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)

Tags: , , ,

641 Responses to “The Storage Jam”

  1. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    @C, i assume when you’re listening to fall ’72 it’s just the SBDs from the archive right? i think i should have all of those (and of course whatever they’ve released officially)

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    well @df

    the success of the europe 72 box is potentially a market changing event

    phish crew def. watches what happens with GD releases

  3. Robear Says:

    Had one friend driving the band to and from the storage unit in the golf cart. Had another friend inside the unit filming.

    I feel blessed to have good friends in phishy places.

    Def rotating instruments at times. Def people with a Wilson sign in front o f the opaque glass.

    Amazing jam that did more for me than the Tower Jam at the time.

    Can’t believe how many cats turn down puffs at shows. An equal amount are really happy when they take the offer 🙂

  4. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    fingers crossed for that C, or at least a big cypress set this fall

  5. Spasm Waiter Says:

    That is some good insight that I wouldn’t have thought of EJ. I am sure folks were anxious and developed “expectations” etc… The places they went in that jam and the sdcks makes me think that shit will get out there on Leg 2.

  6. kayatosh Says:

    puffing tough and listening tough. turntable room is gold.
    get your ears over there, robear.

  7. RamblinMind Says:

    Not digging the Storage Jam (the end result, like I said) for whatever reason is ok, but talking during it is bullshit. How can you know you don’t like it, or that you won’t like what’s coming next, when you’re not giving it a fair listen?

  8. litteringandd Says:

    Thanks Spasm

  9. joe Says:

    not digging the storage jam may be a sign that there’s not enough lsd floating around anymore.

    any chance that this leads to Trey using the kit on leg 2?

  10. joe Says:

    they did cover the dead in the set, just the space portion for a bit…

  11. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    “any chance that this leads to Trey using the kit on leg 2?”

    that would be awesome

  12. RamblinMind Says:

    No drugs needed for the Storage Jam. My most rewarding listen to it so far was the only sober one.

  13. Lycanthropist Says:

    ugh, starting to feel pangs of jealous for the turntable room 😉

  14. MrCompletely Says:

    I’m about to drop out of dj rotation on the turntable site so there will be a slot open

  15. Spasm Waiter Says:

    @LG- No problem. Bethel is redic.

  16. Spasm Waiter Says:

    If they go to those dark places in storage jam again, I will be pleased.

  17. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    so wtf is the turntable room

  18. ThePigSong Says:

    Looks like I would not be a good show neighbor to aw or miner – don’t smoke.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’d fucking love to rip that spliff, but I got twelve years worth of breaking into my career under my belt.

  19. kayatosh Says:

    DF get your ass over there. great music being spun. gotta have a profile on FB.

  20. ThePigSong Says:

    unless of you catch me during the first few days of my vacation of course.

  21. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Lycan, you at work?

  22. litteringandd Says:

    Mr. C, first props for all the dead shows you hit, wish i was older. Second do you have any standout JGB shows you attended that you can recomend for listeneing?

  23. RamblinMind Says:

    will allowing this app to have my info result in me being beaten to death or having my identity stolen, or is this pretty normal stuff? Never done the app thing of facebook before

  24. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    @kaya, gotta be in the US

  25. Mike in Austin Says:

    Must have been the firewall at work. This is quite great.

Leave a Reply