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. MrCompletely Says:

    the right time for tripping is shortly after whenever you take the dose.

    and only on days ending in “y”

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    I don’t think much was happening from 81 thru 84 really

    there are counterexamples but they seem like outliers

    very rough vocals, band generally uninspired

  3. bob dylan Says:

    mr p, i was born in 84. big year for me! terrapin i found out was played on my bday for the first time cept it was years prior so i guess no technically mine.

  4. bob dylan Says:

    just confirmed we’re doing WW at the mock art show for those of you talking about it earlier.

  5. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Born in ’84? Jeez, thanks for that. Now i feel old. I thought you were older than that, must be that beard that makes you look more mature. 🙂

  6. voopa Says:

    best day trip was at lolla ’94…a story i will relate later, if i haven’t already.

    oh and there was the west coast gotv ’94, where i bought a wet sheet early saturday morning, then discovered i was parked next to a nitrous van…

  7. fat bastard Says:

    you fools wanna here some vintage garcia go no further then 11-5-79 second set. althea to get it going. listen to that guy sing. soul brother

    i need uic tickets for monday night.

  8. bob dylan Says:

    if you wondered where boyz II men have been they are doing chocolate rain remixes on tosh.o

  9. Mike in Austin Says:

    I was in high school in ’84. I’m old.

    I’ll be taking naps between sets at UIC.

  10. neemor Says:


  11. neemor Says:

    Manog is a baby.
    Babyface lumberjack.
    I feel old, too.

  12. bob dylan Says:

    thats why i keep the beard. look 12 otherwise.

    least i wasn’t born in the 90s ilke DF

  13. neemor Says:

    Manog and his friend Mango.

  14. fat bastard Says:

    even better when he starts playin this solo

  15. bob dylan Says:


  16. Mr. Palmer Says:

    born in the 90’s…pffftt.

  17. neemor Says:

    So, when is Miner’s book coming out?
    My coffeee table has a spot for it and it’s completely effing up my feng sway.
    I’m an instant-gratification type guy.

  18. neemor Says:

    Ha…that born in the 90’s stuff makes me laugh.
    Where did the time go?
    Palmer…I wonder if your trunk is large enough to hold a neemor.

  19. neemor Says:

    The upcoming Gorge Hood is going to be a game changer.

  20. neemor Says:

    Alright, I’m out for a nice summer evening stroll.
    You kids keep it real.

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    interview about 1 hour…he’ll edit some of it.

  22. Mr.Miner Says:

    the right time for tripping is shortly after whenever you take the dose.

    and only on days ending in “y”

    ^ fact

  23. Mr.Miner Says:

    @ neems, holiday season. reserve your copy now 🙂


  24. bob dylan Says:


    ^only click if you want your mind blown by an awesome search aggregate of every file.

  25. bob dylan Says:

    my buddy at work has a few years on me and was bragging when he broke the 90s barrier. that was a funny convo tho ya may have had to be there.

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