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. tela'smuff Says:

    finding it next to impossible to work right now. this is when working form home is a true challenge.

    BB, TT, planning, organizing, brothel researching. How can I get work done?

  2. albert walker Says:

    book a flight Robear

    you help us midwest kids out I’ll help with your flight

    we need OG in the midwest!

  3. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:


    interesting read on 4chan

    full disclosure: written by one of my best friends from grade/high school

  4. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    BB, TT, planning, organizing, brothel researching. How can I get work done?

    yeah. i’m gonna need a little more detail on this part. 😯

  5. bob dylan Says:

    theres a bunny ranch outside reno like the one outside vegas.

  6. bob dylan Says:

    midwest could def use a robear visit esp for the UIC run. fageeeetaboutit

  7. Leo Weaver Says:

    I was thinking the same thing T3, considering I’m copilot for this little jaunt.

  8. gavinsdad Says:

    @pencilneck: my brother is in LA (culver city) and is waiting for his 3rd kid to come any day now. But he’s like to try to hit the HBowl show. can you please post your email so I can pass along to him or email it to me at edlooram AT yahoo

    thank you kindly.

  9. tela'smuff Says:

    ha. dudes, i have needs.

    j/k. just don’t bother me if the bathroom door is locked at the crib. 😉

    but for real, Reno is filled with brothels. if you’ve ever seen the HBO Cathouse series, that’s outside Reno.

  10. marcoesq Says:

    yeah, dude’s bunny ranch outside of reno has been gettin all kinds of press lately.

    selection looks pretty busted though

  11. voopa Says:

    So mrs. v decided to bail on Tahoe. No shows for her this year. She’s not terribly broken up about it either, but it makes me kinda sad that she doesn’t have the same passion for the band as I do anymore. Makes me wonder if she ever did, or was just going along for the ride all those years?

    She hasn’t been feeling well lately, and didn’t want to miss too many work days, but she said that the main reason she decided not to go is because she understands my love for the band, and knows how important going to the shows and hanging with all of you and having a good time is to me, so she didn’t want to be Debbie Downer.

    I sort of saw this coming…her interest in the band since they returned has been noticeably less than mine. And while it does make me sad that she won’t be there, especially at the campsite where we spent our wedding night on our 9th anniversary, I feel very grateful that she cares so much about me having a good time that she is willing to sacrifice hers.

    Guess I’m pretty lucky!

  12. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    llfa @leo

  13. fat bastard Says:


  14. Phishentine Says:

    Miner – best write up of the year. Everyone out here should print this out and put it up in their rooms, cubes, closets, doors, etc…

    So spot on.

    Thank you.

    We are all very lucky this band is healthy and touring.

  15. marcoesq Says:

    Still working on this CO trip. Sounds like may have a free place to stay in Denver. Plus, have 2 free plane tix on SW so only expenses would be actual tix for show plus expenses..

  16. tela'smuff Says:

    damn Voop. could of crashed at the Crib with us after all.

    my wife is for sure moving away from the passion she once had. it’s getting to be an uphill battle as far as planning shows. sucks to not share that as much now, but i’m pretty lucky she is cool with me doing Gorge>Tahoe.

  17. marcoesq Says:

    How much are the 3 day passes usually through TicketHorse? Going for low 200’s for field online

  18. Phishentine Says:

    PS – ironically, Miner – I posted this on OPT this morning!

    Good Vibes.


  19. Robear Says:

    Nice Voop star. You sure she doesn’t want to avoid your slactivist friends from Nor Cal 🙄

    May have to bite the bullet and do the long drive to the bay for UIC.

    Anyone want to come visit Humboldt after Tahoe, then drive down with us?

  20. voopa Says:

    So yeah, I’m a little bittersweet today. I feel like the mrs. and I are drifting apart a little, but being honest about our differences will hopefully bring us closer ultimately.

  21. bob dylan Says:


  22. gavinsdad Says:

    my wife has passed on many a ticket in the past 3 years but she was never even close to a phish fan. she just likes music and was a good sport. there is a major push and pull to try to get to shows on my end..she calls the 5 year hiatus “the best years of my life” if that gives you a sense but she also knows who she married and that my music bug came way before her. nowadays i understand priorities (fam first, then tunes) and we just try to work it out.

    HBOWL GROVEL: my brother is in need of an extra. he lives in LA and can get to wherever you are or vice versa. if you have any leads holler at me here or email me. thanks yallz.

  23. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    somebody was dishing an HB ticket earlier @ gdad

    check earlier pages

  24. Mr palmer Says:

    My wife might be bailing on UIC 2. Same story. As date gets closer, the reality of logistics creeps in. I may have some extras for that night, as many as 3. I’ll know more in a few days.

  25. tela'smuff Says:

    peaks and valleys, such is marriage. i had hell week last week with the wife. just gotta ride the wave. sometimes a few days away on tour will make you appreciate the love waiting at home. it does for me. hope the best for you voop.

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