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. Selector J Says:

    gotta jet home… “see” you fools later.

    [real quick tangent: there’s this one DJ on the community radio here in Austin that signs off his show by saying:

    “Alright, everyone. See you later. And by ‘see’ I mean ‘listen.’ And by ‘you’ I mean ‘to me.’ Bye.” Kinda corny but I always give a little chuckle.]

  2. halcyon Says:

    Board is on fire today.
    Thank goodness it is the weekend. Furthur on saturday with some good friends, going into it with an open excited mind. Rumors of layoffs swirling about the company who hasn’t seen layoffs ever in their 75 year history. Makes this weekend a good one to forget about work. Can’t wailt to check the 9/11/99 show!

  3. flarrdogg Says:

    I have danced the meatstick shamlessly since 1999 with and without alternative Japanese lyrics present.

  4. albert walker Says:

    Hey C

    or anyone else that digs hip-hop

    that Haiku De Tat looks like it should be up in about 25 minutes

    had a mp3 copy on an old computer ready to go

    Aceyalone, Abstract Rude, and Mikah 9

    best use of 2001 on a hip-hop track

  5. Selector J Says:

    wow. Radiohead above the Beatles? Ok Computer is one of my all timers but… I smell scandal. Marketing genius?

    really out this time. laterzzz

  6. Willowed Says:

    Cub. I love how nasty your posts are getting.
    Cub to waiter:

    1 Grey Goose martini please. Make it pretentious you asshole!

  7. Gratefulcub Says:

    I love lists. They are all wrong, but I love them. Atleast 4 of those, I thought “that’s not their best album”. Tool, Dylan, wilco, modest mouse.

    Ftr, IMO, undertow, blood on the tracks, sky blue sky, lonesome crowded west.

    This Sally is nuts. “what key is it in?”. I love the good lieutenant.

  8. albert walker Says:

    plus all that Beatles
    come on

    I’ll give you Revolver but Sgt Peppers is not that good

  9. albert walker Says:

    I would not even want to listen to half that shit
    let alone put it on any list of good albums

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    Dare I say “blistering”?!

    yes, you dare.

    grab the lossless version from Voopa. I bet you can hear the difference.

    That Sand is an absolute peak memory for me. Those were my first Phish shows since 1991, and that Sand was the moment when I became fully absorbed in the crowd energy for the first time…when I truly Felt The Feeling I Forgot again, for the first time ever in a Phish context, and knew that I didn’t have to go the rest of my life without feeling That Thing again.

    That high, sustained peak in the Sand jam – I was all up inside that motherfucker

    And yeah there are really not very many AUDs this good in circulation, period

    a true A+

  11. Lycanthropist Says:

    i agree with you cub, on the Dylan and the Modest Mouse.

    But I really like A Ghost is Born for wilco

    its atoss up for me for AEnema and Undertow

  12. flarrdogg Says:

    I haven’t heard the name Aceyalone in a long time. All Balls Don’t Bounce is an epic album as is A book Of Human Language. I never listened to much Haiku D’Etat, but lots of my friends dug them. Looking forward to listening. Trip down memory lane.

  13. albert walker Says:

    where these Gorge FLAC’s at C?

  14. Gratefulcub Says:

    Willowed, thanks for bringing that full circle.

    Thanks to all for tolerating me, you are my only connection to life outside of Newark liberty. Delayed again.

    Sgt pepper was the ultimate game changer.

  15. albert walker Says:

    can’t argue with Highway 61

    maybe others are as good
    but that shit is about perfect

  16. albert walker Says:

    for what
    over produced garbage?

    you want overly orchestrated perfectin go Pet Sounds

    I’ll take my Beatles a little lighter on the George Martin touch

  17. voopa Says:


  18. Lycanthropist Says:

    lol @aw

    “over produced garbage”

    i dont agree but that is some pretty funny shit to me right now

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    “llfa @ powder cocaine industry

    so that’s universal…”

    oh yes. Definitely. Stepped-on half-grams are practically issued upon hiring in most areas.

    “My saving grace was a distaste of that particular vice.”

    yeah I was waiting tables and tending bar in beachfront hotels in Florida in 88-89, pretty much ground zero of the cocaine wars, so I was very VERY fortunate to have already gotten my blow phase well out of the way before going down there…

    Social indicator: if it’s easier to get blow than weed wherever you are, you need to fucking move.

  20. albert walker Says:

    I dig Abbey and Revolver

    like I said too much production outside there hands

    I like a rawer sound

    what can I say

    A little help from my friends…..please are you kidding me.
    not my idea of hip music

  21. guyforget Says:

    hello all..Mr. C or voopa, link to the lossless gorge please? Thanks.

  22. Lycanthropist Says:

    SGt Pepper is one that i dont often listen to when i go to spin some beatles.

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    thanks for the upload albert, I will pull it when I get home – leaving for hte commute right now

    voopa’s link is the same fileset that I posted, but the complete show in lossless, so just grab that.

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    Social indicator: if it’s easier to get blow than weed wherever you are, you need to fucking move.

    ^ hilarious. and true.

    One can be a Stones or a Beatles guy, right?

    aw likes the stones.
    I like the beatles.

  25. guyforget Says:

    wow, miner reminded me today of what a great weekend it was one year ago. to think that i was that close to flying across the country without a ticket or hotel is aburd given the amount of shows played thereafter and the 6 i was able to swing. We are all insane.

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