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. guyforget Says:

    right on, and yes, i’ve noticed the cheers from teh crowd during flubs, escpecially on no spoilers, and i have to imagine they are greeted with smiles from trey and the guys this go round. Yes?

  2. tyler Says:

    Fluffopener, what I have seen on this site is that cogent and polite critique such as yours is welcome, though it may invite rejoinder. Negativity and hating are what gets smacked down. I find this welcome and appropriate.

    There’s a big difference between the objective quality of a performance (in terms of its Guitar Hero score: basically, how many of the notes did they hit compared to some reference version) and the meaning of that performance in context. I agree that the version of Hood from 3/6 gets a fairly low Guitar Hero score. It will not make it onto my mixdown playlist of the weekend. But everyone I know who was there loved it…in context.

    The mistakes were real. The vocals were interesting, for example: they had obviously practiced the parts a lot, and the arrangements were very tight, but the delivery was sketchy at times (in terms of technical things like pitch and timing). And the emotion is palpable even on the sbds. As an ole Jerry guy, vocals with technical flaws but strong emotion is something I can get behind.

    If you want to be a real hardass about it you can count up the meaningful flubs and add in the questionable song choices. If you compare that number to the number of legitimately sublime musical moments I think you’d find what we already know: the weekend was an epic win. If you’re doing that I think the Ghost and Rock & Roll jams should each count at least +3 and the DWD free improv section +5 or more ;o)

  3. tyler Says:

    oh and now I *really* want phish songs for GH:WT or RB2. Please, guys. Work it out. I know I’ll never get past Medium on the gnarly composed stuff but who cares?

  4. Billy Breathes Says:

    EPIC WIN!!!

    So fun listening to the Audience Recordings vs. SoundBoards.

    Can’t get enuff….should last till summer. 🙂

    Congratulations Everyone….including you, Phish.

  5. cottle Says:

    I think it all depends on what constitutes a “flub”. What some people percieve as flubs may very well be the same exact things that make live shows/recordings more enjoyable to me than albums. It’s real, plain and simple. Some people don’t like to hear live stuff because it doesn’t sound exactly like the album cut they remember, maybe the timing is different, the tempo is changed, or whatever. I think one of things that made this weekend so great, at least to me, is that I wasn’t expecting anything when I went in. Sure, there were tunes I wanted to hear over others, but when the first notes of “Fluffhead” resonated throughout the coliseum, anything I may have anticipated was forgotten about, and I was content to just bear witness to whatever they were kind enough to put out there for us.

    my two cents.


    Miner- glad I read it correctly and wholeheartedly agree on the appreciation of the old school style.

    Tyler- great metaphor with guitar hero. I am definitely not upset, nor was I at the time- the live energy was better than maybe any show I can remember. I think it also has something to do with listening to the recordings and I probably am more relying on that now since I’ve been listening to them since i returned. Could just be a poor sound mix (where have you gone Paul???) because they are just much more noticeable on the recordings than live, as expected.

  7. SOAM Says:

    If your into Flubs-your not doing enough drugs.

  8. SOAM Says:


  9. Los Says:

    This past weekend was the shit!!!!! The perfection and the fuck ups were great!!!

    They sounded and looked great!!!…n happy to be there!!!!

    I really cant wait to see them again come june!

  10. Weyoun42 Says:

    There’s a difference between making flubs because you’re nervous about expectations, haven’t played the songs outside of rehearsal in forever and have over 80 of them in your head to play over three days and making flubs because you really don’t want to be playing the songs in the first place. Usually those circumstances come in that order, but thankfully the band got the latter out of their systems five years ago. Now it’s full speed ahead!

  11. Little Buddy Says:

    @full tour

    I really hope they do the NYE run in Miami again. That was a great week! My wife and I parked our truck on the street in the ghetto and gave some guys beer and treats to watch it for us. They loved us! No hassles – only good times. And there were tickets everywhere!

    IMO Warren Haynes does not mesh well with the Dead. Of all the post Jerry Dead stuff I’ve seen, last summer’s Phil shows were the best. The Dead with Jimmy Herring were good shows too (loved the instrumental Stella). I didn’t like when they played with Warren last time around. Just my opinion…

  12. Little Buddy Says:

    Feel the music, don’t think about it!

  13. tyler Says:

    My 4 year old son is struggling with the idea that live performances vary so much. His favorite phish tune is Ghost, and the feel & delivery change maybe more than any other song. He wasn’t convinced the Hampton one was Ghost until he heard the vocals, then he loved it.

    His first shows will be @ the Gorge if they ever confirm it ;o). What an awesome little dude. I can’t wait to take him.

    Yeah I think its clear phish is not playing for perfect Guitar Hero score. More power to ’em.

  14. SOAM Says:

    I’d say by Deer Creek this band will be breaking new ground and all along the way there will be great moments (and I feel winds) but give them a couple weeks of playing all the time-nasty-I mean they had not played in 5 yrs and ripped shit up, but alas-I’m a boogier, not a studious observer.

  15. tyler Says:

    not feeling warren. no hating, but emphatically pass.

  16. Weyoun42 Says:

    Hey, I know I’m too analytical when it comes to… well, anything. But, that’s just how I am. Yeah, there are parts of the weekend that, when you listen to the SBD’s, make me cringe. But, I still say the good points of the weekend outnumber the bad ones by several orders of magnitude. Guys being off pitch, either vocally or musically, lyrical mistakes, all the stuff like that only *really* bother me because I know the guys wanted the shows to be perfect. Look at how much they rehearsed! So, everytime there was a blatant mistake, I would bet it bothered them more than it every bothered any of us. They know how Coventry went down. We may have put that, but the cheers in Hampton at the mistakes let THEM know that we’re past it. That’s why Sunday was probably the loosest show with the least technical mistakes.

  17. Little Buddy Says:

    “I’m a boogier, not a studious observer” – AMEN!

  18. SOAM Says:

    I am against elitism (that show sucked-mine was better) but when i hear people say the dead rocked -well I just can’t bear it. Yes – phil has had some decent bands-some that get it on in a small venue-but a lot of the dead (today’s dead) is such a far cry from the jerry /gd it almost seems silly sayin the dead without Jerry-Rocked.

    My idea of rocking is not phil signing Wharf rat or Bird Song in a key that is unidentifiable. I wish it wasn’t so but shit-I been to 15-20 gigs since jg kicked and i have no intention of going back. It’s over.

    I will give just Phils band a couple shots each year-but Ratdog smokes prick live-an I love Bob-I just don’t get the obsession singing and covering jerry tunes-maybe it’s the beard-which has always looked odd.

    The gd have a song called “milking the turkey”-that’s what their tours represent to me. A shot for a payday-a trainwreck of multiplte instruments on stage.

    You will not find someone more enamored witht the gratefulf dead (of old)
    but this is how i feel

  19. Selector J Says:

    Maybe I’m the only one, but I’ve always liked Hampton’s lot scene. From my past experiences, I’ve found it to be a friendly police presence maintaining order and not picking fights (now VA Beach is another story). I put my beverages in a cup and go about my merry business.

    Full Tour:
    I’d actually prefer some *more* police presence in Miami, that place was the Shady McShadiness. The only cops I saw had locked their keys in their car (Pretty funny actually… I have a nice pic of that somewhere). Meanwhile, I saw no less than three puddles of blood on the sidewalk on the walk back to a friend’s hotel. After the show, those little offsite lots were like an open air New Jack City. People shooting fireworks and huffing balloons and local gangsters walking around selling blow. I’m not saying I wouldn’t go back. I had a great time. The shows were great and Miami is a great town, albeit an expensive one, but next time no lot for me. I’ll take a cab.

    And like Jer, feeling guilty about not posting Phish *music* related stuff after such a momentous weekend, so:
    My favorite Hampton moment was the staged flub of YEM > absolutely perfect YEM intro. Good stuff. Still chuckle thinking about it.

  20. tyler Says:

    SOAM: if ur ever in pdx I will provide you beverage or smokable of yr choice. I was exercising restraint but I feel exactly like you do. We now call Bob “the ancient mariner” & yes I have a lot of love for the guy but it’s all just so very slow and sad now.

    Amusingly, Milkin’ The Turkey is a song they wouldn’t stand a chance playing. Now, Phish – if I was gonna pick one GD song for them to cover that’d probably be it.

  21. down with ticketsnow! Says:

    im not a huge fan of the post jerry gd bands, but ratdog with steve kimock in 2007 kicked ass. they need to have kept kimock because ratdog sucks balls with mark karan.

  22. Frankie Says:

    Anybody else really like Backwards Down the Number Line? Such a soulful emotional statement of friendship and of what’s ahead… I dig it!

    Theme song of the weekend for me with Undermind…

  23. gtgwbab2495 Says:

    Yes! Backwards Down the Number line was so good! And I love how they completely changed the arrangement of Undermind, it sounds so much better.

  24. wizzle1986 Says:

    this comment is not going to be popular, but i have seen alot of people post about how good the ghost was….it sounded stale to me, i wasnt really moved, and ghost is one of my favorite songs, although it does have a history of being/becoming fairly repetitive, this version wasnt, but like i said i personally didnt really like it, however, the moma dance, imo, was funky and proper

  25. Here Comes The Joker Says:

    I agree love BDTNL, loved it on the TAB tour this fall. I think this tune could produce some really high intensity moments as the jam unfolds and they get more familiar with the tune this summer. The song also seems to mean a lot to Trey, I think it is here for a long time, going to love to watch it grow.

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