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. William H. Bonney Says:

    Have had Direct TV for years, sunday ticket fan. only time I lose signal is in strong upper level storms. maybe two three times a year, and we get massive storms in Tampa Bay area all summer and fall. Rain and winds no, strong high level cells that can disrupt sat. signal yes, but only for a few min 10-15 at must. Friends who have had dish network seem to loss signal in every type of storm. I have always had good luck with their customer service team, I am very low maint. so not saying much. But is common knowledge they will give discounts above and beyond advertised deal to keep/retain customers. “free” sunday ticket has me happier, than last year’s 250 charge. Two year contract is real sticking point for must people, but is very easy to have service moved. I moved couple times in 6 month period and paid nothing each time, other than tip for the tech.

  2. Guyute711 Says:

    I had Directv for three years and have been without it for the last three years due to the people I live with. As soon as I am out of here I will be getting it again. I never had much trouble with the service and when I did customer service always hooked me up.

  3. Mr.Miner Says:

    great interview….I’ll embed it on the site when it airs tomorrow.

  4. Mr.Miner Says:

    @ C..directv rules. Sux that it may effect your web service.

    but ive had directv for about 8-10 years and the reception is crystal clear, the menus are bomb, an the sports programming (which is all I really care about) totally unparalleled

  5. lastwaltzer Says:

    Look forward to hearing the interview miner.

    Don’t know how you’d feel about it but I think a podcast every now and again would be dope. Maybe before each tour, sort of what you already do but you could say your piece in between the tunes.

  6. Mr. Palmer Says:

    How long was the interview @ Miner?

  7. joe Says:

    what rules more than directv is this tweezer. I’ve been saving it up till people left and I could crank it up.

  8. Dr Pronoia Says:

    @ MIA – what personality inventories/questionaires do you use at your job?

    I’m happy I didn’t have to learn much I/O psych to get licensed, but it’s an interesting area to be sure. When applied clinically — MMPI, Rorschach, TAT, etc — these approaches are only moderately informative IMO. A good conversation and a peek at the bookshelf is typically better…

  9. Dr Pronoia Says:

    speaking of bookshelf, I’m about a fourth of the way through Vineland and so far it’s seeming a lot like his latest novel, Vice? Some hippie slapstick, some satire, one or two beautiful sentences a chapter. Does it deepen at some point? I’m a huge fan of Rainbow and V, so this other type of book has yet to win me over.

    Reminds me of Bellow. I love his expansive novels, but he alternated with pensive, gloomy novels that I could never get down with

  10. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I think i’ll break up Jerry week for the 8/1/98 Tweezer.

  11. negev79 Says:

    @C – we switched from comcast to directv/qwest a few months ago. Verdict:

    Directv: So far is an A-. Good price, great reception, we’ve never had a problem. Not once. No weird hidden fees or $ surprises here, though trying to get an answer out of someone in their customer service is always dicey. Get a different answer every time you ask. But if you research carefully and ask lots of questions, you should be clear on where things stand once you are ready to pull the trigger on their service. One minus is that they require a 2 yr contract, like a cell phone, and will charge you if you cancel early. Their DVR is world’s better than Comcast’s though – holds much more shit and you can watch contents in more than one room. Someone already mentioned the on demand stuff, that’s true, comcast’s is much better. But I otherwise prefer Directv.

    Qwest: Run for your life! F-. I have never hated a company more than I hate this one (ok I may have hated Enron, Halliburton et al more). When we switched over, I went from Comcast to Qwest for phone and internet. The internet was hideous, though that was because no fiber in my neighborhood, it was slow as shit. But the phone was the real problem – it never worked properly – and it was my work phone as I worked from home. We ended up going back to Comcast for the internet and phone, but keeping Directv for the cable. Which costs more unfortunately than I was paying for Comcast to begin with. I spent two weeks trying to get Qwest to fix the phone, then MONTHS trying to get them to really cancel the account and zero out what they said I owed them. I still expect them to send my account to collections (even though I don’t owe them anything) because I keep calling, having them tell me my account is now zero, only to receive another bill a month later. They suck really really hard, their customer service is abysmal and I sincerely doubt a name change will do anything to improve them as a company. If you’re just going for internet with them, and they have fiber optic in your hood, you may be ok, but be wary for sure.

  12. Mr. Palmer Says:

    “Go To Nassau”- never heard this release. I recall it getting some serious praise either here or elsewhere. Love some high quality 79-80 Dead. Have to do some digging to find the gems though. Gonna give this a whirl.

  13. lastwaltzer Says:

    @p, does that have the eyes with branford? if so your in for a treat.

  14. Squirming_nancy Says:

    I have 2 extras (PTBM) for the Hollywood Bowl, Row 5 in Pool B. I paid scalper prices but if you are interested I will sell them to you for exactly what I paid or make me an offer. E-mail me offline at lovin4u@gmail.com. Thanks!

  15. Mr. Palmer Says:

    don’t think so LW- I thought Branford was nassau ’90 or ’91.

  16. lastwaltzer Says:

    oh 79_80 i must be thinking of anothet disc. regardless eyes with branford from nassau is the biz

  17. MrCompletely Says:

    thanks for all the feedback! keep it coming. @negev, I am very wary of Qwest to be sure!

    go to nassau is a strong release with a few A+ tracks on it. High Time, Stranger, Sailor > Saint are all absolutely prototypical versions of those songs. The rest varies from average to great.

  18. MrCompletely Says:

    that’s on Without a Net, the Branford Eyes

  19. P.S.H.S. Says:

    nassau might be closing, LI doesn’t want the islanders any more. phish needs to blow it up once more before it gets blown up, or imploded

    company outing tomorrow at six flags, it’s gonna be sweet

  20. lastwaltzer Says:

    @c what do you think of the 93 la show with branford?

  21. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I saw that PSHS. Growing up on LI it makes me kind of sad. The Islanders will probably leave , i know they suck but i still remember ( barely) when they were a dynasty. Also seen more concerts there than anywhere else.

    The Dead a bunch of times and every phish show played there with the exception of 1 (friends wedding)

    I agree though, Phish should play there for one final run and bring the walls down in that dump. No need for the wrecking ball, then Gordon’s bass bombs do the work.

  22. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Plus, phish has been known to play some decent shows in that building….;)

  23. voopa Says:

    joe- my Mom invested in Qwest when they were laying fiber along RR tracks in the mid 90’s…we tripled our money. Then I got cocky and invested the rest in crap like estamp, webvan, and random biotech companies…the only sound investment I’ve made since was a cynical buy of Teledyne right after 9/11. Not sure which public companies are involved with the latest infrastructure building, because I have nothing to invest anyway.

    C- I’ve always heard bad things about satellite re: reception during storms, which should be a concern for you obvs, but if the comments here are any indication, I say go for it. The price variances maybe due to the fact that they have a variety of local contractors/resellers, but IDN how you’ve been going about it. It’s hasn’t been an option for me lately, since Comcast is the only true High Speed Internet in town- despite the fact that there’s a train track less than 1/2 mile from my house (demand, etc..)…maybe I should go and string a fiber cable from the tracks…

  24. voopa Says:

    Row 5! Tempting.

  25. joe Says:

    my first dead show was at nassua.

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