Even though it’s the 10 year anniversary of one of the most important events in Phish history — Coventry — frankly, it’s not a moment we care to re-live. It was right around August 2004 when this blog launched, started as a way for us to move forward with new music in our lives after the hole that Phish left behind. Never did we expect to be covering Phish a full ten years later after the initial breakup…
So today, we’ve decided to do what Phish does and push on forward…because “If you’re moving on you’ve got to leave it behind.” With the Labor Day Dick’s run fast approaching, we’ve gone ahead and rounded up the best moments we’ve seen and heard from Summer Tour.
12. SimpleMeteor (8.2.14)
On the 2nd to last night of tour, our Galaxy voiced their approval on Phish’s Summer by sending a meteoroid to Alabama right smack dab in the middle of some “Skyscrapers and Saxophones.” A fan caught video of the bright burst and NASA even chimed in with a detailed explanation: At 10:19 PM Central Daylight Time on August 2, NASA meteor cameras detected a very bright fireball at an altitude of 57 miles above Hoodoo Road just east of the town of Beechgrove, TN…the meteor traveled just over 100 miles to the south south east at 47,000 miles per hour, breaking apart in a brilliant flash of light above the Alabama town of Henagar.
11. The Return of Jennifer Dances (sorta)
The band finally dusted off the rare original for the first time since 12/17/99. In mocking fashion, Jon Fishman stepped out to the front of the stage and instead of the more obvious cover (“Purple Rain”), he delivered “Jennifer Dances” at Trey’s request, vacuum solo and all.
The Jennifer Dances gag didn’t stop there. A few days later Phish soundchecked the tune in Portsmouth. We probably haven’t seen the last of this one.
10. Piper -> Halley’s Comet (7.18.14)
Some thought it was a little rough around the edges but I absolutely loved Phish’s transition from “Piper -> Halley’s Comet” on 7/18. No, it wasn’t the best executed segue of summer but it might be the most surprising. Trey peppered in the beginning to Halley’s but this time without Mike’s “doo-wop” and the rest of the guys caught on immediately. Anastasio’s ongoing eagerness in trying to create unique moments gave the show a much-needed energy boost and definitely got the boys thinking forward musically.
9. A Mind Left-Body jam in Light? (7.13.14)
Discuss amongst yourselves on this one, but it’s definitely close. The ‘Mind Left Body’ jam during the 7/13 show added to one of the best three-song excursions to open a 2nd set in the modern era (CDT->Light->Tweezer). This masterful segment was documented by LazyLightning which you can check out below. We must add that a few fans have chimed in to say it’s more “Dear Prudence” than anything else. Debate away!
8. Bathtub Gin goes Type II (7.3.14)
This summer the band re-ignited Gin with a foray into Type II territory on a few different occasions. The best one comes first from 7/3/14 SPAC’s in a 14-minute instant classic. While it may not hold a candle to the length of the epic Riverport Gin, it sure as hell puts a dent in the 3.0 list. Stick around for the segue and proceeding jam into Limb x Limb. A half-hour of masterpiece Phish on summer display. See the Randall’s first set Gin for another foray into Type II.
7. Wingsuit’s versatility
When it opened their Halloween show last year it was more than just a debut, it was a statement — a completely new sense of direction for the band. The lyrics promised a re-birth and so far, so good. A tune that works in several different slots — especially as a first set closer and even better as a landing pad out of some Type II jam. Hell, it even works in the encore slot like the one they played in Portsmouth (7.29.14) before segueing into “The Squirming Coil.” If Phish doesn’t capitalize by selling a costumed wingsuit in time for Halloween in Vegas, they’re missing out on a great merch opportunity.
6. Harry Hood at “Great Woods” (7.1.14)
A tour opener has a certain stigma attached to it; most think it’s a warm-up gig, totally skippable, where nothing out of the ordinary happens. However this has not exactly proven true in 3.0 tours, and I wish fans would wake up to this fact. I can name at least two tour openers that have delivered the heat — Bethel Woods in 2011 and Worcester in 2012. Now add Great Woods 2014 to that list because of one song — Harry Hood. The band took Mr. Miner for an 18-minute ride that he and I won’t soon forget. It has still held its own amongst the top jams of summer and it was 21 shows ago.
5. Wombat goes Type II (7.18.14)
I’ll admit it — I don’t really like this song. I enjoyed its debut in Atlantic City with Abe Vigoda and all its theatrics, but much like “Meatstick”, unless they break form, I could do without it. It sticks out like a sore thumb on the new album but maybe that’s the point. With that said, Chicago’s Type II excursion is must-hear and a clear highlight of the Summer Tour. I really hope versions like this one aren’t rare.
4. The ‘Best’ Wedge Ever (7.20.14)
The avatar we made immediately following this blissed-out version from Northerly Island in Chicago on 7/20/14 sums it up quite nicely. It’s the best Wedge they’ve ever played and came completely out of left field. No one saw it coming and that’s when Phish is at it’s best. Deep into a second set that was short on improv, Phish took the “ocean flowing in their veins” and morphed them into a defining version. Skip to the seven minute mark to get straight to the goods.
3. Chalk Dust Torture (7.13.13)
Sharing co-MVP efforts with “Harry Hood,” “Chalk Dust” has positioned itself as a sure-fire jam-vehicle. Much like “Carini” the past few years, the resurgence of this classic tune has set the table for some beautiful improv. Funny to think in 2009 the song didn’t get past the 10-minute mark but now all bets are off whenever we hear the opening chords. Check out the must-hear 28-minute version from Randall’s Island (7.13.14) and the 18-minute trek through Portsmouth (7.29.14) that lands ever so softly into a bustout of “If I Could.”
2. Tweezer-fest in Merriweather (7.27.14)
Nostalgia forms in many ways and this was a throwback to those sandwiches of yesteryear, specifically The Bomb Factory. The entire show ebbs and flows from one song to the next with a ‘what will they do next’ energy that only Phish can bring. Some argue Trey’s ADD is a detriment to the band but on night’s like this — with a clear plan to ‘keep it rolling’ it all came together. Half-way through the 2nd set people were calling it one of the best shows of the year and we’d have to agree. When the official setlist lists “Tweezer” five separate times you can damn well bet it’ll be in constant rotation for years to come.
1. Fuego (7.4, 7.8, 7.18, 7.30)
Yes, there were a lot of ‘fuego moments.’ 12 versions in 22 shows. We knew Phish would want to highlight their best new song in years, but who could have predicted how quickly it’d storm out of the gates. After playing a ‘by the book’ version in Mansfield, they took it for a ride several times in almost every city including a lift-off version at SPAC, and THE 25-minute excursion on 7.8.14 at The Mann in Philly.
“Fuego” is already a veteran jam vehicle and it hasn’t even had a birthday yet! I’d be very surprised if the upcoming Dick’s run doesn’t showcase the track’s brilliance. Hell, I hope they play it on Friday AND Sunday.
More notable summer moments not-to-be-missed:
• Limb by Limb from SPAC (7.3.14)
• Piper from SPAC (7.5.14)
• Ghost -> Wingsuit from Randall’s (7.12.14)
• Tweezer from Randall’s (7.13.14)
• Light from Randall’s (7.13.14)
• Golden Age from Chicago (7.18.14)
• Ghost from Merriweather (7.26.14)
• Split Open & Melt from Portsmouth (7.29.14)
• Meatstick from Portsmouth (7.30.14)
• Seven Below from Portsmouth (7.30.14)
• Down with Disease from Orange Beach (8.1.14)
• Gumbo from Alpharetta (8.3.14)
See you at Dick’s!