders, and a really nice girl who’s company fucked up and sent an account to a collection agency “by mistake” and has nearly cost us a house. But it looks like its all coming together now and hopefully will get to rent for 90 days then purchase. So in the end I think they cost us a few months rent, and a few thousand $$$ negotiating power, since we are now at sellers mercy. But spread over 15 years, we wont even notice. just really hoping this is coming to an end soon.

    tour in 14 days!!! AC in 22!!! Strange start with the 2 shows, then ‘roo set and then a long week off. A nice tease to get e really worked up for AC

  14. Robear Says:

    Mike in Austin said big Cypress, not Phish 3.0.

    I saw needles at Hampton in 99. It sucked. Worst year for the scene, ever, IMO.

  15. snow Says:

    hey, thnkfstpal thinks fast. he never claimed they were good thoughts, just fast.

  16. thedayman Says:

    it’s like nails on a chalkboard reading those kind of hateful posts @thinkfastpal. mia shared an experience, if it hasn’t been your’s, so be it.

  17. Kaveh Says:

    All equal no need to bring it up.

    ^ Anything is pretty much game here…even your comments. 🙂

  18. thedayman Says:

    congrats xpun! good to hear.

  19. Robear Says:

    Also, I just found out I need minor shoulder surgery. Summer Phish slipping further away by the day.


    See you all at Bill Graham presents in the handicap access seats.

  20. Kaveh Says:


    Dive into this:

    I’m stepped into the deep end by starting with the Dark Star.

  21. phoammhead Says:

    pal, i guess i can see that that subject scares you or threatens you somehow. it’s gonna be okay . . . a quick blurb about a needle ain’t gonna hurt us ’round here.

  22. Guyute711 Says:

    For those of you that don’t know Robear dances on his hands. That is a major setback. Chin up my man. I know the feeling, I bought a cars worth of dental procedures.

  23. Guyute711 Says:

    Time to talk about shit tents. 🙂

  24. MiA Says:

    Robear, you may just need work from Mrs Mia, the Physical Terrorist. Her specialty is shoulders. Are you sure you need surgery?

    Seriously, you have my number. If you want, you can talk to her before going under the knife?

    Not questioning your MD, but sometimes there are options.

    Maybe I can write off BGCA as a business expense.

  25. thedayman Says:

    guyute, what did you need to have done? like bridges and crowns, and that whole gamut? sorry to hear it cost a fortune.

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