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. ChefBradford Says:

    Who is this “Hendrix” band? Folk or something, right?

  2. Mr. Palmer Says:

    thanks for the Wilco knowledge fellas! Who needs google when you got the blackboard.

  3. jdub Says:

    Band of Gypsies was played perhaps more than anything in my formative years, pure fire he was.

  4. ChefBradford Says:

    which reminds me, Lycan has a show tonight

  5. jdub Says:

    Lala.com has become an incredible resource, all the great bands and music I never bought CDs for are now at my finger tips. I got to start writing down all the recs you guys throw out there. Some serious musical knowledge on the BB

  6. She Divides Says:

    reading back a bit, but

    TIII–26 pages of acronyms??? Who do they think they are? a bunch of phish fans that can’t write out all the long song names like us 😉 ??

  7. halcyon Says:

    type 3…..26 pages of TLA’s! Sounds like the same place where I work. Ironic that TLA is a TLA for a three letter acronym.

  8. Robear Says:

    My science is deep, my blackness is deep, how deep? deep, deeper than Atlantis, deeper than the sea floor traveled by the mantis.

    way to dig out the X-Clan ya’ll. Deep tracks!

    AW, can’t wait to grab that Haiku de ‘Tat. Had it awhile back and literally wore the mp3 cd out.

    voopa, and all. Jumped on the Gorge seed. Much thanks! My one and only trip to those parts.

  9. voopa Says:

    ^ 12.30.03. Sorry for any confusion…

  10. She Divides Says:

    @ halcyon….shit I didn’t know there was an acronym for three letter acronyms!! we’re doomed.

  11. She Divides Says:

    @Mr. Palmer if you’re still around…you went to school in DC? 9:30 club is my most frequent venue.

  12. Mr. Completely Says:

    But still not weird enough to fit in at my first dead show autzen ‘90. Talk about game changer.


    My favorite out of 3 Autzen runs I saw (87, 90, 93).

    You from Eugene, or in school there at the time?

  13. She Divides Says:

    Oh also, saw this interesting quote from a q&a with Mike in an article:

    Q: What is the status of Phish at this time? Are there any plans for the near future?

    A: We had a great first year back recording and playing. We feel now that we’ve got the engine greased up we’re ready to keep doing it. At the same time, it’s important for us to take about half of this year just to work on our own projects, so we can do everything we want to accomplish. Phish will probably be doing some playing by the summer.


  14. jdub Says:

    [Phish will probably be doing some playing by the summer.]

    I love his sense of humor.

  15. jdub Says:

    So I guess those brackets didn’t work.

  16. She Divides Says:

    jdub–I know! he’s just a big tease! except he’s actually going to follow through with bassing us!

    speaking of…we are going to see Mike at Ram’s Head in Baltimore on tuesday 3/9. Anyone else going? marco?

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    yeah I think rather than fucking around trying to find some modern hiphop I like I need to go back and get CDs of all the old school stuff I had on cassette

    Jungle Bros, Gang Starr, X Clan, KRS – a total of zero CDs in my collection. unacceptable

    this Haiku album is fucking bonkers. Buying on Amazon immediately. wow

  18. albert walker Says:

    Serious flow c

    All different styles but so hip and witty

    Street but literary

    Amazing stuff

  19. Stupendous a.k.a The Beasel Says:

    Mr C
    do you have original cd (not burnt) copies of every album you own?

  20. jdub Says:

    How many cd’s in your collection Mr. C?

    Very excited about seeing Mike this weekend, going into it relatively blind. Haven’t listened to Green Sparrow, have Inside In and love it as well as his album with Leo Kotke which got heavy play when I bought it.

  21. Stupendous a.k.a The Beasel Says:

    Green Sparrow = NOT Inside In

  22. jdub Says:

    AW, are you a Hendrix fan? Seems like a silly question.

  23. albert walker Says:

    Have the bdp, Eric b and rakim, x clan, pe
    On og vinyl

    Sometimes that shit is just what i need

  24. albert walker Says:

    Love jimi

  25. She Divides Says:

    @aw..what do you think about the wrigley concerts in September? think phish will get them?

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