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)

Tags: , ,

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

  1. neemor Says:

    It’s funny that the biggest “knock” on Phish by the uniniriated, their notoriously long jams, are gone now for the most part.
    Now it’s back to making fun of the fans…
    Although we’ve grown up and matured….
    So….what now?

  2. lastwaltzer Says:


    any cuts in particular remind you of Frisell? I don’t really hear him in Trey’s playing, not saying it isnt there, just curious. Or are you referring strictly to tone?

  3. HarryHood Says:

    Grown up? Yes. Matured? ehhhh…..

  4. lastwaltzer Says:

    “It’s funny that the biggest “knock” on Phish by the uniniriated, their notoriously long jams, are gone now for the most part.
    Now it’s back to making fun of the fans…”neemor

    I could be wrong but I think its actually going to lead to more fans and people who a problem “getting” phish before won’t this time around.

  5. Lycanthropist Says:

    Great great write up Miner!

    I couldn’t agree more.

    My crew and I kept talking about this at length on our way back to MS.

    About just HOW MUCH ground they covered in just two nights. And each night just delivering punch after punch of concise brilliance.

    Gone are the 5 mins of drone it takes to get to the big peaks.

    SC night 1 set 1 I think gets overlooked a little I think for this very reason.

    By the third song we had already been shredded to pieces by the Possum and the Gin. But damn it happened so fast, almost before we even ready.;)

    Night 2’s entire show represents the magic and pay-off of such focused and intentful jamming.

    Sand kills, Bowie kills, C&P never felt 16 min, but thats prob cause they cleverly reprised the vocals at key moments in the jam.

    They are on full throttle and they are just getting started this tour.

    The NE is going to be a barren wasteland after Phish is done with it.

  6. c0wfunk Says:

    “can we attribute this to the Exile influence perhaps?”

    I do 🙂

  7. c0wfunk Says:

    “C&P never felt 16 min”

    so the longest jam felt shorter and the shorter jams feel long. Curiouser and curiouser. Time warp indeed.

  8. angryjoggerz Says:

    Timewarp indeed.

    Rocky Horror Picture Show OST for Halloween, mark it.


  9. Jtran Says:

    Excellent early morning discussion already

    I like how Miner dropped the hint yesterday at some point about today’s write-up.

  10. lumpyhead Says:


    you have a good weekend? wish I could have come to the beach house. I did meet some great people though.

  11. angryjoggerz Says:

    Actually, a soundtrack would be interesting. I would love to hear them take on Saturday Night Fever in NJ, so appropriate.

  12. c0wfunk Says:

    I’m sure ya’ll will shudder in horror but SCI did the timewarp on hulaween a few years back 😉

  13. angryjoggerz Says:

    hulaween? jesus.

  14. c0wfunk Says:

    jtran I caught that reading back too miner totally teased the 10 min jam discussion.

  15. c0wfunk Says:

    ‘hulaween? jesus.’


  16. sumodie Says:

    Passion, creativity, fluidity, intensity, improv, energy & fun

    That’s what I’m looking for tonight

    Song titles irrelevant

    Road trip!

  17. Jtran Says:

    One of our customers here at work today:

    Jake’s MediGro Supply

    Good work Jake

  18. Jtran Says:

    I really feel like I should make it to ME tonight, what time is the show? 8?

  19. HarryHood Says:

    @ Jtran

    That’s a buiness card you want to hang on to.

  20. lastwaltzer Says:


    my weekend was good but had nothing to do with beach houses, I’m in chicago.

  21. lumpyhead Says:

    say, in the SC Antelope Trey says

    “are there any naked dudes out there? I hope there aren’t any naked dudes..” or something like that…

    does anybody know to what he’s referring?

  22. lumpyhead Says:

    oh, I thought you went to chucktown.

  23. BeantownBoy Says:

    Just getting into Charleston Night 2 and I’m being blown away song after song. The beginning of Sand is so, so tight.

    @ Sumodie

    Safe travels as you jump on tour.

  24. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    the Charlottesville Antelope from last year.

  25. c0wfunk Says:

    @lumpyhead charlottesville fall 09 naked dude on stage during antelope I’m guessing being in the south brought it back for trey

Leave a Reply