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. gavinsdad Says:

    wouldn’t mind a Mr. C ranking of the standout nassau shows from 1980 forward

  2. joe Says:

    I was just surprised that the US still isn’t fiber cabled up the wazoo. figured that ship had already sailed as you said in the 90’s/early 2000’s

  3. voopa Says:

    mrs.v & I saw the 2 ’99 Nassau shows…good times, despite us losing each other in the parking lot…I stopped to buy a beer and she didn’t…spent the next 1/2 hour waiting where I was, then found her as I was walking back to the hotel (she had already been and was on her way back to find me)…kind of a scary moment, what with both of us being 3K miles from home and all…

  4. voopa Says:

    I know joe, sad.

  5. DukeOfLizards Says:

    My good tour buddy from LI and I always say that the only plausible “final event” at NVMC should be a Phish show.

    Then when they do the demolition, rather than rigging up a bunch of explosives, they can just have Mike come out and drop bombs until the place collapses.

    I’ve heard multiple rumblings of runs at Nassau in 3.0 only for the rumors to be untrue. I know basically for a fact that there have been (apparently unfruitful) band/venue management discussions to this end. Just because of the history in that place, it’s probably the venue I’d most like to catch a show in right now.

    NVMC>MSG for New Year’s? Would that be good?

  6. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Hah @MrP I didn’t read your whole post from the last page.

    Two out of two heads agree: Mike Gordon should do the honors at Nassau.

  7. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Voopa- the second night of that ’99 run was the one i had to skip. Those shows were good but they couldn’t live up to the prior year. The encore always stuck in my mind. Rocky Top>Hydrogen>Julius….. wtf?

  8. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Nassau makes Boardwalk Hall look like Carnegie Hall.

    Aw would love it..

  9. bob dylan Says:


    reading the other reviews, now is a good time to name bash the shit out of them. the call was disconnected while we were on the phone setting up the plan. apparently ti was far enough that they started a bill. we called back and signed up again since they couldn’t find the original. we received 2 devices which at that point i was so put off by the customer service that i just sent them back as “return to sender”

    2 months later we get a notice that they are coming after us thru creditors for money not paid. turns out, there was a typo in the name on the call that got cut off. they couldn’t ever find it because the dude wrote the name wrong. so as far as the guy on the phone i didn’t owe anything.

    i finally notice the incorrect name on the envelope and ask him to search for that and he has to get a manager to cancel it all out and the dude had the nerve to act like he was doing me a solid by canceling all the fees.

    single worst customer service I’ve ever dealt with, ever. ever, ever. no joke.

  10. Mike in Austin Says:

    Dr P,

    We’ve used a few. PCM (Dr. Taibi Kahler) has been big for many years at our company (one I used) and we’ve use Spencer, Shenk, Capers and Associates as the implementors. http://www.ssca.com/ Great guys.

    We’ve also lately been big on Insights Discovery which is more of a CGJ approach and the color coded methodoloies. http://www.insights.com/

    Our success with MMPI is pretty limited. We did it for a while, but it really doesn’t work on motivation and behaviour mentoring.

    It’s helped me immensely in managing people, but I’m really not as good as it as I would like.

  11. Guyute711 Says:

    “I’ve always heard bad things about satellite re: reception during storms”

    Time Warner Cable LIES!!!!!

  12. bob dylan Says:

    love me some dead go to nassau. dosin at the knick is great too for official releases of that style.

    i do not love nassau as a venue. the one cramped walkway with no inner walkway blows. give me 5 msg shows and scrap the 2 at nassau.

    i bet those row 5 hollywood bowl’s hurt the bankbook.

    voopa, as long as we have a war you could invest in engine companies and the people building tanks.

  13. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Mrs. Palmer just officially bailed on UIC 2. Solo now for night 2 and 3. I have 3 extra reserved tickets. 2 – sec 213, 1-sec 113. Anyone has a ga floor for night 2, i’ll take it.

  14. halcyon Says:

    Nassau is dirty….

  15. neemor Says:

    This is one of Miner’s best articles, IMO.
    Great sum-up of the current state of the band with a very realistic taste that I feel reaches the heart of the matter.
    Well done, sir.
    Well done indeed.

    Whaddup all?

  16. bob dylan Says:

    whats happening neems? lets grab a brew when i get back.

  17. neemor Says:

    Mrs. Palmer making this Second City trip seem almost impossible to miss….

  18. bob dylan Says:

    robbert zimmerman aka mitch

  19. neemor Says:

    I have been dying for someone to meet me up for a beer for four nights in a row.
    I need a whole new group of CT friends.
    I’m (almost) always down, Dylan.

  20. neemor Says:

    I missed the transition.

    I was ready to meet up with a complete stranger for drinks just because he was from this board.
    Says a lot.

  21. bob dylan Says:

    just got your email. we’ll work thru that.

  22. neemor Says:

    Can I also add how necessary it is for me to hear a live AAntelope or Tweezer soon?
    Dying for the band.

  23. bob dylan Says:

    bobby d was my work alias in case anyone got hip to our scene. however now that miner has a book and all, i figure the traffic is prob bigger and i should stick with an alias.

  24. neemor Says:

    Are you out west?? Or mid-west?

  25. neemor Says:

    A mango by any other name is just as sweet.

    Today’s Tweezer is bad-ass.

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