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.

[audio:,] Tags: , ,

253 Responses to “The Fizzle Factor”

  1. BingosBrother Says:

    I dislike 46 Days as much as anybody, but to say that Alpines version is “near boredom” is completely ridiculous. Ferocious Type 1 version. more like an old skool Antelope than a 46 Days. Might want to listen to this one again Miner. Definitely bored by the rest of the set, but the faucet was still wide open until 46 Days ended.

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    9.18.87 was one of the first great Dews I saw. For the most part the Dews earlier that year were a little tame. 9.12.87 Cap Center also excellent and lesser known. Whichever one of those you prefer would probably count as the best since ’81 at that time. There were a lot of strong Dews in ’81

    As an energy experience the MSG Dew was quite remarkable to be sure

    here’s the Cap Ctr show

  3. tela'smuff Says:

    agree with ya Bingo. i was too hung up on the Disease>Sand dissing. that 46 Days about blew the pavilion off.

  4. marcoesq Says:

    @ghostphunk- In Buffalo for work until 7:30. was gonna drive back to bmore but we just drove past darien and saw anthrax and slayer are playong. you around? hit me up
    m h o y t 1 3 at gheemail

  5. kayatosh Says:

    silent ballet in the morning

  6. kayatosh Says:

    tela’s: thanks for the jerry interview link. 1994. great stuff. you’re right the cassidy stuff is brilliant. jerry was a great storyteller.

  7. tela'smuff Says:

    i was laughing pretty hard. a good interview, and still seemed like he had lots of life. loved his story at the end of getting dosed because he couldn’t resist his urge to dip in some cake frosting.

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    I’ll never prefer any latter era Dew over a ’74 masterpiece though, even ones I saw at…

    actually 11.2.85 was the first great Dew I was at now that I think of it. An incredibly underrated show because of the night before. Alltime favorite Iko, space into Dew, every song played at 4 or 5 star level until it peters out a little at the very end.

    Highly recommended show, smokes both the more famous Fox Theater shows imo

    and I guess Hartford 3.27.87 was the first strong Dew of ’87 but those tapes are really bad

  9. BingosBrother Says:

    Word telas. I rarely disagree w/ miner, mostly because I’m not nearly as knowledgable, but I know my hose, and 46 Days was pure hose.

    This poster that comes w/ the Spring 90 GD boxset is sick.

  10. MrCompletely Says:

    cool glad you noticed that Bingos they’re trying to get more into using “real” artists and less stuff with the kind of cartoony generic look

  11. kayatosh Says:

    touched by a wand. ding.

  12. kayatosh Says:

    experiencing authentic inspiration

  13. SillyWilly Says:

    did we throw a shout-out to old gore vidal, yet?

  14. kayatosh Says:

    right. vidal.

  15. BingosBrother Says:

    I’m almost sucked into buying the hoodie w/ that image on the back. Love it. Plus it resembles my grade school wrestling team logo, which makes it even cooler for me.

  16. SillyWilly Says:

    also a shout out to the India power-outage

    which may have been the result of hackers except it couldn’t be even though it could be but definitely wasn’t.

  17. kayatosh Says:


  18. voopa Says:

    “Another friend ran into Jerry in an elevator at the hotel after the show. In full fan boy gush, he told Jerry that that show had been the absolute highlight of his life. Jerry didn’t miss a beat and replied ‘I hope things pick up for you.'”

    I fucking love this!

  19. MiA Says:

    India is an absolute mess for their infrastructure. Makes California look brilliant.

    Google this…

    India Dehli electrical wiring street

    They also have areas drawing WAY more power than they are legally allowed to (in layman’s terms).

    I don’t even want to post the river pollution there.

    The problem is corruption. Way too much of it. And no planning.

  20. MrCompletely Says:

    that was my favaorite quote out of that whole page @voops

    you see this @sw? onion nails it again,29019/

  21. Leo Weaver Says:

    Listening to the AV2 show I thought 46 days was hot as hell. One of my exact comments (spoken aloud while I listened thru headphones) was, “Holy shit, Fishman’s beating the living hell outta those drums!!!” Made me want to tackle somebody. And i’m a lover, not a tackler.

  22. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    We have a girl on the usa volleyball team named destinee hooker.

  23. MiA Says:

    What would they do without his deft leadership?

  24. SillyWilly Says:

    I hadn’t seen that one, Mr. C, but it’s perfect.

    I was laughing at some of the articles because they were saying stuff like: This couldn’t have been done by hackers because hackers can’t do this kind of thing. But, we have protocol in place to protect against hackers and make sure it wasn’t hackers when it happens.

    I keep laughing because I thought “hackers can’t do this.”

    I read something crazy where about 50 focused hackers could bring down the world energy grid. Maybe less than that…

    I’ll have to dig it up.

  25. Multibeast Says:

    On Jerry’s bday, lets also celebrate the great Alpine Valley show of 8.01.98. HOT show.

Leave a Reply