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:

    One of the aspects of this place that I love is that while many of us left Phish in the mud and muck of Vermont and moved on with our lives, others got their first CD and were hooked on the Phish from Vermont.

    So when Hampton was announced there were two emotions:
    1) the feeling I forgot
    2) I actually get to experience the feeling I never thought I would

    very cool range of ages and experiences

  2. jdub Says:

    Great write uo Miner! The years are starting to fly by but the resurgance of this band and community have helped me enjoy the precious moments we have.
    what a year it has been. The boys reuniting the way they did was a tremendous boost of energy for everyone involved and modern technology putting the music in our living rooms spread the love far and wide. I was too impatient to do no spoilers and when I read Fluffhead and divided sky pop up along with a tons of songs in that first set I knew this was extra special without being there or hearing a note. I am proud of the way Phish has come back, they have done it with love, dedication, and with a deeper soul. The music from Hampton played in my house for a long time, probably until 2nd leg when they turned a corner. The combination of tight playing and the significance of the weekend comes through loud and clear on the recordings, always putting a smile on my face.

    Here is to 2010, a year we may look back on is being the equivalent to 97 in it’s dynamic shift of musical identity. Good to be a fan, good be alive, and good to have this place to share it all with you people.

  3. lastwaltzer Says:

    yeah she will be fine lakeview. I used to live on clark and right off it on newport.

    What kind of music is your girlfriend into now?

  4. BTB Says:

    @silly – I see the lyrics to STFTFP as a song about Tour, but maybe it’s just me.

    So looks like PH summer tour is going to be shortened in 2010? Maybe weighted towards a longer fall tour?

  5. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    count me in on the OJ show listening. one of my favorite current-event-relevant shows.

  6. fat bastard Says:

    imo STFTFP is about trey getting onstage sober

  7. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    and as if on cue, STFTFP comes on the shuffled playlist I have going this morning. Detroit version. Carry on.

  8. kenny powers Says:

    along those lines i wonder if KDF is about his battles with drinking…”i didn’t mean to stop at the bar…this time will be different until i do it again”…

    or maybe that’s obvious to everyone? anyhoo

  9. BabyBigPerm Says:

    Love it when that happens. A reminder you are on the right path at the moment.

  10. jdub Says:

    Could Mike be just messing with us with his statement that there are no solid plans for this summer yet, his casual nature about the whole thing could be his quirky sense of humor. They may not play a bunch of shows this year but I’m thinking they have big plans for the ones they do play. Trying not to have expectations but I can’t help think about the possibilities.

    Phish lyrics mean whatever you want them to mean. I think that is how the band approaches their music and writing, putting their emotions and feelings into a tune that can mean many things to many people, atleast that is how I take them to be.

  11. jdub Says:

    Happy B-day Waltzer! My twenties were a great time and your in the meat of it now.

  12. BabyBigPerm Says:

    So, it seems that the Hamptom moment is significant event for most/ all. What would be the next closest for you?

    Me-hmmm, specifically Phish back at RR. In generalities, seeing a band the first time w/o ever knowing them and loving their music from the get-go.

  13. SillyWilly Says:

    Right on, BTB


    she’s not hard core into anything like we all are….weird, huh? haha….she loves Regina Spektor, Ingrid Michaelson, female singers…She also digs traditional Celtic. She’s very Irish.

    She would love the Phish show experience. I just have to get her there.

  14. BabyBigPerm Says:

    Also comes to mind, my first GD show. I had so much anticiaption leading upto the event.

  15. kenny powers Says:

    biggest regrets in my Phishtory: not being at Hampton or Big Cypress 🙁

  16. SillyWilly Says:

    biggest regret in Phishtory: being born in 1987.

  17. Stupendous Says:

    Morning Yall
    KP i second that regret!

    Happy BDay LW!

  18. pagesidehighschool Says:

    @bigbabyperm, you should check out page 22 from last night for a recap on the baby dance off

  19. SillyWilly Says:

    However, 2010 will smoke.

    (that’s my favorite thing to say)

  20. neemor Says:

    Morning all.
    Good stuff Miner.

    Talk about closing a chapter:
    I was waiting in line for Coventry (for two effing days!) and I actually sold my pipe to the guys in front of me that I had smoked with…figured I didn’t need it anymore…closed a door on a part of my life (I thought).

    Not making Hampton was hard, and still is, but I knew exactly what it meant to have our band back, to have you guys there, and what those shows must have felt like.

    So, I got a new pipe and joined the community again, which is now unlike anything I ever knew from this band.

    Thanks guys.

    Willowed, I bought two Gordo tickets….any idea how I’m set?

  21. pagesidehighschool Says:

    i skipped Hampton and went to Jamaica for a week instead. i don’t really regret my decision, it was the best vacation ive ever been on

  22. BabyBigPerm Says:

    Gotta blame your folks for that one, SW.

    Your biggest regret should read that your PARENTS weren’t into Phish. Saw 6 year olds at shows back then.

  23. lastwaltzer Says:

    @silly regina’s early stuff is really good. I think its hard for people to get past phish being “phish” a lot of people don’t realize how many different types of music fans are attracted to their music.

  24. willowed Says:

    10:00 a.m. works for me.

  25. willowed Says:

    You are all set Neemor. I am on the list. You can take my ticket. Just found out last night!!
    Let me know if you need it

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