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:

    I can if you send me the login info. IF you want to do that – tyler23rh at comcast dot net.

    I’ll be busy for a cpl hours here tho

  2. lastwaltzer Says:

    although i think i had this version confused with antoher

  3. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    this is one of the better If I Coulds I recall hearing (except for maybe the ones with Gordon Stone on pedal steel). Trey has great sustain going on in that solo.

  4. willowed Says:

    His fingers are so quick and nimble

  5. mrfergie Says:

    Morning all – willowed, jdub, and neemor – I may just run into you guys Saturday night I’ll keep you posted

  6. Kenny Powers Says:

    well shit Mr. C, if there’s any place on the interweb where i can trust peeps, it’s here so you’ll have mail soon.

    And that’s wild about the kids cloning the Christiana rig…I didn’t realize how accurate my statement really was! Why they didn’t all quit their jobs and recreate that rig for every show after that is beyond me. The universe lost out on that one.

  7. Stupendous Says:

    when did PYITE debut?

  8. lastwaltzer Says:

    I think its the ross show that has gordon on if i could and lama shit is hot.

  9. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    do you guys think Mike @ Toad’s will sell out? There’s a small chance of me and a friend heading down last minute. but if there’s no tix…

  10. willowed Says:

    @ sup

    After the outsiders took on the socials (or the soche as they were called)

    Anyone, anyone….that’s comedy

  11. lastwaltzer Says:

    One hell of an opening frame guys. I know a lot of you are 97-98 fans but I love the explosive energy on these early shows, i’ve been doing a lot of june 94 lately.

  12. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:


    August 1989

  13. lastwaltzer Says:

    page is throwing some nice fills in here

  14. cal Says:

    Morning, all!

    It was the Hampton no spoilers that brought me to this site in the first place; I think the phish.net linked to it? Sitting in my living room with headphones on…”Fluffhead” started and I totally burst into sobs. You sure as hell could feel the energy of the room right through the mp3.

    For a geek like me, being able to listen to these shows in this way was not only a GENIUS idea on Miner’s part but seriously felt like the sort of thing only Phish does…crafting something transcendent for so many people, but that feels like a unique personal gift.

    That was before I had any inkling of the amazing community that Phishthoughts was becoming. It’s all very spiritually fulfilling, just contemplating all that’s happened in the past year, above and beyond the music itself–which would have been enough.

    Thanks, everybody.

  15. Stupendous Says:

    oh wow i thought it mightve been a newer tune around 93…

  16. willowed Says:

    They pack that place TIII
    I am sure a lot of people will not buy tickets pre show. You will get in if you get there early 7:00 or so. If you get there early, grab 2 tix and you and I can go out to some local bars or just stay at Toad’s.

  17. lastwaltzer Says:

    funny hearing trey sing the “love to take a bath” line. I love how he gets all nervous when he sings that line now a days, like he was unsure everyone was gonna sing with him he is almost hesitant.

  18. neemor Says:

    Be there!
    I may have a ticket for you, keep me posted.

  19. willowed Says:

    One more thing TIII You will be able to purchase tickets up until show time. If you decide at 5:00 p.m. you want to go, just buy the tickets on toadsplace.com and print them up at home.

  20. Stupendous Says:


  21. neemor Says:

    10.31.98 Sneakin Sally is off the chain.

    That is all.

  22. neemor Says:

    I bought my tix at FYE.

    I may have an extra come showtime, guys…let me know your intentions.
    It’s ufking Mike Gordon…..

  23. lastwaltzer Says:

    holy shit does trey rip the jewish mule

  24. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    love the sets where you get both SOAMs

  25. willowed Says:

    If you need a place to crash on Sturday night, just let me know. My kids will most likely wake you up at 6:30 a.m. with a few pile drivers to the head and stomach, but it beats driving back to MA.

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