Having just returned Monday evening from the High Sierra Music Festival, a place that more than most carries the mantra of “Put your phone away,” I’ve been out of contact with the Phish world — especially the three-nights at SPAC. Let’s take a quick look at what unfolded in New York to close out the first leg of Summer 2012.

I’ve yet to listen to the shows except for the featured show on the LivePhish app (7/8/12) so bare with me as I won’t be highlighting “go-to” jams. Some are pretty obvious by the social media uproar on my timeline.

Let’s start with night one…

Phish @ Saratoga Performing Arts Center, NY 7/6/12

On paper this looks like the strongest show of the run. Anytime you sandwich a Talking Heads tune between Tube, you’ve got yourself a first set gem. I can’t wait to hear the second set combos of Carini > Sand and that Sneakin’ Sally > Ghost. How was it, by the way?!

Set 1: Runaway Jim, Ocelot, Heavy Things, Back on the Train, Funky Bitch, Tube -> Psycho Killer -> Tube, Hold Your Head Up[1] > Cracklin’ Rosie > Hold Your Head Up, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, Paul and Silas, Horn, Corinna, Light Up Or Leave Me Alone
Set 2: Chalk Dust Torture > Carini > Sand, Roses Are Free > Punch You In the Eye > Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley > Ghost > Suzy Greenberg > Run Like an Antelope[2]
Encore: Loving Cup
[1] Psycho Killer quotes and “tucking” references.
[2] Crosseyed and Painless tease; Tom Marshall and the Dude of Life on vocals; Lyrics changed to “Been you to have any spleef.”

Phish @ Saratoga Performing Arts Center, NY 7/7/12

This show will obviously be remembered for the “Blister in the Sun” bustout. The first since July 9th, 1998. Phish weaved the Violent Femmes staple into the entire second set too. A “Sabotage” tribute for MCA was the icing on the cake. Looking over the soundcheck they did before night two makes me take notice too. Hopefully Skin it Back makes it into the rotation and won’t just be a Jones Beach memory.

Set 1: Grind, Possum > Golgi Apparatus, The Moma Dance, Torn and Frayed, Rift, Cities -> Maze, Lawn Boy, Peaches en Regalia > Bathtub Gin, Good Times Bad Times
Set 2: Down with Disease -> Blister in the Sun[1] > Down with Disease[2] > Boogie On Reggae Woman > Golden Age -> Also Sprach Zarathustra > Backwards Down the Number Line[3] > Prince Caspian[2] -> Scent of a Mule -> Blister in the Sun[1] -> Scent of a Mule > Mike’s Song[3] > Contact > Weekapaug Groove[3]
Encore: Sabotage
[1] First verse only.
[2] Unfinished.
[3] Blister in the Sun teases from Trey.

Phish @ Saratoga Performing Arts Center, NY 7/8/12

The final show of the first leg contains the normal grab-bag first set with an extended “Party Time” that I thought had a very cool intro for the first time. The “La Grange” bustout was longgggggggg overdue and should most certainly be seeing as much playing time as “Walk Away.” On the car ride home from High Sierra, the “Light,” “Twist” and “Piper” all contained a very engaging but at the same time memorable jam. I couldn’t place it at first but it belongs to the Gorge 2009 Light. A jam I have gone back to several times as saying “it needs to be featured on it’s own or as part of a new song”. Maybe this means that’ll happen? Seems odd for Trey to be so locked onto a particular piece of music.

Set 1: AC/DC Bag > My Soul, Camel Walk, Sample in a Jar, Wilson > Party Time, Gumbo, Nellie Kane, Driver, Foam, If I Could, Split Open and Melt > La Grange
Set 2: Axilla > Light > Twist > Kill Devil Falls[1] -> My Friend, My Friend[2] > Swept Away > Steep > Piper > Free > Kung > Harry Hood[3] > Cavern > David Bowie
Encore: You Enjoy Myself[4]
[1] Theme from Jeopardy! tease.
[2] No “Myfe” ending.
[3] Kung quote.
[4] Flash Light tease from Mike; theme from Sanford and Son teases in vocal jam.

So our grand total of unique songs played by Phish in Summer 2012 is already at a whopping 207 (Thanks to @bizarchive for keeping the stats on that). The boys from Vermont are clearly trying to break their own record for most songs played in a year. Weaving in songs that have only been played once before from their Halloween costumes has been one of the most surprising and invigorating things about Phish 2012 (that and the tease-happy Trey). Lets see what the second leg brings. Next stop Long Beach, California! Who’s got my Lushington?

Setlists compiled by Phish.net