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 adventureโ€””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

Tags: ,

749 Responses to “Casualties Of This Era”

  1. bouncin fan Says:

    Leave it to kang Jr to dig on 3.0 frees

    For some uneventful 95 free check spac summer. Shit sucks.

  2. brother Says:

    Not against amateur sports. If Phish takes risks and fails the majority of the time i might not see them anymore. If they started playing every song out of tune. I still watch and will love March Madness and what not, just saying i’ve completely flipped on NCAA vs NBA in the last few years. Also, it’s hard for me to see the purity in college sports as you do. I mean, really, college sports has become such a cess pool it’s ridiculous. The NCAA, universities, coaches, and many atheletes are so corrupt it kinda makes the whole “love of the game” argument not ring so true.

  3. phoammhead Says:

    cog – check

    thanks, dude!

  4. c0wfunk Says:

    love you too aw..

    I know spac 95 note for note thanks!

  5. willowed Says:

    Droppin the MSG Sand on my 3 and 5 year old right now

    they are buggin’

    freakin’ hippies

  6. joe Says:

    speaking of love of the game – excellent piece in sport’s illustrated on Jake Plummer. Walked away from millions of dollars to go live back home and now plays handball (raquetball without raquets…not olympic style team handball which is water polo without the water (or horses)) for the love of the game.

  7. bouncin fan Says:

    How about oswego free?

  8. Mr.Miner Says:

    2 things-

    1. cowfunk is on crack

    2. Phil and Phriends shows are, arguably, the three greatest nights of my musical career

  9. joe Says:

    …and, although the article does not mention this at all, if you read way between the lines, he also smokes a ton of weed.

  10. Mike in Austin Says:

    When Trza had his whammy pedal full force, he almost played every jam out of tune. I liked ACII also, and it was a little sloppy.

    Brother, I get ya. My brother likes the Mavs, but has not idea of what’s going on in NCAA. He can’t imagine watching a game with such few 3 pointers shot.

    Austin doesn’t have “professional” sports and they pack 10,000 people into high school football. But it’s exciting seeing a kid like Drew Bree’s play for Westlake High School here and grow. Our AHL team is a blast to watch too.

    I like seeing the growth, and passion to play regardless of paycheck, maybe not the finished product. Diff’n strokes. Fair enough.

  11. Selector J Says:

    My biggest beef with the NBA is the 24 sec clock. I actually like some halfcourt basketball now and again.
    Not a big fan of fadeaway jumpers either.

  12. phoammhead Says:

    nice to hear that MrMiner because i’m listening to it right now from my first torrent – i win!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  13. Selector J Says:

    you don’t have traditions like this in the NBA either…!5756183/dear-pathetic-ignorant-twats-the-dukeunc-war-of-words-heats-up

  14. poop goblin Says:

    maybe cowsuck is on to something

    maybe taking the jam out of the jam vehicles is the key to greatness

    Telly Tweezer could be the best ever

    can’t wait for the jamless Lights of 2011. Trey can just play the initial lick to start the jam and then just fizzle out. now that would be doubt.

  15. voopa Says:

    I listened back to Greek 2 last night and was shocked SHOCKED at how much whale was present. Maybe that was Trey’s Whale Sendoff because I don’t recall hearing any on the 3rd night (tho I’m probably wrong).

  16. Selector J Says:

    Westlake makes more off concessions than UT basketball does. Fact. (…probably)

  17. poop goblin Says:

    nice haven’t heard the ridiculous Trey was playing out of tune argument in a meant that would be dope

    it’s def there voopa. even the Light is pretty whale heavy. compared to the MPP remasters which I recently spun it def got dialed back

    great, haven’t heard the Trey was playing out of tune ridiculous argument in a while.

  18. poop goblin Says:

    sorry for the repeat

  19. c0wfunk Says:

    i be smokin yeah – but it aint crack… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    oswego as whole I’m not familiar with..

    I’m not discounting old free wholesale – I’ve always dug the tune. Merriweather 00 (or was it 99? the show w/ the sweet emotion teases) comes to mind as one that really did me right ..

    But I really do enjoy the present stage in evolution, as a wholly realized composed song.

    I feel it was a song always looking for its place. And I feel the place has been found…

    Maybe I”m the only one? That’s fine ๐Ÿ™‚

    I think we all agree on the phil n phriendz as one of the greatest events in the history of amplified improvisational music.

    Love you guys.

  20. brother Says:

    Absolutely Mike. Like watchin all that stuff too. Remember watchin a lot of great high school players around cincy back in the day who went on to be pro’s (O.J. Mayo was the unreal to watch in high school). Just makin a statement overall of my personal switch back to NBA (loved the old Sixers, Celtic, Lakers 80’s rivalries) from college. And i come from a city with no pro NBA team and 2 great college programs (with UK, UI, UL, OSU right up the street)

  21. poop goblin Says:

    fuck on that 99 phil and friends opinion cow

    what makes me comfortable in life is that we never agree on anything musically

  22. c0wfunk Says:

    “Telly Tweezer could be the best ever”

    Nah – but probably the best tweezer -> boogie on ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Check out that jam out of boogie .. tell me how that does not make up for a 1 second hiccup??


  23. phoammhead Says:

    i don’t recall much whale at all for any of the greek

    maybe that’s what i remember from greek1

  24. c0wfunk Says:

    “fuck on that 99 phil and friends opinion cow
    what makes me comfortable in life is that we never agree on anything musically”

    lmao yeah 2 sides of a coin

  25. c0wfunk Says:

    out of curiosity .. not fishing here, just really wondering –

    am I really the only one reading this site that believes that certain songs (not all, mind you) can actually be better without an open jam?

Leave a Reply