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. lastwaltzer Says:

    mind left tweezer uic $$$

  2. The Light Between Says:

    Yeah, I can’t imagine they’d make everyone drive home Saturday night. I haven’t been to the Gorge since the 99 shows. Like I said, I assume it’s both nights. I just wish I had a more definite answer, as I’m trying to decide between different options and I’m not the one driving.

  3. MrCompletely Says:

    well butter it depends on how she feels about the end part of those 73/74 era Eyes. they get kind of frenetic, she might dig it, or it might stress her out. if she is down with that style, the 10/19/74 one you have is absolutely prototypical, the mix on the the GD Movie Soundtrack is great, can’t go wrong there. My very favorite oldschool Eyes is the 8/6/74 first set one that’s on DP31.

    For “smoother” ones I think the best known later era versions are rightly ranked – Nassau 90 with Branford and Greensboro 91. The latter one is just waves of chilled out bliss.

    I definitely prefer the old jazzy ones like you’re digging into, just thinking about the context

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    I’m pretty sure camping tix are sold per night, so they can charge you twice, the point being that the Gorge will never ever miss an opportunity to charge you another $30

    but its true what they said, no reason to book it in advance. they’ll sell you the second night onsite if you need it. general camping doesn’t sell out. it’s like the size of the Mongolian Empire & has been known to sound & smell like it too a couple days in.

  5. The Light Between Says:

    The tickets are listed at $60. Another reason I assume that it is for both nights. I find it hard to believe the camping would be more expensive than the show.

  6. MrCompletely Says:

    I mean the whole point of those early Eyes, conceptually speaking, was to take you from the smooth jazzy groove to the utmost gnarliest 70s fusion explosion, through a series of smooth changes…which fits some intimate moments well…but maybe others not so much?

  7. MrCompletely Says:

    ah $60 yeah that’s both nights I’m sure yr right. wouldn’t worry at all

  8. The Light Between Says:

    Well… I’m still gonna worry. That’s just the way I am. 😉

  9. lastwaltzer Says:

    im thinking the branford one would be a better pick for the delivery room……….but maybe the tension of the jam could lead to the release of the baby 🙂

  10. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah the shifting jam would either be all win or all fail

    i assume you have the miami darkstar on there right between the vegas wolfman’s & tower jam?

  11. MrCompletely Says:

    voopa the retweet king tonight. good shit

  12. butter Says:

    thats a very good about about frenetic jamming

    a dark star from dp 36 was just driving her absolutely nuts while we were putting together a baby stroller

  13. butter Says:

    yea, the Greensboro one from the song the morning brings mix

  14. butter Says:

    my copy of that Greensboro Eyes is mp3

    can my baby be born to an mp3? hehe

    would sound just fine over the bose doc, im sure, but lol

  15. butter Says:

    C – would you email me your address and i’ll send ya this shorty Luther sent me

  16. butter Says:

    Great call C – this 91 is very pleasing on the practice spin

  17. Andrew Says:

    You all are great for a nightcap after work, fun stuff to catch up on and always entertaining. Always thankful for the convos.


  18. voopa Says:

    You’re too kind C, thanks!

  19. chefbradford Says:

    Mr C (or any other knowledgeable Deadhead): what is your absolute, top-shelf, desert island “Eyes of the World”? Or, if you’re more like I am and are unable to choose an absolute best-of anything, what are some of your favorites?

    “Eyes” is among my favorite, if not my favorite, Dead songs (keep in mind that I’m for all intents and purposes a total noob)

    Really, any heads on tonight, I’d welcome your favorite “Eyes”, or anything Dead-related. I’ve been on a bit of a kick lately, and I welcome the direction

  20. voopa Says:

    Chef- 10-19-74, or DWD 8-5-96 😉

  21. chefbradford Says:

    Ha, thank you sir! I’m never one to shun a solid Phish rec, either! I’ll seek out that ’74 show now, place the DWD on the nearest back-burner

    seriously, thanks for the rec. I know good stuff is thrown around here all the time, but I can only grab at the ether occasionally

  22. butter Says:

    Eyes 11.30.73 dp 14 @chef

  23. chefbradford Says:

    And thank you @butter for that rec as well. I finished the 10/74 one, going to find that 11/73 and go to sleep. Thank you both @voopa and butter, I appreciate it

    thanks for taking a minute to give a clueless cat like me a couple of directions to point my nose and ears

  24. butter Says:

    Disease Supreme

  25. butter Says:

    Greek Light is still the one, when you gotta pick one Light for a playlist

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