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”

  1. jdub Says:

    No Utica either HH, jumping back on in Providence after tonight and am about to pull the rip cord and jump into Amherst as well. But I will be sporting a Liquid Time sign tonight so you should get it tomorrow, no expectations though.

  2. SillyWilly Says:


    That makes me physically nauseous.

    That kid is literally going to be scarred for life for what he just did to his family.

    And, WTF?, they removed the kids from their home to social services for a misdemeanor marijuana charge?


  3. HarryHood Says:

    @ Jdub

    You’re the man. I hope you are right! Liquid Time would put a huge smile on my face. And seeing as though the current trend is to play any sign request (even shelved material) the following night after the request is made, someone PLEASE hold up a sign tonight that says GAMEHENGE w/narration! The night before Manchester would work fine to. I’ll be at that show as well. Thanks in advance!

  4. HarryHood Says:

    Do you think the band realizes that Gamehenge is the Holy Grail of the live Phish experience or do they just not play it because they think we’d rather hear something else? I wonder sometimes……. Has anyone ever read an interview where it was discussed?

  5. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Lw- Not really. I probably only met him 3 or 4 times in my life. He left the house at 16 and never really returned for much of anything. He had issues with his conservative father and upbringing. I was only 15 when he passed.

    Interesting you know Edward’s work as well. As a matter of fact, i was just hanging out with him this past saturday. He was taking a photo of my youngest daughter. He’s the man.

  6. Mr.Palmer Says:

    @ LW- really interesting article about Ed and his work from the New Yorker a few years ago. Good read.

  7. Leo Weaver Says:

    Morning guys! Some great discussion going on today. Wish I had time to keep up.

    Butter hit the nail on the head with “you can’t roam the hallway or go to the bathroom these days, you could miss the jam of the show”

    SC2 I needed to go to the bathroom during Mango…never made it until setbreak. I think Marshall noted he didn’t leave the inside of the venue once that night. Only time I left was at setbreak. I haven’t done that in years. Hopefully that’s the rule now. Venues around the country will make less $$ on beer sales.

  8. c0wfunk Says:

    I’ve read somewhere that Mike isn’t that into gamehenge, it’s really more of Trey’s thing? I honestly would just assume never see it live, I’d rather hear other songs.

  9. lastwaltzer Says:


    No kidding. That is really cool, I really like his abstract stuff. I only found out about his work because of a picture he took of patti (she is wearing a witches hat) and I noticed it said Edward Mapplethorpe which hab be going “huh?”. Which led to a google search. I’m going to check that article out now, thanks for the link.

  10. albert walker Says:

    There has always been some gamehendge animosity from the rest of the band I always heard cuz even though Trey is the main songwriter in all the material they basically had no input in the development of those songs.

    From bass lines to piano concepts it was all Trey’s vision.

    I agree playing Trey’s little musical probably doesn’t fit into the all for one full band ethos of 3.0.

    They could just give in for the event of it all though I imagine. Would make some fans happy.

  11. jdub Says:

    @HH, I was joking about the sign but if the band is waitiing for a fan request than I might as well. And I get the feeling that the band probably views the GH saga as a silly antic of their past that doesn’t quite fit in with what they are doing right now. As of recently I would’ve been thrilled to get a GH set but I feel like they should wait until they fully develop their new groove before entering that relic of the past.

    That article @Guyute posted is so disturbing. Educating kids on the dangers of drugs? More like brainwashing that just fucked up a kid and his family.

  12. albert walker Says:

    is there only one airport to hit for the Amherst shows?

    that would be Boston right?

  13. jdub Says:

    @AW, Bradley in Hartford is just as close as Boston.

  14. c0wfunk Says:

    c&p is lovely .. different voyage from most others I’ve heard the reprise comes back in such a smooth way Trey almost is loath to break the spell it sounds like but ready to move on. Nicely done

  15. Mr. Murph Says:

    That is just terrible. The kid is brain washed at school by DARE, which is not really is fault. Then searches his parents room for their stash, steals some heady nugs and brings them to show and tell the teacher. The child literally has possession of the drugs and the parents get in trouble. “Oh hey little Billy, you did the right thing by turning your parents in. Now you can live with your grandma!”

  16. Robear Says:

    Great news team!

    Our obsession has now been proven to be healthy, with empirical evidence!!!!

    A University of San Francisco study shows that people that spend money on ‘experiences’ rather than ‘material items’ are happier and get more satisfaction from said spent money.


    cOw, get through that SC 2 show and help explain those echo / compression sounds to me. Also have some late in the ‘2001’.

    To my ears, I put the Brim 2 and 3 shows really close with SC 2. To me, that’s a good thing, not a take away from SC 2.*

    *all observation based on casual listening of mP3 sbds.

  17. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    turn your parents in for possession?

    that’s a mother fucking paddling!

  18. halcyon Says:


    You can fly to Albany and its a 75-90 minute drive to amherst too.

    Mr P

    Cool article on your Uncle thanks for posting.

  19. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    there’s a good gif of your avatar

  20. c0wfunk Says:

    I did listen to that rob yesterday actually – definitely a compressor but the staccatto thing sounds like a filter of some sort maybe a ring modulator – almost sounds like something you’d hear on old surf guitar deal – guitar pedals are far from my speciality, unless they’re moogerfooger – to get that on a moogerfooger I’d probably use a ring mod + delay and crank the drive quite a bit.. Maybe that helps? Any guitar players have something better? I think it was 5minish into 2001…

    The funk likcs you pointed out just before at 4:20 or so are also new funkitude from red as you mentioned hot licks new tricks

  21. Guyute711 Says:

    turn your parents in for possession?

    that’s a mother fucking paddling!

    I would have to agree with that. Our marijuana laws are just straight up embarrasing. The parents bear some of the responsibility for not hiding their shit.

  22. c0wfunk Says:

    pretty sure trey just said “fluffhen??” at the questionmarked line..

  23. Robear Says:

    my ears have been working well.

    my brain, not so much.

    thx cOw!

  24. Leo Weaver Says:

    @Robear…the same effect as in the Miami Tweezer? Pretty cool sound, whatever it is. More please.

  25. Leo Weaver Says:

    Mike’s bass bombs during Tweeprise are atomic. Can’t really get the full effect on these shitty cpu speakers, gonna have to crank it at home.

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