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. garretc Says:

    Damn, that was a smooth transition there! 12/17/95 Free > 2001

    It took Fish hitting the snare shot 2 minutes in for me to realize it wasn’t Free anymore…

  2. Mike in Austin Says:

    I’m out. But I do find this conversation interesting though.

  3. garretc Says:

    No way! Right into Hood…

    This show is hot stuff!

  4. sumodie Says:

    GD 6-22-74 Miami FL -sounding very sweet to these ears thus far, wow. Am I so very far behind in my GD live listening

    (finally realized I should stop trying to tag every track and just start spinning these shows, any shows. brilliant! lol )

  5. sumodie Says:

    a better AUD of Trey’s Princeton show has surfaced (mp3 only thus far)

    Trey Anastasio
    Richardson Auditorium
    Princeton, NJ

    Source: AT853Cardiods -> SP P/S -> EdirolR09-HR
    Location: 2nd row balcony

    (lifted from the green board…)

  6. Chuck D Says:

    sumo…13,310 days behind to be exact.

    i’m out… gonna go listen to that 12/17 business gc~ me excited. and swe.

  7. SillyWilly Says:

    Later, Mike!

    We can pick it up again sometime!

    I love this stuff too

  8. Jtran Says:

    Hey everyone

    I found out recently that my cousin wrote a book (easily readable so don’t let length/time scare you away).

    I found it quite interesting, and his commentary on weed/other drugs (there’s a lot of it) is some of the most interesting and open that I’ve read from anyone.

    “A brief novel about a group of pedicab drivers in Denver, Colorado learning about Love, Community, Alternative Transportation, and how to create Meaning in a crazy, crazy world.” is his blurb.

    It’s very stream of consciousness/not for everybody, but I think a lot of you guys here would appreciate his ideas and style.

    Can be downloaded for free on in pdf form.

  9. Jtran Says:

    I meant to have the link in there

  10. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Holy weird! 12/17/95 Mike’s just came on my itunes shuffle.

  11. joechip Says:


    I’d really recommend you continue on by listening to the next night, 6/23/74 Miami. Probably my personal all time favorite GD performance.

  12. joechip Says:


    plus the recordings available are really beautiful…the Jerry Moore AUD is excellent, and the matrix is really nice too if you go for that.

  13. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    if/when they decide to open timber up in a second set, watch out!

  14. garretc Says:


    It’ll be during the New Years run, don’t worry. I asked Mike to save Timber for MSG, and, despite his veneer of disinterest, I could totally sense his inner dedication towards carrying out my request.

    So prepare your face

  15. Mr.Miner Says:

    slow day on the board…must be the leftover tryptifan. Carry on….hope all is well!

  16. gavinsdad Says:

    definitely lookin for an indoor MITMist….7/10/99’s is perfectly placed.

  17. voopa Says:

  18. voopa Says:

    I think people OD on food, drink and family. But yeah, tryptophan is BS.

  19. butter Says:

    what up guys, back on the mainland

    thanks for the fresh piece Miner

    loved AC Wolfmans, need to revisit the Mass Tweez, remember it as a very heady conversation

  20. Lycanthropist Says:



    Hope your Thanksgiving went well.

    All is fine here except I realized I have Brains, Women and Sleep are my problem right there.

  21. BingosBrother Says:

    LCD Soundsystem London Sessions

  22. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Nice trip Butter?

    How was Moma’s?

  23. brother Says:

    Listened to a great YEM today. 12-31-03. It’s not in the conversation of best ofs or anthing but it’s got a really cool part just after the tramps section where trey locks into mikes base line with that real dirty guitar tone used alot during 03-04, then mike goes high up on his base and starts soloing, a la trey. this goes on for a few minutes with trey playing base and mike lead until trey hits a pedal or something, drops the dirty tone and they switch back on a dime to mike playing base and trey taking lead. it’s pretty much a usual shredder from there on with an escpecially good solo from mike and fish. didn’t listen to vocal jam as i never do but just thought i throw some love out for this one.

  24. butter Says:

    awesome trip @Palmer, i want to buy a house in Maui – to rent out and use some

    gotta raise my daughter on the mainland, her school is awesome and her Mom lives here

    Moma’s was superb, got the macadamia nut crusted mahi, stuffed with crab…. completely off the hook, as well as everything else i tried

    not only lives up to the hype, but blows it away

  25. neemor Says:

    Just had sort of a thought for a tee shirt idea, proceeds going to the site:

    Charcoal grey tees (color optional) saying simply:

    Got Mike?

    on the front,

    on the back.

    Any thoughts??
    I can have a bunch of these done for the NYE run lots….

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