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. albert walker Says:

    I like people that puff tough

    Kindness way overrated

  2. Mike in Austin Says:

    Ha, joe. You’re a very smart dude. I think we’re all lazy to some extent.

    Necessity is not the mother of invention. Laziness is. I create all kinds of stuff so that I don’t have to work too hard later.

  3. Mike in Austin Says:


    Cool article on varying personalities.

  4. alf Says:

    so mitch is a meme

    if AW is ever spotted at a BB meetup with a camera, i think we now know his motivation

  5. bob dylan Says:

    Necessity is not the mother of invention. Laziness is. I create all kinds of stuff so that I don’t have to work too hard later.

    ^rube goldberg had to be a stoner. i wouldnt believe him if he told me he wasn’t.

    (i.e. “what do you mean the navbar can’t be in a different place on every page?”)


    i’m trying to be a leech around here. one of these days when i get a new girl, i feel like i can really wow her. the problem is in the execution. daft punk’d.

  6. MrCompletely Says:

    ok survey time

    directv is offering us a huge deal that could save us a lot of money. but I am nervous about directv and the internet would be through qwest/”centurylink” which is also nervous-making though it’s brand-new fiber which is appealing

    directv dealio includes NFL Sunday Ticket which is cool but not enough reason to sign up for something otherwise sketchy

    so, anyone use directv? if so, how’s the reception, esp if you have cloudy/windy weather like we do in football season?

    and, importantly, have they ever tried to screw you with extra charges? lots of chatter like that online, but you know how that is


  7. albert walker Says:

    Yesterday me and miles spotted a pair of euro trashers in man capris on our walk. We were cracking the fuck up

    Man capris+Mitch+ broken elbows=funniest shit ever

  8. bob dylan Says:

    place i moved into this year has directv. i pay my roommate 10 bucks a month for the box and have more channels than I’ve ever had before. don’t ask me how cause he pays the bill.

    that said, i’ve been really happy with it. dropped down my netflix and am thinking about canceling.

    reception hasn’t been an issue, i had a problem once and they told me how to reset it and emailed me a copy in case i forgot.

    cool thing with directv is that i can login to hbogo now if your reception is down anyway. assuming its not the same dish for that too.

  9. halcyon Says:

    Mr C

    We have centurylink as they are the only game in town. Luckily we are in a small town so their local office can provide a face which to ask questions if need be. We had DSL 1.5 and I went in there and they upgraded to 10mbps for no additional charge.

    That doesn’t probably answer your DirectTV question, but I do know that Dish held a contract with Century Link up until last year and they cancelled it due to to many frustrations with the partnership with Century Link.

  10. lastwaltzer Says:

    I love the idea of Miles cracking up.

  11. lastwaltzer Says:

    I feel like his laugh would scare small children.

  12. albert walker Says:

    I don’t have a TV bro. Wouldn’t know.

    Only NPR and French films

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    “cool thing with directv is that i can login to hbogo now if your reception is down anyway”

    I have no idea what that means

  14. bob dylan Says:

    i’ll prob upgrade to a dvr box when i get back which will cost a few bucks more but i kick him nugs for the bill anyway so whatevs.

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    the thing is, the quotes they’ve been giving us keep shifting a bit depending on who you ask, and they have a bit of a rep for billing irregularities, wondering how big an issue it is or if its internet echo chamber stuff

  16. albert walker Says:

    Kick does capris to robear. They’ll be the right length then.

  17. bob dylan Says:

    cool thing with directv is that i can login to hbogo now. /sentence

    if you’re reception is down you can use that option.

    sorry i was a ramblin man there. hbogo.com is netflix for hbo movies. new a month or two ago but the interface isn’t up to par with netflix yet.


    be careful, i didn’t have a tv before i moved in here and it kinda sucked me in. i moved the tv out of my room for a while to take a break but then moved it back in when i got sick of the bill maher podcast and wanted to watch instead.

  18. bob dylan Says:

    then when robear rolls em up to short length on me he will look like bob weir in the 90s.

  19. EL Duderino Says:


    Duder’s 1st show.
    Taped from the Front row.
    Only source in circulation

  20. snowbank Says:

    My dad has DirecTV and loves it. doubt he would notice if they jacked him a few bucks here and there though. No reception issues.

    Have a good evening all.

  21. plord Says:


    Whoah. Pythagoras, bitches.

  22. joe Says:

    C – I have directv. got it about 4 years ago when they were offering the nfl sunday ticket, plus every possible station for like $70 or something. I’ve never had a problem with reception (as opposed to my sirius radio which gets spotty at times). note: I don’t have hd, so I can’t speak to that. The one big con that I see is that it doesn’t just have a regular on-demand type feature like the cable companies do. (I also don’t have dvr-but am sure it’s a regular feature that is fine to use)

    We only got some charges the following year when they pre-billed me for the nfl package again without asking if I wanted it. by the time I noticed it on the bill (I just have the payment taken out automatically), I already paid the second installment so I went with it again. I’ve since cancelled it cuz I work Sundays till 4est and by that time there are only a few games on the docket that aren’t already on national tv anyway.

    I later bitched about one of their fees and the gave me what was supposed to be a temporary rebate when I threatened to cancel my service. It’s been two years and they are still giving me a $15 discount every month, which amounts to me just not cancelling hbo (got to have some of the shows/docs on there)

    overall grade : B. (but I’m not much of a tv junkie besides sports for the most part)

  23. joe Says:

    hbogo is awesome. every show they ever did in it’s entirety on there.

  24. joe Says:

    that reminds me: saw a good special about fiber optics on pbs the other night.


    got me thinking that I’d love to invest in the company that just lays the cable. Is there a market leader? (note: I’m broke. all investment is theoretical and mythical)

  25. plord Says:

    In other news, I am now flying direct from the Gorge to STL to see my buddy for two days. Pulling this last minute change cost me every mile I have left but it SAVED me a few hundred bucks. Score.

    “Mind your manners, son! I’ve got a tall pointy hat! Status, boy! You can argue with me, but you can’t argue with status!” – Elrod, in _Cerebus_, before Dave Sim went alpha-douche.

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