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, manyย  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

Tags: , ,

248 Responses to “Creativity Cometh”

« Previous12345678910Next »
  1. Foul_Domain Says:

    Nice write-up, Miner.

    I had never heard this Amherst Tweerzer before. A unique approach to this one for sure.

    Minimalist approach works well when the band is locked in. This Tweezer definitely works well IMO. If youre going to take the edge off of a Tweezer, the jam needs to be nice and fluid, which this most definitely is.

    Nice version.

    Morning BB.

  2. Foul_Domain Says:

    Lost a fellow countryman last night in Leslie Nielson (Naked Gun, etc.)

    Had a lot of laughs because of that dude.

    RIP Mr. Nielson!

  3. SillyWilly Says:

    Good morning everyone!

    I remember thinking in the middle of the AC Wolfmans: they should play undermind next.

    Apparently Trey agreed.

    So maybe the bad segue was my fault. And for that, I apologize.

  4. EL Duderino Says:


    Bummer about Leslie Nielson

    Gonna have to do a LN film marathon here soon

  5. phoammhead Says:

    nice write up, Miner – gosh reading your review and listening to Wolfman’s at the same time made me feel like a noob, in a good way . . . kinda! in any case, just got a lot more out of this music that i love! thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. phoammhead Says:

    dammit Silly – it’s all your fault!

    no wait – i was there, so maybe it’s my fault – the noob that i am! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Guyute711 Says:

    Hello Colts fans….. Hello?

  8. sneven Says:

    mornin’ BB.

    Leslie Nielsen was a huge favorite of mine (and my Dad.) If anyone is looking for some other great stuff along the lines of Naked Gun, don’t miss out on the Police Squad! TV series. It was based on the same characters as the Naked Gun movies, and aired for one season (in the early ’80s, a few years before the first movie.) I have the whole thing on DVD, and it was pretty cheap, I think from Amazon.

    And don’t forget Airplane! (and don’t call me Shirley!)

  9. BTB Says:

    Top of the Morning BB

  10. lumpyhead Says:

  11. lumpyhead Says:

    ^ concert of a lifetime right there.

  12. Themanatee Says:

    Police squad rules . Drebin rules. strike ?

  13. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Hey BB-

    I hope this finds everyone well fed and rested.

    Cool write up Miner.

    I really enjoyed this Wolfmans live in AC. I do recall thinking, “where is this going?” and then realizing, “Man, its already there.” Pure bliss for me on on that one. Set 2 was all gravy for me after the 1st set gems they dropped.

  14. SillyWilly Says:


    something tells me no one should be blamed for anything that happened over that amazing weekend.

    still living off that feeling.

    Eventhough my first final is 8 days away….

    I gotta do some major academic rallying.

  15. SillyWilly Says:

    I’ve been listening back to some of the unheralded moments from the summer.

    Deer Creek 1’s second set is better than I remember.

    Here I am listening along and Buffalo Bill! totally forgot that happened.

    silly, Silly.

  16. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Cool video right there.
    I took Roger flats fishing for striped bass this past May. He was pretty cool and caught some nice fish. Told some cool stories but I really didn’t get into music with him. Sorta bummed I didn’t try to get to the Wall at MSG.

  17. Spasm Waiter Says:

    BTW- “Nice Beaver!”
    RIP Leslie.


    This past weekend would have been so much better with some shows. I really miss not having the boys play this weekend. Put me in a funk on Friday and Saturday.

  19. angryjoggerz Says:

    Morning all, hope everyone had a good holiday. Back to the grind. Wishing we could fast forward through the holidays (how about just skip them?) and move on to NYE.

  20. SillyWilly Says:

    Here’s my new band name:

    The Barons at Runnymede.

    if anyone can guess the allusion without reference to an internet search engine, then….

    I give you mad props.

  21. BingosBrother Says:

    ” percussive labyrinth”
    “four-way musical braid”
    “stirred a complex rhythmic cauldron”
    “amidst this bubbling mixture”


  22. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Poll question-
    I you could see one night of NYE run (besides NYE), which would it be? Trying desperately to commit to at least one night. Maybe, if I am lucky I can swing 2.

  23. SillyWilly Says:

    12/30, Spasm

    it just feels to me like the loosest night, least amount of pressure, and least amount of nervous Trey jumping the gun.

    I don’t know, though.

    I feel like you’re going to win no matter what show you can swing.

  24. BingosBrother Says:


  25. SillyWilly Says:

    yeah, Bingos, something crazy HAS to happen on that night, right??

    god, talking about this makes me sick to my stomach that im going to miss it.

    I fear Im going to be grumpy as shit in Chicago on new years eve and Ms. Silly is not going to appreciate that.

    Even worse most of my Chicago friends are Phish kids, so I’ll have to hang out with “regular” people on NYE, and that’s just boring…

    haha. Kidding. regulars are cool, too.

« Previous12345678910Next »

Leave a Reply