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. butter Says:

    just gotta laugh that this storage set really happened

    Miner/bb dream Phish set

    it really happened

    now just please keep the storage box open for leg 2 boys…

  2. chefbradford Says:

    I fucking loved the Julius at IT Fest at the time. Never cared much one way or another for the song, but I loved it then and there. Not sure I’ve even re-listened to that version. It can be a hellafun song, but not necessarily in the middle of the second set.

  3. MrCompletely Says:

    “I assume you went to the Hampton/warlock shows? Completly live up to the hype right?”

    yes, and – well, as an experience, yes. in practice I don’t listen to them all that much compared to other 89-90 shows. but that might be from wearing them out.

  4. Bwana Says:


    Man, i think we actually stayed at the MGM Grand (whichever one is lit up all green)… i had no idea Buffet was playing. Ha! That explains a few things… In my own world i guess. Vegas was total culture shock. i had just got off a 3 week rafting trip through the Grand Canyon that Sept for college — and jumped on tour from Vegas to Shoreline… From one extreme to another,,,

  5. butter Says:

    AC Julius

  6. MrCompletely Says:

    “Miner/bb dream Phish set”

    my thoughts exactly butter! that and light, waves, wtu sequence which is right out of my dream setlist, I took that as a direct personal “you shoulda been here son” reprimand from the band

  7. MrCompletely Says:

    “The moon could crack open and spill out tootsie rolls, and I would have just shrugged and smiled.”


    “If I fell into a black hole, the storage jam is the sound that I would hear”


    love it, really bringing out the miner-esque creative writing A+++

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    chemdog represent butter

    good shit

  9. butter Says:

    light waves wtu:

    its just so beautiful to see what the boys idea of a heady transcendent sequence of Phish is – and have it be what you would design if you could

    wow- that last 4 Phish sets are unreal

    leg 2

  10. butter Says:

    he he, San Fran has to be the most expensive show at 85 bucks for the 1 day pass. + service charge

  11. Bwana Says:

    After couch touring for the whole first leg and dissecting set lists — I can easily say that looking back at the SBIX setlists alone does little to capture the whole vibe of the festival… I can’t wait for the DVDs to be released… It was special indeed. So glad I was finally able to get off the couch…

  12. Mike in Austin Says:

    Leg 2 is gonna be amazing.

  13. vegas wolfmans Says:

    DWD thru WTU from Sunday is pure fire. Was finally able to break away from Storage and Waves soundcheck today for long enough to give that a thorough listen. Great, great phish without question.

    leg II indeed!


  14. Aquaman Says:

    Ok random fly by posting.

    I am straight porch living right now, cracking beers, playing euchre.

    We are spinning ghostfunk and it is the talk of the town. Straight dope funk shit.

    That is all………discuss in my absence.


  15. BrandonKayda Says:

    Yeah @Silly. I think I liked Godot better though – though that might just be because I’m still kind of confused about Endgame.

  16. joe Says:

    Talk of the town. “Turn that shift down motherfucker”

  17. Mike in Austin Says:

    That’s gross.

  18. Aquaman Says:

    Funky gross, MIA

  19. voopa Says:

    @butter…no shit. After fees, it was $100, and I couldn’t use my TM gift cards either!


  20. Mike in Austin Says:

    Recent songs:

    The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest (2010 Mono Version)
    Bob Dylan – 5:29
    Room vote: 83%

    Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
    The Beatles – 2:21
    Room vote: 61%

    Monkey Man
    The Rolling Stones – 4:11
    Room vote: 89%

    Jeep On 35
    John Scofield – 4:31
    Room vote: 72%
    Groove Holmes
    The Beastie Boys – 2:28
    Room vote: 78%

    Rad Anthem
    Rad Omen – 4:18
    Room vote: 81%
    Olospo – 7:48
    Room vote: 88%

    Start-Stop (DJ Logic Remix)
    Medeski, Martin & Wood – 6:38
    Room vote: 75%

    Two Circles
    Boredoms – 7:21
    Room vote: 77%

    Fairies Wear Boots
    Black Sabbath – 6:19
    Room vote: 41%

    007 (Shantytown)
    Desmond Dekker – 2:41
    Room vote: 71%
    Warm Chill
    Julius Papp – 6:24
    Room vote: 83%

    Genius Of Love
    Tom Tom Club – 5:31
    Room vote: 62%

    Fields Are Breathing
    Black Moth Super Rainbow – 3:29
    Room vote: 65%

    That’s The Way That The World Goes Round
    John Prine – 3:47
    Room vote: 64%

    It’s Nasty (Genius Of Love) (Short Version)
    Sugarhill Gang – 7:49
    Room vote: 67%

    I Zimbra
    Talking Heads – 3:09
    Room vote: 73%
    Right Now
    Mocean Worker Feat. Rahsaan Roland Kirk – 4:07
    Room vote: 73%

    Night Time Is The Right Time
    Ray Charles – 3:26
    Room vote: 86%

    Kinky Sex Makes The World Go ‘Round
    Dead Kennedys – 4:16
    Room vote: 64%

    Shady Grove
    Jerry Garcia – 4:45
    Room vote: 75%

    Shake Your Hips
    Slim Harpo – 2:29
    Room vote: 79%
    07 – Shanky Panky
    Kid Koala – 3:20
    Room vote: 75%

    Sheep Go To Heaven
    Cake – 3:48
    Room vote: 71%

    Bananas And Blow
    Ween – 3:34
    Room vote: 70%

    Miss You
    The Rolling Stones – 4:49
    Room vote: 75%

    Talking Heads – 2:39
    Room vote: 64%

    The Raconteurs – 4:01
    Room vote: 61%

    I Know A Place
    Bob Marley – 3:56
    Room vote: 79%

    22 Going On 23
    Butthole Surfers – 4:23
    Room vote: 75%

    Kaya Version (Dub)
    Bob Marley & The Wailers – 2:38
    Room vote: 63%

    Drug Squad
    Steel Pulse – 4:05
    Room vote: 67%

    Live And Give
    Israel Vibration – 4:23
    Room vote: 81%

    Gin And Juice
    Richard Cheese – 2:24
    Room vote: 64%

    Tried By 12
    East Flatbush Project – 2:56
    Room vote: 68%

    Tortoise – 4:26
    Room vote: 77%

    What Cheer? Brigade – 2:26
    Room vote: 72%

    Hurricane Season
    Trombone Shorty – 3:20
    Room vote: 83%

    Long Day, Short Night
    Josh Roseman Unit – 9:24
    Room vote: 78%

    Lamb’s Bread Collie
    Jacob Miller – 3:08
    Room vote: 81%

    Start The Revolution
    Capital D – 4:52
    Room vote: 75%

  21. sumodie Says:

    $100 for a day’s worth of music sounds like a deal to me

    at least catch the Meters too

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    damn I had I Zimbra in my queue and played Hurricane Season earlier

  23. MrCompletely Says:

    who played I Zimbra? +5 to you, such a great song

  24. Guyute711 Says:

    That whole album is great. I put that in at BTB fest.

  25. MrCompletely Says:

    soooo based on these ‘other’ jams from the festival….

    do you think they actually have like an overt hand signal meaning “ok let’s slow this jam down so we can do that crazy Storage style shit” – or does it just happen naturally?

    obviously some practice in that style has occurred in recent weeks. wow. huge shift.

    also: that is not the same Page McConnell I saw last year at the Greek. That guy was good, but the new version kicks the old guys square in the nuts.

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