The Fizzle Factor

Atlantic City 2012 (Shelly Siegal)

The only any real criticism that bubbled from the fan base over Leg One was how second sets sometimes fizzled out. Sometimes front-loading sets with the heaviest improv of the night, only to coast to the finish line with a series of out-of-place singles, Trey fell prey to this phenomenon a handful of times this summer. This is quite an odd occurrence for a bandleader who would, self-admittedly, pore over setlists for much of his career, ensuring Phish shows flowed quite well. These days, that is not necessarily guaranteed. But, let’s not overstate things. Only five shows out of 20 second sets of tour fizzled out significantly. That means that 15 finished strong, or at least with a sense of completeness. All in all, I think this issue will right itself naturally, especially looking at the percentages, but it is something worth inspecting.

6.20.12 (M. Stein)

The sets I am referencing in this discussion are AC3 (6/17), nTelos1 (6/19), Deer Creek2 (6/29), Alpine2 (7/1), Jones Beach2 (7/4), and SPAC2 (7/7). In each case except nTelos—a set that never got going—Phish played a legitimate improvisational passage to start the second half. Interestingly, however, only one of those sequences—Alpine’s “Light > Ghost”—sits among tour highlights. Does the fizzle factor come into play when the band isn’t feeling musically hooked up? The general pattern of sets that fizzled might suggest this. Let’s look a little closer.

The third night of Atlantic City kicked off with “Drowned > 2001 > Reba,” a high quality, but mostly contained, run of jams. The first night of Portsmouth was a song-based second set, with only a “Split” jam to speak of, thus its hard to say this set fizzled as there was no place to fizzle from. Phish front-loaded Deer Creek’s second night with an extensive, though unspectacular chunk of jamming in “Disease > Sand.” While this sequence wasn’t bad by any means, it didn’t pop with anything original—fun while there, but without much playback value. After “Sand,” the band quickly moved from song to song but for a brief, though interesting, “Bathtub Gin.” Alpine’s all-star set, fizzled to near-boredom with a run of “46 Days,” “Heavy Things,” “Joy,” “Julius” over the final thirty minutes. The band’s July 4th performance started with a promising sequence of “Boogie,” “Tweezer > Twist,” only to transform Singlestown USA, less “Harry Hood” for nearly an hour. SPAC’s second show started promisingly with a strong “Disease -> Blister in the Sun -> Disease,” but morphed into a novelty show of “Blister” teases in a run of standard songs.

7.8.12 (R.MacNeil)

Interestingly, sets that fizzled—as a whole—produced few pieces of timeless music. Out of the five sets above, we are left with “Light > Ghost” in the upper echelon, Jones Beach’s “Tweezer > Twist” on the second tier, “Disease > Sand” on the third tier, and contained highlights of “2001 > Reba” and “Harry Hood.” In five second sets of 2012 Phish music, that’s not that much. Perhaps this is a coincidence, or perhaps Trey has a propensity to call for singles when jamming isn’t necessarily clicking as usual? In the end, we’ll never know, but—at times—it seems a tad of forethought might go a long way in closing a show with authority.

It often feels that Phish has gone away from show-stopping set closers. Aside from the over-used “Antelope” and the occasional “David Bowie” or “Slave,” sets were prone to end with “Zero,” “Julius” or another innocuous single. Though not a huge deal in the scheme of a summer filled with riches, second set closers are the final taste of real Phish for the night, often determining the immediate post-show vibe. Encores, though occasionally significant, are as much for reorientation as anything else. The biggest change in this department has resulted from the band moving away “You Enjoy Myself” to close sets without a new replacement emerging. Though dubious, perhaps one will rise in the coming weeks, or perhaps the band will just keep playing “Antelope.” But if this is the only flaw to write about—effecting one in four shows—we’re doing pretty damn well!


Jam of the Day: 

Carini > Sand” 7.6 II, SPAC

The heavy-hitting pairing came at the front of the second set on SPAC’s first night.

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253 Responses to “The Fizzle Factor”

  1. Dorn76 Says:

    Snoop is a helluva self promoter. If he get’s kids singing about not murdering each other, then I suppose that’s a good thing…

  2. Dorn76 Says:


    Damn apostrophes always appearing where there are not wanted.

  3. Dorn76 Says:

    Fuck it.

  4. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    yeah dorn. apostrophes don’t make words plural. grade 2’d.

  5. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    yeah c. and how many shitty posters would phish sell if they weren’t numbered?

  6. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    jerry, jerry, jerry… love, love, love… have a wonderful jerry week everyone!

  7. Multibeast Says:

    A thought on Snoop Lion:
    Is what he doing so horrible? It seems like he is coming from a positive place and his goals are positive…his song “No Guns Allowed”, coming from a gangsta rapper seems pretty good to me. Vice Films involvement is pretty slick as well. Love their productions and the doc they created around this project looks interesting. If Snoop’s record causes any young kid to look a bit deeper and discover some great reggae artists, that’s a good thing. Shit, Snoop’s ‘Lodi Dodi’ made me look up who Slick Rick was back in ’93.

  8. Dorn76 Says:

    I’m a fan of this JB poster, think I may have to score one on ebay. The design would likely pass muster with the SLF for display in one of the public viewing areas of my little house.

    Masthay’s usually a little too psychedelic for her trends-toward-hipster tastes.

  9. kayatosh Says:

    back to listening to leg I on random. tasty morsels.

    DCU roses — $$$. sweet little jam.

    also dug the blossom (6.24) piper — little bit of spanish jam flavor in there and mike’s part is intesting — and 6.20 cities on my walk today.

    portsmouth tweezer — $$. it’s got some punch.

  10. kayatosh Says:

    slurpin back brews — firestone walker union jack ipa and now bell’s 2 hearted. yum.

  11. kayatosh Says:

    waiting for a miracle 8.2.89 JGB — also came up on the random shuffle today on the walk. great lyrics to that tune. jer was the man. good dude.

  12. Aquaman Says:

    How much did this board flip out last night when that Mixhael Phelps medal retrospective was set to Tweeprise.

    Some kind pholks must work at NBC Universal.

    That is all,


  13. kayatosh Says:

    make that 9.2.89

    and one more repamp: 8.2.93 posts mike’s heavy metal jam — $$$.

  14. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Found out that an ex-colleague, 34 years old, dropped dead of heart attack after playing basketball last night. He was a picture of health.

    I guess it was his time. Good thing it wasn’t Doc. P’s time this am.

    Hug your loved ones today and everyday. You just don’t know.

  15. kayatosh Says:

    jesus. 40 and not a pillar of health. yikes. all the more reason to do SF. get IT while you can.

  16. MiA Says:

    Spinning UIC ’94 at work.

    Did Des Moines, State Theater, and Eagle Ballroom … my Phish honeymoon because I got married the week before) and didn’t even try to go to Chicago, because everyone said it was impossible to get a ticket. And MrsMia looked to be pretty worn out. Actually, I was pretty worn out.

    That is a GREAT 3 day run right there. Right now, I still kinda like Minneapolis the most of those three great shows.

  17. Mr. Palmer Says:

    my Phish honeymoon because I got married the week before).. MrsMia looked to be pretty worn out.

    ^^ good work big guy….

  18. MiA Says:

    Hah. True.

  19. snow Says:

    I don’t think it’s bad. I think it’s lame. I want to like it and if I like the album, I will like the album. So far though:
    – Why is he saying that he thinks he is bob marley reincarnated? Snoop was born in 1971 and marley died in 1981. Second coming? Another prophet? Bob visits you in your dreams? Possible in a not provable way. We get you are on a Jesus trip, but that’s not how reincarnation works.
    – Where did the Jamacian accent come from? Maybe there is precedent for singing in a different accent, but it just sounds bad. sing reggagizzle. be snoop.

  20. voopa Says:

  21. Dorn76 Says:

    Lame and harmless, @multi and @snow.

  22. Multibeast Says:

    I actually was going to state in my previous post the bob marley reincarnated statements are mad suspect. Unless he is just saying that he aspires to be like Marley, bring people together?? I can appreciate that, but the true definition of reincarnation is being abused if he means otherwise.
    The accent comes from getting real lifted with the rastas. REAL lifted. 🙂

  23. MiA Says:

    Snoop Dog is the Pat Boone of Jamaican Music.

    “A coffee table book about Snoop’s rebirth is also in the works.”

    Snoop is a product, and I think he just needed/wanted image rebranding. That is all.

  24. tela'smuff Says:

    scroll though this link for some fun stories of people meeting Jerry.

  25. Dorn76 Says:

    Nice Jerry playlist from Hidden Track…

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