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. SillyWilly Says:

    oh shoot we have Lastwaltzer and Leo Weaver present

    the bear comment pertains to Lastwaltzer’s bear avoidance vacation.

    @Leo Weaver

    you’re right.

    sometimes you gotta whore yourself out to some low places for the Phish

  2. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:


    truthy stuff right there

  3. lastwaltzer Says:


    Never happened 🙁 We were devastated. We had a series of really unfortunate events that ended with the death of a family member. Ultimately we just didn’t have the time to get out there after picking up the pieces.

    We ended up driving out east to visit my folks, hang at the beach, check NYC and fake Jerry. It was fun, but it was not Montana.

    Lets just say we’ve already started to plan for next year 🙂

  4. bearito Says:

    Awesome writeup Miner!

    If all the 3.0 naysayers haven’t come around by this point, I don’t think they will and I really don’t care.

    It is completely evident that the band’s jamming right now is legIT

    Brace yourself Gorge goers…brace yourself.

  5. kayatosh Says:

    silly: yes, acoustic jerry is a beautiful thing. I wore out my garcia and Grisman CD in the 90’s. That sound penetrated my core. thrill is gone. russian lullaby, arabia

  6. bob dylan Says:

    how many t-shirts do you think i need if i can do laundry come san fran? 6 should be enough to not be too scumbag steveish right?

  7. butter Says:

    Ready for a new school KDF with mind blowing jam

  8. willowed Says:

    Nice words HH. My posts are just nonsense. That’s my m.o. The funny guy.

    The truth, My wife is the greatest person in the world. She values my happiness, so she lets me do these things. And I don’t take advantage of it.
    Plus, before we got married i told her one important thing.
    I said, I know women like try and change men. It’s like a little game you play. Trust me, and I mean trust me, this is one thing you will not change in me.
    She said OK, so I asked her to marry me.

  9. bob dylan Says:

    i mean i know its better to have too much than not enough but to this day i have a habit of overpacking even if just a bit. i wanna get to the point where i can travel with as little as possible.

  10. Leo Weaver Says:

    @bob…we have washer and dryer at the cu$ty crib. i plan on doing some laundry there.

  11. bob dylan Says:

    get the fudge outta here!!!! ok so i could prob roll with 6 and not even stress.

  12. garretc Says:

    Don’t listen to bob!

    The fudge can stay

  13. Selector J Says:

    Totally agree with your *is* and *isn’t* line, @Miner. There are lots of knuckleheads out there trying too hard to be jaded noobs. Phish is playing great music right now. Dwelling on the past is plain sad.

    @silly Those pop country bars are classy with a capital C. youtube “Fishing in the Dark” some time. Slackness inna di saloon. Yikes!

  14. HarryHood Says:

    “Trust me, and I mean trust me, this is one thing you will not change in me.
    She said OK, so I asked her to marry me”

    ^ My girl has never, and I fear will never understand this. That is why after 3 years, she still doesn’t have a ring…….

    And please don’t take what I said personally, your posts are by no means nonsense. You are one of the lucky ones that is married to someone who allows you to do what you enjoy regardless of whether or not she agrees with it. You also respect her enough to not exploit it. You’ve got a good thing man.

  15. bob dylan Says:

    i miss the city: http://gothamist.com/2011/08/01/wall_street_got_naked_this_morning.php

  16. bearito Says:

    Bethel KDF is still getting tons of spins – tons of great trey phrases in that one

    @ HH – Hopefully things will balance out for you family-wise, and you can get to some shows

  17. Robear Says:

    Still holding out hope that the country defaults on the debt limit, and the airfare drops for a couple days.

    Flights to ChiTown nearly out of reach…..

  18. SillyWilly Says:

    Holy shit, LastWaltzer

    I had no idea. Figures that I missed that as I haven’t been on the board a ton lately.

    I am really sorry to hear that.

    Are you doing ok?

  19. bearito Says:

    Tried naming your own price Robear?

    Of course it can make things logistically impossible if they give you red eye flights, but it’s still worth a shot.

  20. HarryHood Says:

    @ Bearito

    The nice thing about my job is that I have to travel all over the country, so occasionally I can combine a work trip with a show. I’ve done that for Trey in Pittsburgh and Phish at PNC and Mansfield this summer. Things went swimmingly at first, but now the SLF is on to me and knows that I’m planning my trips around shows…… It’s a constant battle. It will get better I’m sure, but I fear that it will have to get much much worse before I get to the “better” part.

  21. Leo Weaver Says:

    no fudgin’ ya mango. I’m packing for 3-4 days and using the washer.

  22. marcoesq Says:

    morning everyone

    great piece today, miner. really gets to the core of what both the band we as fans are about in this era. Seems like we are all getting on the same page

    Can be easy to lose perspective, in anything, these days and it’s good to know that our captain is righting this mystery ship.

    or something like that

  23. kayatosh Says:

    HH: you’re grappling with some tough stuff, but it is common. Once kids are in the mix, relationships change and get seriously tested. You now share a responsibility w/ your slf and hence the push and pull. With a loving and understanding partner on the other side, the push and pull gradually becomes more of an organic ebb and flow with mutual benefit. sounds like she’s a tough one. hang in there.

  24. tela'smuff Says:

    uh. i may have overpacked. i forgot about the laundry option.

  25. Phuzzy Says:

    Good advice HH. Lucky on that point in that my wife loves music as much as I do and loves the Phish from VT as much as I do. It’s really more money and logistics. Our parents watch our kids instead of day care, so we try not to take advantage of that too much with out of town trips without the kids. Yes, the best thing I can say is to find someone who really just wants you to be happy without any strings or conditions. Very tough to do. My wife is there about 95% of the time, which I am cool with. Lucky indeed…………still jealous about West Coast Phish, INDEED!

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