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.


Jam of the Day:

Down With Disease > Seven Below ” 3.8.09 II

The jam of Hampton’s reunion weekend.



Hampton (Photo: Jeff Kravitz / insidecelebpics)



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


** w/o microphones

Source: AKG 451

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950 Responses to “Hampton ’09: A Retrospective”

  1. Gratefulcub Says:

    Newark liberty airport sucks

    kind of blue – magnificent

    blue train makes me melt, love supreme is the beauty of a broken heart

    cubby +2 grey geese

    wolfman plane ride in 75 minutes w00t w00t

  2. Selector J Says:

    anyone remember the Judgment Night Soundtrack?

    That De La Soul/Teenage Fan Club track was my favorite De La song. Pretty cool album. Too bad it spawned the likes of Limp Bizkit.

  3. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Tribe Called Quest was one I really liked. The Low End Theory is in permanent rotation for me. there’s guest apperances by members of Leaders of the New School, Jungle Brothers, and a host of others on that album. Scenario got the deserved press (and introduced the “general” public to Busta Rhymes) but I thought Show Business was the best track on that album

  4. lastwaltzer Says:

    @grateful coltrane is the man, I realize this is quite obvious but after seeing all your posts about john and nobody saying much well he is the man. It needed to be said.

  5. Selector J Says:

    Tribe was definitely my favorite group for a few years.
    “Ali Shaheed Muhammed…”

  6. Gratefulcub Says:

    I’m a casual listener, but I love the man, especially with tyner.

  7. Willowed Says:

    Vibes and Stuff was the track for me TIII

    With that biiinnnnggggg every 5 seconds or so. Love that jam!

  8. Willowed Says:

    It’s like a slow Trey loop

  9. lastwaltzer Says:

    saw mccoy a month or two ago

  10. Selector J Says:

    fyi De La meets Teenage Fan Club

  11. Willowed Says:

    I gotz to rollz

    Later fellas!!

  12. Gratefulcub Says:

    Airport bar music: pour some sugar on me! Light me up! Pour some sugar on me! >>> dancin on the ceiling

  13. Mr. Completely Says:

    re: cub and ‘trane

    I just assumed everyone was tired of hearing me blab on about Coltrane so I was laying low

    Love Supreme = my favorite work of art of all time in any medium

  14. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    “Take it from Diamond, it’s like mountain climbin’
    When it comes to rhymin’ you gotta put your time in”

    love it.

  15. lastwaltzer Says:

    love me some lionel richie haha, Hello It’s Me is the greatest music video ever.

  16. Selector J Says:

    last one…

    Cypress Hill meets Sonic Youth

    In best Jon Stewart voice:
    “Have you ever heard this song?
    Have you ever heard this song on neemsbane, man?”

  17. Gratefulcub Says:

    100% agree C. Not about you blabbing, but about ls.

  18. lastwaltzer Says:

    @mr. c have you herd kurt ellings take on resolution?

  19. Selector J Says:

    best music video ever = Eddy Grant, “Electric Avenue”

  20. Gavinsdad Says:

    Type Tre: I am so pleased that you quoted Diamond D. Unbelievably slept on producer with the butter flow.


    C: love “done by the forces of nature”. Another wildly slept on album.

    “lemonade was a popular drink/and it still is” I also have Keith “Guru” Elam in my thoughts with wishes for a full recovery.

  21. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:


    one of my favorite songs when I was like 13 was Eddy Grant’s

    Living on the Frontline>Frontline Symphony

    I had it on one of the Rhythm Come Forward compilations (vol. 2 maybe?).

  22. Gratefulcub Says:

    Video: here I go again – whitesnake + tawni katan

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    @mr. c have you herd kurt ellings take on resolution?

    no, by all means hip me to it if you can

    C: love “done by the forces of nature”. Another wildly slept on album.

    For years I thought I was the only white person on earth that ever heard that album. Nice.

    I was always more about Preemo than Guru when it came to Gang Starr but I still have love for hte guy and give mad respect

  24. Gratefulcub Says:

    If you are on an expense account, and you don’t overtip people with shitty jobs and good attitudes, you’re an asshole.

    Cubby +4 (I invoke the pcp defense the rest of the night for anything I say) 8)

  25. lastwaltzer Says:


    click on the lala link, its the best I can do. I’m not crazy about it but it is interesting, he does similar things with other jazz tracks.

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