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. voopa Says:

    Hey, we could be Kings of Leon fans. They canceled their tour.

    Plus, we would have to listen to Kings of Leon.

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    nah I’m into them ironically. don’t have to actually listen to it. just rock the american apparel band tee now and then

  3. Chuck sweD Says:

    “Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid; humans are incredibly slow, inaccurate and brilliant; together they are powerful beyond imagination”

    i think thats what you’re getting at…

  4. SillyWilly Says:

    @Mr. C

    im interested.

    go on if you’d like.

    been thinking a lot about this kind of thing.

    never find anyone who wants to talk about the things that fascinate me (outside of this place), so I’ve been wondering if I’m fascinated by the wrong things.

    your work seems to be on par with my reflections…

  5. joe Says:

    excuse my ignorance but tinctures?

  6. Chuck sweD Says:

    i liked Aha Shake Heartbreak… then, nothing

  7. bob dylan Says:

    jesus i was not even paying attention. a few tastes around the city sounded like a spray bottle. was thinking a stroll in the park.

    shit, knowing AW, maybe it was. “going for a dog walk, lets try it out”

    c, if you’re driving to the gorge, bring one up, we can taste test it.

    anyone who has tried a tincture, hows it compare to puffing?

  8. snowbank Says:

    evolution seems to favor those who believe their own bullshit. it’s only way to explain the state of humanity.

  9. joe Says:

    kings of leon is one of the few bands I can say “I remember when I saw them playing to a few hundred disinterested people back in the day…they were so much better than”

  10. bob dylan Says:

    joe, a tincture is when you drop herb in a bottle of high proof stuff along the lines of everclear. keep it in a brown paper bag so sunlight doesn’t hit it. leave it there for a month shaking it up once a day.

    then you have a something that you could spray like binacca from what i understand or whip up a cocktail and get buzzed.

  11. Mike in Austin Says:

    Evolution requires a certain amount of delusion

  12. SillyWilly Says:

    i just like the sound of “tincture”

    has an old world sound of mysticism

    sounds like something you take when you’re playing with dragons

    “playing with dragons” = what the kidz in the 8th century called it

  13. Chuck sweD Says:

    tincture: weed in liquid form. like a glycerine-based weed treats. take a couple drops, stoney for a couple hours.

    i dont really like them… too much of a slow creep up; not enough potency. good for airplanes… and maybe other activities in public where you can’t puff. and for that, i’d prefer typical edibles like cookies, hashcaps

  14. MrCompletely Says:

    cannabis tinctures. thc and whatnot in alcohol or glycerol or whatever it is. there are lots of kinds. people keep giving me bottles of it.

    @sw you mean the flowchart thing?

    I work with universities including a lot of real famous prestige ones. They send us spec docs concerning functionality of the systems we build for them. One of the things I do as a lead developer is turn the client specs into logical formats (flowcharts, spreadsheets etc) that other developers can then follow to create the systems themselves.

    Some people are very good at thinking through all the possible permutations in their requests. When I encounter materials prepared by such a person, my job is easy.

    My job is not usually easy.

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    sure I’ll bring a bottle of local tincture to the gorge, no prob

  16. MrCompletely Says:

    though the main client I have been working with this year is in fact brilliant at it and has made my life much easier than it usually is during the summer. so I think today might be worse due to the contrast.

    I love really on point clients.

  17. bob dylan Says:

    “sure I’ll bring a bottle of local tincture to the gorge, no prob”

    ^sounded sarcastic but with you westies, ya never know. so if you aren’t joking then, score! thanks!

  18. SillyWilly Says:

    I see, Mr. C.

    sounds interesting.

    don’t know much about that kind of thing

    wondering how many of my own decisions/actions can be predicted by stats, flowcharts, the like

    systematize myself. then change my problematic aspects.

  19. SillyWilly Says:

    shit. I’m referring to the systems work.

    tinctures sound interesting, too!

    but maybe not in the “understanding humanity” vein

    then again…

  20. joe Says:

    thanks for the info. It’s times like these I realize how un-heady I am.

    (can you then use your tincture as fluid to light your bee-line with?)

  21. alf Says:

    it would kinda be cool to have silly just follow you around and narrate your life

    like if you were brilliant in your parallel park, he would be in the back seat talking about how that was smoother than when odysseus was out sailing the mediterranean this morning

    and if it ever gets boring or annoying, at least you have an ex d1 football player as a body guard

  22. alf Says:

    just about packed for tour, bitches

    dicks picks 4 sounds about right

  23. albert walker Says:

    Yeah bob

    We used to pretend we only liked getting spun at shows

    We’ve kinda opened the flood gates recently with the random drops around the city lately

    Life has me bored lately. Need some more weird in it

  24. Chuck sweD Says:

    tincture is edible. no fire necessary.

  25. Chuck sweD Says:

    …but maybe its flammable…

    looks like i get to light stuff on fire this evening. w00t

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