Originally Performed ByPhish
Appears On
Phish Debut2015-07-21
Last Played2023-08-01
Current Gap26
HistorianPhillip Zerbo (pzerbo), TaylorFranklin
Last Update2023-12-13


“Shade” is "Waste" all grown up," Tom Marshall said on the Helping Friendly Podcast in 2016. Tom has also noted how this is one of his proudest moments in recent years of songwriting with Trey. It’s one of the more personal and emotionally charged Phish ballads to grace the stage, alongside reflective “Mountains In The Mist,” hopeful “All of These Dreams,” and sad “Fast Enough For You.”

Taken at face value, “Shade” is one the most transparent odes to love ever to originate from the songwriting combo of Anastasio/Marshall, one that reflects on the darkness of absence, and light of reuniting love. It emerged from one of Trey and Tom’s famous marathon writing sessions–this one on the Outer Banks of North Carolina in February, 2015–that also produced “Blaze On,” “No Men In No Man’s Land” and “Mercury.”

Phish “Shade” - 06/26/16, Noblesville, IN. Video by shinepigeon

“Shade” first cast a shadow on the summer 2015 tour opener in Bend, OR on 7/21/15, rising from the ashes of “Fuego.” “Shade” was a precious commodity during Phish’s stop on 7/28/15 in sweltering Austin, widely considered the low-point of that tour. “Shade” blocked the “Light” jam on 8/4/15 in Nashville, but that blockage was quickly forgotten, as it was followed by “Mike’s Song” that featured the first “Mike’s” second jam in over fifteen years. 

After 7/16/16, it was not played again until Dick’s on 9/1/18 when it made a strong comeback early in the set after a solid “Down With Disease” in the emotionally charged post-Curveball-cancelation show. The song has become a consistent ballad for the band since, appearing approximately 4 or 5 times a year.

For most of its history, this song does not differentiate between performances, however, there are a few unique versions. Even though Phish did not play “Shade” in 2017, it made its acoustic debut on 3/10/17 in Troy, New York. For a stripped-down band version, check out TAB’s performance on 4/21/18, this time with only Tony and Russ as a trio, who carried on the band as keyboardist Ray Paczkowski was recovering from a successful brain surgery operation in early 2018. 

Trey Anastasio “Shade” - 3/10/17, Troy, NY. Video by Luke Walton

2020 is when the song had its most notable changes, at first subtle during the live setting and then dramatically on the studio version. On TAB’s Winter 2020 Tour opener at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY on 01/10/20, “Shade” had a slightly different vocal melody in the verses and a new dramatic pause before the outro. The waiting...the longing...the yearning in a pause...of shade. 

Soon after, these changes were also present with Phish on 02/20/20 on the first night of a four-night stand at Moon Palace in Cancun, Mexico. Sometimes changes to a fairly new song reflect tweaks and growth from hunkering down in the studio. 

Phish “Shade” - 2/24/22, Cancun, MX. Video by Phish[/credit]

Sure enough, six weeks after they were south of the border with attendees over the moon, when the world was turned upside down by COVID-19. Phish surprised fans stuck at home during the lockdown with a brand new album, Sigma Oasis, announced during the second episode of the Dinner and a Movie. The fifth track revealed during the following day’s listening party was this new version of “Shade” featuring only Page and Trey for the beginning of the song, followed by strings arranged by Don Hart, before Fish and Mike drop in after the last verse, and the shimmering guitar solo.

On the night of the listening party on April 1, 2020, Tom Marshall commented with a new appraisal on Twitter: “ ‘Shade is Waste all grown-up’ — I’ve heard it and may have even said it, but now I don’t agree. Shade tells a ‘getting lost and finding your way home’ story, while Waste is a simple love song.” 

Phish “Shade” from Sigma Oasis.

Last significant update: 12/13/23

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