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

Tags: , ,

248 Responses to “Creativity Cometh”

  1. Chuck D Says:

    my opponent

  2. Guyute711 Says:

    voopa I didn’t realize it was two ties in a row. You should get the kiss your sister consolation prize for that.

  3. Robear Says:

    When are they just gonna’ go ahead and drop ‘Manteca’??

    That ‘Wolfman’s’ vocal scat-out has that ‘crab in my shoe mouth’ feel too.

  4. halcyon Says:

    Admiral Ackbar if you are around

    My condolences on the passing of Irvin Kershner director of The Empire Strikes Back.

  5. SillyWilly Says:

    Just curious from any Wilco fans whether you have heard and seen this yet?

    It’s the multi-media creation from Nels Cline, the paintings of Ed Ruscha, and the poetry of David Breskin.

    looks really cool

  6. Spasm Waiter Says:

    re. Manteca-
    I went to see FELA on Broadway the other day. Fucking amazing production, badass band, and insane dancing. I would recomend it to anyone who is a fan of that Fela and afrobeat music.

    That said, at one point in the play and in his life, he went to London and studied a lot of the great jazz players who really helped shape his sound and broaden his musical knowledge. During this part of the play, the band dropped into a pretty smoking Manteca groove.

    The whole production was powerful shit but Act 1 was not to be beat in energy. Really exceeded my expectations. I sort of despise musicals.

  7. voopa Says:

    Strange, Chuck D. Perhaps it was that phrase combined with the words around it. Or unrelated entirely.

  8. halcyon Says:

    Great to hear Spasm. We are going in December, and taking my sis as her xmas gift. Can’t wait.

    Spiderman had a test run yesterday. Am curious about that play due to the names behind that production. Bono and The Edge did the music, and the director has done many successful Broadway plays. 65 million to make, delayed openings, and the ending isn’t even finished yet!

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    whatup y’all

    really enjoyed a holiday break of zero internets

    back to the grind so just a quick NFL driveby:

    1) Chicago Bears and Jay Cutler – I’m in. That was real. Great decision making by Cutler (i.e. no boneheaded plays) which was all he ever needed. Great, great game for the Bears. I’ve been super hard on them but if they keep playing like that…of course no team has been consistently good yet this season…

    2) Anyone ready to talk about ATL yet?

    3) How’s the Vick Kool-Aid tasting these days? Yummmm yum.

    4) I think we learned that if you don’t stick a fork in the PAtriots early in the season while they’re struggling, eventually they find they find their groove, and then you better watch the fuck out.

    5) The Chargers and Phil Rivers Rivers have dominated two nationally televised games in a row without playing particularly well or getting any of their major passing-game assets back at full strength. Just sayin’.

    6) Jags: no.

    PEace y’all!!! Catch up with you for real before super long I hope but I’m busy right now and on kind of a Phish break listening wise…

  10. voopa Says:

    Right on Mr. C, take it sleazy.

    Yeah, the Bears are who El Dude thought they were, it seems…and ATL sure is no slouch, likewise the Chargers. Vick proved that 60+ yard pass completions don’t mean shit if you can’t get it done in the red zone.

    Orton did pretty well for himself yesterday too.

  11. Chuck D Says:

    note to self: do not pick fight with andre johnson.

  12. Robear Says:

    6:45 mark of today’s ‘Tweezer’ and they elevate to the upper stratosphere. just a purely sublime piece of music. wowsers

  13. Robear Says:

    Dear Phish,

    You’re the greatest


    All fans of Gregory Isaacs

  14. EL Duderino Says:

    I’m as surprised as anyone on how the Bears have looked the last few games, especially last night. No one knew they were gonna play like they did last night, even them IMO.

    Don’t sleep on the Bears…

    Matt Ryan and ATL @ Home is a way to put your kids through college if you went to Vegas often…

  15. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Chuck D

    Yeah, that dude knew exactly how to kick that DB’s ass

  16. Mr. Palmer Says:

    As long as Cutler isn’t getting his head bounced off the turf then the Bears are dangerous.

    About 8 teams that have a legit chance to win it this tear. Should be fun.

  17. EL Duderino Says:

    Phillip Rivers is Drew Brees of ’09…

  18. Robear Says:

    ::loves the Manchester ‘Ghost’::

  19. Chuck D Says:

    there was a level of professionalism in that ass kicking that is not commonly seen. looks like no suspension and, hell, he even got the game ball…

  20. Guyute711 Says:

    Good win for the Bears but that O line still didn’t play great. Players getting tackled in the backfield half a second after the snap is never a good thing. The Green Bay loss helps.

  21. Robear Says:

    NFL should fine and suspend Cortland Finnegan for ‘Excessive Little Man Syndrome’

  22. Guyute711 Says:

    Ha ha, Robear. He totally has little guy syndrome. When that little guy finally lures someone into a fight the result is always the same.

  23. Guyute711 Says:

    “Phillip Rivers is Drew Brees of ’09…”
    I hope this story has the same ending.

  24. Chuck D Says:

    spoiler alert: it doesn’t.

  25. EL Duderino Says:

    The Titans are in complete disarray IMO…

Leave a Reply