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. voopa Says:

    Guess I’ll be revisiting Greek 3 tonight

  2. Guyute711 Says:

    NBA has sucked pretty much since Jordan retired. I liked watching through the Celtics v Laker wars, Pistons dominance and the Bulls extended run. Nothing about the people who play now excites me. It’s pretty much just a cash grab. Jordan never went somewhere else so he could win a title. Bunch of spoiled a-holes. College BB has the best sports tourney in the world.

  3. poop goblin Says:

    not at all Cow.

    I’m a huge supporter of the short funky Wolfman’s vs the more exploratory versions. I think the harder rootsier funk works for it

    I even think Tube can get repetitive as an open jam and fine with 6 min of funk

    I just think the heavy wash of guitars and killer bass groove of free can translate into cool funk, psyche rock jams

  4. Chuck sweD Says:

    hump day madness strikes again.


  5. poop goblin Says:

    shit I even like a good ripping Gin like the MSG Bathtub > Bathtub

    I’m just not buying that Free is better in it’s current form. I’m indifferent to it. But in general I prefer all the instrumental Phish I can get.

  6. poop goblin Says:

    I’m out. time to catch the train. learned a bunch today. work was slow as fuck.


  7. brother Says:

    “Nothing about the players who play now excites me.” your missin out in my opinion. lots of guys doin things now they couldn’t do 30, 20, or 10 years ago. i get the whole ego/asshole thing but theres always been ego (hell MJ’s was the biggest). put that aside and watch it for the unbelievable skill and competitiveness and it’s great.

  8. c0wfunk Says:

    “I’m a huge supporter of the short funky Wolfman’s vs the more exploratory versions. I think the harder rootsier funk works for it”

    While I do dig the recent wolfman’s I probably prefer the big spacey ones 🙂

    “I just think the heavy wash of guitars and killer bass groove of free can translate into cool funk, psyche rock jams”

    heavy guitar wash is never my favorite idiom for Trey – which is why that broken-airplane-loop-while-page-solos-and-trey-plays-drumz of 95 doesn’t do it for me.

    “I’m just not buying that Free is better in it’s current form. I’m indifferent to it. But in general I prefer all the instrumental Phish I can get”

    For me I enjoy the back and forth a lot -> for example merriweather last summer tweezer > fefu > free, free was in an absolutely perfect spot, brought us all back to unity after a space and ballad segment, and was still completely psychedelic and crawling to my fungused out mind

    Figured I’d be disagreed w/ here, “luckily” for you all, I had more time than I thought to expound upon my thoughts 🙂

  9. c0wfunk Says:

    uh yeah

    so shows how fungused I was cuz it was

    rnr > free, fefu, sparkle, tweezer, then horse silent..

    so just forget that section lol

  10. snowbank Says:

    <—- me was just holy ghosted. damn that's awesome.

  11. BingosBrother Says:

    I wish everyone could feel the power of The Holy Ghost. maybe I’ll start a church.

  12. phoammhead Says:

    these flacs of the Phil and Phriends April 99 Run are the shit

    all i got to say is thanks bb!!! 😀

  13. Guyute711 Says:

    Lets go Cuse!!!

  14. phoammhead Says:

    c0wfunk is a contrarian!

  15. William H. Bonney Says:

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

    Those were the only shows I am still pissed I could not get tickets for. Pre-stub hub era and no BB, was a real bitch for the impossible ticket. 3 great nights of music to these ears.

  16. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Phoamm spinning the flacs! Its all over for you now. 🙂

    some nice video of 4.15.99 on youtube as well. I think i have a dvd of that night somewhere. Might have to bust it out again soon.

  17. gavinsdad Says:

    just Island twisted and now MSG tweezin…still at work!! mother fucker!

    but tonite…visiting Mr. Nice Guy and also an OG cross.

    report at 11

  18. ThePigSong Says:

    I’ve been spinning parts of the Phil & Friends shows today – BOOYA! I remember hearing these a few years ago, but if I remember correctly the AUD was subpar at best.

    I might take a break from the SBD project to give these shows the time they deserve.

  19. joe Says:

    real money sources on archive for those phil and friends shows. Been going through them at work for the last week after the chatter around here picked up about them again. As I said last night, can’t pimp them enough for my liking. Thanks to all for the reminder.

  20. phoammhead Says:

    right on MrP – this is amazing!

  21. river trance Says:

    well yeah Cow. def prefer a huge as open Wolfmans like Vegas. I ain’t fuckin xyz or some shit.

    I Just meant some songs like AC 2001, Utica Wolfman’s, or AC and MSG TUbe have gotten hot enough in the shorter harder less exploratory versions to where i’m not wishing they were getting a different treatment

    I’d say Free and Mike’s def give me a little bit of just hoping they get to the end.

    but I love the more Washy, Tonal psychedelic Trey of the 99-04 era. I’m less interested in the funk side of the Free jam. but a few of the big jams got pretty heavy.

  22. ThePigSong Says:

    hard to believe those Phil and Friends posts are nearing two years old…

  23. river trance Says:

    I miss good a good Ya Mar

    not as much as Mike’s. but still miss it.

  24. garretc Says:

    So been spinning 11/30/97 Woostah today, and I have to ask:

    Who likes the last ten minutes (approximately) of that Wolfman’s? I thought it was the bees knees, then they move to that heavy riff, and I dug it at first, but by the time the same riff ended the jam ten minutes (approximately) later, I was a bit tired of it… Which was too bad, cause the rest of that Wolfman’s is hot stuff! And a nice landing pad in Love Me, no less!

  25. garretc Says:

    Hey, speaking of Free!

    Stash > Free (> Jam says my itunes!) I’ll report back on whether this was better than the funk blue balls in MSG Free in, oh, 15 minutes…

    (Sick Stash too, taboot taboot)

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