Hampton ’09: A Retrospective

3.8.09 - Hampton (Unknown)

As 2010 has quietly crept into March, this coming weekend represents the one year anniversary of Phish’s Hampton reunion. The dates of March 6, 7, and 8, 2009, will live forever in Phish history as the time things came back together again, for the second time. Reunited for the first time in five years in their adopted home of Hampton Coliseum, one of the live music’s most intimate arenas, everything we once loved sprang to life again. Unlike the lackluster comeback run over 2002-2003, these shows translated far better, and were much more focused and precise. Both the band and the crowd had the venue bursting at the seams with palpable energy. Hampton’s three-night showcase served as the perfect lauchpad for 2009. And when the opening notes of “Fluffhead” creaked out of the rafters of The Mothership, we were on our way home again.

Over the three-part dream, Phish played for nearly ten hours, running through no less than 84 songs of their notoriously vast catalog. From the very beginning of 2009, beginning with “Fluffhead,” and “Divided Sky,” one sensed things would be different this time around. Focused far more on composition and precision than jamming, the band got back to basics at Hampton, a trend that characterized the entire year for Phish. Without getting too crazy or improvisational, Hampton set up the rest of 2009, just as 2009 set up 2010; both periods representing building blocks towards high-level musical proficiency without too many risks. In essence, one can see the Hampton reunion as microcosm of 2009, a lot of structured playing leading to more adventure by the end.

Hampton (J.Volckhausen)

But more than any other shows in 2009, Hampton carried the vibe of a Phish recital. After a five year absence, every time the band played another song, whether “Guelah Papyrus” or “Tweezer,” it felt like we were being reacquainted to an old friend. This feeling resonated with everybody in the building, creating one of the purest vibes of any Phish show in memory. Everyone there knew exactly why they had made the trip, and everywhere you looked there was another friend, many you hadn’t seen in half a decade. In the end, Hampton felt like one big family reunion.

Hampton literally brought back that indescribable feeling I’d forgotten. Sure, I had memories to last a lifetime, but memories, however strong don’t recreate that special feeling inside of you. And when Phish dropped the opening licks of “Tweezer” in the second set of their comeback show, that feeling flooded my soul like Victoria Falls. My heart felt like it would pound right out my chest – it was all happening again – five years later, we were living and breathing “Tweezer” again! That tangible cocktail of adrenaline with a splash of bliss rushed up from the toes, through the heart, and spiked right into the brain. It was heaven on earth; we were finally at a Phish show again.

Hampton (M. Yates)

And throughout the weekend, the shows couldn’t have provided more fun and exaltation, regardless of the tame musical quality in retrospect. Phish played, and nothing else mattered. Clearly rehearsed and polished, the band played with a certain urgency and energy that was often lacking in the post-hiatus years, providing a feeling of musical purity many fans hadn’t felt in a long time. It didn’t matter that the music wasn’t adventurous, that’s not what Hampton was about. Hampton ’09 celebrated all that Phish once was, an unheralded legacy in modern rock and roll. A massive “Welcome Back” for the band and fans alike, and just hearing live Phish at all provided all the magic anyone needed. But by the third night, the band grew more comfortable and threw down quite an impressive show, including the one truly memorable jam of the weekend, “Down With Disease.”

And within one year, look how far we’ve come. As we enter 2010 on the heels of a spectacular New Years’ Run, the band, themselves have begun talking about reinventing Phish. In an interview with The Dartmouth Independent, on the brink of his solo tour, Mike prognosticated on Phish’s future:

Eventually, I think the idea is not just to keep playing old songs but really for Phish to reinvent ourselves just like we’re trying to reinvent the other aspects of our careers and find the uncharted territory. There’s been talk about trying to find ways to record differently than we have before and write differently, so that’s what excites me – the different possibilities.

With statements like these, it seems like Mike and the boys may be ready to enter that elusive “next phase” of their career we’ve been hypothesizing about. Phish have reinvented their sound multiple times throughout their career, continually changing their focus and direction, always shifting their way into uncharted territory. This quotation from Gordon all but confirms the theory that 2009 was but a building block for all that is to come. What excites Mike, and likely the rest of the band, is the same things that excite us – “the different possibilities.”

Hampton (Unknown)

A year ago, the heavens opened and brought back our dreamland; Gamehendge made a leap from our collective consciousness back into reality, all within one magical weekend. The music is all relative at this point, because what I remember more than anything is the energy, the feelings, and the emotions. I remember the faces, the friends, and the elation. Once I think about the shows, I recall what went down, but that weekend was far bigger than the music. Hampton brought a community back together; a community that had been dispersed for five years; a community united by the power of Phish. When I think of the music, I remember its tight and precise quality more than specifics themselves, as any musical achievements that took place in Hampton would soon be eclipsed in June. But everyone was surprised at how together they sounded, despite their well-publicized rehearsals, especially juxtaposed with our last memories from Coventry. The weekend became nothing short of enchanted, with nary a negative atom in the air. And after the third night, while walking back to the hotel, I glanced over my shoulder to the glowing panels of the retro space-aged coliseum, thinking, “So this is where it all begins again.” And so it did.

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Jam of the Day:

Down With Disease > Seven Below ” 3.8.09 II

The jam of Hampton’s reunion weekend.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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Hampton (Photo: Jeff Kravitz / insidecelebpics)

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

2.4.93 Providence Performing Arts Center, Providence, RI < Megaupload

Colorado '93 Poster

The second show of ’93 goes out via reader request to Jack G. Check it out. Included is the debut of “Sample In a Jar.” My desktop has gone from infected to fuct, so not torrents today. (Keep your torrents seeding as much as possible for the next couple days, as my computer won’t be seeding anything for a second.)

I. Axilla, Foam, Bouncing Around the Room, Maze, Fast Enough for You, All Things Reconsidered, Stash, The Lizards, Sample in a Jar*, Glide, Run Like an Antelope

II: Chalk Dust Torture, The Wedge, Mike’s Song > The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu > The Man Who Stepped Into YesterdayWeekapaug Groove, Lawn Boy, Uncle Pen, Big Ball Jam, Hold Your Head Up > Lengthwise > Hold Your Head Up, Harry Hood, Cavern >

E: Amazing Grace**, Good Times Bad Times

*Debut

** w/o microphones

Source: AKG 451

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950 Responses to “Hampton ’09: A Retrospective”

  1. Mr. Completely Says:

    Autzen was such an utterly fucking bonkers scene too

    far beyond most dead shows of my era

    the park all around it was just a free zone and it is a really beautiful place…dense lush greenery with a river running through it…little footpaths running all through it…

    Like a normal shakedown scene times ten, with the negative aspects hidden and the positive ones out front, in an idyllic garden setting

    for a deadhead it was absolutely heaven on earth. for someone that was new to the scene…I can’t even imagine

    in ’87 I was just stunned. in ’90 I decided I was moving there one day. in ’93 I was in the process of doing it. maybe the most important decision of my life.

  2. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    Mr. C. Yeah pretty weird for a NW country kid to walk into that lot at Autzen. Took a lot of different stuff given to me in the lot and spent the night in the back of a ford f150 in an adjacent neighborhood. Was pretty tired for 6/24 but have enjoyed it since on cd. Still love Eugene though, and make it back to Portland now and then.

  3. Mr. Completely Says:

    I miss Eugene but now Portland is home.

    Say howdy if you’re ever passing through with time for a beer or a puff.

    night!

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    shit, I was fucking stunned by the autzen scene and I was a tour kid

    never seen anything quite like it before or since

  5. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    Shoreline ’91 was no picnic either but I at least had some sea legs by then. And some Owsley, reportedly. Re Portland, will do, do the same if you’re in Seattle. Don’t often post but I’m often here, and greatly admire your contributions.

  6. lycanthropist Says:

    crazy first set!

  7. garretc Says:

    Commencing listen to now-legendary Gorge AUD… Sounds like the bee’s knees so far…

  8. Uncle Ebeneezer Says:

    ^^^Tzara’s, where are you in Seattle?

  9. SillyWilly Says:

    i dont like perpetual groove. saw them tonight. didnt do much for me.

  10. garretc Says:

    @Silly, listen to the Gorge download Mr. C was pimping (and voopa was seeding)! That’ll get the sour taste out of your mouth…

  11. SillyWilly Says:

    where do i get it garretc?

  12. garretc Says:

    Here’s the torrent link

    http://bt.etree.org/details.php?id=518554

    And Mr. C had a link to mp3s of the same source on the last page of yesterday’s thread, but that only has the second set…

  13. SillyWilly Says:

    thanks, man!

    yeah, i definitely need to get it out of my system. the worst part was there was plenty of phish kids there

  14. garretc Says:

    Yeah no problem!

    Sorry you had a bad time… If you need any reassurance that the world is still in a good place, I was using stumbleupon and it took me to Les Claypool’s wikipedia page… Why yes, I would love to read about Les Claypool right now!

  15. SillyWilly Says:

    to add some positive vibes to the board…i like the werks. they opened for p-groove tonight. they were fun.

  16. SillyWilly Says:

    it wasn’t really a bad time. i just didn’t really dig what p-groove is trying to do. totally a personal preference probably.

    what is stumbleupon?

  17. garretc Says:

    You go to http://www.stumbleupon.com, click on the big yellow “Start Stumbling” button, and it takes you to a random interesting website, but w/ an extra stumbleupon toolbar on the top, so you can click “stumble” and it takes you to another website, etc…

    I feel like that was a terrible explanation, but it’s easy enough to figure out… A very good way to waste way too much time when you’re in the mood to…

  18. SillyWilly Says:

    yeah, dude, i just tried it. thats pretty cool. it read my mind.

  19. SillyWilly Says:

    garretc

    im sorry to peace on you, but i took some nyquil a little bit ago (on top of my other consumptions). i think im going to sleep.

  20. hossmaster Says:

    Such a solid review miner. My first show was 3. 8, after turning 20 the day before and celebrating it in the lot. Such a memorable weekend, great time and good people. Can’t ask for anything else.

  21. garretc Says:

    I apologize in advance if you get addicted… It’s very easy to do!

  22. garretc Says:

    No worries Silly, we’re not even in the same time zone, so there’s even extra no hard feelings…

    Until next time, good sir

  23. ThePigSong Says:

    way to late to this game…
    Great writeup though Miner! Fluffhead was definitely a defining moment in my lifetime.

  24. Angryjoggerz Says:

    Autzen was my first stop the first time I went on tour with GD. Blew my mind.

  25. Angryjoggerz Says:

    I love the Brady Bunch theme in this Antelope today. Big.

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