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. EL Duderino Says:

    @ guyute711

    While I feel that’s true with PR I wouldn’t say the Chargers are the ’09 Saints IMO

  2. Robear Says:

    as a tall skinny cat that avoids fighting whenever possible, I think Finnegan deserves more licks like the ones he got on Sunday.

  3. EL Duderino Says:

    Man falls to his death yesterday @ Bears game identified:

    Did not know this even happened, you’d think ESPN would have mentioned something

  4. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I saw it mentioned on the Fox postgame yesterday @ el dude.

  5. EL Duderino Says:


    The SLF insists on 60 minutes after all day NFL watching

  6. Selector J Says:

    “The Titans are in complete disarray IMO…”

    You can say that again.

    I don’t know what the worse part was:

    – Rusty Smith throwing for 138 yds (50+ came on the final drive of the game) against the worst pass defense in the NFL.
    – Smith throwing 3 picks to the same guy… who happens to have a broken hand! The guy caught as many passes as Randy Moss did.
    – Chris Johnson getting 5 yards on 7 carries. (7 carries!)
    – Finnegan writing checks to Andre Johnson that his face can’t cash.

    Rumor has it, Jeff Fisher just texted Vince Young…

  7. EL Duderino Says:

    “Jeff Fisher just texted Vince Young…”-selector

    nice one

  8. Robear Says:

    Miner, yer about 1000% correct about the bands overall playing. Just listened to 10/30 ‘Sand>Carini>Caspian’ and that’s just a cash money segment of music. Really feels like a woven theme broken up by some lyrical verses.

    and now ‘Corinna’?

  9. angryjoggerz Says:

    Sorry for not understanding much about this, but can someone tell me if hte Bears are the best team right now or something? Seems like people are acting like they are. If so, go Chicago! (busts out some superbowl shuffle moves – I’m the chocolate swirl)

  10. Guyute711 Says:

    Chargers = #1 offense + #1 Defense. Special teams has finally gotten it together. I am not going to get my hopes up to high as they are always dashed but that is a pretty good recipe for success.

  11. EL Duderino Says:

    @ AJ

    They’re not the best team, no way.
    They’re just playing much better than us fans thought they could this year especially after the NY Giants game.
    They still have one of the worst O-lines in the league

  12. Robear Says:

    re: the NFL

    Some rise….
    some fall…..
    some climb….
    then there are the Lions

  13. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Robear

    i believe that your Lions are on the rise… you have good young leaders in Suh and the QB Stafford IMO.

    The Lions Org is on to something

  14. Mr. Palmer Says:

    TCU is now in the Big East? Makes perfect sense….

  15. EL Duderino Says:

    BCS sucks

  16. sumodie Says:

    @kwl: plenty of old MMW shows showing up on etree….and still no sign of a source for my Northampton MA show

    Was also corrected by someone saying MMW is NOT on hiatus in 2011 -that is their 20th anniversary year and so they’ll still be performing

  17. Robear Says:

    Suh is a beast and the best draft pick in a long time. Stafford will likely have chronic shoulder problems. I don’t have much faith in Schwartz.

    at 2-9, being on the rise isn’t saying much duder.

  18. Chuck D Says:

    re: the dude that fell and died

    1. why are these events becoming more common? people are as equally dumb and drunk as they were 10 years ago… (however, due to the apparent stagnation of the flynn effect, some may argue that we are in fact dumber… but how could we be more drunk?!~)

    2. the dude fell outside the stadium somehow… like over the back rail onto some shed roof. had he fallen in the “stands” portion of the stadium, i’m sure the media would have made a bigger deal of it.

  19. sumodie Says:

    anyone been listening to Mike’s recent shows? Any recommendations?

    I’m guessing the Portland ME show with Fishman is the one to check out if curious

    slow day around here…everyone must be e-shopping as it’s Cyber Monday

  20. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Robear 🙂

    2 year old falls from Co. Box earlier last week at Lakers home game and dies

  21. Guyute711 Says:

    Yeah Cyber Monday, now that’s hot!!

  22. EL Duderino Says:

  23. Robear Says:

    that’s sad duder. hadn’t heard

  24. EL Duderino Says:

    In the article about the dude who died last night @ the Bears game, they mentioned this tragedy that happened last week.

    My initial reaction is… Where were the parents?!?! but sometimes tragic things happen

  25. Dorn76 Says:

    Amherst getting some love. The live experience wasn’t what it was at other venues of Fall Tour, but upon relisten the 2 shows hold up very well. In fact they may be better suited to headphones than any other of tour, more song, setlist based…

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