Mothership Memoirs

3.7.09 (S.Wiltse)

3.7.09 (S.Wiltse)

What a weekend!  Having had a chance to listen to almost everything at least once, I gotta’ say, the band sounds amazing.  So precise, so focused, and playing with such purpose.  The energy in the room, from the band and audience, was greater than I’d ever seen, and was certainly the defining memory of the three nights.  There were some points that felt like we were on the brink of blasting off into space- if arenas did that sort of thing.  Everyone always talks about the energy at a Phish show, but this was a whole different story- it was so tangible.  With 13,000 people in such a small building for such a massive event, the combination was ideal.  And something I had forgotten about Hampton is just how amazing the sound is in there; straight up crystalline.   All of these factors contributed to creating a weekend of pure magic.

"I Didn't Know" (J.Kravitz)

"I Didn't Know" (J.Kravitz -

Jams like “Foam” and Maze,” or songs like “Character Zero” and “Silent In the Morning” took on whole new character with the band’s mode of attack and the crowd’s response.  Another prime example was “My Friend, My Friend,” which sounded so ridiculously menacing with the dynamic in the intimate room.  The weekend was a rediscovery for everyone in the building of just how fun Phish can be.  The band ran through so much material; a recital of their most revered songs, flooding everyone with memories and emotions from the years shared together.

3.7.09 (S.Wiltse)

3.7.09 (S.Wiltse)

This weekend was about a new beginning, and as they say, “If you don’t know your past, you don’t know your future.”  It was the starting block for 3.0 and Phish got out of the gate rather fast.  Running through their history with a glimpse into the future.  It wasn’t coincidence that the only new song was about reuniting friends, and has a refrain of “The only rule is it begins.”  And begin it did.  With mostly old faces all around, this weekend was about reuniting and reigniting the Phish family.  While there may be fans of a new generation on summer tour, there were very few in The Mothership.

"Mike's Song" (J.Kravitz)

"Mike's Song" (J.Kravitz -

The entire three-part performance was like a lucid dream.  From the “Fluffhead” opener to the “Reprise Closer,” with Kuroda’s masterful light show, things seemed too amazing to be true- we were raging Phish again!  Every note of every song sounded like the first time we had heard it, and the feeling was just over the top.  Moments like “Tube,” “Gin” or “Free;” the “Antelope” jam, the drop into “Moma” out of “2001,” or the drop into the first “Mike’s” jam- these were priceless moments of euphoria.  While most of the improv remained anchored to song structures, the band slayed every single jam with no exceptions. The “Limb By Limb” was sublime, the “Hood” was a revelation, the “Bathtub” was felt like we were running through meadows- it was just the most positive experience; and to have this all happening at this point in our lives makes it so much more special.

3.7.08 (J.Kravitz)

3.7.08 (J.Kravitz- )

And there were some amazing unstructured jams as well.  After re-listening to the “Disease,” I was as floored on my couch as I was at the show.  It’s only fitting that the biggest jam of the weekend spouted from “Disease.”  The “Ghost” is an amazing piece of collaborative work, while the “Twist” > “2001” > “Moma” was straight comic book Phish.  The “Spilt” was a piece of abstract, in your face psychedelia.  The “Rock and Roll” jumped off into some darker places, while the “Tweezer” opened the floodgates on night one with funkified soundscapes.  There is definitely a lot to dig into.

3.7.08 (S.Wlitse)

3.7.08 (S.Wlitse)

Even the hotels and community helped make the weekend as great as possible.  They could not have been more accepting of all the fans, our quirky sense of humor, and ourvarious smoking habits!  It was predicted that Hampton’s economy would get a five million dollar boost from these three days; quite a nice symbiotic relationship.  It just goes to show what can happen when people work together instead of against each other.

Coming away from this weekend, the message is loud and clear- summer tour is going to kill.  Allowing their playing to do the talking, the band told us that they are approaching this time with as much enthusiasm as we are.  With twenty demos already recorded for a new album and having played only one, you can be sure that Phish will be coming out with plenty of new material to fuse with their classics come the days of summer.  And they can’t come soon enough…


Check out more of Jeff Kravitz’ work at

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152 Responses to “Mothership Memoirs”

  1. Frankie Says:

    Just listened to 11/22/97 Halley’s Comet SBD from a From The Archives show… Man! What a version… What legacy does Phish already has! No wonder people’s expectations are so high… Can’t wait to hear what’s in store for the summer!! 😀

  2. bhizzle Says:

    You think they each had their own bus? And if so, do you think it’s more because they can or because they want?

  3. babito Says:

    the cops sucked at the omni in newport news. they were walking the halls and busting people all weekend. weak.

  4. Hood Says:

    @ bhizzle
    Dude, all 3 shows were at the same place. I doubt that they even had buses at all.

  5. Selector J Says:

    The disses on the media are slightly unwarranted, methinks. They just report what people find interesting. No one outside of Phish fans really cares that they’re reunited but a hell of a lot of people find it interesting that there were over a million dollars of drugs confiscated- not to mention the value of those consumed- at the show.

    “This just in. Nitrous oxide, molly, chronic, and cocaine are recession proof. The Obama administration is looking into this but has declined comment at this time.”

    I don’t think Phish will get banned from Hampton anytime soon. Reports of $5 million to the local economy are said to be a low ball estimate. Check out this local news story (some great pics on the “photo” links, too):,0,7771279.story

    Plus, think of the revenue they get from the 200+ felonies and misdemeanors. I know the Dead got banned but Phish is playing the game by paying for the extra police presence.

    This is slightly tangential but I have no problem with the fuzz taking out the nitrous dealers, in fact I encourage them to do so. Please arrest those a-holes!

  6. tyler Says:

    The legend of Hampton and the reality of attending shows there were always at odds, not in terms of show quality but the surrounding scene. My first ever shows were there in ’85 (spanish jam, woo) and I saw every GD run there except the last and the cops were always pretty fucked up. They got banned from there after the ’87 run, which were the first post-coma shows on East Coast – it was the start of the giant ’87 wave of newbies and the place was in a frenzy, there was a huge gate rush one night, etc.

    The locals were always super conflicted about hosting shows. Basically they wanted the money but not the shenanigans. The local cops, the state police and the feds always made it pretty shady in the lots there, but you know, hard-ass as it may be that the the evolutionary aspect of the game. Head on a swivel, don’t be in the most obvious/wasted 10% and you should be good.

    Paying for the cops is just part of getting a permit these days. Many times there is an unwritten but overt “bust quota” decided on between the venue & the cops, basically “how many heads can we bust without ruining it for the venue.” It’s all about revenue for the local courts and padding the arrest records of the cops, just a numbers game.

    Virginia is weird. Richmond was a million times worse – believe it – while Roanoke is still tied for “most welcoming reception for visiting freaks by a town” with Telluride Colorado (who got a lot of points for WELCOME DEADHEADS banner over main st, a classy touch).

    No one can argue the awesomeness of the shows performed there. That place was my home turf, and I’m super stoked that Phish and the fans have adopted it as a favorite venue. The best JGB show I was was there, and the best single-song GD performance out of 125+ shows, and the best breakouts of course. So the fact that it’s now such a big part of Phish history is just crazy cool.

  7. Pence Says:

    Undermind was awesome, I love the funk, and the lyrics. They should re-invent more of their tunes like that.

  8. bhizzle Says:

    J – notice the name of the dude in the photo 4 of wktr shots?

  9. dyda Says:

    terry gilliam did the animations for monty python and his movie credits include: time bandits, brazil (his best), the adventures of baron munchausen, the fisher king, 12 monkeys, fear & loathing in las vegas & the brothers grimm (which i haven’t seen)

    got my ball dvd for $53 at bestbuy.
    what was up with the ‘mr sausage’ at the end of makisupa leading in to 2001 day 1 set 3?
    mrs. pizza shit!

  10. bhizzle Says:

    and there is a photo of some homey representin the ROC!

  11. bhizzle Says:

    two photos! represent bitches!

  12. ma Says:

    @hood and bhizzle

    one sweet ass bus followed by a bunch of white passenger vans. cops in front and cops in back….watched them pull up friday!

  13. Little Buddy Says:


    There was one bus that rode in each day but the band members were each in their own vans with family members. I saw them head in and out on Friday. Saw the bus leave on Sunday too but I can’t remember if there were vans along side. On the way in on Friday they had a bus and four vans (police escort) – on the way out they were just in one van.

    There was a lot of ROC that I ran into in Hampton. Kyle from the photo was parked right near us on Sunday with his girl.

  14. Selector J Says:

    ha! “Billy Breeze” Maybe he’s got warrants (j/k)

  15. contact420 Says:

    totally off topic…but have you guys seen the set lists of the Allman’s at the Beacon?

  16. Jer Says:

    “Plus, think of the revenue they get from the 200+ felonies and misdemeanors. I know the Dead got banned but Phish is playing the game by paying for the extra police presence.

    This is slightly tangential but I have no problem with the fuzz taking out the nitrous dealers, in fact I encourage them to do so. Please arrest those a-holes!”

    Exactly…until someone can provide me with information detailing the benefits of nitrous at Phish shows I will reluctantly agree that cops are being pricks for taking them down. Until then, I have absolutely no problem with the fuzz ridding the scene of those clowns.

  17. Jer Says:

    And since my posts have been lacking any substantive Phish content today, how about the second solo from Page during Suzy, jesus…

  18. tyler Says:

    “until someone can provide me with information detailing the benefits of nitrous at Phish shows ”

    It gives us ppl to make fun of? It separates the weak from the strong and weeds out the fools? It gives us a reason to carry balloons – and *everyone* likes balloons, yea rite?

    Fuck I guess those aren’t very good reasons nm

  19. Jer Says:

    “It gives us ppl to make fun of? It separates the weak from the strong and weeds out the fools? It gives us a reason to carry balloons – and *everyone* likes balloons, yea rite?”

    Natural selection…I like it.

  20. voopa Says:

    Well, you all convinced that I could wait no longer…just ordered my Clifford Ball DVDs! Thanks!

  21. bhizzle Says:

    Jer – imo best of first set , first night

    I feel as though I’d be very hypocritical if I said not to partake of the balloons to rid these vermin due to my occassional use. But I agree the terds that sling them I feel are worse than the actual use of them.

  22. Baxter Says:

    When will Phish and the Dead play together? You know its gotta happen eventually. Rothbury, or perhaps Vibes? Are there any rumors?

  23. Baxter Says:

    My lil’ bro usda slang gas on Phish tour in ’90 or so, and Fishman used to like to do it with him. Different times then, B4 it was a felony. He also sold official merch, but Amy canned him for skipping shows to catch Dead tour!

  24. c0wfunk Says:

    Glad page’s lil phatty solo on suzie is getting so much love! It was one of the hightlights (among many) of that first set..

  25. Little Buddy Says:

    Page’s Suzy solo was SICK indeed!

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