A Jamming Diversity

7.3.11 (Dave Lavery)

Phish’s creative burst of 2011 has changed the face of the modern band atop a solid, two-year foundation. But their current jamming has been less-defined by a single sound or style than ever before. Each era of the band’s illustrious history is virtually synonymous with its style of improv. The “speedjazz” of ’93, the abstract space exploration of Summer ’95, the fast-paced, psych rock of Fall ’95, the groove explosion in ’97, the ambient movement of Fall ’98, yada, yada, yada. But looking at Phish 2011, the band’s revitalized jamming can not be pigeonholed into a single sound. Let’s take some standout excursions from Super Ball, alone, as examples—”Simple,” “Golden Age,” “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing,” “Piper,” “Disease” and “Light.” Looking at these songs as a microcosm of the band’s musical place in time, one can simply observe the diversity of music being cranked out by Phish right now.

5.31.11 (B.Ferguson)

Whether engaging in syrupy grooves and bass-led, rhythmic abstractions (“Golden Age” and “Disease”), using ambient sound sculptures to uplift the spirit (“Simple”) or to explore the dark side (“ASIHTOS”), dropping into intricate psychedelia (“Light”) or that of the driving variety (“Piper”), Phish’s game is razor sharp in every direction right now. The result of this jamming diversity is a completely non-homogeneous sound for the band—something that has been relatively rare in their career. There haven’t been many eras where Phish migrated between such vastly different improvisational textures from jam to jam. More often than not, jams of a certain era boasted “a sound” that couldn’t be stripped from that place in time, such as the break-neck virtuosity of Summer ’93, the Cowfunk of Summer ’97 or the meandering and murky explorations of 2003. But without a microscope on one specific style these days, the band has spread their wings and embraced the totality of their career, drawing elements from every era, while still pushing forward into original pastures.

The spectrum of territory covered in June spanned many new styles while evoking old ones along the way. Bethel’s “Waves,” PNC’s “Drowned,” Detroit’s “Disease,” Blossom’s “Sally,” Cincy’s “Tweezer,” Charlotte’s “Ghost,” Mansfield’s “Rock and Roll,” and “Bethel’s “Halley’s”—all beasts of completely different feathers—are jams that can stand up to any era of Phish, regardless of anyone’s personal preferences. (And we haven’t even discussed the precision and creativity infused in their contained jamming.) This is the time we have been waiting for, the time that Phish is moving forward again, creating original and masterful music on the spot without hesitation.The bravado of the band we once knew has bloomed under the summer sun in a way many never thought it would after Hampton ’09 was announced.

6.11.11 (Brian Ferguson)

It has been a popular catch-phrase these days for fans to say, “Sure Phish is back, but they will never be as good as… yada, yada, yada.” When I hear this I hear people longing for the past, longing for familiarity and nostalgia, a desire for Phish’s to reproduce a place in time that can never be relived—20 minute funk grooves or whatever their pleasure may be. But the past is just that—over; nothing but thoughts and memories. It often seems that so many people are caught up in what the music *isn’t* these days, that they are completely missing what it *is*—which is, quite clearly, the dawning of another peak era. And this time, there are less musical boundaries than ever.

7.2.11 (G.Lucas)

Phish just wouldn’t be Phish if they came back and were musically complacent. The quartet from Vermont has always been about pushing the limits of live music; stretching the walls of improvisation while redefining the relationship between a band and their audience. And now, with sober minds, blazing skills and unbridled confidence, the band will set sail on the back end of a transformative summer, and where their jams will go, nobody knows. And that, my friends, is the beauty of things.


“The Philler” Talks With Mr. Miner: Airing Tomorrow!

The Philler is a Phish-related, weekly “cloudcast” created by three Phish fans, Robert Champion and his cohorts “Electric” Sammy” and “Stardog” Greg. The Philler brings on outside guests to talk about anything and everything related to Phish music and culture. They have recently covered Super Ball and are currently working on a Summer 2011 Leg One roundup. I have been asked to come on the program to discuss the history of this blog, my upcoming book, and about Phish in general. The interview will be streaming on Wednesday at TBA, so make sure to tune in for what should be a fun and interesting conversation.

Previous cloudcasts from The Philler can be found here. If you like what you hear then please feel free to follow the page to receive updates on new programs.


Jam of the Day:

Tweezer > Fluffhead” 8.1.98 II

One of the seminal “Tweezers” of the late -’90s celebrated its 13th birthday yesterday, and here it is—from Alpine Valley— in all its soundboard glory.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/04-Tweezer-_-Fluffhead-1998-08-01-Alpine-Valley-Music-Amphitheatre-East-Troy-WI.mp3] Tags: , , ,

902 Responses to “A Jamming Diversity”

  1. ThePigSong Says:

    I hear ya Robear – I can’t give up on them though since there isn’t a better/faster place to access all the rec’s from here.

    I was hoping I was doing something wrong.

  2. bob dylan Says:

    opted out of the green monster in favor of a newcastle. oh well.

  3. kayatosh Says:

    come check out the TT.

  4. angryjoggerz Says:

    anyone looking for a room at Harvey’s for Tahoe?

  5. lastwaltzer Says:

    Habaneros that reminds me, i was supposed to put one in a bottle of honey a year ago, leo’s idea. I best get on that.

  6. lastwaltzer Says:



    I think thats the deal at most places. But aren’t you a world traveler you should be used to that kind of thing by now.

  7. bob dylan Says:

    Mike: “Here’s your 12 oz. Filet I cooked on the grill”
    Guest: “Great, can I have some A1?”
    Mike: “Give me back that steak and I’ll go get you a hamburger.”

    ^take a bottle of bookers to the neighbors house cause he was chilling. he grabs a coke and about to pour i say WHOA WHOA WHOA, you can go back to jack if you think you’re mixing.

  8. tela'smuff Says:

    i have a jar of jalapeno jelly. that shit is goooood.

  9. lastwaltzer Says:

    for the triple play:

    I’m looking for a room at harvey’s………….I’m also looking for a plan ticket, rides and tickets 😉

    oh and time off work

  10. lastwaltzer Says:

    Oh man bob you have just opened a can of worms

  11. angryjoggerz Says:

    Hell, I didn’t say I didnt eat the salsa. I mean, for 2 years about 80% of my meals were cooked over a flame in a garbage can on the street, so its all good. Plus, got lots and lots of shots.

  12. Chuck sweD Says:

    is outside lands doing a webcast?

  13. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    pleeeease no webcast for UIC

  14. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    “for 2 years about 80% of my meals were cooked over a flame in a garbage can on the street”

    for reals?

  15. lastwaltzer Says:

    “I mean, for 2 years about 80% of my meals were cooked over a flame in a garbage can on the street, so its all good. “aj

    thats what I thought! Which is why I’m like “is this guy complaining about the salsa?” 🙂

  16. EL Duderino Says:

    here’s to hoping for a UIC Web-Cast!!!!

  17. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    pickapeppa is solid. i ate way too much of it for a while though so it isn’t in the regular rotation anymore. now, piri piri sauce I can buy into part and parcel. that stuff is phenomenal if you can find a good one

  18. lastwaltzer Says:

    the only thing worse than bob marley’s jamming…………….is a smooth jazz cover of bob marley’s “jamming”

  19. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i’m guessing/hoping tahoe gets a webcast, i’ll be pissed if UIC gets one

  20. EL Duderino Says:

    Some Pear butter is another great way to glaze chicken and pork yo’!

    don’t sleep on that shit yo’

  21. kayatosh Says:

    UIC webcast or live stream would be $$$. post up on couch tour and take it all in.

  22. angryjoggerz Says:

    For realz. Shit was good though, not complaining.

    This is the basic setup of most of the street food in China, which is where I ate alot. Was able to live on less than $2 a day and ate like a king.


  23. Dr Pronoia Says:

    Wife story:

    A few days ago we were doing house work and my wife puts on Cities from Jones Beach 09. After she left the room, I put on a “better” one, I think from Greek.

    After a few minutes she came in and said, Phish and the Dead used to be things we shared and had in common, but since the BB you’re obsessiveness had gone through the roof, and now it’s something you share more with your friends and online friends.

    Frankly, it hurt, and is true. I’ve seen about 70% of my shows with her, but she doesn’t care about best versions, different jamming styles, and her ADHD keeps her from appreciating the wild type 2 stuff. So while the shows are always a great time, all the secondary neuroticisms I can’t share as easily…

    Since then I’ve been trying though to include her more in Jerry week, prep for UIC, etc.

    Of course, then today we’re listening to 4.3.98 and she revealed that she’d gone to that show, but doesn’t remember any of it except buying a green long-sleeve shirt at the show. that’s it. nothing of the music. Same thing with one of the France shows with Santana in 96 or whatever. Saw with friends, had fun, but wasn’t wrapped up in the music or the intricacies.

    No morale here, just chiming in with a few wifey phish-related interactions lately.

    carry on…

  24. bearito Says:

    Im with you bob d 100%

    PLEASE don’t disrespect the bourbon by dousing it in chemical syrupy mixers

    Sorry, I’m a bartender and I’m spoiled rotten when it comes to spirits & liqueurs.

    A good spirit stands on it’s own, and while some can & should be used to create tasty adult beverages, the spirit should not have to rely on a mixer as a crutch.

  25. EL Duderino Says:

    the ADHD thing is more and more prevalent in today’s society. everything is instant gratification. Rory’s U.S. Open win for example. 3.0 Mounds another.

    always the most current thing is the best… in sports, phish whatever.
    Memory seems to be a thing of the past.

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