Casualties Of This Era

8.5.10 (Wendy Rogell)

Though Phish’s modern era has brought us new jam vehicles in “Light” and “Number Line,” it has also seen several fade away. Aside from the well-documented castration of “Mike’s Song,” three other crowd-favorites have completely lost their sense of adventure—”Halley’s Comet,” “Gumbo” and “Free.” The former two have returned to their pre-1997 form, while the latter has inexplicably shrunk into a Phish single. Because of its history, I think “Free” still has a chance to bust out, but, it feels like “Halley’s and “Gumbo” jams may be gone forever.

8.10.10 (G. Lucas)

Both “Halley’s Comet” and “Gumbo” improvisational jaunts were byproducts of the late-’90s era of groove and band’s post-hiatus “we’ll jam anything” policy. But when comparing current versions of these songs to the first decade plus of their lives, they look exactly the same. “Halley’s” was traditionally a four-minute launchpad into larger musical happenings, and “Gumbo,” until 1997, featured the same ragtime ending that closes the piece today. Thus, it seems that their improvisational gravestone will read “1997 – 2004.” But what a run it was. Both songs blossomed with The Cowfunk Revolution of ’97 and hosted stellar adventures for six years before appearing in 2009 as their retro selves. The only out-of-the-ordinary version of either song came in June ’09, at the anti-climactic Fox show, when Phish opened the second set with an extended, but straight-forward, “Halley’s Comet.”

“Free” is another case all together. There is really no logical explanation for its compact modern shape. Moving from Mike’s bass solo right into the closing chords of the former jam, the band has put nothing whatsoever into this song since they have come back. During the song’s early years of ’95 and ’96, Page took charge of its soupy psychedelia with strong piano leads while Trey often jumped to percussion. Though some versions of the song grew significant (see 6.26.95 as a prime example), more often than not, the jam didn’t reach highlight-reel territory. Nonetheless, there was always a jam.

10.12.10 - Broomfield (B.Perry)

And then in 1997, the year “Halley’s” and “Gumbo” sprang to life, the same rhythmic shift turned “Free” into a vehicle for thunderous funk throwdowns. Between the years of ’97 and ’04, the beginning of “Free” sparked wide-eyed anticipation from the audience as they waiting for Mike’s bass solo to dissolve into another world. Trey would swoop in with an idea and the band would take off amidst a thick joyride that always pumped a show full of energy. But since 2009, there has been no semblance of a jam. Refusing to let the song breathe at all, Trey has smothered the piece for no apparent reason. Sometimes used tactfully as a landing pad for deeper exploration, “Free’s” place in the setlist has also been obtrusive in this era, often appearing in the second set and breaking up the flow as a stand-alone rock song. On New Year’s Eve, Trey decided to vamp over the funk for approximately 12 seconds before taking a left turn back into the chorus. But just for that moment, it was clear that Phish could blow the roof off with the song at any minute, and the I believe that the version we’ve been waiting for is coming this year.

Hopefully I’m wrong about “Halley’s” and “Gumbo,” and 2011 will bring the return of all three of these former show stoppers, but if we get one out of three, it will be a success.


Jam of the Day:

Tube” 9.15.00 II

Though I doubt the band will ever reach the length of this Hershey version again, while we are on the topic of songs that could use some loving, how ’bout a longer “Tube?”




5.3.1991 Somerville Theatre, Somerville, Massachusetts SBD

Mp3 Torrent, Megaupload < Links

Sticking with the old-school theme, here is another soundboard from back in the day.

I: Bouncing Around the Room, Foam, Chalk Dust Torture, TMWSIY > Avenu Malkenu > TMWSIY, The Divided Sky, Fee, Paul and Silas, Tweezer, The Lizards, Sweet Adeline

II: AC/DC Bag, The Curtain > Sloth, Landlady, Runaway Jim, Tela, You Enjoy Myself, Harpua, Tweezer Reprise

E: Take the ‘A’ Train > BBFCFM

Source: SBD

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749 Responses to “Casualties Of This Era”

  1. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Mike’s year > Mike’s’s year

  2. KWL Says:

    ok, maybe two things: those p&f shows are mind blowing good

  3. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    that 7.29.3 one was super slow last night. I had to bail on it at about 85% but will try to finish up tonight. if I get it finished, I’ll seed it.

  4. Mike in Austin Says:

    Brother made the argument for why I watch NCAA. I don’t mind sloppy play at all. It rewards those that aren’t. While there are a lot of kids who may go onto NBA careers, there’s a lot of kids out there doing it for the glory. Much more true.

    Why should I give a crap about Clevaland’s losing streak? Or Dallas’ winning streak. Or where LBJ plays? It’s Coke vs. Pepsi and you’re expected to pay for it?

    When a kid gets injured in NCAA, it might be the end of their future career and they have so much more on the line.

    I’ll watch Women’s NCAA before NBA any day.

  5. KWL Says:

    thanks t3… the only version i’m finding at the moment says 0 seeders, so hopefully a seeder jumps back on at some point

  6. Chuck sweD Says:

    “I don’t mind sloppy play at all. It rewards those that aren’t.”

    why dont you just watch the lowest quality basketball you can find then… my middle school team was pretty bad.

    “I’ll watch Women’s NCAA before NBA any day.”

    bWAAHAhahahahaa!#@$@#1. not me.

  7. brother Says:

    I used to feel that way to Mike. But now I just wanna watch good quality basketball. When i watch college team after college team unable to make a simple entry pass into the post it starts to get frustrating. My team is one of those teams now, and back in the day (90s) they were always in the mix, now they aren’t so that is one reason i have soured. But overall it is just a frustrating brand of basketball. I get the whole NBA players not always in it for the right reason but you can’t deny they have a great product right now.

  8. voopa Says:

    Happy birthday plord! 42 has been very good to me so far. 4 months of it left.

  9. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    yeah, there was one seeder last night and I had it running for about 10 hours with no completion. It might’ve finished during the day had I not needed to bring my laptop with me today. I love that show, so I’m anxious to hear the remaster, hopefully sooner rather than later!

  10. kayatosh Says:

    the other highlight for me: 4.15.99 shakedown street — $$$.

  11. brother Says:

    oh and “I’ll Watch Women’s NCAA…” surely you can’t be serious? (insert Airplane joke here)

  12. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    yeah, but those Thuggins teams were a different animal than what you have now. It’s tough to match the days when the coffers were open and attending class was considered an optional activity (I’m just giving you shit, of course). you want good offensive flow and solid entry passes? watch ND run the burn offense. five seniors running the most boring, deliberate, yet effective offense you’ll ever fall asleep to 😉

  13. EL Duderino Says:

    the lap-steel solo during Alligator is tits

  14. sneven Says:

    Hey BB! Don’t know if any of you (besides BTB) have ever been to Cedar Point, but this is their new ride for 2011:

    301 feet is HIGH.

  15. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Through night 2, set 1, I count no less than eight jam segments of at least $$$ quality (Viola Lee, UJB, ->Rider, Shakedown, NFA, H>S>F, WYWH, Stella), plus the Sugaree, which I rate as at least $$$$, if not $$$$$.

    Really astounding stuff.

  16. brother Says:

    Ha! Thuggins! I love it! Yeah i noticed ND’s offense as they completely torched us in their crib earlier this year. They are a nice team and could make a serious run in March. BTW, i’d take back Huggs, the criminals and thugs in a heartbeat…..

  17. phoammhead Says:

    now i’ve got some flacs downloaded via torrent

    before trying to convert to play in itunes i want to download a player and play them as is

    what free “player” should i download and use?

    i’m on a mac

  18. EL Duderino Says:


  19. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Obviously Phish is headed to AZ this summer. Hooray!

  20. bouncin fan Says:

    Yeah love the alligator

    Just as treys ripping solo peaks out the groove mellows out and kimock comes in with that dirty slide tone


  21. Mike in Austin Says:

    Reductio ad absurdum. You against all amateur sports then?

    I’ll go see a band in a bar, rather than a band just because they’re polished. I’d rather Phish take risks, than play conservatively. Polished doesn’t mean interesting.

  22. bouncin fan Says:

    Fish, Trey, kimock, George porter Jr and medeski need to form an all instrumental super group

  23. c0wfunk Says:

    quick driveby dissent I have no time to stay and defend:

    free is better than ever now and finally has a direction.. The funk bass jam section – very much still intact, though abbreviated – builds a great tension that is released in a beautiful flowing way with the resolution chords. The floating in the blimp a lot section adds a lot to the structure and completeness of this composition and is the perfect landing point and release for the tension built before.

    Time is only part of the equation here and I think the big Frees from 95/96 represent a lowlight in phish’s jamming evolution. The funk throwdowns from 03 etc (miami comes to mind) are fun, but to my ear never really contained too much “original improv” and other than length didn’t really stray too much from the form we have now..

    So in summary I like Free how it is now, probably more than ever.

    YMMV and I’m sure many disagree!

  24. kayatosh Says:

    ^^^^ now you’re talkin, bouncin.

  25. bouncin fan Says:

    How exciting can the NBA be if they have to play music during the game?

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