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:

    if you want to see some weird sauces, go to Utah

    every restaurant in Utah sells fry sauce.

    basically a combo of mayo and ketchup with some other spices depending on the various views of polygamy and BYU vs. Utah in the particular region

    it’s good though. hard to eat a fry without fry sauce if you’ve ever done it

  2. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    nutella had an easy bracket. truffle oil was overseeded, dijon relies too much the long ball, and tartar sauce just plain performed poorly. the butter win was a big time upset though. people be liking their chocolaty spreads

  3. tela'smuff Says:

    mmmmmmm…fry sauce

  4. dorn76 Says:

    1 little old UIC night 2 extra would make my day!

  5. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    best ranch derivation out there is the stuff from The Plaza, amiright? dang, now I want plaza burgers…

  6. EL Duderino Says:

    try 1000 Island for a good fry sauce

  7. bob dylan Says:

    i didn’t buy an outside lands saturday single. anyone got an extra?

  8. plord Says:

    Hey BB. Been dealing with life on the outside, not really reading up much lately. Just caught the past few articles, stellar work as usual Miner.

    Spent 2 days with my buddy in the hospital in MO. He bounced way, way back while I was there, was relieved of many tubes and able to sit up when I left, but his condition is still terminal. I’m trying to figure out how to afford a return trip to see him right after the Gorge, with the goal of helping him get out of the hospital so he can die with a little dignity at home.

    Hospitals. Hate ’em. Not feeling to positive about alcohol right now either. It seems like you can, actually, drink yourself to death in less than 5 years if you are truly committed to the task.

    Contractors are here dismantling the garage and useless 3 season porch. 3 months of utter chaos on the home front have now begun. The dogs are remarkably calm considering there’s 4 new people/cars, a tools trailer, and a 30 foot dumpster in the yard. When all is said and done we’ll have geothermal heating and cooling, a proper mudroom, new garage, and the wife and I will both have studio/office space. But that’s looking like Thanksgiving, with a lot of chaos between now and then.

    Smashed the fuck out of my thumb stacking cordwood. Hope to keep the nail.

    Finally, after 6 years of creeping mendacity it looks like I’m going to get out of the sales side of the business and back to the pure technical/strategy side. Former, current, and future boss all conspiring to arrange a soft landing during this acquisition/reorg and set me up with the right charter, team, and budget to kick some ass. Finally.

    Looking forward to seeing peeps at the Gorge.

  9. dorn76 Says:

    I’ll settle for some West Indian hot pepper sauce, amazing on a hotdog… called Matouk’s. From Trinidad I believe.

  10. EL Duderino Says:

    Damn Plord!

    Sorry mang

  11. SillyWilly Says:


    you are correct.

    ranch goes better with a monster hang-over.


    see, I think 1000 Island is too runny and not Mormon enough

    i need some dairy products in my sauce to thicken it up, i need some fresh tomatoes from the apocalyptic prevention stash to add a little boldness

    and finally, I need some goddamned Cumin in my fry sauce. Gotta have that smokey tang on your fry.

  12. EL Duderino Says:

    pretty sure Mayo is part of the ingredients Silly.

  13. tela'smuff Says:

    been following your updates on FB Plord. Feel for you. I watched my cousin die about 4 years ago from alcoholism. destroyed his liver and kidneys. very painful. he drank until his final days. liquor has never been the same for me since. from what i’ve read, you’re truly a great friend to this guy.

  14. bearito Says:

    How the F did Nutella beat Butter? Does not compute! Nutella doesn’t even come close to the versatility of Butter!

    Siracha Aioli is my favorite fry sauce

    also $$$$ on a fried egg sandwich

  15. SillyWilly Says:


    all the best to you and yours, man.

    enjoy the gorge. you’ll find the strength youll need there.

  16. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    see, now this is a solid type I condiment jam.
    this doesn’t happen in 2.0
    people would be all over the place wanking on mayo-based condiments until the main idea came through that ranch is the king of the mayo-based condiments
    3.0 has helped us all regain that laser focus

  17. bearito Says:

    Good vibes sent your way @ plord

  18. Guyute711 Says:

    Sounds like the gorge is coming at the right time for you plord .Try to let everything go for a couple days and relax.

    Currently waiting for new tires to go on the car. Have to love spending over $300 on something when you are jobless. 🙂

  19. SillyWilly Says:

    You’re right, El Dude.

    but at a smaller ratio.

    Utah fry sauce is like mayo with a hint of ketchup

  20. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    actually, I have created my own personal favorite condiment in the home lab: sriracha ranch

    i’ll just let that percolate for a few minutes.

  21. EL Duderino Says:

    My buddy Mark Miller did the same thing… We all knew things were not good when we were on our way to night one of Trey in Vegas ’02. We were partying in a friends room before and took out accoutrements (he did not) walked through the Casino and out the door and he face planted right on the side walk and started to convulse. 6 months later he died in his bed.
    He drank a handle of Capt. every other day. great kid so dad

  22. EL Duderino Says:

    might have to try this “Utah Sauce” sometime

  23. angryjoggerz Says:

    My wife does not go to shows with me, never did, never pushed the issue because I figure if she wants to go, she will, and if she doesn’t she wont. She knows it is my little escape, but I do miss her in general, so this new thing of she, my daughter and I going to the place where the shows are, having nice full days, then me off ot the show at night while my wife has the rare alone and nothing to do time works out. We go see other bands together from time to time, but she has not seen Phish since 1992.

  24. bearito Says:

    Now there are mayo-based condiments and there are real homemade mayo-based condiments

    No comparison

    Store bought ranch = suckage

  25. SillyWilly Says:

    Sriracha is like Chalkdust.

    You’re going like it. It’s fun. You’re happy you got.

    But it’s not Ranch.

    Ranch is a thick, swamped out Tweezer.

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