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:

    Alright C, we haven’t had a good debate in a while. Here we go 😉

  2. SillyWilly Says:

    “You can actually taste the vegetables.”



    Just kidding, AJ.

    My girl has convinced me that no one gets the vitamins they need, so she makes us a “Green monster” shake every morning with cucumbers, spinach, hemp, several strains of sea weed and algae, and some other vegetables that I don’t really know the names of…

    anyway, tastes like making out with a whale, but after a couple days you honestly feel so much better. like someone stripped off a layer of mud.

    so, yeah, im down with eating right. But, I’ll indulge in the ranch and fried wisconsin cheese curds.

    gotta be a man of the people…

  3. ThePigSong Says:

    The absolutebest hotsauce on this planet.

    Sriracha ranch sounds pretty doable too.

  4. negev79 Says:

    “Nutella doesn’t even come close to the versatility of Butter!” I know, right? That Butter guy is awesome.

    @Plord – vibes to you. So sorry to hear what you (and your friend) are going through. It sounds like you are doing something wonderful for him and I’m glad you will be able to take some time yourself to see shows. I absolutely believe in the restorative power of Phish. At F8, a friend of mine had just lost his soul mate dog and was crushed. Her (the dog’s) name was Suzy. During that ripping Suzy with Sharon Jones, my friend just danced with tears streaming down his face, as all of his friends one by one, including me, danced over to him and gave him hugs. It was really beautiful.

  5. HarryHood Says:

    @ C

    Seriously though, without me around to give you a hard time for no reason at all really, what have you been doing these past few weeks? It must have been nice…..

  6. EL Duderino Says:

    what’s wrong with Ranch Dressing?
    that’s like saying you don’t like Heintz Ketchup! un-American

  7. Chuck sweD Says:

    only beef i got with condiment people, is when they put more condiment on their food than there is food.

    would you like some hamburger with your ketchup?

    the sauce is supposed to be the accoutrement

  8. SillyWilly Says:

    ranch and cheese both are pretty not good for you

    unless you is your tongue.


  9. tela'smuff Says:

    wings and ranch/blue cheese either way, it works. i like ranch with wings, but it’s a balancing act with how much you apply. although Leo’s wings don’t need any sauce, which is why their the best. he just mailed me his rub for the Gorge.

    also, my wife make an awesome goat cheese sandwich. big fan.

  10. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah Harry, this is for you, courtesy of Voopa last night


  11. EL Duderino Says:

    True Dat!
    Leo’s wings are best untouched.

  12. negev79 Says:

    oh rogue creamery, the bane (one of the banes) of my existence since I am supposed to stay away from dairy.

    listen to @C, he knows of what he speaks.

  13. HarryHood Says:

    “yeah Harry, this is for you, courtesy of Voopa last night”

    ^ I like it. Well played sir.

  14. SillyWilly Says:

    eating goat cheese makes me feel like Odysseus

    fuckin up cyclops, trojans, spoiled suitors

    getting a wicked tan. and wind burn.

    sailing the mediterranean with your bros.

  15. HarryHood Says:

    I need some of Leo’s wings. Apparently I’m missing out on something.

  16. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Tela’s

    throw a few fresh habinieros (sp?) in some honey and let ’em set for a few days. then paint some on the Leo/wings right before they’re done!

  17. MrCompletely Says:

    in case anyone loves the NFL but is confused by the free agent frenzy, FYI Bill Barnwell is absolutely crushing it over at Grantland.com with a series of daily synopsis/analysis pieces. It’s the first time the supposed Grantland concept (home for thoughtful long form essay pieces) has really lived up to its potential so far IMO.

  18. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    haven’t listened to phish in 3 weeks, 3 more days!

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    fuck yeah rogue creamery

    it’s like the Owsley orange sunshine of cheese, if you see what I mean

    lol @Odysseus

    alright, quick mtg time

  20. willowed Says:


  21. lastwaltzer Says:

    “he 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.”aj

    word. I can sometime go dry but ussually its just a dash of balsamic. Its crazy the way some people coat a salad in fatty processed crap.

    Raw vegetables taste amazing, if you can’t feel that you’re probably eating to much processed crap. I noticed once I straitened my diet out a few years ago how much better raw foods taste. Tons of stuff i found bitter or gross now taste really good or at least much more appetizing. The standard American diet (SAD) can really fuck up your buds.

    And on that note fuck Ketchup, that shit is just straight up gross as far as condiments go.

  22. lastwaltzer Says:


    whats in your goat cheese…………i have never felt that lol

    Goat cheese is dope though, like on bagel instead of cream cheese $$$$

    As for the blue cheese thing. I’m not into it most of the time but a few years ago had some fresh kettle chips covered in blue cheese and hot sauce (two things I don’t care for) and I’ve been hooked since.

  23. Chuck sweD Says:

    dont forget:

    getting seduced by sirens!

  24. Selector J Says:

    “sailing the mediterranean with your bros.”


  25. ThePigSong Says:

    “And on that note fuck Ketchup, that shit is just straight up gross as far as condiments go.” -lw


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