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. bob dylan Says:

    FTW FTW too bad ill be traveling that day!


  2. EL Duderino Says:

    The no SLF at shows is a god send IMO.
    Less worries, less babysitting

  3. dusty Says:

    @ Voopa U are lucky brother. Dealing with your differences are key.

  4. marcoesq Says:

    $420 for a pair of 2-3 day passes to CO through the Horssse. hmm

  5. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    cherish the time both with and without your wife, for sure. I have the other side of the coin where we have to figure out how each (or hopefully) both of us can hit the shows we want. wasn’t a big deal until baby Disorder came into the picture. But her first show was in utero JB 2010, so the seed has been planted.

    balance and moderation. in all things. yes, that includes phish. 😉

  6. lastwaltzer Says:

    Currently listening to 03/03/68 the haight street show. Absolutely killer Viola Lee to open things up. This jam is a prime example of why I love 68-69, there is a such a rawness and hard edge to the jamming that just sort of disappeared later on. The music is nothing short of HEAVY.

    The other reason I love the early stuff so much is Billy and Mickey. I’m more of a bill on his own fan but in that era they worked together so well. Their drumming in the later years (outside of “drums”) was one of my least favorite aspects of the band. Way to clunky to these ears, this stuff just flows together so well and is so intense, you hear them just beating the shit out of the drum heads, surprised you don’t hear more crack the way bill comes down on that snare.

  7. EL Duderino Says:

    @ marco

    when i bought CO. tix last friday they said no more field passes.
    What did they tell you?
    I had to buy singles to get fields

  8. voopa Says:

    That’s one thing that I thought made our relationship unique…I never really had to “worry” about her at shows. But now, I won’t have to at all! And coming home will be that much sweeter.

    See, you guys are cheering me up already!

  9. EL Duderino Says:

    My girl likes the dipping sauce a little too much.
    have to monitor her intake

  10. marcoesq Says:

    Still Field 3 day passes available. Thats what it says at least

  11. tela'smuff Says:

    i agree with Duder pretty much. i like to get wild and do my thang at shows, and sometime i feel a little constrained with the wife in tow. but i really enjoy spending time with her, she’s, get ready for it, my best friend. sniffle. so whatever. ultimately, i prefer shows without her, and that’s been tough to pull off because she loves the band and hittin shows. we thin there’s a chance she’s preggo though, so that’ll make the CO shows a bit easier to get away with!

  12. marcoesq Says:

    “My girl likes the dipping sauce a little too much.have to monitor her intake”

    yep. same here.

  13. EL Duderino Says:


    when i was on tickethorse’s site I couldn’t really tell if field or stands were available, so i called and talked to an agent, and she told me no more 3 day field passes

  14. SillyWilly Says:

    dipping sauces

    I really like a fresh Ranch for my french fries and chicken.

    spicy mustard for my pork products

    and of course, tahini for everything else

  15. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    sriracha sauce ftmfw

  16. albert walker Says:

    I’m the opposite these days.

    My girl puffs tough as hell, loves getting spun (we are both retired from mawl) and is totally chill on tour. If she started losing interest I probably would slow down too. Having someone on the same page that is laid back and chil to tour with is key. Some of my old bros are too slow to get going and hard to get up in the AM. Just growing into bitches in their old age.

    Love getting out of town, posting up in a nice hotel, eating some good food, and catching some Phish with the lady. Then we meet up with a larger crew at the show but everything else we pretty much just chill together when we’re touring.

  17. EL Duderino Says:

    Wassabi is the $$$ sauce yo’

    love that feeling when it fills up your sinuses

  18. marcoesq Says:

    hmm, duder, dont know. On their website it still lets you get 3 day Field passes. Maybe it wont finalize the order but it still comes up

  19. Chuck sweD Says:

    nutella shouldn’t have made it nearly as far as it did, busted the bracket… there’s a reason it was the 10 seed!

  20. kayatosh Says:

    tossing around UIC possibilities in my head. Really feel like i need to catch super phish before the fall hiatus.

  21. SillyWilly Says:


    that was quick, TypeIII

    I like sriracha as much as the next guy/gal, but it’s a dime a dozen. Every hipster cafe this side the pacific got some sriracha.

    a good, homemade ranch is a rarity.

    and im not talking about stuff you can buy at the store. Home. freakin. made.

  22. marcoesq Says:

    Don’t know if this will still come up after timer expires but here’s the page, just got 2 Feield 3 day passes again


  23. voopa Says:

    That bracket is whack!

  24. EL Duderino Says:

    Yeah, that “best available” kinda screws with you.
    I’d call

  25. lastwaltzer Says:

    siriacha is whats up. I love spicy food and hate hot sauce, I need flavor not just heat. Sirichca fills this void.

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