A Look at the New Songs
By Matthew Bowers
Phish started off their 2015 summer tour with a two night stand in Bend, Oregon that would showcase a handful of brand new material to the delight of all in attendance. It’s hard to imagine when the band found the time to rehearse all of these songs, seeing as Trey had been fully immersed in preparing for the “Fare Thee Well” shows that were played over the 4th of July weekend in Chicago. But this is a band that is known for surprises, and it’s one of the reasons we love them so much.
The first of three new songs that would be played on the opening night in Oregon was the catchy new tune “Blaze On.” I have a feeling this one is going to appear in more than a couple first sets on this tour. It has a great energy to the groove, and the potential for early show big jams is endless. The “you got one life, blaze on” chorus is sure to get stuck in the heads of many phans this summer. I can only imagine the t-shirts this one spawns too.
The second debut on the first night would be a new Trey sung ballad called “Shade.” This would serve as the breather song deep in the second set, and featured some really great guitar work.
The crowd would need a chance to catch their breath before the next brand new Phish original would appear in the form of “No Men in No Man’s Land.” This is a funk driven dance party of a tune, reminiscent of a funky 1970’s “Dancin in The Streets” which even featured Trey using his Mutron effects to really channel the Jerry sound, which he obviously brought home with him from Chicago. The jam potential for this one is really exciting, and the fans will most certainly be tearing up lawns to this one all summer long. This would be the final new song of the first night, and just a preview of things to come 24 hours later.
The second night at Les Schwab amphitheater would provide more new goodies for the Oregon crowd as the band would play a debut every other song during the first set. Three of the new songs were previously played by solo projects but have never been performed by the entire band. The first of these four debuts would be the Mike Gordon penned tune “How Many People Are You?” This is an upbeat, keys driven song that will be a solid addition to the Phish catalogue.
Next up would be one of Page McConnell’s songs, “Heavy Rotation.” This one is a great, funky tune that I’m glad was added into the mix for Phish. I am a big fan of the Page songs, and this one I have a feeling is going to get the extended funk jam treatment at some point during this tour. I’d keep an eye on that one as a sleeper song that will end up taking a few first sets to the next level.
The next and final solo project debut would be Trey’s “Scabbard.” I’m honestly surprised this song hasn’t popped up during a Phish show before now. It has that classic “Phishy” feel to it. With a unique time signature, and a section which goes into blissful territory, it will fit naturally right into the mix and I’m excited to hear the band take it for a ride.
The final new song of the night would come in the form of “Mercury,” which would be the only debut of the evening that has never been performed on stage by any members of the band. This is a fun, Trey led tune that features a section with Fishman taking advantage of his marimba lumina, and a really great guitar solo at the end that really puts the icing on the cake. I could easily see this turning into a deep jam if the band ever decided to take it there.
Seven brand new songs in two shows! That is something I don’t think any of us were expecting, but it is a welcome surprise and it reaffirms the fact that Phish is one of the most unpredictable bands out there.