So far, in the first 18 shows of the year, Phish has played a whopping 180 different songs out of a total of 385. Compared to the first 18 shows of 2009 (Hampton + Summer Tour leg 1), they have played 26 more different songs. At the same point in 2009 they played a total of 410 total songs. That brings the average songs per show in 2010 to 21, while it was 22.6 in 2009. This shows that there is, so far, more diversity in 2010 in song choice and longer versions of these songs. It reminds us how Phish was churning out song after song with far less diversity at this point in 2009. Obviously we can chalk this up to the ridiculous amount of covers they have played in 2010, along with the addition of some new originals to the rotation–this is a good thing. Their song catalog is growing every year.
The most times they played any single song this year was 6 (Possum), while last year (every time I compare this year to last year I am only using the first 18 shows of last year) they had two songs tied for first for most times played, both were played 7 times (Character Zero and Possum). While it seemed like Ghost wasn’t played as often as usual this year (usually every 4 shows), they only played it once less than last year’s 4 versions. It only seems like they didn’t play it as much because of the large gap of playing it after it’s first time played in Chicago on the tour opener.
Light, which tied for second place for most times played this year (5 times), was only played twice last year. It’s seems that Light is going to be to 2010 as Ghost was to 1997–the new, open ended song that gets crammed into a frequently played rotation.
Kill Devil Falls seemed like it was played less than last year, and it was–It was played twice more last year than it’s been played this year. I see this as good because it seems to be the new Chalk Dust Torture, only with more stale of a jam.
Going into finding the stats, I was certain that Joy was played far less than last year. It seemed like they played it every other show last year. I found the only reason it felt like that is because they played it so much throughout the year in 2009. Last year’s first 18 shows they only played Joy twice–they played it three times this year–I was not expecting that at all.
Mike’s Song (and, “Mike’s Groove” in general) is interesting because it was both played 2 more times than last year (3 to 5) and was far more creative and fun than it was last year. I don’t mind hearing the opening guitar to Mike’s Song any more–last year I almost cringed.
46 Days was played double as often as last year (2 to 4) and also took a different style. Last year it seemed like the direction they wanted to take it was space/funk–this year the song has been containing both vocal jams and blistering guitar work. A very interesting song to follow. After 03/04 I felt like I never wanted to hear this song again.
Some unusual statistics are that they have played Curtis Loew and Tela twice already this year. That’s extremely unusual. Curtis Loew and Tela were, however, each played once last year. This may be a sign that they might be entering into a semi-frequent rotation.
One song to watch is Time Turns Elastic. Last year it was played 4 times already–this year it has only been played twice. Possibly Trey is reacting to the fans’ obvious indifference and dislike for the song–which really is a shame because it’s an impressively written song that he obviously put a lot of work into. I do, however, understand why people dislike it. I respect and like the song, sometimes, when I’m listening to a CD, but I feel like it just wastes close to 20 minutes of a Phish concert when you are seeing them live. I say cut this song down to once, possibly twice (like we see here) per tour. Make the song more elusive.
If last year’s second Summer Tour leg is any way to judge how this year’s will be, they will extend the improvisation which, in turn, cuts the average songs per show down. Compared to 2009’s first leg’s 22.6 songs per show, the second leg had an average of 20.5 songs per show. If they could cut it down 2.1 songs per show going into the second leg of this year, that would bring the average to 18.9. This would be very welcomed by me and many other fans, it would mean they are starting to branch out the improvisation. Just like Phish seemed like a totally different band from the first leg going into Red Rocks last year, I think we can expect them to be much different and even less musically conservative in this year’s second leg.
Stay tuned to Online Phish Tour in this month long off-season for more updates!