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:

    I can’t get Backwards down the number line out of my head since I read Miner’s post at 8 this morning. When I saw Classic TAB this fall, I thought the song was os-os, but now I’m hooked on the hook. Must be the Page vocals or sumpin.

    And I just want to see trey play with Phil again, because he completes the band.

  2. tubeopener Says:

    I agree with wizzle that the ghost seemed just a little bit stale to me as well. It just didn’t seem to have the presence that most of the other tunes did. But for me the whole weekend came down to that It’s Ice and My Friend, My Friend. Both were perfect and made that room so dark and scary and beautifully menacing! And the rock and roll came in as a close third for me. It’s one of my favorite jams and i think it really got things going on Saturday. It’s so nice to be able to sit back and listen to it all so soon after the show and sounding so good. I’ve gotta find some more summer tickets, five shows just might not be enough!!!

  3. Cactus Says:

    Backwards down the Numberline was good, but I can’t say it’s great. However, it’s got potential, and it definitely has meaning as you could hear the emotion in Treys voice as he sung it that this past weekend for sure, but I think it will get better and better as they play it more. The layered vocals are tremendous in it, as usual, and I’m looking forward to hearing it live this summer.

    Both Ice and My Friend were awesome, but I must say DWD, Rock and Roll, Undermind, Foam, Wolfmans and She Thinks I still care were my favorites of the weekend.

  4. tyler Says:

    Listening to Undermind right now. Fish’s second-line n’awlins chops are the heat.

  5. Weyoun42 Says:

    Does anybody else feel that the extra “Happy Birthday” at the end of Contact was just sublime? I almost, *almost*, wish that the show had ended there. On the weekend that saw the birth of 3.0, to have ended on that would have just been too perfect. Of course, then that would have deprived us of Tweeprise, so I guess that would have been unacceptable. 😉

  6. full tour! Says:

    don’t forget bug!

  7. Pencilneck Says:

    I really dug the undermind too. had me guessing until vocals kicked. And mike dripped a tone in Tweezer that spoke directly to my booty, commanding it to shake. And it did. Huzah!

  8. guyforget Says:

    what was going on during the end of Guelah that had the crowd going crazy???? Just listening now…

  9. c0wfunk Says:

    guy i think those cheers were just extra appreciation for the standard Guelah dance that begins and ends the tune…

  10. c0wfunk Says:

    oh and that ghost is stale? Not to my ears, it’s fresh as a sunrise .. I listened to it like 3 times yesterday to be sure!

  11. guyforget Says:

    holy crap, it’s been too long!!! tooootttttally forgot about the guelah dance. crazy!!! thanks funk..

  12. fluffopener Says:

    Backwards is my favorite listen of the first night recordings. I really think its the sound mix. Had the first tube going on the pod en route home and fishman’s kick drum can’t be heard.
    Who did take Paul’s place on sound?

  13. Weyoun42 Says:

    I thought Mike’s bass was mixed pretty low on the SBD’s. Then again, that might just be my craptastic speakers at work.

  14. c0wfunk Says:

    sound in the venue was pristine .. the soundboards sound a hair lifeless, not very dynamic, but in my headphones and car the full range is pretty present and Mike is kickin..

    I heard it was the fella who had been doin Trey’s solo tours the last few times around, not sure who. Also not sure if the live sound man is the same one who mixed the releases .. I’d have to guess no.

  15. Weyoun42 Says:

    ^”The soundboards sound a hair lifeless.”

    Yes! I think anybody who is going only by the soundboards to judge the performances will necessarily have a less rosy view of it. I mean, *I* am only going by the soundboards, but I can spot where some issues are a problem with the mix. Remember, it’s not like they had time to tinker with these. They just pushed them out the door ASAP. I think with a little fine tuning, they could sound a lot better. But, I can only imagine how everything sounded IN Hampton. No way am I knocking the guys just going by this recording.

  16. Jer Says:

    I completely disagree with the comments above about the Ghost…it is awesome. They don’t waste time with more repetitive “grooves” and get right to work. Then Fish picks up the pace and Trey just nails that wailing guitar tone that he has employed in the later years. It made the hair on my neck stand up and brought a smile of glee to my face on the train yesterday.

    With that said, I’ve listened to Taste 3 times now and can officially say that either a) they need to retire this song or b) it was the single worst version ever played. Save for Page’s brilliant work during his solo and during the “jam”, it’s an utter piece of shit when compared to 95% of the other stuff played during the run. It sounds like a cover band trying to play Phish. Ugh.

  17. bunitingi Says:

    There is no question, hands DOWN i far prefer the AUD recordings. Page is more present in them for one, and he was the powerhouse of the weekend. There’s more crowd which i dug, but really, they simply crackle and team with more and life and more balls.

  18. Jer Says:

    “tyler Says:
    March 11, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    SOAM: if ur ever in pdx”

    No shit, where are you? NE near Rocky Butte here.

  19. Cactus Says:

    I only listened to Taste once, and it didn’t really grab me as extraordinary during this past weekends run. Although, I must say that’s a pretty difficult song to play in regards to the many layers that overlap and lag behind. It needs to be crisp from the beginning for it to take off later on is what I’m trying to say. I guess I ‘ll give it a relisten. But when that song is played right, it’s money.

  20. Weyoun42 Says:

    I’d kill for a SBD mix with the levels on certain aspects tweaked (Trey’s voice comes off a tad sharp) put together with the crowd as a matrix. Maybe they’ll do that for the inevitable DVD release.

  21. JFlorek Says:

    I thought some of Page’s vocal entrances were a bit sharp too, but that was no doubt do to exuberance…for which I can forgive them!

  22. Jer Says:

    “Cactus Says:
    March 11, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    It needs to be crisp from the beginning for it to take off later on is what I’m trying to say. I guess I ‘ll give it a relisten. But when that song is played right, it’s money.”

    You’re absolutely right there. Some songs/jams really were brilliant this past weekend, unfortunately Taste was not one of them. The jam is quite intricate and layered, and the intricacies of which can only be honed through playing the song a lot. It’s not like there were a ton of flubs or anything…it was just…meh. In trying to keep jams short, they could have cut out about 80% of Trey’s solo and it would have worked much better as he started to bring some heat at the very end. Alas, it was too little, too late.

  23. In Flagrante Delicto Says:

    I loved seeing all the old songs this past weekend, but I have to agree that Undermind has stuck in my head. According to my ipod stats, it is the tune i’ve listened to most of all three shows.

    And it’s followed by the new Page tune (not really new) about a broken heart and the break-up of the band. Trey wails on that.

  24. elihu Says:

    How about Mike’s George Jones cover, “she thinks I still care”? Who is she? (music) Gotta luv the country phish (still waiting on Uncle Penn)

    No spoilers auds kicked the sbds for me. Especially dug the 2nd night 1st set recording with almost 10 minutes of pre-show audio. You could totally feel the crowd anticipation and hear the walk-on tunes. I’d love to see that incorporated into no spoilers format. Thank you Mr Miner!

  25. Mr.Miner Says:

    I’ll be getting tracked AUDs from Jesse, one of the No Spoilers tapers up for weekend nugs, or potentially by Friday

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