Bust Out Factor: 10 Phish Shows With The Largest Average Song Gaps

By Scott Bernstein Sep 14, 2016 11:02 am PDT

If you’ve visited Phish.net in the past few days you’ve probably noticed a bevy of changes. The quintessential Phish fan site has been completely redesigned to match the design of the recently released book The Phish Companion: A Guide To The Band And Their Music Volume 3. But the aesthetic of the site isn’t the only thing that’s different on Phish.net 5.0.

Phish.net Webmaster and Vice President, Director of Technology Adam Scheinberg tells JamBase most of the changes are about usability. He had added a ton of features over the years, some of which languished or weren’t used all that often, that made the site confusing at times. Adam looked the features people actually used and tried to make them better, easier and smarter. You’ll also notice the site has adopted purple as the Phish.net color for 5.0.

Many Phish.net users come to the site via their phones, so the biggest change Scheinberg implemented was making the site responsive. Phish.net now renders nicely on mobile devices, tablets and desktop computers as the phone experience is just as good as the desktop one. In addition, the backend code – which Adam wrote about here – was a complete and total rewrite. Just a few of the many other changes are that ratings can be noted by year, there’s a setlist filter and setlist pages note debuts by year including the average for each show, aka what we call the “Average Vintage.”

The site has also launched a page noting the Largest Average Gaps for Phish shows. A gap is the span between the current show and the last time a song was played. If you add the gaps for every song played on a particular night and divide that figure by the number of songs played you’ll get the Average Gap. The bigger the number, the bigger the bust out factor. With that in mind, here’s the Phish shows with the ten Largest Average Song Gaps:

1. September 29, 2000 – Las Vegas, Nevada: 138.93

SET 1: Carini, Rift, Frankenstein, Mellow Mood, Wilson[1] > Spock’s Brain > Bathtub Gin > Character Zero

SET 2: Dinner and a Movie, The Moma Dance > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Fluffhead > Meatstick > Walk This Way[2], Rapper’s Delight[2], You Shook Me All Night Long[3]

ENCORE: We’re an American Band[4]

  • [1] Heavy metal jam.
  • [2] Phish debut; Kid Rock on guest vocals.
  • [3] First Phish performance in its entirety; Kid Rock on guest vocals.
  • [4] Kid Rock on guest vocals.

Wilson included a heavy metal jam, complete with Trey waving his guitar in the air. Kid Rock provided guest vocals from Walk This Way through the encore. Walk This Way and Rapper’s Delight (with funny stage antics from Fish, who danced on his knees like Kid’s sidekick Joe C.) were Phish debuts. You Shook Me (All Night Long) was played in its entirety by Phish for the first time, although it had been jammed on other occasions. Walk This Way was also teased during 2001. Spock’s Brain (first since June 24, 1995, or 391 shows), Dinner and a Movie (first since March 1, 1997, or 242 shows), and American Band (first since November 16, 1996, or 271 shows) returned after long absences. The Carini opener was preceded by a Wilson tease and saw Trey have several problems with his guitar. Meatstick featured Mike and Trey doing the Meatstick dance.

Biggest Bust Outs: You Shook Me All Night Long (1121 Shows), Spock’s Brain (391 Shows), We’re An American Band (271 Shows), Dinner And A Movie (242 Shows)

While Phish’s first of two Fall 2000 shows at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas may be best known as the night Kid Rock sat-in, it also happens to be the show with the Largest Average Show Gap of the more than 1,700 gigs the quartet has played. So not only did Phish debut covers of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” and The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” with Kid Rock, they dusted off covers of “You Shook Me All Night Long” for the first time since April 20, 1989 and Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re An American Band” since November 16, 1996. It should be noted both were one-timers prior to Vegas and the first “You Shook Me All Night Long” spanned a mere 100 seconds and featured one line of lyrics. Phish’s September 29, 2000 concert also featured the return of beloved originals “Dinner And A Movie” and “Spock’s Brain” after 242 and 391 shows respectively.

2. October 17, 1998 – Mountain View, California: 100.33

SET 1: Carolina, Sleep[1], Never[1], Possum[2], I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome[3], Free Bird, Driver[1], Wading in the Velvet Sea[2], Harry Hood[4] > Helpless[5]

  • [1] Debut; acoustic.
  • [2] Acoustic.
  • [3] Acoustic; Mike on banjo, Page on acoustic bass.
  • [4] Acoustic; unfinished; Neil Young on guitar.
  • [5] Phish debut; acoustic; Neil Young on guitar and vocals.

This single-set performance was part of the 12th annual Bridge School benefit that also included R.E.M., Neil Young, and Barenaked Ladies. This was an acoustic performance, with a unique stage setup that had Fish stage right, with Page on the far left. Carolina was performed with the band facing toward the Bridge School children, who were on a raised platform at the back of the stage. Sleep, Never, and Driver also debuted at this show. I’m Blue I’m Lonesome (first since December 12, 1995, or 195 shows) was performed in the bluegrass setup of 1994, with Mike on banjo and Page on acoustic bass. Free Bird was played for the first time since June 19, 1994 (338 shows). Hood included a tease of Work Song by Page and was unfinished; Neil Young joined in during the Hood jam, and then sang lead on the Phish debut of his own composition, Helpless.

Biggest Bust Outs: Free Bird (338 Shows), I’m Blue I’m Lonesome (195 Shows), Carolina (65 Shows)

Phish has never done their best work at multi-band concerts/festivals thrown by others, but the quartet’s pair of Bridge School Benefit appearances on October 17 and 18, 1998 are exceptions. The single set the band played on the 17th may deserve an asterisk of sorts as they performed just 10 songs with four of them debuts. So it wasn’t that the other songs were massive bust outs but there are just six tunes that weren’t premieres and three of them hadn’t been performed in at least 50 shows. The songs Phish dusted off on October 17, 1998 were the a capella gem “Carolina” for the first time since August 17, 1997, the bluegrass classic “I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome” for the first time since December 12, 1995 and the foursome’s infamous a capella rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird.” Yet for our money this set is all about the “Harry Hood” > “Helpless” featuring host Neil Young that concludes Phish’s performance.

3. December 7, 1997 – Dayton, Ohio: 93.39

SET 1: AC/DC Bag -> Psycho Killer[1] -> Jesus Just Left Chicago, My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own > It’s Ice -> Swept Away > Steep > It’s Ice > Theme From the Bottom , Tube -> Slave to the Traffic Light

SET 2: Timber (Jerry) > Wolfman’s Brother -> Boogie On Reggae Woman > Reba[2], Guyute > Possum

ENCORE: A Day in the Life

  • [1] Unfinished.
  • [2] No whistling.

Psycho Killer was unfinished. JJLC included a Rocky Mountain Way tease. During Tube, there was a long pause before the jam out of the song began. Boogie On Reggae Woman was played for the first time since September 13, 1988 (988 shows). Reba did not have the whistling ending. Possum included “Charge!” teases and a We Will Rock You tease from Mike. This show is available as an archival release on LivePhish.com.

Biggest Bust Outs: Boogie On Reggae Woman (989 Shows), Psycho Killer (413 Shows), Tube (59 Shows), A Day In The Life (58 Shows)

Let’s start by looking at the list of “Noteworthy Jams” for Phish’s visit to Dayton, Ohio’s Ervin J. Nutter Center in Dayton, Ohio on December 7, 1997: “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” “It’s Ice,” “Swept Away,” “Steep,” “It’s Ice,” “Theme From the Bottom,” “Tube,” “Slave to the Traffic Light,” “Timber (Jerry),” “Wolfman’s Brother,” “Boogie On Reggae Woman,” “Reba,” “Possum.” If you’re thinking isn’t that nearly every song, you not far off. Phish delivered a show for the ages during a tour for the ages on that magical night in Dayton.

The “Tube” > “Slave” is just ridiculous and on the bust out front we have the tour debuts of “Tube” and “A Day In The Life” as well as the return of Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” for the second time ever and first since March 30, 1993. Yet the money shot on the bust out side was the surprise performance of Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie On Reggae Woman,” which had been shelved since September 13, 1988 – a span of 989 shows. “Boogie On” has remained in rotation ever since.

4. July 12, 2000 – Noblesville, Indiana: 92.47

SET 1: My Friend, My Friend[1], The Curtain With , Tube > Heavy Things, Billy Breathes, Beauty of My Dreams > Free, Axilla, The Squirming Coil

SET 2: Birds of a Feather, Piper, Crosseyed and Painless > Prince Caspian > Meatstick

ENCORE: Wading in the Velvet Sea

[1] Unfinished.

My Friend was unfinished. Tube contained Super Bad teases from Trey. During Meatstick, Trey dedicated the song to the fans that didn’t get into the show. Curtain With was played for the first time since July 29, 1988 (1,177 shows).

Biggest Bust Outs: The Curtain With (1178 Shows), My Friend My Friend (69 Shows)

The Vermonters’ last show of a three-night stand at Deer Creek in Indiana during Summer Tour 2000 is our first instance of one huge bust out inflating the Average Show Gap figure in a ridiculous way. On July 12, 2000 Phish played “The Curtain With” for the first time since July 29, 1988 – a span of 1,178 shows. At the time, the return of “Curtain With” was the second biggest bust out in the band’s history in terms of span of shows between performances. Deer Creek ’00 Night Three did also feature the first “My Friend, My Friend” since the previous summer and U.S. Summer Tour 2000 debuts of “Billy Breathes,” “Free” and “Crosseyed And Painless.”

5. July 3, 2012 – Wantagh, New York: 91.08

SET 1: Skin It Back > Possum, Tube, Happiness Is a Warm Gun, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Halley’s Comet > Axilla > Ya Mar, Joy, Jesus Just Left Chicago > Backwards Down the Number Line > Golgi Apparatus

SET 2: Chalk Dust Torture, Sand -> Golden Age , Wolfman’s Brother -> Walk Away, Bug > Fluffhead > The Wedge > Run Like an Antelope

ENCORE: Character Zero

This show was webcast via LivePhish. Skin It Back was played for the first time since July 29,1988 (1,417 shows). Spanish Moon was teased before and during Skin It Back. Happiness is a Warm Gun was played for the first time since October 31, 1994 (658 shows). Possum and Chalk Dust Torture contained Skin It Back teases. Sand contained an Izabella tease. Before Bug, Trey said the band doesn’t speak in words back stage anymore and they decided they only used hand signals. Trey slapped his wrist as if he was being bitten by a bug to indicate Bug. Fluffhead contained a Dave’s Energy Guide tease.

Biggest Bust Outs: Skin It Back (1417 Shows), Happiness Is A Warm Gun (658 Shows)

The cover of Little Feat’s “Skin It Back” Phish opened with at Jones Beach on July 3, 2012 was the biggest bust out in the band’s history in terms of span of shows between performances. Phish hadn’t performed the tune since July 29, 1988 – a span of 1,417 shows. Yet that wasn’t the only huge bust out the quartet had in store as they also dusted off a cover of The Beatles’ “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” for the first time since they performed The white Album in its entirety on October 31, 1994 in Glens Falls, New York.

[Phish – Skin It Back – 7/3/12 – Captured by LazyLightning55]

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6. October 30, 1998 – Las Vegas, Nevada: 89.94

SET 1: Wilson > Meat > Scent of a Mule > Back at the Chicken Shack[1] > Scent of a Mule, Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress, Run Like an Antelope, Guelah Papyrus, The Lizards, Cavern

SET 2: Stash -> Manteca -> Tweezer -> NICU > Jam > Prince Caspian > Golgi Apparatus

ENCORE: Driver[2], Free Bird

  • [1] Phish debut.
  • [2] Trey on acoustic guitar.

This show included the Phish debut of Back at the Chicken Shack, the first Long Cool Woman since the first Phish show, December 2, 1983 (1,206 shows), and the first Manteca since November 14, 1995 (219 shows). Before Long Cool Woman, Trey remarked that “they tell us that this is the exact day” of the band’s fifteenth anniversary, though later research revealed this to be incorrect. Fish teased a return to Long Cool Woman before Antelope but quickly aborted. Tweezer subsequently included Manteca and You Better Believe It Baby teases. Driver featured Trey on acoustic guitar. The entire second set and encore, as well as Antelope, was included as filler on Live Phish 16.

Biggest Bust Outs: Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress (1206 Shows), Manteca (219 Shows), Guelah Papyrus (72 Shows)

On October 30, 1998 Phish began a two-night Halloween run at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas with a very special show. The band was honoring their 15th anniversary, though hilariously they later figured out their first show did not take place on October 30, 1983, it actually was held on December 2, 1983. So to pay tribute to what they thought was their 15th anniversary, the quartet busted out a cover of The Hollies’ “Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress” in Vegas. “Long Cool Woman” was the first song Phish played in public as a band. The October 30, 1998 show also featured a mind-blowing “Stash” -> “Manteca” -> “Tweezer” sequence, with “Manteca” returning to the fold after a 219-show layoff.

7. July 2, 2010 – Charlotte, North Carolina: 89.74

SET 1: Buried Alive > AC/DC Bag > Vultures, Wolfman’s Brother, Back on the Train, The Wedge, Mexican Cousin, Stash, Sparkle > Chalk Dust Torture

SET 2: Drowned > 46 Days > Twenty Years Later > The Lizards, Carini > Fuck Your Face > Also Sprach Zarathustra > You Enjoy Myself

ENCORE: A Day in the Life

This show featured the first Fuck Your Face since April 29, 1987 (1,413 shows). AC/DC Bag contained Buried Alive teases. YEM contained Fuck Your Face and Moving in Stereo (The Cars) teases. The YEM vocal jam included portions of Proud Mary and Get Back interspersed with Dong Work for Yuda (Frank Zappa) and Slow Ride quotes.

Biggest Bust Outs: Fuck Your Face (1413 Shows), Mexican Cousin (64 Shows), Buried Alive (59 Shows)

Towards the middle of Phish’s second set at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Charlotte on July 2, 2010, the band busted out the biggest bust out (in terms of span of shows between performances) up until that point with the return of “Fuck Your Face.” Mike Gordon’s The White Tape rocker hadn’t been performed since April 29, 1987 – a span of 1,413 shows. Nearly two years to the day later, the quartet busted out “Skin It Back” which had a span of just four shows more making it the biggest bust out in Phish history and it still remains as such. Phish’s Summer ’10 visit to Charlotte also featured the year’s first renditions of “Buried Alive” and “Mexican Cousin” as well as notable versions of “Back On The Train” and “You Enjoy Myself.”

8. September 6, 2015 – Commerce City, Colorado: 88.93

SET 1: The Landlady, Free > The Moma Dance > Seven Below > Prince Caspian > Backwards Down the Number Line, The Line, Scent of a Mule[1] > Saw It Again, Halfway to the Moon, The Birdwatcher, Frankenstein[2]

SET 2: Wilson > Down with Disease[3] > Carini > Steam > Piper > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Tweezer > The Horse > Silent in the Morning > Slave to the Traffic Light

ENCORE: Tweezer Reprise, Harpua[4] > After Midnight[5] > NO2[1] > Keyboard Army[5] > Your Pet Cat[6] > Once in a Lifetime > United We Stand[7]

  • [1] Fish on Marimba Lumina.
  • [2] Page on keytar.
  • [3] Unfinished.
  • [4] Unfinished. Narration included Jimmy being a guy from the east coast coming west and needing an oxygen tank. Trey sucked from an oxygen tank.
  • [5] Contained Harpua narration.
  • [6] Contained Harpua narration from Mike about eating Poster Nutbag.
  • [7] Phish debut.

This show was webcast via LivePhish and featured several bustouts: The Landlady (last played December 3, 1994, or 768 shows), Birdwatcher (June 28, 2012, 134 shows), Keyboard Army (December 14, 1995, 684 shows), and Once in a Lifetime (October 31, 1996, 634 shows). Scent of a Mule and NO2 featured Fish on Marimba Lumina. Frankenstein featured Page on keytar. Down with Disease and Harpua were unfinished. Piper included a quote of Rockin’ Down the Highway from Fish with “rollin'” sung instead of “rockin.'” Harpua, After Midnight, Keyboard Army, and Your Pet Cat included narration about Jimmy being a guy from the east coast coming west, having a breathing problem, and needing an oxygen tank (with Trey sucking from an oxygen tank). Trey then said Jimmy started to feel strange and wondered if he should’ve gotten that oxygen tank in the parking lot after the Phish show. Harpua also contained a Glass Onion quote with Trey saying “the Walrus was Page.” Your Pet Cat included narration from Mike about eating Poster Nutbag and finished with a portion of Harpua. Once in a Lifetime contained Harpua quotes. This show featured the Phish debut of United We Stand. During Harpua, Trey mentioned that people writing down the setlist would want to only count Harpua once (by doing this, the encore spelled out THANK YOU).

Biggest Bust Outs: The Landlady (768 Shows), Keyboard Army (684 Shows), Once In A Lifetime (634 Shows), The Birdwatcher (134 Shows), Harpua (96 Shows), After Midnight (93 Shows)

Just when it appeared Phish’s 2015 three-night stand at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado would be a clunker, the band delivered an impressive finale that included the best encore in the group’s 30+ year history. Phish was in a wild mood right by the get go by opening with the return of “The Landlady” after a 768-show gap and nearly 21-year layoff. The quartet bookended the opening set with bust outs as they closed the stanza with the first “The Birdwatcher” in over three years. Yet this show is all about the majestic “Down With Disease” in the second set and an encore that sort of spelled “T-H-A-N-K-Y-O-U.” The encore, following “Tweezer Reprise,” was based around the first “Harpua” in over two years. Within were the returns of “Keyboard Army” for the first time since December 14, 1995; “Once In A Lifetime” for the first time since Halloween ’96 and “After Midnight” for the first time since July 27, 2013.

9. July 3, 1999 – Atlanta, Georgia: 85.3

SET 1: Chalk Dust Torture, Gumbo, Sparkle > Cavern, Taste, When the Circus Comes, Tube > Funky Bitch, NICU, Waste, Meatstick

SET 2: Twist > Piper, The Moma Dance, Mountains in the Mist[1], Run Like an Antelope > Contact > The Little Drummer Boy

ENCORE: The Little Drummer Boy[2], Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home?[3]

ENCORE 2: Harry Hood

  • [1] Phish debut.
  • [2] Performed by Fish solo on the snare drum, with alternate lyrics.
  • [3] Dr. Jack McConnell on vocals and kazoo.

This show featured the Phish debut of Mountains in the Mist. Meatstick was played for the first time since June 25, 1997 (124 shows). Trey teased Dueling Banjos in Taste. Twist contained an Oye Como Va tease from Trey. Little Drummer Boy was played for the first time since December 6, 1986 (1,183 shows) by Fish solo on the snare drum, with alternate lyrics. Bill Bailey (first since November 18, 1995, or 243 shows) featured Page’s father, Dr. Jack McConnell, on vocals and kazoo.

Biggest Bust Outs: The Little Drummer Boy (1184 Shows), Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home? (243 Shows), Meatstick (124 Shows)

On July 3, 1999 Phish kicked off a two-night 4th Of July celebration at Lakewood Amphitheatre in Atlanta. To end the second set, the foursome jammed “Contact” into their first complete “The Little Drummer Boy” since December 6, 1986 – a span of 1,184 shows. Drummer Jon Fishman returned by himself with a snare drum for the encore to reprise “The Little Drummer Boy.” The rest of his mates and Page’s father Dr. Jack McConnell joined in the action to dust off “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home?,” which hadn’t been performed since November 18, 1995. Also of note, the evening’s first set ended with “Meatstick,” a tune Phish debuted on June 25, 1997 and hadn’t played again until that night in Atlanta. “Meatstick” has remained in rotation ever since.

10. June 22, 2016 – St. Paul, Minnesota: 84.44

SET 1: Pigtail, Wolfman’s Brother, Daniel Saw the Stone, The Dogs, Undermind, Dear Prudence, Stash, Round Room > Horn, Uncle Pen, Halfway to the Moon, Walls of the Cave

SET 2: Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Bouncing Around the Room, Ghost > The Line, Simple -> I Found a Reason, No Men In No Man’s Land, Billy Breathes, Bathtub Gin

ENCORE: Water in the Sky > Character Zero

This show featured several bustouts: Pigtail (last played December 28, 2010, or 195 shows), Daniel Saw the Stone (last played June 30, 2012, or 140 shows), Dear Prudence (last played October 31, 1994, or 796 shows), Round Room (last played January 1, 2011, or 192 shows), Uncle Pen (last played August 31, 2012, or 123 shows), and I Found A Reason (last played October 31, 1998, or 493 shows). Trey teased The Little Drummer Boy in Ghost. Page teased Magilla in Simple.

Biggest Bust Outs: Dear Prudence (796 Shows), I Found A Reason (493 Shows), Pigtail (195 Shows), Round Room (192 Shows), Daniel Saw The Stone (140 Shows), Uncle Pen (123 Shows), Billy Breathes (55 Shows),

You couldn’t help but think Summer Tour 2016 would be a special one when Phish opened the run with a show featuring a whopping seven songs that hadn’t been performed in at least 50 shows. Two of those tunes were covers that hadn’t since action since they were debuted as part of Phish’s musical costumes on Halloween: “Dear Prudence” and “I Found A Reason” from 1994’s performance of The Beatles’ The White Album and 1998’s performance of The Velvet Underground’s Loaded respectively. Phish also made their return to the Twin Cities for the first time since 1.0 count with bust outs of “Pigtail,” “Round Room,” “Daniel Saw The Stone,” “Uncle Pen” and “Billy Breathes.”

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