The Storage Jam

The Storage Jam (Brian Ferguson)

Phish’s late-night all-improv sets have become a hallmark of the festival experience. Dating back to the Clifford Ball’s Flat Bed jam and The Great Went’s “Disco” set these “surprise” affairs soon developed into much more significant musical ventures. Historically highlighted by Lemonwheel’s Ring of Fire “ambient” set and IT’s demonic Tower Jam, Phish and their fan base have basked in these middle-of-the-night affairs that cater to the psychonaut in all of us. But this year at Super Ball, the band outdid themselves with “The Storage Jam”— a focused hour-long excursion into cutting edge psychedelia. And what made it even cooler—and a hell of a lot Phishier—was the fact that the guys were rotating instruments throughout the jam. But the music that resulted was unlike anything we’d ever heard from the band.

The Storage Jam (G.Lucas)

Part and parcel of this progressive musical experiment was the sound setup in Ball Square. Instead of hearing this monumental mind-meld in regular stereo, the band arranged a surround sound system through which different sounds and instruments came from different speakers. This unconventional setup enhanced the disorienting and psychedelic effect of the already abstract music. Shrouded in mystery while playing behind opaque glass inside an art installation, the band was only visible as distorted silhouettes. The lack of visual cues as to what was actually going on made the experience that much more unknown and completely focused on the music. One was—literally—immersed in sound coming from every direction in, what has to be considered, the most technologically advanced and boundary-pushing performance ever put on by Phish.

Ball Square (G.Lucas)

From note one of this abstract escapade, the band was laser-locked on each others’ ideas, entering improvisational territory that the much of their fan base wouldn’t appreciate from the big stage. Despite some unmistakably Phishy moments, much of this sonic exploration of tones and textures would have been hard to peg as Phish at all. A large part of this unique sound was due to the fact that exploration was a Rotation Jam. Much, if not most, of the time, the guys were on alternate instruments, thus the bass patterns, drum beats, guitar licks and synth sounds didn’t carry the characteristics of their usual players. Instead, each band member was able to apply his ideas to a different instrument, thus pushing the others in completely new directions. Though the piece morphed in and out at times, like the waves of an ocean, the entire hour of exploration remained incredibly connected and cohesive with no lulls or lack of engaging interplay. The consistent rotations—whether known about at the time or not—maintained a sense of suspense and tension within the music where no one idea could take hold for very long. But as they moved instruments, the band picked up—most often—from the same point and then began to build away from it.

The use of electronic drums, heavy Theremin, and big, dirty effects on both the guitar and bass gave this piece a completely unique energy and flow. It wasn’t purely ambient, it wasn’t purely abstract, and it carried a hell of a lot more rhythmic quality than people gave it credit for at the time. In summation, Phish spun an unclassifiable tale of weird, dissonant, quasi-ambient, melodic, electro-dub stylings. Boasting avant-garde and focused improvisation throughout the jam, despite what instruments they were on, the band converged in the type of sonic sorcery that we rarely get to glimpse.

The Storage Jam (Graham Lucas)

The final segment of the jam featured both Trey and Fishman on e-drums, culminating the experiment with a foray into legitimately beat-backed textures. And as the band rotated instruments one more time, the beginnings of a demented “Sleeping Monkey” rung out of the surround sound system in Ball Square, bringing us all back to some semblance of reality. Concluding their plunge into the heart of the cosmos with this unequivocally Phishy maneuver, the band played a deranged version of their classic encore that was drenched in effects and then bled into an eerie three-minute final passage.

The Storage Jam (G.Lucas)

When the set ended, I found myself flabbergasted and standing alone in sheer disbelief of what had just gone down. Complete with lasers, smoke and Kuroda’s lighting, Phish had just thrown down one of the definitive psychedelic spectacles of their 20-plus year career. My mind drew comparisons to old-school Pink Floyd mixed with mid-‘70s Brian Eno mixed with late ’70 Miles Davis mixed with nouveau electronica, but that was just my brain trying to make sense of things. Upon listening back to the Storage Jam several times, this music has proven to be a completely unique monster all its own—incomparable to anything the band has ever done. We were privileged to have seen Phish improvisation in its purest form, without any songs to get in the way and with a bulls eye on the heart of psychedelic experimentation. And, lo and behold, despite all the great music that went down all day, the “secret” Storage Jam had stolen the show. It was a display of sheer artistry that will go down in the annals of Phish history, and like all nuanced masterpieces, it just keeps getting better with each listen.

In short—“Wow. That just happened.”

The Storage Jam (Brian Ferguson)


Jam of the Day:

Reba > David Bowie” 7.3.11 I

This old-school combination, containing exquisite renditions of both songs, punctuated Sunday’s first set of Super Ball.



Mike - The Storage Jam (Graham Lucas)

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641 Responses to “The Storage Jam”

  1. litteringandd Says:

    Can someone post a dl link to the bethel and wg soundchecks?

  2. RamblinMind Says:

    @DF – Between Europe ’72, Steppin’ Out with the Grateful Dead, Rockin’ the Rheine, and Hundred Year Hall (all of which are taken from the Europe 72 tour) plus whatever may have come out on one of those Dead Downloads or Road Trips that I haven’t kept track of…

    what percentage of the huge set will be previously unreleased?

    Just kind of an open question. I can’t afford it either way.

  3. Mr.Miner Says:

    I don’t trust any non puffers or cats that didn’t dig the storage jam

    ^ great motto to live by 🙂 best thing I’ve read all day…

  4. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    dinosaur jr. – farm, great guitar album

  5. Spasm Waiter Says:

    @Littering- Uploading to my mediafire currently

  6. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    @ramblin, i don’t know the percentage, but it’s every single complete show from that tour, plus all the tracks from the original europe ’72 without any of the overdubs, and all the previously released shows are gonna be remastered too

  7. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Bethel Waves Sndcheck $$$

  8. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    the price tag is big for me right now, but i’ll regret it if i don’t get it

  9. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Watkins Sdck

  10. Spasm Waiter Says:


  11. RamblinMind Says:

    word @DF. 72 is so tight – great examples of musical density in the Playin in the Bands

    Lots of monster Other Ones and Dark Stars

    I was actually more tempted by the Winterland 73 and Fillmore 69 boxes, but that’s just because I’ve already spent a lot on 72 stuff, including some Dick’s Picks from later in the year that I forgot about

  12. tela'smuff Says:

    great read Miner. still holding out on a clean hassle free listen. can’t wait!

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    europe 72 is a pretty big tour and a lot of it that’s in circulation doesn’t sound that great. will be immense upgrades. that being said I don’t want/need all of it though I do want every Playin’ and 2nd set jam segment (Dark Star or Other One, etc) and bits of the rest

    If it was Fall ’72 I’d want every note for sure

  14. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    wanna buy my fillmore west 69? $1000

  15. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i want the sick packaging

  16. RamblinMind Says:

    fuck those canadian shipping fees

  17. MrCompletely Says:

    man don’t sleep on those Fall 72s

    every one of those jams is epic, every Bird Song is amazing, etc

    much better tour than Europe, second only to Fall 73 if that

    One sick ass Dark Star and Other One after another

  18. MrCompletely Says:

    they have spared no expense or effort to make the packaging insanely great. I can tell you that for a fact.

  19. joe Says:

    really dig the deeper dive into the jam around the 10 minute mark of bowie here.

  20. eljefe Says:

    We heard all the rumors floating around the Glen Close Campground and added our own of course. I’d say the top ones were: Exactly what they did(Tower set style), A set w/ Horns(that was a huge one), a set of Super Jam Bands covers(Dead, Allmans, Band). Personally I’m glad they did what they did. But I’m a fan of free jazz/improv. I could totally see how some fans would have been disappointed w/ what they took to be “noise”. To each his own. I saw mostly talkers and gawkers from where I was.

  21. RamblinMind Says:

    I put on 9.17.72 the other day (Dick’s Picks 23) and was blown away by the Playin’

    Haven’t even gotten to the 40 minute Other One

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    Fall 72 >>> Europe 72

  23. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i’d rather a fall ’95 or ’97 box set though tbh

  24. kayatosh Says:

    what up, BB? lost in the turntable room. getting an education over there.

    aw: this mrkt. can suck it. 1330 was the pivot point and a high probability short entry. i was out of bullets and patience by the time it hit.

  25. MrCompletely Says:

    The other one is so sick on that thing

    like 8 distinct phases to it minimum including a couple different completely open sections

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