Paradise Waits

Miami 2014-15 (Andrea Nusinov)

Following Trey’s outstanding performance at the Grateful Dead’s Fare Thee Well shows, there has been an anticipatory buzz around Phish’s forthcoming summer tour. With many questions on the horizon and a full slate of shows in which they will be answered, it’s once again an exciting time in the world of Phish. With Bend just around the corner, here’s what’s been on my mind about Summer 2015.

Trey @ FTW (Jay Blakesberg)

Trey @ FTW (Jay Blakesberg)

It wouldn’t be a stretch to posit that Trey’s preparation for Fare Thee Well represents the most focused guitar practice that he has undertaken since returning to the Phish stage in ’09. He has mentioned in interviews that he isolated himself for up to over five hours per day to study Garcia’s playing, to learn Grateful Dead songs, and to practice. When asked in a Rolling Stone what he’s taken away from his work, he said “One is just guitar stuff. I’ve made a conscious effort to learn everything I could about Jerry’s incredible style. I’m playing in different positions on the neck. It’s opened up a whole world of people I’d never listened to before.” While I wouldn’t bet on any stylistic crossover into his own band, there is no doubt that this preparation will affect his sharpness and readiness to tear things apart on the with Phish. During much of 2014, Trey lacked the powerful leads that traditionally have directed Phish jams. He often laid back with quasi-aimless rhythm playing while his band mates stepped up to varying degrees of success. During the Fare Thee Well shows, especially come Chicago, Trey’s lead playing was the undeniable force driving the band and holding jams on course. He took magnificently passionate solos all over the place, often flooring the stadium-sized audience with his six string prowess. If there is one thing that I feel that will certainly carry over from his Grateful Dead project, it will be his assertiveness. I surmise that Trey, the lead guitar player we know and love, will be back in full force this summer, and that alone is enough to make the any fan giddy with excitement. Phish is the best when Trey takes the lead, not necessarily dominating jams, but directing them. And with his chops as polished as they have been in years, things bode well for his musical leadership this summer. It remains to be seen if the overhauling of his tone for Fare Thee Well will spill over into his Phish articulation. While I doubt he’ll bring his full-fledged “Jerry sound” into the mix, he could integrate some new phrasings and effects that he picked up in such a diligent case study of Garcia.

10/31/14 II. Las Vegas, NV (Eric Battuello)

10/31/14 II Las Vegas, NV (Eric Battuello)

While many people in the community have been hypothesizing about Phish covering Dead songs this summer, I think the more pertinent question is what will come of the Halloween material? In Miami, we saw a slight integration of some of the band’s universally loved Halloween set, but will they commit to the material in full this tour? Will we see some of these jams reworked into actual songs? Inquiring minds want to know. Using “Martian Monster” as a set closer over the Holiday Run seemed to imply that it would become a legitimate part of the band’s rotation. I would imagine we see this infectious funk number fully integrated into the live show this tour. But what about everything else? The band used the “The Birds” as a jam motif during the New Year’s “Theme From the Bottom,” and it is more in this fashion that I think we could see these Halloween passages come to life. Most all of the vignettes from the Haunted House set weren’t fully fleshed out pieces of music, and if they stay that way, it would be really innovative for the band to use them as instrumental themes to jam in and out of within larger improvisations in the vein of “”Tweezer -> Shipwreck -> Tweezer,” “Bathtub Gin -> The Very Long Fuse -> Bathtub Gin,” or “Tube -> Your Pet Cat -> Tube.” They could also use them as bridges between pieces like “Tweezer -> Shipwreck -> Carini” or “Chalk Dust -> The Dogs -> Light.” In fact, we already saw this latter use on 11.1.14 in “Light -> Dogs -> Lengthwise.” While there is a possibility that we see a couple of them reworked into legitimate songs, I almost feel that it would be cooler to see them kept as improvisational devices. If any, I think “The Birds” has the best possibility of becoming a formal song. In terms of any real integration of Grateful Dead material? I seriously doubt it.

Summer '15

Summer ’15

Summer tour’s routing sees the band play nine one-off shows, with five of them coming in rarely visited markets. While small market, out-of-the-way shows were not to be missed in the Phish’s earlier eras, they have more or less become greatest hit sampler platters that lack truly adventurous jamming in 3.0. The overnight travel segueing into soundcheck and a one-night performance hasn’t always treated the guys well over recent tours, and from experience, I would be wary before chasing them through their stretch of the Southern and Midwestern single night shows. They represent a serious grind with potentially small payoffs. Or perhaps I’m just getting old. The band’s wheelhouse in this era has clearly been multi-night stands, and if I had to predict where the strongest shows of summer will materialize, it would be within the two and three night affairs—Bend, Lakewood, Alpine, Philly, Merriweather, Magnaball and Dick’s.

Magnaball

Magnaball

Finally, for the first time since IT in 2003 (excluding Coventry), Phish’s summer tour will culminate in a festival. This format of their earlier years always provided a larger than life showcase for the band’s musical achievements of their current tour. They traditionally used their festivals to show what they had learned through their month-long journey, and put their improvisational foci and successes on full display at their August fiestas. This was arguably the best aspect of placing festivals at the end of their tours. Instead of having to gear up for a massive event in isolation, the band was fully in the flow of playing and jamming as they will be this year, and I think Magnaball is primed to explode far more significantly than Festival 8 or Superball, both which were played in detachment. And at Magnaball, we will—in all likelihood—get to experience one more of the band’s hallowed “secret sets.” I find it fruitless to speculate on what will transpire in this year’s installment, because Phish is always one step ahead of their fans and come up with something that we could never have guessed. That said, following their avant-garde Storage Jam, folks will be anticipating this set as much as any other of the three-night festival.

Only a few days separate us from the beginning of another summer tour. When Phish came back in ’09, nobody knew exactly what to expect from them, how long they’d stick around or to what level they’d perform. Now, six years later, the band is going strong, surpassed most expectations for this era and the guys seem committed for the long haul. They have struck a balance in their personal lives and have no signs of slowing down. Having fully righted their ship and restored their legacy, it’s full steam ahead into 2015.

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6,610 Responses to “Paradise Waits”

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  1. vapebraham Says:

    What! #!###

    Miner!

  2. vapebraham Says:

    Nice piece. Full steam ahead. Love it.

  3. vapebraham Says:

    Bonus points for the title of the piece.

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    Setting the table for tour, nice

    Last two FTW FLAC filesets are in the prior thread if anyone wants em

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    Introduce Your Kid To The Classics, Vol. 47: Johnny Dangerously on the cable teevee tonight, a rousing success as usual

    Miner, I think we’ll see some incremental or larger moves into some of the signature Garcia tones and phrasing this summer as well as the return to forceful direction that you suggest. That’s my guess

  6. Mr.Miner Says:

    phrasing, sure. tones, I doubt.

  7. Selector J Says:

    I’d love for Trey to occasionally take the honking 70s mutron tone for a spin this summer. Maybe during a debut of “Feel Like A Stranger” in Dallas.
    Just sayin.’ Think about it, Mr. Trey…..?
    Seriously, GD cover or no– mutron. Trey could do all kinds of cool non-Jerry shit with that sound. Let’s hear it.

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    i dunno man he bought a shitload of new toys it sounded like. hard to imagine he’s gonna spend 6 months with that stuff and only play it a handful of times. we’ll see though

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    even if he just keeps the split humbucker setup that’s a nice change

  10. Mr.Miner Says:

    I feel you, he could bring some the stuff over but use it in a non-Jerry way. I just don’t think we’ll hear “Jerry solos” in Phish jams if you know what I mean.

  11. butter Says:

    BOOM!! Great article Miner, Always love the tour table setters

    See yall in Bend, staying at the River House…

    Driving up old school style with one of my ole tour bros and his dog.. Keeping it real

  12. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Well if I wasn’t already excited to see what unfolds I sure as hell am now. Great thoughts Miner. Really hoping to see the integration of the TCSOTHH music into jams this tour. & of course it’s going to be interesting to see how Trey’s FTW preparation & experience affects his playing w/ the Phishes.

    Can’t. Fracking. Wait. For. Mann.

    Signing up for premium service on LP App so I can spin the shows the next AM starting w/ Bend1 on Wed AM. Viva la banda!

  13. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Non Phish related repeat PSR for any interested BBers: more than happy to share login info for recent purchase of CRB @ Tarrytown Music Hall. DL expires tmrw @ 7:55AM EST. Hit me up kmplonestar at hot mahl if interested.

  14. sumodie Says:

    Chicago FTW partial refund requests must be postmarked by Monday 7/20

    http://www.dead50.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/fareTheeWellRefundClaimForm.pdf

  15. jonacho Says:

    Its ON! Heading on a business trip –> Bend.
    good times await in a small, destination town venue on the river.
    this is our band

  16. sumodie Says:

    Loved hearing the Thrilling & Chilling material sandwiched around the MIA NYE prank. The next three days I was left wondering why we didn’t hear any more Halloween material for the remainder of the run. Will Thrilling & Chilling be relegated to occasional special appearances only? I hope Bend proves otherwise

    ***
    Since Trey got to unleash some Phishy solos at FTW, it is only fair that he drop some Jerry solos on phish tour

  17. sumodie Says:

    Anyone need Bend extras? Possibly two per night

    Thankfully my two hardcore phish mamas, who have the tix in SEA, are still going to the shows (heh, they know ALL the wooksumo stories about me going back to our very first phish show in ’92)

    Let me know & I’ll double check on the possible extras

  18. hoedown Says:

    Was still posting in the LB post but this just happened!!

    Holy Shit!!! I’m watching the J-Bay surfing final live right now and Mick Fanning just got attacked by 2 great whites at the same time!!! Came out without a scratch. Heat is on hold. Wow….fisrt time in professional surfing history.

  19. bob dylan Says:

    halloween feels like ages ago. exciting to see how they incorporate those songs. wonder what new material mike talked about in the interviews and when we see those pop up also.

    also curious how much of fuego gets left on the sidelines.

  20. JB Says:

    Will be fun to see if Magna has any special set, after deconstructing Halloween expectations a couple years ago the band clearly can break from tradition plus they may not wanna stay up that late anymore 🙂

    Grinning about summer tour in general, and the Mann in specific…and looking forward to a month + of webcasts, glory-holes & from the front line reporting to be shared here.

  21. jtran Says:

    @hoedown

    crazy scary. I hate the WSL commentators and their interview questions about how the points will break down (save those for later!). I hope they don’t make Mick paddle out again tomorrow. I could see him just conceding the final if so.

  22. xpun Says:

    Great to read some fresh thoughts. I think Trey comes out on fire and when Trey is on, Phish is on.

    I’d love to see some dead tunes but not really expecting it. Although we did get some hardbody tunes when that was the side project ;p

    Worried about the one off shows as well, more for fatigue purposes than set list choices. I’m catching the end of tour and the only two single nights are after days off and in familiar territory (Blossom, Raleigh) so not overly worried about it from a selfish point of view.

  23. xpun Says:

    Summer 14 = Phish en Fuego

    Summer 15 = Phish on FIRE!

  24. hoedown Says:

    Exactly JTran. No one cares about the points!!! Happy to be alive.

  25. jdub Says:

    Finally feels like summer with a Miner tour settup and summer dates around the corner. Bend goes the way of Worcester and Bethel rather than Bangor and Mansfield I bet. The two night stand to open tour suits them well.

    Subdued excitement, can’t wait to hear the music play.

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