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. bob dylan Says:

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

    ^unheadiness proven. 🙂 beeline has the wax on it already so it stays lit like a candle

  2. lastwaltzer Says:


    it can be like getting hit by a bus…….

  3. bob dylan Says:

    got w a x e d

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

    ^unheadiness proven. beeline has the w a x on it already so it stays lit like a candle

  4. joe Says:

    it was a bad joke on my part anyway. I meant to light it initially. weed infused (tinctured?) lighter fluid gets you super high man. better than butane or matches.

  5. SillyWilly Says:

    @ alf

    i don’t know if i have a very good voice for narrating

  6. Chuck sweD Says:

    i prefer to just inhale the butane straight up… shit is righteous~

    enjoy your evening… 75 hours till new phish!

  7. bob dylan Says:

    joe, in my original post that got w a x e d it had a smiley. when i copied it, the smiley was lost.

    mine was joking yet informative.

  8. Mike in Austin Says:

    @SW, we do that at our company to understand an employees ability to be a leader or approximate how they are going to react in particular situations. This actually helps you to understand how you consciously or subconsciously make decisions.

    But not through flow charts. We have done personality analysis though that is very interesting none-the-less.

    We look at things in terms of understanding and motivating behaviours. We have a tendency to react in ways that feed our motivations and our needs.

    They say there are a least three things that motivate us. Often it’s 1 or 2, but not all three.

    Power, Association and Achievement. If you like to “do” things, like fix cars, or having a sense of accomplishment after completing a task, you are more of an achiever. And if someone walked up to you and said “Wow, you sure got a lot accomplished” you would take that with a lot of pride.

    Some people do things because they get respect for who they are, or what experiences they have. They’re motivated by being seen in a position of respect or power, or ahead of other people.

    etc. Very interesting stuff.

  9. SillyWilly Says:



    that’s what I’m talking about.

    It’s just always shocking to me when people seem to know exactly what I am going to do when I don’t even know.

  10. gavinsdad Says:

    my sister-in-law is an information architect @C and a solid one taboot. her visio/omnigraffle skillz are blackbelt’ish.

  11. lastwaltzer Says:


    any interest in a marco benevento set thursday night?

  12. Mike in Austin Says:

    Some people have very high levels of social intelligence. And I think it’s natural to them to be able to identify personality types and to appeal to their value systems.

    The golden rule is not to do onto others as you would want to be done onto. The real golden rule is to do onto others as they would like to be done onto to.

    Interesting example, guy giving class for us, has been away from his wife for a week. He’s horny and ready to get down right when she gets home. He’s smart though, and realizes that she’s a bit anal and she won’t get in the mood if the place is a mess. So he sets the mood.

    He goes about cleaning the house, lighting candles, cleaning toilets etc. His wife comes home and she walks in, and the place is perfect.

    She says “Wow Steve. You vacuumed the floor.”
    He says “I know.”
    She says “Wow, you dusted the endtables, and even the insides, and cleaned off the light bulbs.”
    He says “I know.”
    She says “Wow you put all the dishes away, etc.”
    He says “I know, I’m ready to go to the bedroom now.”
    She says “I figured you’d appreciate that I recognized all the things you did. (She was a listmaker)
    He says “I know what I did. I did them.”

    Her idea of what she wants is acknowledgement for what she does. She was making a list of all of the things she thought she had to do when she got back, and when she acknowledged him, she was treating him as she wanted to be treated. Someone to recognize all the details.

    My wife is a listmaker. So I came home one day and she had cleaned the house. I listed about 30 things she did, and she was so warmed up after I was done, I summed it up by saying “Wow, you did a ton of stuff. You deserve a glass of wine, and … a foot rub baby….” Boom chicka bow wow.

  13. DukeOfLizards Says:

    just about packed for tour, bitches

    dicks picks 4 sounds about right

    Kalf, you’ll NEVER guess what I spun on my commute home ;).

    BB synchronicity strikes again.

  14. alf Says:


    i got it from palmer 😮

    but, DP29 was already loaded up, so i went with that

  15. alf Says:

    as soon as i hit submit comment i regretted it

    there were so many possibilities to duke asking me to guess what he spun on his commute, and i went with that answer


  16. SillyWilly Says:

    Totally, MiA

    One thing I think is true is that most people aren’t necessarily selfish, they’re just confused about the best way to show kindness to others

    what I think is kind to my girl might not be exactly what she wants, so the key is learning how others want to be treated (as you said)

    of course, that moves the difficulty from being kind to figuring out how to be kind.

    and therein lies the beauty of friendship. It’s quadruple action: Finding out how to be kind. Being kind. and the reverse.

  17. snowbank Says:

    It’s the four o’clock hour on the BB and we’ve got mike in Austin on the line with some advice for making nice with the mrs…

  18. alf Says:

    then my cat puked on the floor right next to me

    i think she was just registering her displeasure with my complete lack of internet message board savvy

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    silly, in general life is not well suited to being flowcharted or reduced to functional logic

    what I specifically mean is that even very smart people, when they are trying to think logically, often times do not really do so, largely because they get lost in the permutations in the intermediate steps (the ones in the middle).

    flowcharts and symbolic logic are ideal for clarifying thought processes of moderate complexity. for simple questions they are unnecessary and for truly complex questions (such as almost any interpersonal or relationship mystery) they are too clunky and become unwieldy and useless.

    perhaps there’s a philosophical point here but mostly I was just musing on how….analog most people’s minds really are, even the really smart ones. True binary/digital/logical thinkers are rare. I have an analog mind, to be sure, and so I use logical tools to help me be a little more rigorous when I need to be.

  20. Mike in Austin Says:

    Exactly Silly. Respecting other people takes a lot of work to know who they are, and what their value systems are. And probably some inherent personality skills too.

    And IMO, some people don’t have the patience or desire to learn about other people.

    And there are some people who just don’t put a high value on kindness. Sometimes they are better with direct and almost brutal conversations.

  21. MrCompletely Says:

    ha @gavinsdad my wife and I both work in situations where we are called on to apply rigor to poorly articulated concepts people want to present online. My wife actually had to tell someone in a meeting recently, ” did you know there is a professional and academic field called Information Architecture, and people get PhD’s in it?” when someone dismissed the importance of consistent navigational structures (i.e. “what do you mean the navbar can’t be in a different place on every page?”)

  22. Mike in Austin Says:

    Yeah C. Tough to make a flowchart with a decision box of “You like the person, yes or no?”

    Too much grey for logic charts.

  23. MrCompletely Says:

    yes MiA its important to know where people are coming from

    for instance my wife values fairness and respect

    she wants to be respected and treated as a peer, that is her thing

    if you come in on that level she is easy to get along with

  24. joe Says:

    not sure what one of the personality evaluations would say about me. Something along the lines of “nice guy, kind of lazy and not really that bright (or heady) probably wouldn’t be a good hire.”

  25. Mike in Austin Says:

    Those are good things MrC. Usually the people who are that way, are very competent too, because they know why they want to be respected and work hard at it. Easy to respect.

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