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. HarryHood Says:


    I haven’t really been keeping up with the BB much lately due to my former temporary office digs, so I haven’t been following your posts, but based on the above, I’m sorry to hear you are going through that…….. Lemme know if you wanna grab lunch again.

  2. lastwaltzer Says:

    “sriracha ranch”t3

    oh shit

  3. lastwaltzer Says:

    real blue cheese and hot sauce……….thats some good shit right there.

  4. SillyWilly Says:

    yes, bearito.

    ranch has to be fresh and it has to be homemade.

  5. EL Duderino Says:

    Store-bought Ranch = Hidden Valley only

  6. MrCompletely Says:

    I read that paper on 4chan and ephemerality when it came out @T3. A good read and pretty on point. I only drop by the chans once or twice a month these days but the lulz are always there when I do

  7. SillyWilly Says:

    i don’t like blue cheese

    im sorry. i’ve tried and tried and tried.

    but it’s not happening for me.

    neither is gorgonzola.

  8. angryjoggerz Says:

    Sauces are pretty uniformly gross, but I have been heavily influenced by my wife, who is 100% anti condiment. She is weird like that, but after 10 years of eating salads dry, you get used to it and prefer it. You can actually taste the vegetables.

  9. Guyute711 Says:

    Still hate getting asked if I want ranch with my wings in nc. What the f are you talking about?

  10. ThePigSong Says:

    9.19.70 darkstar is scaring my dogs.

    Thanks voopa! (reading back yesterday for more recs)

  11. angryjoggerz Says:

    Goat cheese, bitches. Tastes so goaty.

  12. EL Duderino Says:

    Blue Cheese to me, is only good with really spicy Wings.
    otherwise I’m not a fan

  13. tela'smuff Says:

    i’m a HUGE sauce guy. love it, need it, abuse it.

    @AJ – love the avatar!! i’m hoping to achieve that by Wednesday.

  14. EL Duderino Says:

    9/19/70 needs to be an official release

  15. bearito Says:

    Love the Blue’s!!!

    Try Rogue River out of OR Silly – I have seen non blue cheese fan’s eat the shit out of it

    also Valdeon spanish blue is a unique blue to try

  16. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    9.19.70 dark star is the hendrix one, i feel like a lot of people don’t realize it’s a tribute to him

  17. MrCompletely Says:

    @plord “it looks like I’m going to get out of the sales side of the business and back to the pure technical/strategy side. ”

    with all the other crap going on, this is seriously great news man. Really really great. I am super stoked for you, I know how big a difference this will make for you mentally/spiritually in the long run. A huge win.

    See you in a few days

  18. ThePigSong Says:

    wow, sorry for your friend and his hardships plord – much love.

  19. HarryHood Says:

    I was always a Blue Cheese with my wings kinda guy, but I’ve you’ve ever had them with REALLY good Ranch, you’ll never go back. But I’m not talking about Hidden Valley Ranch grossness, I’m talking about GOOD Ranch.

  20. MrCompletely Says:


    the bomb. these guys rock all the PDX farmers markets. crazy crazy crazy good

  21. ThePigSong Says:

    f yeah goat cheese joggerz!

    Just sliced up some fresh ‘matos and spread on some home made goat cheese from the green market last weekend. top notch.

  22. HarryHood Says:

    “but I’ve you’ve ever had them with REALLY good Ranch”

    ^ Meant to say, But IF you’ve ever…..

  23. MrCompletely Says:

    pfffffffft ranch bullshit, you all need to step the fuck off with that

  24. MrCompletely Says:

    actually forget it, not getting into this whole sauces and cheeses digression any more. Ranch away. ::eye roll::

  25. MrCompletely Says:

    as for the whole prior discussion, I have one thing to add:

    Women, huh?!?!?!?!?

    I know, right!?!?!?


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