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. Jtran Says:

    Flights to CO were down from what they’ve been the past 2 months (at least from Burlington)

    I suggest checking tonight and tomorrow if you still need to book.

  2. Jtran Says:

    Pufflick service announcement

  3. Jtran Says:

    Maybe that’s notfunny and just sounds weird

  4. Jtran Says:

    And by “down” I mean down today but 50-60ish dollars

  5. RamblinMind Says:

    12.5 grams for 1/2 batch of cookies? Sounds like a lot. And sounds awesome.

    sidenote: am I the only one who has never dealt with herb in grams? always bought in terms of oz’s. Everytime someone mentions grams I have to pull up some conversion tables

  6. sumodie Says:

    currently packing up my woosta condo -got a friend renting it in two weeks. change is afoot, yikes

    spinning bethel waves soundtrack…hey trey, not sure thats jammy enough, please try harder next time

    finally replayed all of sbix, wowza, except im saving the storage jam for the right occasion

  7. Bwana Says:

    For those that weren’t there or don’t remember, here’s the announcement just before the storage set. “Attention. Attention please. We are sorry to report we have lost all power to Ball Square. And our factories have shut down. We ensure you that we will act quickly to restore this energy, as it is critical to the production of “the ultimate product”. Our systems are tenuous. We do not rely on typical fuel systems but rather a natural resource, that we call hydrosonic power. A common resource that’s otherwise known as rain, rain, rain….”

    After a few minutes slowly wandering through the crowd, I settled into a space with some Green Crew folks and believe it or not, Fishman’s Dad. He was right there in the mix of it, surrounded by plenty of tripping kidz… He had a small entourage of middle age women around him, not sure who they were, maybe more phamily… Anyway, I was completely entranced for the whole set — love that it was completely disconnected from any specific song. Seems like that was the whole intent — to take the focus off the stage/band/individuals/etc and just allow music to communicate for over an hour > until out of the ether came a familiar landing into a variation of Sleeping Monkey…

    The only tense moment of the set was when a wookie climbed about 30 feet up one of the wooden poles and was sitting, legs flailing and head bobbing, on the top of a 4″x4″ wooden post. There were a lot of people right below him and security came over to wave him down… He gathered himself enough to start to shimmy down but then lost his grip, racking his hands down the post and landing on his feet… A sigh of relief went through everyone watching. Not sure his hands felt so great though…

  8. SillyWilly Says:


    everything’s grams in court.

    You guys should have seen me explain to the court commissioner how much 3 grams was.

    I even said: Your honor, you shouldn’t punish my client for having a piece, more serious puffers have papers.

    haha. sometimes you gotta cast for anything.

  9. butter Says:

    I’m just picturing all the late night hotel and camping parties spinning storage jam for late night music on leg 2

    That will be about perfect

  10. RamblinMind Says:

    Thanks for that background, @Bwana!

    And awesome that Mr. Fishman travels with a harem

  11. Jtran Says:

    Speaking of family sightings…

    We were on the rail behind the soundboard for the day set. Inside the fence around the sbd must’ve been the VIP/family section. Saw all the kids hanging out, but the highlight was seeing Page’s dad rocking out (as hard as anyone in the crowd) to Suzy near the end of the set. The man gets down

  12. Skyballs Saxscraper Says:

    Bwana: There was someone up in one of the trees that was closest to the giant reflective ball, waving to the crowd, sparking up now and again. Treeman did not give a fuck about gravity or any associated bullshit.

  13. butter Says:

    Loving the family scene

    Father’s Day was rad

  14. RamblinMind Says:

    More serious puffers have papers?

  15. SillyWilly Says:

    gravity is for cu$ties

  16. SillyWilly Says:

    Like I said, Ramblin, gotta come up with something

    judges don’t know one way or another

  17. butter Says:

    judge, my client is just a custy 😉

  18. joe Says:

    in my client’s defense, it was really schwaggy weed and worth about 1/3 of whatever you put the street value at.

  19. albert walker Says:

    got our one day pass for custy lands today

    leg 2 bitches!

  20. garretc Says:

    Your honor, I would like you to examine the looseness of this joint. Does that look like the handiwork of a serious, criminal smoker?

  21. RamblinMind Says:

    Your Honor, this gravity bong is some amateur hour bullshit. No attention to detail at all. No self-respecting puffer would be caught dead with this.

    Now, this converted Sprite can, on the other hand….

  22. SillyWilly Says:

    how about I sat in a hearing a few weeks ago where undercover cops bought close to one million dollars of pot off this dealer over two years

    I had to choke back the laughter: The gov’t spent 1 mlllion$ on pot!

    I thought we were broke, sir.

  23. DukeOfLizards Says:

  24. butter Says:

    chem dog and ball tweezer


  25. butter Says:

    nice AW, gettin down in the park

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