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. Baxter Says:

    Edgar winter keytar frankenstein :

    Page McConnell keytar Freakenstein

  2. tyler Says:

    As a lifelong Deadhead and longtime Phish fan I hope “the Dead” stay far away from Phish this summer. They (“the Dead” I mean) are not up to the challenge. No offense or harshed mellows intended for anyone who is psyched to see them…whatever packs your pipe, yo…but it’s prob just not a good idea imo.

    /tyler is struggling to stay positive thinking about this idea

    Counting great Page moments over the course of these shows is like counting wooks or UCs in the lot, there’s always one more. He’s relentless. He has no relents. When it comes to relentiness, Page is fresh out.

  3. guyforget Says:

    what’s crazy and is prompting me to re-categorize my show list on my external hard drive, is that the order I keep my shows in (, each time i scroll down to the 3 Hampton Shows, the C*v**t*y are right above them. Honestly, i don’t want to even see that name anymore. Anybody having this problem. I think i’ll just rename the file with something like “DO NOT OPEN”


  4. SOAM Says:

    The dead are no longer-what remains is not in the same league as Phish

  5. nonoyolker Says:

    ^^ Guy, noticed the SAME PROBLEM last night… On to bigger and better things!
    On the subject of bigger and better, I am having a bitch of a time finding tix for both jones beaches and mansfield. Prices are fuggin’ absurd now. Been hunting since i got shut out of the lottery and the live nation crash. Paid double face for Camden lawns and considered myself lucky. Hate this shit! Thoughts? Suggestions? Not trying to wait and hit the show and scoop there.

  6. showhe Says:

    Interesting article…a little more in-depth.

  7. Los Says:

    The dead suck…now the grateful dead…they were great!!!!

  8. cottle Says:

    I’m with you Jer. One of the few things on Phish lot/tour that I have little tolerance for is nitrous. I’ve had my fun with it, like most folks, but I just feel like the cons outweigh any possible pros as far as N20 is concerned. Probably because most of the people I typically see involved in the nitrous game are only concerned with their profits. I’m sure they’re are some nitrous dealers out there who honestly love Phish, and just want to find a way to support their tour, but go print some t-shirts, and leave the hippie crack at home. Not to mention the negative impact that has on our scene (in my opinion)…litter everywhere (balloons, bags, etc.), kids fishing out in public, or falling out and getting hurt.

    Like one of my favorite old bumper stickers used to say…”spend your money on the lot”. working to get from show to show is one thing, but the kids that come to shows, stack their cash and then retreat back to their homebase, contributing nothing to the scene have got to go. It doesn’t take too many people with that “me, me, me” attitude to destroy this thing of ours. We’re truly blessed to have another oppurtunity to share in this experience, and it’s up to all of us to keep it positive. Teach the young’ns and the newbies the right way to do things, and don’t hestiate to school the kids who you see acting up on lot.

    “you say it’s a living…we all gotta eat”

  9. Billy Breathes Says:

    check this out…it’s a tear-jerker!

  10. wizzle1986 Says:

    i whole heartedly disagree with the dead bashing, i saw phil and friends at in portland last year and it was obnoxiously rockin, i would iamgine the dead should be even better, warren haynes is fucking phenomenal in any setting, dont get me wrong i grew up a phishhead, but the dead kick fucking ass, hands down, cant wait to see them at the gorge with the allmans and doobies, and while i wont be seeing any phish this summer i am already lookin forward to some phish at the gorge and phish new years, boo-yah

  11. full tour! Says:

    come back to miami and there will be no problems with cops! shit, miami is a drug port and they could care less about a concert. shit, fucking scarface took place in miami! everyone knows how tight assed virginia cops are. shit, its where fbi and de, and cia headquarters are located. in 2003, the lots were in the borderline miami ghetto and no one got hasseled or narced on. seriously, hampton bites the hands that feeds it and thats shameful. the music seemed outstanding, but virginia is not the ideal place for phish.

  12. walfredo Says:

    Cottle- The problem with T-shirts, is in most lots that is what the security targets as the absolute #1 priority. Way more sketch then selling drugs- as far as getting hassled with, stuff confiscated etc. Profit margin sucks, even if your shirts don’t get jacked by security.

    Not saying I’m pro-nitrous dealers- it is a mafia that could care less about the scene. Just saying- a 10,000% markup for a product that sells out in 30 minutes, is easier work then a 20% markup on something that takes a tour of work to unload, and the margin dissapears if you get any number jacked.

    Would hate- absolutely hate- boycott- protest etc. the idea of a Phish and The Dead show. That would be absolute crap. Now a festival with Phish as the headliner- okay- you can’t say The Dead are banned from Bonaroo or whatever. But a Phish and The Dead show- is the anti-thesis of what Phish has spent a huge portion of their career trying to establish. THEY ARE NOT THE FREAKING DEAD. And at this stage of there careers are so for beyond The Dead, it would be a real travesty. String Cheese should play with The Dead- or The Allmans- bands that could use the extra draw.

  13. guyforget Says:

    they need to pick the mothership up and drop it in Limestone, ME, and they can play all their all year round. i’d move there….

  14. full tour! Says:

    btw…for everyone with clifford ball dvds…there is hidden bonus material during antelope…press enter when you first see the acrobats on the rope…



    Now that’s what they call a positive review, if i’ve ever read one! Whew!

    I too wouldn’t want to be that guy from 2004 that called the band a caricature of themselves and thus triggered the hiatus. Praising them effusively is a great strategy to channel the good karma, even if a little over the top.

    Obviously, this weekend was one of the greater runs in the history of Phish. Not necessarily for the music, but for what it all means in the grand scheme to have our boys back.

    There were, as to be expected, many musical highlights but also many moments that weren’t the greatest. Calling that Hood a revelation is a stretch. It was a mess (aside from Kuroda’s lights). Ghost, on the flipside, was worth the praise.

    And I don’t like seeing anyone who criticizes the shows flamed here. A part of being a Phish fan is critiquing songs/shows/performances and having favorite versions of songs/etc. We listen to so much music that it’s inevitable to think one version of Stash is better than the next, regardless of what the overall meaning is in the weekend.

    Bottom line, it was a seminal weekend of Phish to celebrate their return and the music was a great jumping off point for Phish 3.0. But it was hardly the musical masterpieces described by Minor, in my opinion, especially after listening back to the recordings.

    Looking forward to more uniqueness this summer!

  16. SOAM Says:

    There was a hidden bonus in my undies all 3 nights. =dIGGITY dANK hOLY nOG

  17. guyforget Says:

    just listening to Punch from saturday, and 2 things come to mind:
    1-remember when the “flubs” used to funny and endearding and showed us these guys had a human side and were not robots? I miss those days.
    2-listen to mike at the “when the morning came and the storm had passed…..” verse starts thru the end. Ripping it up.

  18. R1 Says:

    ^Tyler: “He’s relentless. He has no relents. When it comes to relentiness, Page is fresh out.”


    Tyler’s the man!

  19. SOAM Says:

    I am buying an abandoned ski lodge in the northeast and building an overnite concert/camping venue. After I have spent millions I will
    proceed to the band with my plans and explain that it has been built as home venue just for them. If they don’t like it -I’ll just put on shows myself with my out of tune, 5 string ratty-fender squire- doing covers till the cows come home.

    I would like Summer to be 4 locations-6 shows each , one day break per

  20. guyforget Says:

    nice SOAM, sort of like Field of Dreams for heads.

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    Punch has as much energy as any song all weekend…who cares if the transition to landlady was “flubbed?” not me….

  22. guyforget Says:

    me neither Miner. i hope my post wasn’t read like that, because that was the opposite of what i meant 🙂

  23. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ Fluff- your analysis is accurate. However, there were some unbelieveable moments throughout the weekend.

    Most jams were short, directed, intense, and old-school- very very cool…

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ gotcha, Guy. Interestingly, each small flub, brought enhanced cheers from the crowd, acknowledging the band’s human side

  25. voopa Says:

    The flubs are still endearing….listening back, I’m surprised at how many changes Page missed over the weekend. A bit over-enthusiastic? Great! Beats lackluster any day.

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