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. Mr. Completely Says:

    Stupendous, no

    for awhile I was dirt poor and burned some CDs from the library or off torrents. Only of artists that don’t need the money. Everything I still listen to, I am replacing with purchased copies as fast as I can, now that I can afford to.

    When it comes to musicians that are not rich, I always always always buy the CD, or a CD’s cost worth of merch, if I keep listening to it after the first spin. I have been friends with too many starving (sometimes literally) artists to do otherwise.

    So I download a lot of stuff to get to know it. If I like it, I definitely buy it, period. The more I download or torrent, the more I buy. The only exception is the super-rich. I see no need to ever give Led Zeppelin or Sir Paul or whoever another dollar. I ripped the Beatles remasters without hesitation. We bought all their albums on CD, in those shitty flat original transfers.

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    Hendrix a classic conundrum in this regard

    I have given his estate tons of cash, I could feel justified in downloading new stuff

    but say what you want about Janie, she has let Eddie Kramer loose in the catalog to do proper remasters, and he makes a fair buck off each of those disks with his producer credit, and the other band members…so I have ended up buying several of the remaster projects that have come out in the last 10+ years

    as for the music

    out of all the stuff I listened to at list age 13, when I was just pulling away from metal:

    Beatles, Stones, Zappa, Dylan, Hendrix, Floyd, Janis, CSN etc

    The only ones still in A list rotation are Dylan and Jimi, and Dylan has ten times the catalog

    The Jimi stuff never gets even a little old for me

    I could throw on Electric Ladyland anytime and love it

  3. Mr. Completely Says:

    uhhhh jdub I dunno exactly. Store bought CDs not live shows? uh…around a thousand? eight hundred? twelve hundred? not that many really compared to serious collectors.

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

    I hear Ya C

    I pretty much have almost every single cd ive ever owned since vanilla ice,
    got rid of jewel cases and threw em in case logics… then while I managed
    the store i worked at, I was encouraged to take home whatever i wanted to listen to (not at once) so I could recommend things to customers and such.
    Still, working there I always bought releases I had been looking forward to…
    Got to push some real good music to a bunch of folks. Got about 11 100-disc
    binders, a lot has made it to my cpu but its a long task i feel like its quicker
    getting the torrent… i dont feel bad if ive purchased the vinyl or disc before.

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    just off of @aw’s stuff recently I will be buying Haiku D’Etat, at least one Ghost album, and am on the fence about the Pretty Things album. I really like it but am not sure how much it will get replayed, so…putting it in the maybe category. Also gotta get some of that Ethiopiques stuff, and I found a trove of Nigerian psych-rock from the early 70s (not Fela style afrobeat stuff) that I want to explore as well.

    I’m not poor anymore but I ain’t rich either so that’s kind of a big list for this early in the month.

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    “i dont feel bad if ive purchased the vinyl or disc before.”

    that’s a key point. if you’ve paid for it once, and they’re a successful artist…hard to see the harm in it

    I like buying CDs. Like owning them. CDs and books, that’s basically it when it comes to stuff. And t-shirts.

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

    check out the heliocentrix.
    I believe Mulatu still plays with them?? or they are tied somehow.
    mystic jazz with a dirty hiphop edge similar to madlib…. Out There is the name
    of their release on stones throw… I think u might dig

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

    The heliocentrics, miss spell sorry.

  9. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    @Mr. C. Lived just S. Of Eugene as a kid. Creswell. But was in e. wa after high school and went down with a friend. Was into Dylan, prince, velvets, but had only heard workingman’s from the dead. No psychedelics and not hippies, not like that. Not till that Saturday night. Took a few months to really sink in. But sink in it absolutely did.

  10. jdub Says:

    As a relatively starving and struggling artist myself I feel the plight of struggling musicians. With that said I haven’t bought a cd in a few years. But I don’t listen to that much music anymore. It is an interesting time in the music industry with so much free music on the web. For a couple of years I just ran through what I have and DLef live shows of bands I like from the web. I’m not an audiophile by any means so iTunes has been where I buy music from.

    It seems like all this access to non mainstream music will help musicians if they tour enough to solidify a fan base. But at the same time there is way more competition for listeners given the ridiculous amount of music out there. I find myself sticking to what I know purely because I am overwhelmed at the choices, both old and new. Of course Phish getting back together has filled my time with way more phish and less other stuff. One good thing that came from the break was I listened to all kinds of new stuff.

  11. Mr.Miner Says:

    I like CDs and sneakers for my “stuff”

  12. Mr.Miner Says:

    But as an artist, I can see how the CD would essentially be dead unless u put that anti pirate software thingy on it

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

    my stuff is cd’s and musical/electronic equipment/instruments

  14. Mr.Miner Says:

    My biggest regret with some of ny CDs is booking them and not keeping their cases…live the cases. I mean by saying I love owning CDs inam basically saying I love owning the packaging, bc I don’t give a rats ass about the actual disc(other than playing it) . Though the occasional cool looking disc is nice 🙂 ramble over

  15. Mr.Miner Says:

    I also like collecting phish tickets 😉

  16. jdub Says:

    Woodworking tools is about it for me, I take out books from the library I’m curious about and buy the books that speak to me.

  17. Mr.Miner Says:

    Fucking iPhone typos..

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

    I bet!

  19. jdub Says:

    I bet you got quite the collection Miner.

  20. jdub Says:

    Stup, what do you play for an instrument, or how many

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

    Drums n Keys, the bulky ones 😉

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

    May i also recommend Madlib’s newest alias:
    The Last Electro-Acoustic Space Jazz & Percussion Ensemble
    “Miles Away” is the album…mmmm im all over this jazz hip hop fusion

  23. jdub Says:

    I’ve let my steam off and am hitting the sack. Sweet dreams all,

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

    Ya must go to bed
    work in the am

  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    @tzaras if you check back…

    always cool to hear from people whose first shows I attended…especially when it is a favorite memory like those Autzen shows. high times indeed and musically sharp

    I lived out near Crow for a little while…mostly lived in town tho

    @stupe – Heliocentrics – got it

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