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)

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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.

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Mike - The Storage Jam (Graham Lucas)

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641 Responses to “The Storage Jam”

  1. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Local paper’s police blotter had 5 arrests for possession of marijuana or paraphernalia. So stupid.

  2. Bwana Says:

    no doubt that tree was a far better choice than a straight pole…

    i must say i’ve had my own gravity moment. vegas 2000, 2nd night… got crowded out of my first row, Trey’s side (back then), aisle seat, left my crew, and headed for the 2nd tier. i had spotted a secret dance spot. as the lights dropped and everyone sang Trey happy bday — i dropped over the rail and down 6ft onto a lighting platform directly right of the stage. there was no lighting man there. i moved the light to one side of the 4’x8′ platform. it was a metal grated platform that had a floor carpet covering it and a low railing about a foot high. you could see through it to the crowd below. it was literally hanging off the side of the cement upper tier… it only took one “oh shit” dance spin moment during Bag for me to check myself back to reality…

    shockinly, i was there for the entire 2nd set and never got booted — even when the spotlight circled the arena and lit me up perfectly. the folks above me on the rail where watching out, too. i sat down during Frobin’s>mockingbird and hung my legs over the platform, a hundred feet above the crowd below. blissed out and trippin face. During Twist, I swear Trey spotted me and did a double take.

    anyway, most unique spot i’ve ever experienced a show from and likely ever will. some wookie’s grow up…

  3. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Custy lands is gonna kick ass.

    AW- I added the Clutchy I could find to my mediafire. After listening back through, I’m pretty sure ‘The Life Of Clutchy Hopkins’ is my favorite.

  4. voopa Says:

    Epic, Bwana!

  5. butter Says:

    such original Tweez. lovin Trey with the uncompressed 2.0 tone with the 97 stop start funk, sick biz

  6. SillyWilly Says:

    nice story, Bwana

    im not good with heights, so that would have freaked me out

  7. butter Says:

    super slow speed improv too…super risky

  8. joe Says:

    we got a few things right here in Massachusetts, decriminalization of possesion under an ounce being one. You could argue the case for a medical law or full legalization, but at least we stopped wasting gov’t money on prosecuting having a small’sh amount.

  9. Mr. Palmer Says:

    working on the medical here in Jersey. Even our Republican Gov. Chris Christie is down. Shows you how bad the state’s economy is.

  10. BrandonKayda Says:

    So I finished Endgame – just about what I’ve come to expect from Beckett 😉

  11. butter Says:

    such a gem, Trey does get a bit impatient at the end, even before he Juliused it he was bringin it back home

  12. tela'smuff Says:

    Colorado. Free for all. love it. swimming in it. Labor Day shows will be a give away at my stead.

  13. sumodie Says:

    word about OL -would love to make that one

    2 sets in GGP sounds heavenly

  14. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Ah yes, Vegas 2000. Much fear and some loathing (in a good way).

    I also find the BallTweez to be highly diggable. A shorty-but-goody like Red Rocks ’09.

  15. butter Says:

    just get to hit “next” at home, tho 🙂

  16. SillyWilly Says:

    Beckett’s one of my five favorite artists, BK.

    You know the other four.

  17. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Julius is becoming one of my least favorite phish tunes. I just don’t dig it anymore. Maybe i never did? Oh well. In the grand scheme of all things phish, who cares.

  18. tela'smuff Says:

    Mr P – i’m headin in the opposite direction. for me, i’ve started dancing to the song in a much more free way. so, not sure what that means, and it sounds weird, but i have enjoyed myself with this tune a lot more than pre-Telluride.

    and yes, i’m posting here, and at turntable.

  19. Bwana Says:

    on the walk back towards the strip after one of those Vegas 2000 nights, there was an ice hockey game in some arena that had cleared all the ice out into an alley… piles of slushy ice/snow… plenty of kidz found it and a fun, albeit bizarre, desert snowball fight ensued… we took armfulls of snowballs onto the strip and fucked with random folks, throwing them up onto hotel balconies and into crowds… everyone’s faces were like “where are these snowballs coming from??”

  20. butter Says:

    not gaining any love around here with its new post Tweez placement

  21. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Julius should never appear in a second set IMO.

  22. tela'smuff Says:

    i know. bums me out. terrible placement for a song that has got the Trey treatment as of late

  23. butter Says:

    Trey ends up working plenty of guitar magic into this ball #line, all while maintaing anchored the entire time

  24. Mike in Austin Says:

    Dug it at AC Mr. P. Add some horns and it kicks it up that notch it needs.

  25. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Bwana- Remember all the Jimmy Buffet fans on the strip? He was playing at the MGM. Interesting scene trippin face postshow and mingling with several grass-skirted parrot-heads in a casino. Eyes wide.

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