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. neemor Says:

    I’ve spent a quite a few of my days this past month in the city dicking around.
    Patsy’s @ 118th st for delicious pie, etc.

    I should’ve looked you up at some point.
    My bad.

  2. negev79 Says:

    From SF Weekly blog about OL:

    There are plenty of ways to avoid Phish.
    Doubtless, some of you will be seeking to actually catch Phish (ha!) — and to you, well, godspeed. But those of us who require a minimum 200-yard distance from any jam bands are well served by Friday’s schedule, which offers such enticements as Big Boi, Erykah Badu, Best Coast, the Shins, and Big Audio Dynamite, all while Phish noodles on the main stage for more than three hours.

    And there’s this too:

    Let’s get something straight: MGMT is a daytime band. Its sound is all bright sunshine and neon surf shorts and goofy Wayfarers (and psychedelic drugs, which, at least in our experience, work better in the sunlight).

    WTF? Psychedelics work better in the daytime? Who is this person?

    My comment is currently being moderated. http://tinyurl.com/44sjrq9

  3. bob dylan Says:

    i just sent you an email. I’ve not had the best summer and have actually been out of the city since june. won’t rehash all that stuff here but you didn’t miss me on your visits. i’ll be back once tour is over.

  4. bob dylan Says:

    midwest in naptown area until thursday then i go real west.

  5. negev79 Says:

    I’m out – see you tomorrow!

  6. Guyute711 Says:

    Typical nonsense negev, not sure why we still get upset about it. By the way, that kind of article still bothers me.

  7. plord Says:

    Daytime, nighttime, any old time is the right time.

  8. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    @neemor, if palmer’s got your UIC 2 & 3, might have a 1 to complete the trifecta.
    Do eet.

  9. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Just to clarify. My extras are all for Night 2.

  10. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    Ah, ok. So he would still need a 3. If he’s serious, I bet someone could track one down.

  11. bob dylan Says:

    you got out of going with the in-laws taboot? niiiice

  12. voopa Says:

    Screw ’em…more room for us!

    Funny, one of the local DJ’s that was talking shit about Phish just started following me on Twitter…kinda strange. I warned him that he’d probably be bored w/my tweets, so we’ll see what happens.

    Replaying the Charlotte Ghost yet again..here comes bliss!

  13. William H. Bonney Says:

    @Mr P. I know someone who needs one for UIC2…let me know…

  14. [an unrelated] Wilson Says:

    both “indie” SF papers to put out an article on the schedule have dogged the phish. sooooo predictable in this town. (eyes roll).

  15. Mr.Miner Says:

    day-tripping rules

  16. Mr. Palmer Says:

    bob- yup. works out great. None of the guilt of leaving the wife with 3 kids alone either since she’ll be with her sister, husband and their 2 kids. They won’t even know i’m gone. Ready to have some fun, take in some Chicago sights and eats, and then summer indoor Phish. Hells yes.

  17. bob dylan Says:

    didn’t SF grow up on the dead? sell-outs.

  18. neemor Says:

    “day-tripping rules”
    ^ this

  19. MrCompletely Says:

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

    never heard it. I don’t listen to post-Hornsby Dead at all. Not my thing, no offense to anyone who had great experiences at shows of that era.

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

    I’m far from an expert on the early and mid 80s. I will be one day but for now I know maybe 5-10 shows a year from 81 through 85

    So after talking to some locals there’s no way we have the sightlines to get decent DirecTV reception. Company is straight bullshitting us on that. Cancelling that whole idea.

  20. MrCompletely Says:

    I’m actually saving big chunks of 85-early 86 for future listening in depth as well

  21. [an unrelated] Wilson Says:

    i will say.. having MGMT pretty much open for Phish is kinda cool. Not really a fan per se, but i’ll be glazed over nice and early for this.

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    Eventually there will be at least 1 if not 2 more large, like box set size, Spring 90 releases that will have a lot more of the Nassau shows prominently featured. mark it. could be a little while, but it will happen

  23. [an unrelated] Wilson Says:

    kicking Portsmouth, watching the fog roll in on Sutro tower. Just got my 2nd Tahoe ticket in the mail. It’s pretty f’n on at this point.

  24. bob dylan Says:

    i hear ya on that c. time warner only recently added us to their website as being in area. if they are bullshitting i’ll have their job on a stick.

  25. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I think ’84 is the least publicized year, musically for the Dead. Rarely hear anybody mention an ’84 show. Maybe it’s just a perception i have and isn’t remotely the case. don’t think i have one show from ’84. Is there anything i’m really missing. Was this a real dark year for Jerry?

    William B. I think that’ll work.

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