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. neemor Says:

    “Looking For Owls?”

  2. neemor Says:

    MSG Bird Watching Society

  3. Lycanthropist Says:

    I like “Looking for Owls”

  4. Lycanthropist Says:

    but i keep going back to the idea that we need to be self referential to

    something that is ours and not so much the Phish community at large.

  5. neemor Says:

    Dr Gable line (perhaps too miniscule)

    “Sure is nice to be back in the game”

  6. Admiral Ackbar Says:

    The Black Board:

    IT’S A TRAP!!

  7. neemor Says:

    Well, “” will be in the back.
    I get what you’re saying though, but overthinking that aspect last time led to nixing the whole idea.
    Keep thinking….

  8. Admiral Ackbar Says:


    Cartoon of a phan holding a big, elaborate sign that reads


  9. Lycanthropist Says:

    we could have a face melting into sparkles

  10. Mr.Palmer Says:


  11. Mr.Palmer Says:

    ” Where’s Ned?”

  12. Lycanthropist Says:

    Mr. P with two big winners!

    simple and self-referential

    I like it

  13. Mr.Palmer Says:

    ” Get W A X E D “

  14. Mr.Palmer Says:

    ” Hey Guy”

  15. neemor Says:

    Filling the Blank Space since 2008

  16. Lycanthropist Says:

    Whatever happened to the

    “My Boss Hates Phish”

  17. neemor Says:

    A timeless classic, Lycan

  18. Lycanthropist Says:

    I’d wear that shirt proudly

  19. sumodie Says:

    @joechip: thanks for the rec! I have the 6-23-74 matrix and am converting it for the pod now

  20. Emperor Palpatine Says:

    T-shirt ideas?

  21. Emperor Palpatine Says:

    epic fail

  22. Emperor Palpatine Says:

    here is the NYE t-shirt

    Your daddy says I’m no good
    Your momma says keep away
    Got to tell you truthful girl you can never make me stay
    I got something up and down this coast
    Bet you my last dollar girl I can love your love the most

    Don’t the sunrise look so pretty
    Never such a sight
    Like a rollin’ into New York City
    With the skyline in the morning light
    Roll right through the night
    Roll right through the night
    I said Roll BlackBloard or whatever

  23. Frankie Says:

    11.28.97 Ghost is such a funk fest! Put a big smile on my face today!



  24. garretc Says:

    MSG 2010-11

    Know it

  25. BrandonKayda Says:

    In other news – Little Feat set is great

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