It’s that time of year again: Phish summer tour 2019 begins today! Phish will hit the road for a 26-date tour that will see them stop at a number of fan-favorite venues, make their debut at an arena in CT, and return to Bonnaroo.
As the band prepares to embark on their 2019 summer rounds with a pair of shows in St. Louis, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at the opening show from each Phish summer tour of the 3.0 era:
Five years after breaking up, Phish reunited in March 2009 with three triumphant comeback shows at “The Mothership,” Hampton Coliseum. After the celebratory return run, all eyes turned to Phish’s summer tour opener in Boston at Fenway Park. Phish celebrated the occasion by opening the show with a rare a capella performance of the “Star Spangled Banner,” performed on the Pitcher’s Mound with the band wearing custom Red Sox jerseys. Phish then moved to the stage, lighting up the crowd from the get-go with a soaring “Sample In A Jar.” This one-off in Boston saw the debuts of both “Ocelot” and the divisive “Time Turns Elastic,” and the show featured several “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” teases. Phish featured a few major bust-outs on the night, as the band played “Destiny Unbound” for only the second time since 1991, and covered Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “The Ballad of Curtis Loew” for the first time since August 2, 1993.
Watch fan-shot video of Phish’s “Ballad of Curtis Loew” bust-out from 5/31/09 below (via YouTube user Mark Vanderbloemen):
“Ballad of Curtis Loew” – 5/31/09
Trey has never been shy about his love for the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers, who were beaten in the Stanley Cup Finals by local heroes the Chicago Blackhawks just days before Phish opened their 2010 Summer Tour at Toyota Park. The band brought out “Jesus Just Left Chicago” early in the show to get the crowd going, stretched out “Limb by Limb” with a vocal jam, and performed a wild “Run Like An Antelope,” complete with a “Dave’s Energy Guide” tease and some Fishman-related lyrical ad-libs. This performance also saw the Phish debut of the band’s love letter to its fans, “Show of Life”.
Check out fan-shot video of Phish’s rendition of ZZ Top‘s “Jesus Just Left Chicago” at their Chicago-area 2010 Summer Tour opener, via YouTube user Michael Maxwell:
“Jesus Just Left Chicago” – 6/11/10
Marking the first night of a three-night tour-opening run at the beautiful Bethel Woods, home of the iconic Woodstock Music & Art Fair, this weekend was filled with great vibes and even better music. Phish laid the groundwork for this classic run with a down-and-dirty opening night. The energy never let up after a dark “Tweezer” > “My Friend, My Friend” opened the show. Set two’s non-stop flow of “Carini” > “Back on the Train” > “Boogie On Reggae Woman” > “Waves” > “Prince Caspian” > “Crosseyed and Painless” > “Wading in the Velvet Sea” was gorgeous, with “Waves” serving as the improv centerpiece of the evening. This summer tour also found Phish releasing high quality, pro-shot footage after each show, and they started off this new tradition by releasing a video of this incredible “Waves.”
Watch HD video of the stand-out “Waves” below via the band’s Vimeo:
“Waves” – 5/27/11
BONUS: While fans no doubt remember the tour-opening show itself, the most enduring highlight from Phish’s 2011 Bethel Woods run was their “Waves” soundcheck jam played the day before the tour began. The nearly 30-minute improv still stands among the finest jams of the 3.0 era. Check it out below via YouTube user Dig Dug:
“Waves” – Bethel Woods Soundcheck – 5/26/11
2012 found Phish starting their tour in the Northeast, for two nights at Worcester, MA’s DCU Center. This run acted as de-facto warm-up shows for the band’s memorable run from Bonnaroo through three nights at Atlantic City’s Bader Field. The first night in Worcester featured multiple excellent jams, anchored by the second set run of “Carini” -> “Taste” > “Ghost” > “Boogie On Reggae Woman.” Phish also surprised fans in the second set by performing the rare and highly sought-after “If I Could” for the first time in 102 shows. The band perfectly set the table for their big week to come, giving their local New England fans a special show that set the bar high.
Watch the band’s jaw-dropping, rip-roaring “Boogie On Reggae Woman” from 6/7/12 at the DCU Center below via LazyLightning55a:
“Boogie On Reggae Woman” – 6/7/12
This show similarly served as a warm-up for a huge run, setting the stage for one of Phish’s strongest three-night stands at SPAC that weekend. While the show featured a somewhat standard setlist, the performance was no slouch, as it saw the band run seamlessly from “Theme From The Bottom” > “Chalkdust Torture” in set one, and found Page teasing “Manteca” as he led the band through a beautiful “Golden Age” jam in set two. A wild “Run Like An Antelope” closed the night, the band elongating the song with a short-but-sweet Type II improv section.
Watch Phish’s “Run Like An Antelope” from 7/3/13 at Darling’s Waterfront Pavillion below via Milton Kalmanowitz:
“Run Like An Antelope” – 7/3/13
Another tour opener, another New England show. Phish loves to start their summer in familiar territory, and this show at the “venue formerly known as Great Woods” is all about that “Hood.” While the band usually saves their extended jams for later in the tour (after they’ve had a chance to loosen up on the road), Phish delivered a sublime 19-minute version of “Harry Hood” on the first night of their 2014 Summer Tour. This version of the classic song was simply incredible, as it launched off into a funky, exploratory jam near the end of Set II and brought the show to a huge climax, leaving fans begging for more as the band left the stage.
“Harry Hood” – 7/1/14
2015’s tour opener saw the band switch things up, leaving the cozy confines of New England behind as they ventured to the Pacific Northwest to kick off the summer festivities at Les Schwab Ampitheater in Bend, OR. The show found the band feeling particularly loose, as they unleashed several debuts, two of which (“Blaze On” and “No Men In No Man’s Land”) would become centerpieces of their 2015 New Year’s Eve performance that year and, later, of their 2016 album, Big Boat. All three were well received, and the band returned the positive energy in kind with huge jams out of both “Blaze On” and “No Men In No Man’s Land”, with a grinning Trey Anastasio unable to contain his excitement and smiling widely throughout.
Listen to the debut of “Blaze On” from Phish’s 2015 Summer Tour opener in Bend, OR below:
“Blaze On” – 7/21/15
Excitement for the band’s 2016 Summer Tour exploded the day before their Minnesota opener last year when a video leaked from rehearsals showed that the band would be debuting a brand new LED-based light show. As it turned out, Chris Kuroda did not end up using the new LEDs too much in the one-off opener, and the show was relatively short on big jams. However, it featured a bevy of bust-outs, including TAB tune “Pigtail” (195 shows), traditional tune “Daniel Saw The Stone” (140 shows), “Round Room” (192 shows), and “Uncle Pen” (123 shows), as well as a pair of tunes not played since their respective Halloween “Costume Set” performances: The Velvet Underground‘s “I Found A Reason” (493 shows) and The Beatles‘ “Dear Prudence” (796 shows).
You can check out fan-shot footage of Phish’s “Weekapaug Groove” from 6/22/16 in St. Paul featuring one of the first looks at the 2016 LEDs, below via YouTube user lifeboyfourtwenty:
“Weekapaug Groove” – 6/22/16
Phish’s unusual 2017 summer tour kicked off with three nights at Chicago’s Northerly Island, part of a brief run of shows preceding the band’s historic Baker’s Dozen residency at MSG. The show gave fans a first look at yet another new lighting rig, a mobile marionette-style setup that became one of the most talked-about aspects of the summer’s festivities. The performance opened in unusual fashion with “What’s The Use?”, and the first set continued to surprise with the Phish debuts of a cappella cover “In The Good Old Summer Time” and Trey Anastasio Band tune “Everything’s Right”. The debut of “Everything’s Right” was nothing short of impressive, as the band stretched the upbeat anthem into the improvisational highlight of the set. The show also featured the debuts of a pair of Phish originals: “Leaves”, which would go on to be played at both MSG and Dick’s later in the summer, and “Love Is What We Are”, which has not been played since its encore appearance on 7/14/17.
Watch fan-shot footage from the “Everything’s Right” jam below via YouTube user TheKamherst:
“Everything’s Right” (Phish debut, partial) – 7/14/17
Okay, so this technically wasn’t a tour opener. But while the Baker’s Dozen came packaged as part of a 2017 “Summer Tour,” we can all agree that it was—in virtually every way possible—its own, separate thing. Night 1 of the Baker’s Dozen was an exciting time. By the end of the coconut-flavored performance, the “mission” of the dozen was clear—thirteen nights, thirteen donuts, thirteen very special shows—but going into the historic residency, the only thing we knew was that we knew nothing. The picture began to come into focus immediately, as Phish opened the run with their debut of an obscure, flavor-appropriate cover, “Shake Your Coconuts”, with lyrics adjusted to reference the Baker’s Dozen. The show also featured standout versions of “Reba” and “Seven Below”, a compact and highly potent “Moonage Daydream”, and a second set-opening “Tweezer” that would loom over the entirety of the Dozen before making its closing statement with a night 13 “Tweezer Reprise” encore.
Watch Phish open the Baker’s Dozen with “Shake Your Coconuts” below via YouTube user Starrlight Mighty5:
“Shake Your Coconuts” – 7/21/17
Phish’s 2018 summer tour kickoff took place at Harvey’s, the familiar home of one of the most famous Phish jams of the modern era, the “Tahoe Tweezer“. While this show didn’t come close to producing such a high caliber of improvisation, it wasn’t without its highlights—including an exceedingly-solid-for-opening-night “Moma Dance”/”Ghost” segment in the first set that clocked in at just over 30 minutes and a strong “No Men In No Man’s Land” > “Carini” to kick off set two.
“No Men In No Man’s Land” > “Carini” – 7/17/18 [partial]
[Video: M G]
We can’t wait to see what Phish has in store for us this summer. Let’s get this show on the road!
For a full list of Phish’s summer tour dates, head here.