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. ColonelJoy Says:

    @Silly…I’ll be in touch as my move gets closer…thanks…

  2. lastwaltzer Says:

    so did anyone find out wtf happened over at the philzone? By the time I went over there there was only talk of phil and jill stopping in. Would love to have read what they had to say.

  3. willowed Says:

    Can’t wait Jdub!

  4. fat bastard Says:

    lastwaltzer thats what im saying..drop right in FOAM

  5. willowed Says:

    That’s a nice little three song opener!
    Jim Foam Glide
    I like this

  6. lastwaltzer Says:

    @fb its a good call i can hear it

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    Here is a repost from late last night

    It is just a second set so if you only like whole shows sorry – the first set is somewhere in the chaos of my transition from plastic cases to Caselogic folders.

    This is an extremely clear and powerful FOB pull, throbbing with huge bulbous Mike grooves and gleaming along the edges with glistening neon millenial Trey tone – straight from his amp to your dome


    9-11-99 Gorge Ampitheater set 2 only (can’t find disk 1 right now oh well)

    FOB Schoeps Mk4s > vms > dap1 > dat/m > cdr/m

    **** I have the FLACS if anyone wants to host them – the largest file is over 100mb and won’t fit on Mediafire ****

    The two zip files have the second set but not the encore – so if you want the whole thing, grab those zips plus Circus Comes as a separate track.

    Wolfman’s Brother > 16:32
    Sand 18:25
    Meatstick 8:07
    Maze 14:54
    Prince Caspian 10:53
    Harry Hood 18:21
    When The Circus Comes to Town 5:51

    This outstanding, hyper-in-your-face FOB accurately captures the utterly immense sound down front at the Gorge on a good night. Trey and Mike especially are captured amazingly well. Mike sounds huge and all the wild nuances of Trey’s exceedingly, almost ludicrously sophisticated tone from this era are front and center.

    That combination of thundering bass and clear definition in the details of Trey’s amp sound pays off at the peak of show’s obvious highlight, the massive debut performance of Sand. The Trza goes millenial apeshit while Mike stays deep in the pocket…it was a great moment and holds up well I think.

    Wolfman’s starts slow, gets good, starts to get a little weird, backs off, busts a groove, then slowly gets really weird…The Sand itself is amazingly slow in comparison to modern versions but very deep. Meatstick is what it is, I thought it was funny at the time so I still enjoy it. I haven’t relistened to the Maze tonight but I remember it as being hot, and how can you go wrong with a Hood from the Gorge?

    Not a peak show from the year overall, but an amazingly lifelike recording with a couple of truly great moments.

  8. neemor Says:

    Nice jdub.

    As far as I’m concerned, PH can open every show with Axilla I and I’ll be a happy boy.
    Tear the roof off the sucka!

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    The lossless version is well worth hearing. If anyone can host 100mb files, let me know and I’ll upload it. There is absolutely no way Mp3s are capturing the nuances of this pull, period.

  10. pagesidehighschool Says:

    I can’t stop listening to “Obstacle of Course” its a great song, which got me thinking…
    I graduated a few yeas ago from college with a BFA in Sculpture. My BFA class (which was only 7 people) made lots of trips to lots of museums and art galleries. the best part of these trips was when we got to talk to the artists themselves as well as the directors or curators. there was one thing that kept popping up in our conversations. most of the artists, some of which have gained world popularity, said that they had these great bursts of artistic energy when they were younger and created large bodies of work. lots of it was great stuff, which made them lots of money and gained them notoriety in the art community. However lots of it also sucked. Then they all seemed to “hit their stride” in their 40’s. It was almost like they had all worked their entire lives to get to this point in their careers, and everything they made was amazing after this. Their artwork became such a natural thing that everything they touched “turned to gold”.
    I hope that 2010 is the year that Phish hits their stride, again, and creates some new music that just blows our minds all over again.

  11. Mr. Completely Says:

    But the mp3s still sound great.

    this is an audiophile one is all I’m sayin’

  12. Stupendous Says:


  13. lastwaltzer Says:

    this is my favorite part of the song, love the guitar parts trey plays under the vocal harmony

  14. willowed Says:

    This is dark

  15. Kenny Powers Says:

    Mr C

    I sampled this last night – dude that sounds AMAZING!!! How he hell have I not heard that pull before? Last fall I grabbed a torrent of this show from the “10 years ago today” project etree had going, and it was a far inferior source…I guess I assumed if there was a hands-down best source for a given show, that would be the one they’d re-seed.

    I check etree and it is listed in the db, but no seeders.

    I would be highly interested in a FLAC if you ever up it!

    It’s sooo much louder, more in your face, and clear than any Gorge aud I’ve ever heard. Hell, it’s the outdoor equivalent of that Christiana ’98 aud!

  16. Kenny Powers Says:

    But I like it even better than the Christiana one because Mike is so THICK in this one!

  17. lastwaltzer Says:

    oh yeah trey piss in my ear!

  18. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    1994 SOAMs are the shit.

  19. Stupendous Says:

    Split open and Melllllllt Bitches!

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    “Hell, it’s the outdoor equivalent of that Christiana ‘98 aud!”

    yes it is, Kenny. Exactly. It was made by some kids who had cloned Derek’s rig after hearing the Euro ’98 pulls. This is the one they really got right.

    Can you host the FLACs? I can upload it anywhere, my mediafire just won’t accept the file size. I know you host FLACs on your blog right?

    I will keep poking around for set 1. It is solid…nice Tube opener that a kid next to me called…

  21. willowed Says:

    I think I just blacked out for the last 5 minutes.
    No work got done at all!

  22. Kenny Powers Says:

    my Megaupload can host files any size…but is it possible for someone else to upload to my account? kind of clueless with that.

  23. lastwaltzer Says:

    Love this version of “If I Could”, this was one of the first phish songs I really liked (“hoist” was the second recording of theirs purchased, the first being “Slip Stitch and Pass”) being a huge beatles fan at the time I can see why in retrospect I liked this tune so much.

    I love the build up, the way the music swells, then calms with the piano part and builds up with the epic solo at the end. One of the best ballads they’ve done, probably my favorite.

  24. lastwaltzer Says:

    love the tone at the end here.

  25. willowed Says:

    scorching guitar. Like a freakin’ eagle soaring thru the clouds.

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