Blister in the Sun

Originally Performed ByViolent Femmes
Original AlbumViolent Femmes (1983)
Music/LyricsGordon Gano
Phish Debut1997-07-26
Last Played2012-07-07
Current Gap471
HistorianPhillip Zerbo (pzerbo)
Last Update2023-11-21


The lead track to the Violent Femmes’ 1983 eponymous debut album and by far their most famous song, “Blister in the Sun” has appeared in five Phish shows to date. The first two were short vocal quotes: on 4/12/92 when it was quoted during the "YEM" vocal jam, and during the famous 12/6/96 Vegas gig when it was quoted during the jam that arose from “Simple.”

Violent Femmes, “Blister in the Sun” music video

On 7/26/97 in Austin, TX, Mike began teasing “Blister in the Sun” during “Harry Hood” and the rest of the band picked it up quickly. Trey made a game attempt at the first verse of the lyrics, but his ear-to-ear grin, laugh, and shrug indicated it was probably best to bail, and the band settled quickly back on “Harry Hood.” 

“Blister in the Sun” was next spontaneously offered in the middle of “Scent of a Mule” at the raging 7/9/98 gig in Barcelona, Spain. Skipping only one verse, this more complete and inspired version is but one nugget in a bouquet of amazing musical offerings from this night. 

Phish, "Scent of a Mule" > “Blister in the Sun” > "Scent of a Mule" – 7/9/98, Barcelona, Spain

After a 390-show absence from the stage, “Blister” made up for lost time on 7/7/12 in the friendly confines of SPAC. Reminiscent of other contemporary sets where one song is woven in and out of an entire set or show (see “Guyute” on 10/20/10 or “Crosseyed” on 8/17/11) “Blister in the Set” began with a captivating transition out of the jam in “Down with Disease.” Not content with this single-verse run-through, it appeared again the middle of “Scent of a Mule” and was teased in “BDTNL,” “Mike’s Song” and “Weekapaug Groove.” Aficionados of wine-and-cheese elegant Phish might well cringe at the aggressive and sloppy approach, but the result was undeniably fun in the moment.

These two bands are no strangers, as Phish took its first tour of Europe in June 1992 as the opening act for the Violent Femmes. Violent Femmes was also one of the contenders for the Halloween cover album for Festival 8 before falling victim to the knife.

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