The Gorge ’09 (Wendy Rogell)

Shows of the Summer: The Gorge and Bill Graham

Every time Phish goes to the Gorge something special happens. From 1997 through 2011, every visit deep into Washington state has harvested one of the best shows of the summer. One could make a Gorge highlight tape that would go on for hours upon hours upon hours. The band’s history at this venue—especially percentage wise—is outlandish. Their playing slows down and takes on the majesty of the surroundings. They play differently at the Gorge—and who wouldn’t? I predict that this special venue will play host to one of Summer 2013’s most outstanding shows. It’s as much of a guarantee that comes in the Phish world these days.

Additionally, I’m feeling another of this summer’s absolute peaks will take place at Bill Graham. Last year, they had the venue booked at the front of the tour and this year, it represents the final three-night extravaganza before a Monday night, LA afterthought. Things, traditionally, come to a head for Phish at the end of tours—as one can see at Dick’s last year—and I think this venue holds as much magic as any. The polar opposite of the Gorge, a dingy and tiny auditorium that seems almost unfit for Phish were it not for its legacy and legend. But the history of the Bay Area mecca is undeniable and the energy in the room is palpable from every seat in the house. Look for at least one of these three shows to be one of the band’s top efforts of summer.

Breakout Jam Vehicles of the Summer: Hopefully Phish comes out with some new launchpads this summer, but even if they do, it’s time to revitalize some of the latent giants they have in their catalog. Here are my picks.

“Undermind”—First off, someone should bring a sign on the first night of tour that say “Get Undermind in rotation stat!” The couple times they’ve jammed on this song—UIC ’11 and Dick’s ’12—they’ve come up with two of their most successful modern experiments. With the relative stagnancy of their current jam vehicles, the band should get this one into the second set every four shows—the results would speak for themselves.

“A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing”—Enough is enough with this one. Someone close to Trey needs to have a sit down with him and explain that this could be the next massive jam in the Phish universe. The all-time version from SPAC ’04 has sat there teasing us for almost a decade now, with only Superball’s ambient first setter to show for it. If the band went free form on this song every four nights, forget about it. But the burning question is why won’t they? (Or better put, “What the fuck?!”) Shapiro did his part by dropping the SPAC epic on this summer’s Live Bait, who’s next?

“Seven Below”—The cliche pick would be “Scents and Subtle Sounds” here, but fuck it, let’s be realistic, that jam won’t go the places that “Oceans” will, so I’m gonna hedge my bets and not ask for both. I’m asking for a song that was a central jam vehicle of the post hiatus period—”Seven Below.” Some of the jams out of this song were the band’s most impressive of 2.0, and they seem to have no problem playing it, unlike some of the aforementioned post-hiatus songs. So let’s bring it back and expand on it! This one hasn’t seen the light of day since the very avant-garde take at Star Lake ’12. The delicacy of this jam would fuse well with the band’s current playing style.

“Wolfman’s Brother”—Finally, bring back the second set “Wolfman’s Brother.” The band has played this song as a first set rotation song for the past four years, and it’s grown a bit stale. But my call is that MSG’s creative version is a harbinger of things to come this summer. “Wolfman’s” was once more than a pathway to funk, starring as a open jam for many years. I think it could be the perfect piece to showcase whatever sound the band is focusing on this summer. Can you say plinko -> storage jam? It would be perfect.

Bustouts of the Year: “New Age” @ Merriweather & “Whipping Post” (Trey singing) @ Tahoe

Best 3-Night Stands: 1) Bill Graham 2) Dick’s 3) Chicago

Best 2-Night Stands: 1) The Gorge 2) Merriweather 3) Tahoe

Dick’s Friday Night Setlist Prank: The band will spell out “Leave With Us Now” with their setlist, and upon the ending of “Waves”—while layers of loops still emanate from the stage—a space ship will descend and beam us all into another reality, leaving this one behind forever. There is no encore. Dick’s Saturday and Sunday shows will not take place.

I. Light Up or Leave Me Alone, Esther, A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing, Vultures, Emotional Rescue, Waste, Icculus*, Tube

II. Halfway to the Moon -> Undermind -> Simple -> New Age, Once In a Lifetime, Waves

*w/ “soul cluster migration” narration



Jam of the Day:

Rock and Roll > Lizards” 8.24.12 II, Pelham

My favorite jam of the Southern run last year.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.




Final Lineup of Artists: 

AJ Masthay, Nate Duval, Erin Cadigan, Isadora Bullock, Ryan Kerrigan, John Warner, Branden Otto, Bruce Horan, Ed Wilson, TRiPP, Lauren Domsky, Noah Phence, Dave Calarco aka Mr. Miner, Drew Suto, Bill Pompeii, 10 Minute Tube Designs, Party Time Pins, Page Side High, stuPINdous Creations, MYFE. Designs, Ant Pharm Pins, PerPINdicular Pins

When/Where: Saturday July 6 from 10am-3pm at the Saratoga Hilton

Admission: Free

Featuring the best Phish inspired art, including limited edition art made specifically for the show. 

From The Mothership Art Collective: Rock Art exhibitions have been held since 2003 with great success, as unique posters are made for Phish shows during the poster show weekend, making for a must-attend event during Phish tour, featuring some of the most unique concert art being produced today. ‘Summer in Saratoga: A Rock Art Exhibition” is the first event for 2013 produced by the Mothership Art Collective, a group within the Phish community comprised of artists and organizations who promote the art inspired by the band Phish.

In addition to the artists, non-profits included are The Mockingbird Foundation, which has given grants for music education totaling more than $700,000 over the past 15 years; Screens ‘n’ Suds, which combines craft beers and art to benefit the National MS Society and charities in Richmond, VA and Chicago, IL, raising over $75,000 since 2009; and PhanArt, a book and website created as a way to showcase the art made by Phish fans, raising money for The Mockingbird Foundation through donations from artists and fans, totaling over $10,000 since 2009.

From Miner: The past few events put on The Mothership Collective have been outstanding. I highly reccomend making it down to the show whether you intend on purchasing anything or not. I’ll be down there signing and selling books for most of the time as well, so come by and say hello!

Shows of the Summer: The Gorge and Bill Graham Every time Phish goes to the Gorge something special happens. From 1997 through 2011, every visit deep into Washington state has harvested one of the best shows of the summer. One could make a Gorge highlight tape that would go on for hours upon hours upon …

Guess Work and Predictions Read More »

With Bangor fast approaching, and everyone anticipating quite the banger in Maine, I figured it would be a good time to take a look back at the other tour-opening throwdowns of this era. For the past couple years, the band has come out practiced and polished to kick off tours, and—very often—these tour openers have blossomed into one of the most memorable nights of the season. Putting all these shows side to side, it’s quite eye opening to see all the amazing music that has come in 3.0 tour openers. Let’s look back at the making of a 3.0 tradition.


Toyota Park—6.11.2010

Toyota Park

Phish sparked Summer Tour 2010 with their first mega-opener of 3.0. During 2009, opening shows were a clear warm up, but starting in Chicago on this brutally hot day, the band laid the groundwork for future tour-opening blowouts. This show featured two sets chock full of improv and full-tilt playing. One can tell from the setlist alone, that the band meant business—but the setlist was just part of the story. Six months after playing their best modern shows to date in Miami, the band hit the stage in The Windy City with a similar fire and cohesion, and what resulted after setbreak was a thing of beauty. Framing the set around the centerpiece jams of “Light” and “Ghost,” the latter of which remained a highlight of tour well after tour’s final show, Phish sculpted a flowing stanza of music that never once hit a road bump. The “Limb” was spectacular, “Caspian” was placed perfectly, and “Antelope” was more shredding than usual, all before they closed the set with the debut of “Show of Life.” I can still remember the glow of everyone faces when the lights came on after this one—this night was a keeper.

I: Down with Disease, Wolfman’s Brother, Possum, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Reba, Jesus Just Left Chicago, Divided Sky, Golgi Apparatus > David Bowie

II: Light -> Maze, Ghost -> Limb By Limb > Prince Caspian > The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Run Like an Antelope, Show of Life

E: Cavern > Julius


Bethel Woods—5.27.11

Official Bethel Print (Stout)

The Bethel run, or at least the first two nights of the Bethel run, is the stuff of modern era legend. Bursting out of the gates with far more improvisational bravado than we had heard from the band in 2010, Phish set their community afire with these two shows. This leg of summer tour would be a game-changer for the band, as they dropped far more complex jams than we had heard in the previous two years—and it all started here in Bethel. The opening show has lived in the shadow of the brilliant performance on night two, but has almost just as much to offer. To begin with, the band dropped “Tweezer” to open the show and jump-start the summer. The opening half also saw high points in “Wolfman’s -> Walk Away” and the best “Kill Devil Falls” outside of Bonnaroo ’09. The meat of the second set, however, would remain one of the elite jam sequences of the year. “Boogie > Waves > Prince Caspian > Crosseyed” contained some of the most dynamic playing of the era to that point, but more improtantly, it showcased Phish’s intent to bring things deeper. A transcendent “Waves” jam saw the band sculpt abstract soundscapes with staggering, leader-less interplay—a revelation at the time, and quite the blast off for the opening night of the year. Not to mention that the guys had just masterfully deconstructed and dissolved a “Boogie” jam to segue into “Waves.” “Caspian” provided an anthemic comedown before they took “Crosseyed” right back out into a deep improvisational space. A murky, evil groove emerged from the hard-rock playing, absolutely slaying the audience while tallying the the third open jam of the sequence! I think we spun this  chunk of the set ten times through before coming to Bethel the next day. Phish had taken five months off and had come back way better!

I: Tweezer > My Friend, My Friend, Poor Heart, Roses Are Free > Funky Bitch,Wolfman’s Brother -> Walk Away, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, Kill Devil Falls, Bold As Love

II: Carini > Back on the Train, Boogie On Reggae Woman > Waves > Prince Caspian > Crosseyed and Painless > Wading in the Velvet Sea > Possum, The Squirming Coil

E: Julius


The Gorge—8.5.11

Gorge Print (Klaussen)

Few other things need to be said about this show than “Rock and Roll > Meatstick.” Playing—arguably—the greatest jam of this era, rivaled only by Dick’s “Light,” the story of this show began and ended with this unforgettable sequence. Spanning so many different feels within one jam, the band flowed through distinct sections of melody driven improv, the dirtiest funk you’ll ever hear, and evil, storage-laced abstraction. This “Rock and Roll” in the context of The Gorge created an experience that tapes can never translate. This is the type of jam that steals a show—in fact, it stole the entire weekend as the second night was a fun, though straightforward, show. To illustrate the magnitude of this jam, people debate it versus Big Cypress’ monstrous “Rock and Roll” for the best version ever! I’m not picking a winner, but I think that tells you the level of jam we are dealing with here. Then, the final bass-led jihad into “Meatstick”—an all-time Phish moment—to bring us into the heavily funkified segment of “Meatstick > Boogie On.” That three-song run is what everyone remembers about the show—and rightfully so—but there are a couple other points of note. First and formost, a sunset version of “Roggae” that transformed into a wide-open daydream, easily the most impressive version ever played. And the delicate “Farmhouse” placed after the second set theatrics is as good of a rendition as you’ll ever come across.

I: Kill Devil Falls, The Wedge, Bathtub Gin, Nellie Kane > My Friend, My Friend,Cavern > Taste > Roggae > Walk Away, Funky Bitch, Roses Are Free > David Bowie

II: Backwards Down the Number Line > Rock and Roll -> Meatstick ->Boogie On Reggae Woman > Farmhouse, Show of Life, Julius, Character Zero

E: Loving Cup



NYE 2011 Logo

Although Phish’s Summer ’11 tour was their best modern jaunt to date, many were not sure how the extended layoff between Labor Day and New Year’s Run would treat the band. If the first night of the run was any indicator, however, they hadn’t missed a beat. And then the next three nights happened. But the first night was legitimately awesome. First set standouts included a third-song “Cities” that stopped abruptly deep into open waters, the promising first set sign posts of “Stash” and “Bathub Gin,” and a rare “Ballad of Curtis Loew.” The second set was straight fire start to finish, and one of the better Holiday Run sets of this era. “Carini” flipped into major key territory, taking the show on an uplifting journey before Trey seamlessly wove in the opening lick to “Tweezer.” This prime-time combo exploded the arena and before long, the band was ripping off a plinko highlight reel amidst the “Tweezer” jam. One crack lick led into another in this swampy, urban dance monster which smoothly rolled into a mid-set “My Friend.” The darkhorse jam of this show, however, is the “Rock and Roll.” Overshadowed by “Carini -> Tweezer,” this jam puts a magnifying glass on the dark, glitchy, abstract, plinko-esque jamming style that was prevalent during 2011. “Harry Hood” rounded out the night, a version in which Trey led with notable passion, evoking his “Hood” playing of old, if even for a little bit. Walking out of MSG after this one, I thougvht we might be looking at one of the elite New Year’s Runs of all time. We weren’t.

I: Free, Glide > Possum, Cities, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Stash, Contact >Sample in a Jar, Kill Devil Falls > Bathtub Gin

II: Birds of a Feather, Carini -> Tweezer > My Friend, My Friend -> Rock and Roll -> NICU, Bouncing Around the Room, Harry Hood > Bug

E: Tube > Rocky Top > Tweezer Reprise



The band opened last year’s touring schedule with one of their strongest shows of 2012. A complete show—bookended by “Buried Alive”—possessed a retro feel and intensity that was certainly welcome after MSG’s anticlimax. This night has been discussed so much that I feel I don’t need to go into it here. It was outstanding on every level.

I: Buried Alive > Runaway Jim, Torn and Frayed, Funky Bitch, The Moma Dance, Rift, Nothing, Ocelot, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Possum, Rocky Top

II: Carini -> Taste > Ghost > Boogie On Reggae Woman > If I Could, Quinn the Eskimo, Harry Hood > Cavern > Buried Alive Reprise

E: Loving Cup


Long Beach—8.15.12

Long Beach Official

Leg One of 2012 was unquestionably the band’s most impressive tour to date when it ended. Exploding through their staple sheds on the East Coast and in the Midwest, Phish had themselves at a crossroads. Despite their clear musical proficiency, none of the jams had surpassed 15 minutes (or so). Obviously, time is not the central factor in jam quality, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a Phish fan who’s favorite jam is under twenty minutes. The band often finds musical gold mines 17 minutes into a piece or deeper, places they just weren’t going in this era. But on this night in Long Beach, everything changed. Taking the next logical improvisational step, the band opened the second set with 40 minutes of jamming, including 25 in “Rock and Roll” alone.” And it was awesome, exploratory improv, the type of stuff fans had been yearning for. This show sparked the modern trend of long form jamming that would culminate at Dick’s two weeks later—and we all know what happened there. That road to glory—however, at least in the short term‚ started at Long Beach. Oh, and the “Hood” that ends set two is the best of the year.

I: Suzy Greenberg, Cities > Kill Devil Falls, Guelah Papyrus, Cool It Down,Rift, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, Bathtub Gin, Quinn the Eskimo

II: Rock and Roll > Ghost > Limb By Limb, Guyute, Dirt, Harry Hood > Good Times Bad Times

E: Julius



12.28.12 (G.Lucas)

A year later when Phish was heading to MSG after a long layoff, people were confident Phish wouldn’t tank again—and they were right. The magic of Dick’s carried over to MSG’s jams, and the most dynamic and far reaching of them came bursting out of the gates on the first night in the form of “Tweezer.” Taking their classic vehicle on a multi-staged odyssey with their new-school musical sensibilities, the guys gave us a message that Dick’s wasn’t just a Rocky Mountain high. And when the dust settled on the New Year’s Run of 2012, an argument could be made for the 28th as the most complete show of the four. A hot “Stash” and a “Little Drummer Boy” infused “Wolfman’s” set the improvisational stage for “Tweezer,” while the band filled out the second set with solid playing and selections all the way through.

I: Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, The Moma Dance, Funky Bitch, Army of One, Tube > Stash, Nellie Kane, Kill Devil Falls, Free, Wolfman’s Brother

II: Tweezer > Maze, Twist > Theme From the Bottom -> Fluffhead, David Bowie

E: Bouncing Around the Room, Good Times Bad Times

With Bangor fast approaching, and everyone anticipating quite the banger in Maine, I figured it would be a good time to take a look back at the other tour-opening throwdowns of this era. For the past couple years, the band has come out practiced and polished to kick off tours, and—very often—these tour openers have …

First Night Fiestas Read More »

Get the Book!

Island Run Pins

Recent Posts


Phish News

Miner's Picks


All Right Reserved |

- 2023