Super Ball—An Instant Classic

Super Ball IX (G.Lucas)

A few days removed from Superballin’ and I’m still reeling from the quantity of amazing Phish that went down over the weekend. For 13 hours, 17 minutes and 22 seconds over three days, Phish threw down a musical showcase at Watkins Glen International, while recapturing their festival magic of lore. Though Festival 8 provided a blissful return to the festival setting in Southern California, it didn’t feel the same as Phish’s historic Northeastern fiestas. Super Ball most definitely did. As a full-powered band collided with the fantasy-like festival grounds, a musical spark was lit early in the opening show and a fire of blazing Phish burned all weekend long. Coming off a stellar opening leg of Summer Tour, when the guys hit the stage at Super Ball IX, things seemed to loosen up in just the right ways as they crafted a weekend of dreams. Phish—the improvisational juggernauts we fell in love with—are back on the scene with new improvisational tricks up their sleeves and an enthusiasm to match.

7.1.11 - Watkins Glen (G.Lucas)

Over the course of three shows, the band played so many profound jams that its been impossible to listen to, wrap my head around, and digest them all in such a short amount of time. With more standout music at Super Ball than at any other three (or four)-night run in the modern era, Phish exploded with innovative playing throughout the weekend. Capping the festival with four unforgettable sets, including, perhaps, their most psychedelic performance to date in their late-night “Storage Jam,” Phish left their fan base in a state of bliss and disbelief after a weekend that surpassed most everyone’s expectations. It was that good.

The band’s masterful improvisation shined throughout the festival, whether playing within song structures or exploring new territory—something they did quite often over the three days. The reaction time between band members was negligible as they patiently crafted one standout piece after another. The tempo of their playing adopted to the booming sound and open-air surroundings, slowing down just a bit and allowing Mike to dominate the stage, directing jams with dark and eclectic bass lines throughout the weekend. But Phish’s virtuosic whole-band interplay, showcased all weekend long (and especially during their late-night set) wrote the story of the festival, leaving fans new and old in a state of utter joy. For those of us who saw them in their heyday, the band’s creativity has fully returned. And for those experiencing a full-powered Phish for the first time, well, get ready for the ride of your life!

7.3.11 - Watkins Glen (Graham Lucas)

Within all the musical theatrics of the weekend, Phish introduced us, in earnest, to a new musical style—extremely abstract, and often beatless, psychedelic sound sculptures. An improvisational direction hinted at throughout June (in jams such as Bethel’s “Waves” and “Disease,” Alpharetta’s “Disease” and Raleigh’s “Split”) was displayed on night one in the mini-jam before “Crosseyed” and during “Simple,” and then fully expounded upon during their late-night dip into the abyss in 5.1 surround-sound amidst the interactive art installations of Ball Square. After focusing on eerie, abstract and ambient exploration throughout this hour-long performance, Phish infused similar sounds into their festival finale, particularly in “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” and “Waves.”

7.3.11 (G.Lucas)

Historically, Phish has honed in on jamming styles at their festivals which they continued to explore during subsequent tours. Melodic ambient interplay at Lemonwheel (highlighted by the fourth set’s “Ambient Jam”) and IT’s growling psychedelic textures of 2003 (underlined by the unforgettable Tower Jam) provide the best examples. During the band’s final slate of shows in August, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of this type of abstract experimentation they continue to push forward.

Most of all, Phish’s creativity—in all directions—was on display at Super Ball. From the groove-based turned exploratory “Golden Age” to the Tyrannosaurus-sized “Tweezer,” and from the scorching-turned-funky “Disease” to the intricate interplay of “Light,” Phish jams were sprouting from every angle at Watkins Glen. There is so much to discuss and so much to process from the weekend (and leg one), that it is hard to know where to begin. But with a month off we have plenty of time breakdown the exploits of the festival and beyond. Look for more detailed analysis and discussion of Super Ball IX this week as we bask in the glory of Phish 2011.


Jam of the Day:

Golden Age” 7.2.11 III

One of Super Ball’s upper-echelon excursions.

[audio:] Tags: , , ,

600 Responses to “Super Ball—An Instant Classic”

  1. mitch Says:

    I’m in need of a place to stay DF

  2. snowbank Says:

    Scene One
    (Post Apocalyptic Chicago. AW’s Apartment. A man sits in a dark smoky room listening to music from an improvised record player.)

    Thief bangs on a window till it breaks and climbs in. Gun cocks.

    AW: I want you to know that the only reason you are not dead is because I love this part of the jam and my stereo can’t be heard over gunshots.

    Thief: I just need some food to feed my family. Please let me live.

    AW: Oh shit. Good thing you said something. I thought you were after my head stash. Here’s a steak. Never come back.

    Thief: What strains?

    ::Gun shots::

    AW: I should never mention the head stash. That’s the third dude I’ve shot this week. If only I made that Biotech trade work I could have bought more bullets. Damn it

    End Scene

  3. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    mitch let’s try to work something else with any bbers who don’t have a place to stay yet, alf? silly?

  4. phoammhead Says:

    g711, what’s the good word . . . any ground scores?

    bek picked up a few things when we left early afternoon on monday . . . bocce ball set minus the white ball.

  5. Mr. Palmer Says:

    In ’99 i lost 4 million dollars on a trade ( error). That was a fun week. OPM, but those OP were not very happy with me. Not entirely my fault, but a played a key role. Front page of the NYT business section and everything. Somehow i managed to keep my job after that one as well. I have great escapability, if nothing else..

  6. bob dylan Says:

    We were supposed to get bonuses and then they were never mentioned again. I’ve learned to let the custies bust their ass. I’m getting paid the same so why break my back for my boss to get rich?

  7. snowbank Says:

    Mitch, totally forgot about this with script writing. (we should make a BB movie, but that is another story). I can’t do it man. that is way too much karmactic responsibility. I would much rather look after your spun handicapped ass than let you work at the WW table. besides, how can you do that with a broken arm anyway?

  8. mitch Says:

    Jeff from WW would be in I bet @DF.

    Talk to alf and silly. Find a place close to AWs so we don’t have to travel far. Your legs won’t work well after visiting.

  9. DukeOfLizards Says:

    I *may* be in the market for UIC lodging as well. Depends if the SLF tags along, in which case we’re getting our own place.

    No offense.

  10. lastwaltzer Says:

    Palmer you need to teach clasess lol!

  11. snowbank Says:

    but thanks for the offer.

  12. lastwaltzer Says:

    “How To Fuck Up at Work, While Getting Promoted”

  13. phoammhead Says:

    i’m going to re-bane and finish this third ipa after this wedge in preparation of this mikes>simple>bug>horse>silent = one of my fav segments of the weekend

  14. William H. Bonney Says:

    @Snowbank I have an extra Gorge for each nite if you are still in need, PTBM.

  15. mitch Says:

    Snow, I’ll be putting in hours at the booth anyway just as a body to help and talk to. Just won’t be able to get stuff out of the case or setup the tent.

    Gonna depend on how strong my arms are. I’m not gonna get spun and feel no pain an break em again.

  16. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    mitch, i’ll start an email chain by tomorrow, anyone else who needs or maybe needs a place to stay email me at bdragon89 @

  17. lastwaltzer Says:

    “”gonna go spin some ball and pout about the money I didn’t make today”aw

    hell lets all do that! Maybe I’ll join you in a bit ;)”

    Sorry, wasn’t trying to make light of your situation.

  18. mitch Says:

    Duke, bring her along. We’ll take care of her 8)

  19. phoammhead Says:

    i looked up an airfare quote to colorado today 😯

  20. albert walker Says:

    if Rob and Ash don’t come out a couple cats could crash here

    not sure if they are still leaning to come out or not

    I’m out for real now
    part of trading is not letting this shit piss me off
    time to puff some w a x and forget about this shit

    the annoying factor is the stock was up the exact amount I needed it to be and the data was exactly in line. it juts came out a week early. in the end you can do all the research in the world but trying to estimate the time to analyze and present the data can be tough

    we were short July and long august calls. expiration next friday.

    fuckin one fuckin week! bastards!

    ok that’s enough. laterz kids.

  21. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    rob will be at uic

  22. snowbank Says:

    Thx William. I am looking to miracle a friend for Friday night (at my expense). Do you want to part with just one?

    I was thinking it would be cool to set up a non-profit to give away tickets for phish shows. If we could get 501(c)3 status then it could be a write-0off to donate your tickets to it, which would easy mail order lawn pain. The whole system could help keep tix in the hands of phans instead of scalpers.

  23. ThePigSong Says:

    money talk made me take my quarterly look at the good ole 401(k)

    for the year I’m up 39%

    for the last three months I’m up 1%


  24. mitch Says:

    Duke, you going to BK bowl 2nd anniversary tonight?

  25. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Mitch- when are those UM shows @ Bk bowl. Might have to join you for a night out.

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