My Summer Phish Fever

With the leak about Phish playing the Riverbend in Ohio on June 5, the collective fever that erupts within our community over Phish’s Summer Tour is starting. Once the whole list of dates are official, we will be in the full swing of things. I realized today, while running on the treadmill, that the fever has taken me over sooner than most others.

I have had a Phish drought longer than I’m comfortable with; My last show: Alpine Valley. My particularly busy end to 2010, mixed with not living on the East Coast (like most members of the OPT staff), resulted in the longest stretch of not seeing Phish I have ever lived through (not counting the hiatus and the breakup, of course). I am so ready to see Phish. While I love arena Phish, the buzz that surrounds the summer journeys we embark on and the pre-show parties we throw down trumps most other feelings for me.

I was already high off of Tuesday’s news about Riverbend, right away I knew I would be going to that show and a number of surrounding shows (Toyota, Blossom, Star Lake?). What really set my fever off today was the weather. We just got out of one of the biggest chunks of winter weather I can remember. If it were in a Phish setlist, it would read as follows: Biggest Bizzard of 20 Years > Shovel Jam -> WEEK LONG COLD SNAP. After nearly two feet of snow fell, with drifts topping eight feet, we went into a sub-zero cold snap for nearly a week. In contrast, the beginning of this week was glorious. We finally saw the sun, and it brought temperatures in the 40s–it felt like spring. Today, the sun is beaming and the temperature is nearly 50 degrees. The smell of warmer weather is even here.

Riverbend Site Screenshot (yes, it's my screenshot)

This beautiful day, the type where I can walk outside without a coat on, mixed with the leak of a single summer tour date was great. Then, when I stepped on the treadmill in my company’s gym, I put on some serious summer ’94 jams. That was it. I needed a doctor because this fever g0t out of control. There is something about Phish’s style in the summer; while they tend to be more dark and all-business in the fall/winter, summer brings a veil of carelessness over the band and fans, alike, making for some loose, playful, and memorable music.

While I was working out, not only did I listen to Summer jams, I listened to mostly June jams:

6/13/94 Slave – One of my favorite Slave’s ever. This version is so raw. Fish is never sure when Trey’s going to stop. With a peak that lasts nearly three minutes, Trey is scratching his fretboard and trilling his strings into the finish.

6/18/94 Divided Sky – WOAH. Best Divided Sky ever? It might be. Although this show isn’t outdoors, Trey hones the spirit of the summer through his guitar. He takes ferocious leads in and out of the jam with Fishman being more on point than anyone could ask him to be. This is a must have–well, the whole show is.

6/05/94 Down with Disease – I like these early versions. This one clocks in at nearly 10 minutes. While I was running I pretended that I was dancing in place to an awesome tour opener version of the song. Like Toyota Park’s last summer.

7/05/94 Bathtub Gin -> Lifeboy – Totally whacked out version of Gin. The improvisation is very impressive an goes beautifully into one of their best landing-pad songs ever written, Lifeboy.

7/06/94 David Bowie – This version is hot from the start of the jam. While this song often sinks way down before coming way up, we start out on top of things out of the gates. The spring breeze flowing into the gym mixed with this song had me on cloud nine–now THIS is a Bowie!

7/06/94 Tweezer -> Lawn Boy – A super playful jam that goes into a super playful song; it’s perfect for summer! This jam features even more crazy improvisation than the Gin mentioned before. Right at the end of the seriously insane craziness, Fishman starts up the powerful Tweezer beat to go into the end. Get this show!

In lieu of the traditional ‘Show for Your Weekend’, this is going to kick of our series of “Summer Rage Sauce”. Up until Summer tour starts, each ‘Show for Your Weekend’ will be a hot summer show–a show that I feel embodies the summer Phish spirit.

6/13/94 – One of my favorite shows. To keep this short, I’ll just touch upon the highlights other than the Slave mentioned above. Stash is one of my all-time favorite versions. Trey sounds angry in it. Someone please help his guitar because IT’S SCREAMIN’! Trey focuses on more tension than release in this jam–there is a great release but the jam ends on tension. It’s straight up insane Phish. The Reba is also one of my favorite versions.

Set 1: Buried Alive > Poor Heart > Sample in a Jar, The Divided Sky, Wolfman’s Brother > Dinner and a Movie, Stash, Ginseng Sullivan, Julius

Set 2: Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Esther, Cavern, Reba, Jesus Just Left Chicago, Scent of a Mule, Big Ball Jam, Hold Your Head Up > Terrapin >Hold Your Head Up, Slave to the Traffic Light

Encore: Golgi Apparatus


7/06/94 – This bad boy favorite opens up with a power trio: Llama, Fluff > Julius. Pretty wacky stuff. Making use of the great day that I mentioned earlier in this post, I decided to take my dog for a walk downtown around 9pm. This show was still up on my iPod from earlier and Reba came on. I had forgotten how excellent this version is. The beginning of the jam is a bit atypical but it launches into a beautiful Reba jam with Trey absolutely soaring. I was in the zone walking. Just paying attention to the sidewalk 10 feet in front of me, I couldn’t be shaken out of my astonishment. Ok, um, if you never heard of this show, and you had to guess one song that would be sandwiched inside of BBFCFM, what would you guess? Probably wouldn’t be Sample. Totally off the wall, not sure how they came up with this–not complaining. The Harry Hood is on the level of the Reba earlier in the show. Trey’s clean peaks are absolutely incredible. I beg Phish to stop playing Hood until it comes back a half as powerful as it once was.

Set 1: Llama, Fluffhead > Julius, Bouncing Around the Room, Reba, Axilla (Part II), My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own, Carolina, David Bowie

Set 2: The Landlady > Poor Heart > Tweezer > Lawn Boy, Chalk Dust Torture -> Big Black Furry Creature from Mars > Sample in a Jar > Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, Harry Hood > Tweezer Reprise

Encore: The Old Home Place, Nellie Kane, Memories, Funky Bitch