Creativity Cometh

10.30.2010 - Atlantic City (Dave Lavery)

As Fall Tour progressed, Phish’s improvisational confidence and polish increased and they infused creativity throughout their catalog. The band worked an intricacy into their playing, a complexity of communication emerged that pushed their music in original directions. Energetically diving into fresh takes on old songs, jams rarely became formulaic as Phish dialed in their musical assault of October. Looking back over the tour, manyΒ  jams fit this billing, as the band forged more than a few novel excursions. Today, we look at two of these unique jams that illustrate the revitalized creativity of the quartet.


“Wolfman’s Brother” – 10.30 I Atlantic City, NJ

Phish magnified “Wolfman’s” throughout the fall, pushing the dynamic funk platform into jazzier conversations. While modern-era “Wolfman’s” had proved consistent from the get-go, rarely did they transcend the song’s syrupy, methodical rhythms. This fall, however, Phish began to improvise more earnestly with their once-cosmic launchpad. Sculpting diverging jams with varying rhythmic palettes in Utica and Amherst, “Wolfman’s” was – all of a sudden – more than eight minutes of predictable grooves. No version exemplified this more than the song’s final jaunt of fall during the first set of October 30 in Atlantic City.

10.29.10 (J.Weber)

On this night, Phish began to vocally improvise directly out of the song’s lyrics, blending their “collaborative scatting” with their instrumental patterns. Working their voices into the music as another layer of improvisation, the band cooperatively bounced the jam’s direction off their vocal layer and vice versa, in a total merging of ideas. When they finally dropped their voices out, they were left in a percussive labyrinth. All four band members offered short phrases in unison, twisting ideas into a four-way musical braid without any straight-forward grooving. Their improvisational style grew much more akin to jazz than a typical “Wolfman’s” as Fishman’s ever-changing beats and alternating downbeats stirred a complex rhythmic cauldron. Mike, in turn, played unique bass lines that stopped and started in concert with Fishman’s unconventional work. Trey threw in short, staccato lines that grew into angular leads without ever dominating the jam. Adding harder-edged effects amidst this bubbling mixture, he blended within the foursome instead of ever stepping out front. Page killed his clavinet in this piece, playing the keyboard with varying techniques throughout the entire jam, lending a crunchiness to the music. These elements combined to form a different type of “Wolfman’s” altogether – not groove-based at all, while still fully immersed in rhythmic conversation. In a piece drenched in originality, Phish went with the moment and came out on top. And to top off this stellar excursion, Trey got completely impatient and butchered a segue into “Undermind.”



“Tweezer” – 10.23 I Amherst, MA

10.23.10 - Amherst (Chris La Jaunie)

Phish took the spotlight off “Tweezer” this fall, dropping two first-setters in four total versions without taking any particularly deep (including one laced with a Zeppelin medley). A jam that once provided the supreme springboard into the universe has largely become a vehicle of groove since the band returned. But when Phish dropped another first-set version in Amherst, a differing experiment developed. Trey and Fishman kick-started this version with slick rhythmic interplay that engaged the band in unique grooving early on. But instead of taking this “Tweezer” on a consistently upwards path, Phish ceased the groove in favor of an ambient bridge into a different jam.

As Phish descended into this second sonic pool, they didn’t play within the grooves, but rather danced around them with a series of minimalist offerings. The band hinted at all-out dance patterns without ever dropping into the pocket, creating a differing musical dynamic. Trey gently wove a sublime melodic layer atop this unique musical plane, as Mike offered subtle rejoinders. The band responded with a melodic, smoother-than-usual feel as they eased their way towards more conventional “Tweezer” territory. But even as Phish re-merged with the song’s theme and moved into a peak section, Mike and Fish continued their complex cooperation, stopping and starting all the way to the the top of the jam. Trey openly growled his thoughts within this final section, sticking right with the band in the climax of this unique version. After the band reached the mountaintop, they employed the old-school “wind-down” ending for the second time of the tour, leaving the fresh piece as a stand-alone gem.



Jam of the Day:

You Enjoy Myself” 10.16.10 II

This nasty whole-band jam punctuated Charleston’s stellar finale that sparked Fall Tour in earnest.




“Download of the Day” will return tomorrow. Please email any show requests that are not in Phish Thoughts Audio Archive to

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248 Responses to “Creativity Cometh”

  1. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    SBD @frankie?

  2. Lycanthropist Says:

    Whooooo wants to come to Chance Fisher on 1-22-2011?

    Possibly our last show…
    A year to date on when ChefB came down and saw us.
    Jud’s Bday…
    Boom Boom Room…

    whats not to love there?


  3. BrandonKayda Says:

    If only I could, Lycan… πŸ˜€

    Except the show last year was on 1-21

  4. DaNcInG fOoL Says:


  5. Lycanthropist Says:


    well its the Jud Bday show… always a big show in any case.

    21st or 22nd…

    damn getting called out about my own band…

  6. garretc Says:

    Wait, Jud has a variable birthday? How does that work out?

  7. BrandonKayda Says:

    Sorry Lycan. I was just kidding. My bad.

  8. Lycanthropist Says:


    in fact he does

    They don’t know if he was born at 11:59 PM on Jan 21 or 12:01 on Jan 22.


    you know its all good. πŸ˜‰

  9. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Evening fellas- Been on a Phish listening hiatus since running back through fall tour. Have been ingesting the new Road Trips from ’69 and digging into some live MMW. I love their records (especially End Of the World Party), have seen them live several times, and have always had my jaw dropped. Sadly, I’m pretty unfamiliar with their live catalog…

    Lycan or others- Suggestions on shows I should immediately download? Thanks!

    Dancing Fool- re: 11/28/97- the sbd of that whole show leaked and has been in circulation for some time. I bet it is in Miner’s archive, but if not I’ll dig up a link for ya. Smoking hot show.

  10. voopa Says:

    Listening to 21/31/03 as recommended a few pages back.


    *”Face on the Floor”, new BB acronym rec.

  11. garretc Says:


    Woah! Crazy!

    Also crazy: you know how you can hit tab to cycle through text spaces on the computer? Like hitting tab while typing in the comment box takes you to the address bar? Well I just discovered that, at least on a mac, shift + tab cycles the other way! So convenient! Sorry if that’s common knowledge…

    Haha, and if you haven’t tried it on your mac yet: control + option + command + 8

    The same thing again undoes it…

  12. vegas wolfmans Says:

    ::ends short-lived Phish listening hiatus to spin 11/28/97::

    FOTF via the FMS?

  13. Mr.Miner Says:

    Interesting re:12.31.03 yem. Looked at that set 3 and saw a Reba and some other stuff I just don’t remember. I usually remember something significant, and what I took from that show was stash and some messy fun in set 1. Beyond ironman> Jim, I don’t really recall that set. Wasnt too wasted or anything, just always assumed it was forgettable. Gotta recheck it out. Fotf is pretty f’n hilar.

    Fwiw, please run any serious t shirt designs by me

  14. garretc Says:


    But funny t shirt designs are oversight free?


  15. Admiral Ackbar Says:


    phishthoughts 2010

  16. garretc Says:


    I laughed, so now it doesn’t need Miner’s permission, and, as such, can be factually accurate

  17. sumodie Says:

    @vwolfmans: don’t think you could go wrong grabbing any of the older MMW shows being re-seeded on etree in the last 1-2 weeks

    Also, folks have been raving about the last several shows of their most recent tour that just ended

  18. voopa Says:

    Girl Talk’s “All Day” is some crazy shit.

  19. vegas wolfmans Says:

    sumo- Thanks. I’ve been torrenting my ass off- just wasn’t sure if there were any ‘holy grail’ 11/17/97, 5/8/77 consensus-must-have shows that were out there.

  20. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    @vegas, yep never mind i have that show

  21. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i hate that new girl talk album

  22. sumodie Says:

    @vwolf: the latest MMW etree show looks pretty hot with both trey & cyro baptista, 12-1-2000 Albany

    Also, in the notes of that torrent, someone mentions that all the shows between 12-1-2000 and 12-16-2000 are excellent, especially 12-16 with Mark Ribot

    I’m assuming he’ll be re-seeding some of these soon

    (as for torrenting, I’m almost in need of another 2TB HD -did you catch that, Santa?)

  23. Lumpyhead Says:

    Ackbar; cant new avatar day be an exception for you?

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