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”

  1. sex&city Says:

    Any of you cats have the 12/31/2002 poster from MSG?

  2. jtran Says:

    @kaveh

    no, I just have one. I’ll keep my eyes peeled though.

  3. Loveisreal Says:

    Turns out forum was 3rd best so far

    Shoreline>Bend 2>Forum

    The others are throw aways unforunately.

    3-3 by my count. Lakewood HAS to crush

  4. xpun Says:

    Forum wasn’t bad. I think at the time I thought it was 4 shows in a row with each being better than the previous and I don’t think that way anymore. Highlights for sure.

  5. jtran Says:

    listening to forum again right now for first time. it’s pretty hot. that tweezer nonsense still bugs me, but whatever. “can you still have fun?”

    forum for those in house is seriously helped by the energy and volume in that place, and how awesome and uncrowded the floor is. not oversold at all.

  6. xpun Says:

    Exactly love. I think after gloryhole I had forum in front of shoreline and said oh I see a nice pattern here. Gloryhol’d

  7. tela's_muff Says:

    Forum was awesome, nowhere near as good as that Shoreline first set…

  8. Loveisreal Says:

    Head would explode if I got a Skin It Back.

    Trey is improved greatly but we need more wild cards in this tour. Agreeing with the post a few pages back.

    Strange thing is how effortless Shoreline seemed for the band, i thought for sure this would be the new standard.

  9. Loveisreal Says:

    Shoreline first set was so engaging an searing. Thought most first sets would be like this going forward

  10. little umbrellas Says:

    Just hearing about how Martian Monster got a sick Envelope Filter guitar solo at Forum soundcheck.

    They always bust out the fun toys when no one is watching.

  11. StoneyCase Says:

    Strange thing is how effortless Shoreline seemed for the band, i thought for sure this would be the new standard
    Shoreline first set was so engaging an searing. Thought most first sets would be like this going forward

    Welcome to the cyclical effect of 3.0 Phish. Show, retreat, regurgitate, next year.

  12. xpun Says:

    I’ve always wanted the masthay Superball “greatest show on earth”.

    Does he not do phish posters any more? Really like his style

  13. Kaveh Says:

    @jtran: thanks.

  14. sex&city Says:

    Xpun he does… Almost all shows and most are better than the official print.

  15. neemor Says:

    Mashtay has been getting the official prints for a bunch of bands recently. Mule, Panic, YMSB, Twiddle, etc.
    He posted a teaser of one of his blocks on Facebook that contained the letters PH and that it was official but I forget what for. Maybe even Phil…
    He’s got such a style.
    Otto is hit or miss, but when he hits….man.

  16. jtran Says:

    I see the criticism that the tweezer was “going nowhere” but I think it was just getting going right when trey hits that last high chord but then drops into the myfe intro. they were starting to hook up on a I-IV glory jam and page and fish were right there, but it wasn’t to be.

  17. [Not Tom] Says:

    Has anyone designed a 46 Dogs shirt yet? I want/need one

  18. vapebraham Says:

    spinning Dallas from the top. thnx, modie. diggin Tube, but I always dig tuube.

    Fly coming to the Mann! niiice. Consider the Kaya Compound for coalescing and refreshment. Got it rigged so w and d will be away – peaceful shenanigans will ensue. Will have Tired Hands growlers for sampling, but field trips will be in order.

    would love a Mann2 pav if anyone knows of one. i’ll throw down on the lawn w/ the crew, but nice to have pav access option.

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    http://wgo.signal11.org.uk/wgo.htm

    The Beatles Anomalies page – all the little glitches, hidden messages, snippets of weirdness etc buried in the recordings

    one of the ultimate obsessive web pages

  20. vapebraham Says:

    Tube, guelah, Punch — dig it.

  21. vapebraham Says:

    some goofy notes in Punch toward the end but whatevs.

    Steam! nice placement. brings a lil darkness to set i. dig.

  22. vapebraham Says:

    how about a lil Mann for Alf? no? yes?

  23. little umbrellas Says:

    http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/07/31/427112786/in-cambodia-rats-are-being-trained-to-sniff-out-land-mines-and-save-lives

  24. little umbrellas Says:

    Supposedly these rats can do what takes a human 2 or 3 days, in a half hour.

  25. jtran Says:

    any of you cats driving from Burlington area to magnaball on Thursday?

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