The Magic of Ten Minutes

10.12.10 - Broomfield (S. Short)

Once upon a time, Phish jams routinely stretched past the fifteen minute mark, exploring funk textures and various other musical realms before coming to rest. Beginning in 1994 with “Bowies” and “Tweezers,” but more earnestly developing during the groove era of 1997-2000, the long jam became a fixture at Phish shows. Four-song sets, dance marathons, loose ambient experiments, meandering psychedelia; all of these were parts and parcels of bygone eras in Phish history. These days, while the band still drops jams that push fifteen minutes every now and again, highlights of fall shows have most often been their more compact ten to twelve minute excursions. A growing trend of musical density that was born last fall is now coming to fruition with directed, collaborative playing that continues to hit the sweet spot.

One of the most interesting parts of these compact jaunts is how much longer they feel in concert. Bombarding the audience with layers of musical ideas, these living pieces of improvisation create a time warp, stretching a ten-minute period to something that feels much longer. With seemingly effortless collaboration, and without over-thinking, the band is diving into their pieces with urgency, making good things happen right away. This is not to say Phish is being impatient – they are not – they have honed their improvisational conversations and are simply taking less time into the meat of jams. Playing with a precision and tightness unseen since in eras, the newest Phish music has a distinctly retro vibe while simultaneously pushing themselves into the future.

Fall 2010

There have only been two (non-“YEM”) jams that have reached fifteen minutes thus far – Broomfield’s “Ghost” and Charleston’s “Crosseyed and Painless” – and the latter only got there with two lyrical reprises and three segments of improv. More than ever, with current Phish, time is nothing and music is everything. The most intense and impressive jams of the last five shows have landed smack dab in the nine to twelve minute range, something that is always a surprise upon download. There is no need to list all of the highlights that fit this framework, for they are plentiful and everyone has the tapes. But the point is that, now, Phish can be both exploratory and concise in one jam. Some obvious examples are Broomfield’s “Twist,” “Split,” and “Carini,” and Charleston’s “Disease,” “Sand,” and “Tweezer.” The band has made powerful musical statements in far shorter times, increasing the impact of each individual jam on the psyche.

8.5.10 (W. Rogell)

Trust me, I would still love to see the band drop twenty minute jams a la The Greek’s “Light” or Alpine’s “Disease > What’s the Use?” and I’m sure that they will; it just doesn’t matter any more. Phish can just as easily play outstanding shows laced with ten to twelve minute jams a la Broomfield’s second and third nights. With the intensity of their communication better than it has been since their return, these dense pieces are only becoming more interesting. With five down and nine to go, it will be interesting to track to watch the course Phish jams over the second two-thirds of tour and to see if this trend continues.


Notes From the Road: As the scene shifts from South to North tonight, so does the mode of transport from plane to car. Tonight’s show in Augusta, Maine is followed by an all-night cannonball run to Utica, hence, I’m not sure when my review will be posted.

Recent Halloween Rumors:

Frank Zappa – “We’re Only In It For the Money

King Crimson – “Lark’s Tongue In Aspic(w/ Robert Fripp on second guitar)

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1,154 Responses to “The Magic of Ten Minutes”

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  1. oneshowatatime Says:

    wow, right on the money with this post Miner! i know we’ve all been talking about it for some time now, but this style of play is really defining this new era and i gotta say i feel SO fortunate to be a part of it. glad you’re having fun–you’re right about that charleston tweezer, the jam is just dripping with ITness all over. loving it!

  2. oneshowatatime Says:

    after attending all 3 nights at the greek, even being home with all the homies for the broomfield shows didn’t carry the same weight for me. i think i was getting a little jaded, expectations were astronomically high after that whole leg 2 of summer tour and the vibe in a new, smaller venue on a sun-tuesday run was just totally different (way more mellow).

    i was in shocked at your review of broomfield 3 at first, but the more i listen back on that run, i realize i’m listening mostly to night 3 after all. sometimes you just have to take a step back and take a deep breath and remember what IT’s all about.

    thanks for keeping things positive and embracing the progression of phish 3.0–it wouldn’t be the same without Phish Thoughts!

  3. oneshowatatime Says:

    oh, and the broomfield tweezer ain’t too shabby either… 🙂

    around the 9-9:30 mark i remember thinking how much the jam sounded like a Mike’s jam peak and then i loved the way mike started laying down that dominating baseline around 10:00 with CK5 latching on and adding his own little improv touch on the jam.

    that was my sister’s 2nd show (RR3 being her first) and she said she’s never seen a band where the light man was so locked-in with the band… yep! 🙂

  4. oneshowatatime Says:

    aaaaand i continue this conversation with myself… time for bed 🙂

  5. Myers Says:

    Utica looms ! – the utica natural carbonation beer drinking song > chalkdust

  6. Tsac77 Says:

    One of my favorites, Miner, and I read ’em all.

    The Fripp rumor is also interesting. Seem to match the clues we have so far.

  7. Matso Says:

    In light of Trey’s recent comments about the Halloween album changing the way he’s playing, I would a little bit surprised to hear either the Zappa or the King Crimson. Trey has incorporated elements of both Zappa and Fripp’s playing for a long time.

    Personally, I’m hoping for something more unexpected, whether it be contemporary or non-rock.

  8. garretc Says:

    I know I asked this sometime in the last couple days, but I forget tocheck if anyone answered, and I don’t remember when I asked Yo check back, so I’ll ask again:

    With all the talk of Hendrix, what parts would Page be playing? There’s mo keys on any of the Hendrix albums are there? I know there’s at least no pianist in the Experience…

  9. Foul_Domain Says:

    Trey is playing on a whole new level for 3.0 on this ‘C&P’

    Straight up clean playing, never bailing out. You can hear the confidence.

    Ive been listening to a lot of early 90’s Phish lately. Back then it sounded like Trey put no limitations on his playing – he would try, and almost always pull-off, anything he wanted to do on the guitar.

    I can hear that sound again and its so sweet!

    Morning BB

  10. PB Says:

    3 hour drive to hotel in Mass after Augusta, followed by the rest of the journey tomorrow to Utica. Why the all night drive? Break that shit up miner.

  11. Gavinsdad Says:

    To me it sounds lime they are having unfettered fun. They were turning on a dime summer leg one. Now I think the rust is completely off. I’m actually frightened about how massive they can become.

  12. HarryHood Says:

    “…..and everyone has the tapes”

    ^ What the hell is a tape? 😉

  13. c0wfunk Says:

    Nice topic –

    “One of the most interesting parts of these compact jaunts is how much longer they feel in concert. Bombarding the audience with layers of musical ideas, these living pieces of improvisation create a time warp, stretching a ten-minute period to something that feels much longer. ”


    “they have honed their improvisational conversations and are simply taking less time into the meat of jams”

    This conversation’s been going on for so long now it’s almost like they pick it up right where they left off last time, Piper is one spot where they really just dive in now and are suddenly way into the jamspace, 2-3 minutes into the tune, where it once would take 5-8 minutes of piper to get to that same space.

    Sand at Telluride was an eternally timeless moment for me, I could have sworn that thing went on for 20 minutes and was fairly shocked to find how much shorter .. Still have yet to hear the one from Saturday but I like what I’m reading about it.

    I’ve been outspoken on this already but I LOVE the way Sand is developing in 3.0. Back in the day I always felt they were wasting a huge opportunity with Sand and those 25 minute excursions that basically were like musically running in place while someone sets your hair on fire. In telluride they went infinitely furthur in half the time while still staying somewhere near the tune.

    Let’s do the time warp again!

  14. joechip Says:

    I’m a fan of Robert Fripp and King Crimson and I read his diary online at regularly (a very interesting read). Being familiar with his current thoughts regarding playing live, I can say with confidence that there is zero chance that he will be playing with Phish on Halloween. He has all but retired from performing. It might be Lark’s Tongues, but it won’t be with Fripp.

    It’s funny, because one of my dream scenarios would be Discipline with Adrian Belew sitting in, but that’s unlikely too…but not quite as ludicrous as the idea of Fripp sitting in with Phish to play Lark’s Tongues in Aspic. No offense meant, but that’s just crazy talk.

  15. c0wfunk Says:

    @gdad yeah man – unfettered fun is exactly what I hear on the tapes too. Contagious enthusiasm is one of Trey’s overpowering traits when he’s at his best.

    was it you yesterday talking about how they’ve gotten past the being on stage part and are now in the “oh yeah we own this universe” stage of their rediscovery? It went by fast and I meant to comment so: that was right on… 🙂

  16. kenny powers Says:

    “One of the most interesting parts of these compact jaunts is how much longer they feel in concert”

    very true

  17. HarryHood Says:

    I realized something on the way home last night that made me kind of ashamed of myself…… Rarely do I get to hit up more than a handful of shows each tour and this one is no exception. With only Utica and Manchester on my radar, I find myself almost hoping that the show before is weak…… I’ve been excited all tour so far at the level of playing that we are seeing and I can’t download the shows and get them into my ears fast enough. Last night though, I kept thinking about how I hope they get some of the breathers out of the way in Agusta to avoid the possibility of hearing them in Utica. Obviously, we all have our favorites, mine being Hood, Mike’s, Bowie, etc, and I actually caught myself thinking that if they play the first Hood of tour in Agusta, I’m going to be really pissed. Am I alone here? It really bothers me that I feel this way, because obviously I want everyone to enjoy whatever shows they go to.

  18. kenny powers Says:


    i think it’s natural to feel that way when you can only see a show or two. but i know that some of the shows i’ve had the most fun at were shows that the greater community looked down on as subpar or worse.

    has a lot to do w/ your headspace at the time. keep your expectations low or nonexistent.

  19. kenny powers Says:

    on the same token, i’ve been at shows that were great shows and highly revered by phans, but i have somewhat negative memories of because of my headspace or health, etc at the time.

    just live the moment brah!

  20. albert walker Says:

    Back in the day Trey played cerebral jazz style solos were every note was a consistent flow of strung together thoughts. Solos were direct and purposeful.

    In 97 and later they began the more noodly let’s go find something style of jamming kinda like the GD

    Seems like Trey is trying to refind that more focused melodic line style of soloing cutting back on the noodly exploration much like 93 to 94.

    The set to show the best short jamming is brim 3
    My fav set of tour


    Great creative jamming and a shredded out bowie

    Have a good one
    Laterz kids

  21. c0wfunk Says:

    pretty sure you’re not alone hood. Out of curiosity how many shows have you seen? (Really not trying to be hettier than thou) I’ve noticed that the more shows I’ve seen, the less I care about that because there are only a few tunes that I haven’t heard at this point adn all the big ones you’ve mentioned – hood mikes bowie – I’ve lost count of at this point.

    I remember at merriweather when stash started up hearing a kid behind me say “I’ve seen 20 shows and 8 stashs” or something like that in a disappointed manner and I was thinking “eventually you’ll have seen 60 shows and lost count of the number of Stashs and it just won’t matter anymore”

  22. Luther T. Justice Says:

    “Seems like Trey is trying to refind that more focused melodic line style of soloing cutting back on the noodly exploration much like 93 to 94.”

    ^I agree AW. I for one am excited to get back to that style. Seeing the Dead & Phish during that period, you were seeing two different approaches to getting to IT. I can’t wait to see this develop more.

  23. ThePigSong Says:

    Anyone looking for 10/29 or 10/30? I’ve got two each section 202 for sale. Looks like a trade for the MSG run is hopeless.

  24. Jose Says:

    Their jams have come too predictable IMO. Shows are judged on setlist flow over content. The experiance has grown stale without experimintation. Will the band ever drive the car again? Or will they forever be locked in cruise control?

  25. c0wfunk Says:

    aw & luther have the crux of it .. instead of getting lost and finding it it’s more about driving it.

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