The Past, Present and Future

10.31.10 (Dave Lavery)

A fall tour that spoke to fans new and old fused Phish’s musical styles past and present, forming a hybrid sound that seems to have caught everyone’s ear. Throughout their career, Phish’s music has always grown and changed as the band built upon their past while adding new ideas to the mix. Moving from one year to the next, some elements remained while others were replaced as Phish forged a protean path. A year and a half into their comeback, Fall 2010 transformed Phish from a band on the rise into one that had risen again. And coupled with the defining tour of this era came a new sound of Phish – a musical palette founded in their mid-’90s precision and intensity while laced with the modern style and approach of a mature band on the horizon of a golden age.

If we were to draw lines from this era of Phish music to its closest direct influence, I’d think we’d find an overlap between the years of 1993-1995 – an era that many cite as Phish’s finest. And what better time to use as a current reference point than an era when the band jammed with rabid creativity. Living and breathing their craft in totality, Phish rarely made technical mistakes during this era of drill bit focus, and their jams took a directed route into the heart of the matter. Though Phish’s style morphed through varying incarnations within these years, the band expressed a certain urgency behind their music as if they were playing for their lives. Now, fifteen years removed from the first era of prime Phish, the band sounds more like their mid-’90s selves than ever.

10.31.10 (Dave Lavery)

After their transition to arenas in 1996 and the cowfunk revolution of 1997, Phish music diverted from this mid-’90s style for the duration of their career. Moving into the era of groove from 1997-1999, Phish infused slowed-down, collaborative textures and abstract soundscapes into their bag of tricks as their sound transformed altogether. Phish reinvented themselves during the late ’90s, morphing into a larger-than-life groove monster and closing out the final years of the millennium focused on rhythmic and ambient styles of play. Many older fans grew disenchanted with the band’s direction during this period, while many new fans hopped on the train as Phish shows blossomed into outright psychedelic dance events. Exploring varying versions of this groove-based style through their initial hiatus in 2000, the band rode this wave to the second peak of their career between the years of ’97 and ’99.

Now, as Phish steps into the onset of their next peak era, they liken a vintage wine ripened with age. Able to pull from any part of their prolific career at any time, while simultaneously forging a new sonic path to the future, Phish has more in their repertoire than ever before. Their ensemble approach to modern jamming – a lead-less conversation between four seasoned players – suggests a new application to a paradigm of old. The music of Fall Tour sounded like a legitimate hybrid between the intensity and directness old and the fluid, mature communication style of now – a stunning combination when all goes well. And as the road of fall progressed, things went well far more often than not.

10.31.10 (Dave Lavery)

In a significant step forward, this tour was devoid of excessive sloppiness and aimless jamming; each night Phish had a plan and executed it. Whether or not their plan was to your or my liking was a separate issue all together. Most times when they dove into a jam, they swam out successfully with glowing results. Regardless of what song they played, it genuinely felt like the band was in the moment for each night of tour, another parallel to the Phish of old. As whole-band communication became subconscious again, segues slithered seamlessly and jams jumped down your throat like juggernauts. Anchored in their mid-’90s peak while firmly planted in the present, Phish music became the best of both worlds.

They say “If you don’t know your past, you don’t know your future,” but Phish is a band that will never have that problem. Always self-referential Phish has consistently built upon their former work in taking their music to the next stage. In the grand scheme, they have pulled musical techniques and ideas from era to era, and on the small scale, they routinely reprise musical themes within jams and individual shows: two defining elements of Fall Tour as the band jumped into a musical style that dripped with old-school Phishiness. Teases here, reprises there, segues and musical sandwiches all became active parts of every Phish show, not to mention the superb quality of jamming. Boasting a connectedness unseen this era, Phish navigated jams with effortless fluidity and intent while injecting these pieces with new ideas and creating dense musical excursions. The retro-influence on modern Phish is undeniable, and as we move forward, it will be interesting to watch how the past continues to influence the future of the band that everyone seems to dig again.

10.31.10 (Dave Lavery)


Jam of the Day:

Light” 10.26.10 II

Manchester’s outstanding version beautifully builds away from “Light’s” theme and into a series of next-level grooves. Listen for the “Alumni” funk reprise that is clearly referenced in the latter half of the jam. An outstanding cap to another ground-breaking tour for “Light.




10.26.10 Verizon Wireless Arena, Manchester, NH

FLAC Torrent (etree), Mp3 Torrent, Megaupload < Links

10/26 Poster (Taylor)

If Utica represented the people’s choice for the two-set show of tour, Manchester came in a close second. With action from beginning to end, bust-outs galore, and a jam-laced second set, Tuesday night in New Hampshire delivered in full. Second-set must-hear highlights include “Light,” “Makisupa > Night Nurse > Makisupa,” and “Ghost > Mango > Weekapaug.” In a classic maneuver, Phish dropped a top-shelf show right before they headed into their high-key Atlantic City run.

I: After Midnight, The Sloth, Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues, Mellow Mood, Access Me, Llama, All of These Dreams, The Curtain With, Scent of a Mule, A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing, It’s Ice, Walls of the Cave

II: Possum, Light, Mike’s Song > Simple > Makisupa Policeman > Night Nurse*> Makisupa Policeman, The Wedge, Ghost > The Mango Song > Weekapaug Groove** > Llama

E: Show of Life

*debut, Gregory Isaacs, **w/ Can’t You Hear Me Knockin Jam w/ Ghost and Night Nurse lyrical teases

Source: Schoeps mk41> kc5> m222> NT222>Aeta PSP-3> SD 744t (Taper – taylorc)

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458 Responses to “The Past, Present and Future”

  1. Frankie Says:

    11.17.97 Ghost anniversary today! Still as good as I remembered…

    Cool sound they were goin’ for in Fall 1997…

    Although it’s got nothing on Fall 2010 which is like an older wiser 1993…

  2. c0wfunk Says:

    believe my wife is tied down friday with finishing up some school work end of semester grad school stuff. If not we’re likely at Harry Potter! Family time next week. Oh well sometime soon 🙂 Life’s busy eh?

  3. phoammhead Says:

    damn c0w – yes, it’s all good

    BEK and I are going to Harry Potter Saturday at about 4!

    a beer about 6ish works for me tomorrow – you?

    you’ve got mail!

  4. harryhood Says:

    Man its nice here in California.

    Miner, you got room for a BBer to crash for the winter?

  5. Mr.Palmer Says:

    nice pic @ Hood. cute as hell.

  6. phoammhead Says:

    listen to crowd after yem SC2 . . . i was there! 🙂

  7. halcyon Says:

    Peace Jdub. Condolences to you, your family, and friends.

  8. halcyon Says:

    Just want to put a huge thanks and props for the discussion on monday. Took many things said to heart, and copied and pasted many tips and ideas for living in the present.

    Hopefully my world can start to turn around for the better with some of those ideas presented, and hard work on my end.

  9. KWL Says:

    just watched frontline on police shootings post katrina. usually shit like that doesn’t get to me, b/c i know how this country works… but damn am i pissed off, and incredibly saddened, at this moment

    downer post over

    commencing denver 97 ghost! 😮

  10. oldskool Says:

    11.17.97 Set I tends to get all the love but do not sleep on that that second set. There is some sick open improv in that set.

  11. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Johnny B. Goode jam!

  12. halcyon Says:

    Soothing …
    Corrina Corrina from AC

  13. KWL Says:

    thanks halcy… that vid plus mcnichols ghost plus some of the colorado goodness i brought back should calm me down 8)

  14. Frankie Says:

    Oh yeah, the Johnny B. Goode jam… I didn’t remember that, took me by surprise earlier…

    Discovered 11.16.97 Timber Ho>Simple as well on 11.16… at the end of the Timber, they get to that sweet space and the segue into Simple is smooth… then the set gets >Wilson’ed…

    Happens to the best of them… 😉

  15. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Hit the Denver show earlier myself. So good. Lots of nice “anniversary” shows in mid-late Nov. 🙂

  16. Frankie Says:

    I’m trying to do a little virtual Fall ’97 tour… I know a few of those shows but not all of them and it’s nice to discover new jams here and there…

    Been listening to a lot of 2010 so it’s a nice change… A really different Phish back then!

  17. Jtran Says:


    glad you liked set II. That is one of the few? shows that are straight jam fests all the way through, with little break.

    That YEM is the cowfunkiest YEM I’ve heard (I think). All the way into, and through, the vocal jam. Really cool.

  18. Jtran Says:

    Someone please recommend a good fall 98 show for spinning tomorrow (along with 9/22/99).

    Not 10/31, 11/2, 11/7 por favor

  19. Frankie Says:

    Have you heard the 11.9.98 Gin Jtran? If not, I recommend that… A lot! Also, it’s been a while since I heard it but I used to love 11.21.98 Set II. It is Hampton Comes Alive but I remember the Simple being really good in that ’98 ambient way… can’t go wrong with a set that starts with Sabotage either…

  20. Frankie Says:

    Still don’t understand why they chose to release the whole ’98 Hampton Run instead of 1997… doesn’t make sense to me…

  21. KWL Says:

    11-11 or 11-4 for fall 98

  22. Jtran Says:

    I’ve got Hampton Comes Alive, thanks Frankie.

    Will look into 11/9, 11/4 or 11/11

  23. Kevin Says:

    If you haven’t heard 11/27/98, it’s tons of fun.

  24. Jtran Says:

    Love that late 98 ambient sound. Hampton Simple, UIC Bag type thing

  25. Frankie Says:

    I think I have a soundboard .mp3 of the 11.11.98 Halley’s… back when it was still a song worth that name… 😉

    Let me dig it up…

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