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. voopa Says:

    World’s Biggest Holes

    Funny, that one chick I dated isn’t on the list

  2. albert walker Says:

    see bro

    you agree
    just not to the polarizing extremes I tend to fall towards

    we can make a Beatles hater out of you yet

  3. Gratefulcub Says:

    I am of two minds on sp. It doesn’t really hold up over time to me. And, they went into hiding in their beatle boots and “I want to hold you hand” and emerged with sgt peppers. It was a cultural shift. More than an album. I love shit that scares the hell out of parents and Utah.

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    @guy see above

    I still love Within You Without You

    other than that, not in rotation

  5. flarrdogg Says:

    Thanks Voopa.

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    voopa: ba-dum CHING

  7. Mr.Miner Says:


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

    aw likes the stones.
    I like the beatles.

    what are you?

  8. voopa Says:

    Nor is Courtnet Love

    btw, that fileset is SHN, not FLAC

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    have I mentioned recently how much I look forward to @aw’s “first puff” posts?

    always epic.

  10. albert walker Says:

    def Miner

    I like VU, Syd Barrett, Stones

    not Floyd, and the Beatles

    would never say it is bad
    they are all great albums

    just not my preference

    I like my shit a little dirty
    what can I say

  11. Lycanthropist Says:

    i def spin beatles more than the stones

  12. lastwaltzer Says:

    @aw not even early floyd?

  13. voopa Says:


    Is that you pulling mad speeds from me?

  14. lastwaltzer Says:

    Only stones I really listen to are the ones that came out between 68 and 72 that was one hell of a run of records.

  15. Mr. Completely Says:

    “aw likes the stones.
    I like the beatles.

    what are you?”

    I go both ways. I’m West Coast like that. We’re past all this “one way or the other” stuff.

    Honestly – I listen to the Stones way, way way more. But I appreciate the Beatles and respect their place in history equally with the Stones.

    If I was trying to educate an interested but totally ignorant person about the history of rock music, I would present the two equally and let that person decide.

    When it comes time to listen to something, it’s pretty much always Exile, Beggars, Sticky Fingers – with Revolver in the mix at a lower rotation.

  16. Gratefulcub Says:

    Beatles. I grew up on it. Pops blared both while getting rid of the seeds in his crappy outdoor herb. But I never spin it now. It’s like the building blocks of everything I love today, but so many others have added on over the years.

    What the hell do I know, I am delayed yet again and looking for + 7.

    And page has a new shirt for Halloween.

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    well actually it’s usually the iTunes Smart Playlist:
    Artist equals Rolling Stones
    Rating equals Five Stars

    …about 2/3rds of that list is made up of those 3 albums…

    If I want something to play in the car it’d probably be Exile

  18. voopa Says:


    Loved both growing up, but I’m definitely more of a Stones guy.

    Can’t deny the impact of both tho.

    Saw the Stones in L.A. the day after the Loma Prieta earthquake, with Living Colour and Guns “n” Roses…Axl fell off the stage, among other things.

    And as cheezy as he is, I dug Paul’s Superbowl halftime show a few years back.

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    like I said before I dove into the Beatles again when the remasters came out

    listened to all of it top to bottom

    enjoyed the hell out of it

    burned right back out on it again

  20. verno329 Says:

    @voopa thanks for the seed. it may just be me and garretc on it now

  21. pagesidehighschool Says:

    My mom saw the beatles twice, how fucking sweet is that!

  22. Mr. Completely Says:

    please everyone stay on that seed for tonight, leave your windows open, there are a few folks I know that want it who haven’t started yet (like Robear)

  23. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I really like the Beatles but I love the Stones. Just speaks to me more, I guess. Plus I’ve always liked Keith’s tone.

  24. flarrdogg Says:

    cub- Beatles. ‘the building blocks of everything I love today’ foundation.

    Same for me. Exactly. My parents always spun it.

  25. Gratefulcub Says:

    And they really “spun it”, if we danced to hard it skipped and scratched.

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