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. [an unrelated] Wilson Says:

    someone mentioned Without a Net.
    I love that Cassidy.

  2. bob dylan Says:

    miner, i wish these fliers were stickers so we could turn your book into the next street bomb fad but it would only be at concert venues. we’d deck the halls of msg and see them for years to come. (like obey stickers)

  3. bob dylan Says:

    (not that you’d necessarily want that)

    just know the word would get out easily if we stuck em everywhere.

  4. bob dylan Says:


    repost for the top of the page. like songswipe but all files

  5. halcyon Says:

    There is something about that Without a Net album that I love. Many memories attached to that album.

  6. Mr. Palmer Says:

    alright kids, out for the evening. Have a good one. Looking forward to Miner’s interview.

    Neemor- no trunk in my loser cruiser. I’m a family of 5 driving on Friday the 12 and returning friday the 19th- sat 20th. You wan’t nothing to do with this trip, trust me. I will hold a ticket for you though for night 2 if you need.

  7. bob dylan Says:

    wait, palmer, you’re driving back? need a co-pilot?

  8. bob dylan Says:

    oh, the fam is in the car with you already. they prob don’t want my w00k ass coming along.

  9. [an unrelated] Wilson Says:

    Funny how the Without a Net (to me at least) sounds a little different that other shows of that era. different sound, different … something. Played the hell out of it back in the day.

  10. joe Says:

    for me, it was One From the Vault that was the ultimate travel companion…get this kids. I had to tape it from my cd onto cassette so I could listen to it in my walkman. I’m sure I’m not the only one of the old bastards who did that.

  11. [an unrelated] Wilson Says:

    One From the Vault
    Dead Set
    Fillmore East

    spun them all on tape till they broke. literally.

  12. joe Says:

    from that same era: the double Jerry Band. that really was my favorite of all.

  13. bob dylan Says:

    my dad did that for his truck joe. then i jacked em when i was old enough to drive and my car had a tape deck still.

    something about playing an album or show all the way thru. something form a bygone era.

  14. [an unrelated] Wilson Says:

    Portsmouth Slave. (shiver)

  15. joe Says:

    It seems like a milion years ago. Was always a big day too when the tape sellers came through the student union (u.mass baby) with their dead bootleg collections amongs the selections. The same people who sold bob marley posters, incence, and futons.

  16. garretc Says:

    Woah, is there something wrong with being born in the ’90s?


  17. MrCompletely Says:

    “different sound, different … something.”

    it’s mixed weird to say the least.

    love the selections though

  18. MrCompletely Says:

    every once in awhile I get nostalgic for cassettes and whatnot

    then I remember how much all that sucked compared to now

    good times though

  19. The Light Between Says:

    Does anyone know if the Gorge camping pass is good for Friday and Saturday night? That is my assumption, but the Ticketmaster website makes it look like it is just Friday, and I tried calling Ticketmaster, but of course they couldn’t tell me anything more than what the website says.

  20. MrCompletely Says:

    tonights posts are sponsored by the word ‘though’

    kind of lame…money’s good though

  21. butter Says:

    supp all

    putting baby stuff together

    deciding between Boston Music Hall “Eyes” From ’73 and dp 14

    and SF 10/19/74 Eyes for birth playlist

    any other eyes i might want to consider @ C?

  22. lot rat Says:

    light between

    been to the gorgo twice, never got a camping ticket ahead of time. I think it was 50 or 60 for both nights in 09. The campground does not sell out, do not give TM anymore money, the suck.

  23. butter Says:

    Jer’s vocals sounding extra sweet in this 74 version

  24. butter Says:


  25. MrCompletely Says:


    it’d be wrong of us to ride this meme for long unless we all post pics as fair game, but…

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