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, many  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. Spasm Waiter Says:

    I feel like 1/1 is the skip show and we all know to never skip the “skip show”

    Freaking out a little trying to make my mind up. I have been so lucky with the shows I have hit in the last year.

  2. EL Duderino Says:

    How ’bout them Bears?!?!?

    I’m lookin’ @ you Mr. C 🙂

  3. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Grooving this Band recording i just found streaming @,%20NJ/Archive%20Broadcast.html

    The Band
    August 1, 1973
    Roosevelt Stadium
    Jersey City, NJ

    Back To Memphis
    Lovin’ You Is Better Than Ever
    The Shape I’m In
    The Weight
    Stage Fright
    I Shall Be Released
    Don’t Do It
    Endless Highway
    The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
    Across The Great Divide
    This Wheel’s On Fire
    Life Is A Carnival
    Share Your Love
    Up On Cripple Creek
    Chest Fever
    The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show
    Saved (from July 31, 1973)

  4. Chuck D Says:

    “regulars are cool, too.”

    …that’s what they want you to think!

  5. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Spasm

    Roll the dice…
    It’s a Phish show and we all know that Phish always wins…

  6. Spasm Waiter Says:

    I got an offer from a friend who may be able to get me tix for a corporate box at MSG. I really don’t think I’d be happy way up there. Thoughts?

  7. sumodie Says:

    And to top off this stellar jaunt, Trey got completely impatient and butchered a segue into “Undermind.”

    True, but the one & only Undermind of tour was so delectable that I gave Trey a pass for that particular segue

    Even with the rushed segue, that Wolfman’s > Undermind are inseparable in my mind

  8. SillyWilly Says:

    @Chuck D

    obviously, not swe-ing contributes to their regular-ness.

  9. angryjoggerz Says:

    Spasm: in is in.

  10. KWL Says:

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

    been there, done that. go see phish.

  11. Robear Says:

    lmfao @ silly.

    trying to avoid staring at the walls and being grumpy as shit on NYE myself!

    unless you have a compelling reason, i.e. young children, emergency medical bills, live in the PNW, I suggest catching all 5 NYE run shows.

  12. sumodie Says:

    I’d pick 1/1/11 over 12/30

    As for the skip show, that would be the Woostas 😀

    in is in.

    This. As ever.

  13. SillyWilly Says:

    There’s no way out, KWL. Reality is bleak.

    relationship enmity would ensue.

    familial rancor would result.

    And, finally, financial ruination would undoubtedly occur.

    AC spent all of my Phish capital, as it were.

  14. SillyWilly Says:

    The deepest regret I have about missing NYE is not so much missing the music – which sucks a ginormous, well you know.

    The deepest regret I have is not being connected to the community until June or whenever summer tour kicks off.

    Its like not calling your mom on Mother’s Day.

    Or forgetting your little sister’s birthday.

    Or spending the 4th of July in Canada.

  15. SillyWilly Says:


    I didn’t mean to shut the board down with my whining.

    It is after all just whining.

    I am super pumped for the NYE run.

    Phish is going to take their next big step in this perpetual staircase we refer to as Phish 3.0.

  16. Spasm Waiter Says:

    It is so nice that we have couch tour, flacs, taper420, etree, etc.. so even if you miss it, your not totally missing it. Glass half full sort of thing.

  17. EL Duderino Says:

    exactly Spasm

    It’s a Phish show.
    They”ll be others, I guarantee it

  18. SillyWilly Says:

    Definitely, Spasm.

    and compared to other artists/entertainers, Phish totally takes pity on the unfortunate fans who can’t be there.

  19. KWL Says:

    can’t stop listening to the last few shows of mmw’s tour. those cats were on fire.

  20. Mike in Austin Says:

    @Spasm Waiter – I was in the TV announcer box (where the announcers and cameras are usually) for MSG 2002. It’s left stage side. It’s is the largest, and it easily seats 20 people in it, and a huge group of us got together for the box. I think most of the boxes are for 10 people.

    I had my concerns at first. Like it was going to be “away from the action”

    I had absolutely no reservations after the concert started. The sound was … good. And anybody who’s been to an MSG show knows, the sound is really muddy in there if you’re not straight on.

    We could see the stage great. Everybody had a good seat on the rail.

    Pros … We had catering, booze, great laid back attendants, tons of room to boogie down, and the most relaxed setting for MSG I’ve ever had and could get our smoke on. You could lay down on a couch if you wanted between sets. You could leave the box and go down to any other section if you wanted. It was very casual, and they treated the box seats like “super” seats and sort of all access. MSG folk were very casual about policing anything.

    You’ll have a blast if you get a box. I’ve been everywhere in that arena, and I’d do the boxes again without a hesitation.

  21. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Austin- Thanks for the heads up. I’ll push for it with my buddy. Price might be right as well, as in free or face. Thanks bud.

    That said, does anybody know if it is a no-no to buy a WC ticket?

  22. Robear Says:

    Great write-up topic.

    Amherst was my first 1st set ‘Tweezer’ and it didn’t disappoint. I have a love for the really abstract versions, and a penchant for catching them.

    Check out 12/30/94 for another really unique, angular version.

  23. Guyute711 Says:

    Robear, Your team is making a pretty nice late season push. I am not very happy I am stuck in the same division with you. Looks like we are going to be a first round matchup in the playoffs.

  24. voopa Says:

    I can’t believe I tied two weeks in a row. I should have lost both outright.

  25. voopa Says:

    ^^I had to remove “my o p p o n e n t” to get that to post.

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