Put Your Wingsuit On!

10.31.13. Boardwalk Hall (Jake Silco)

10.31.13. Boardwalk Hall (Jake Silco)

Wow! Just wow. Just when you thought Phish had done everything a live quartet could do, they pull another trick out of their hat. Bucking tradition and quenching any Phish fan’s fantasy, the band came out for their coveted Halloween set and debuted twelve new songs—tentative tracks on their new album, “Wingsuit,” that they will start recording next week! And these weren’t just off the cuff Trey ditties, these were spectacularly crafted Phish songs. Ten songs jumped off the stage as instant hits that could be inserted into rotation as soon as possible, and we’ll see about two of the acoustic songs—but holy shit what a treat! The only events with any such precedence in Phish history are Lowell ’95 in which the band debuted six originals, and first night of Summer ’97 in Dublin, Ireland, in which they premiered seven new songs and 13 over two nights at the SFX Centre. But here we were on Halloween 2013, and Phish just dropped a dozen on our domes!

10/31 Official (D.Mumford)

10/31 Official (D.Mumford)

The decision to play Wingsuit was incredibly brave, daring and risky—characteristics that have defined the band throughout their career, and traits for which we adore them. And for that alone, they must be applauded. But god damn, these songs were amazing. I felt like I was floating on cloud nine for the duration of the second set as incredible compositions fell like rain. And there were some legitimate jam vehicles too, that will blow up—in my estimation—starting tonight! These songs spanned a spectrum of feels like so many classic Phish albums. The title track “Wingsuit,” evoked a Pink Floydian vibe, while the third track, “The Line,” sounded influenced by the band’s love of  Velvet Underground. But the opus of the set was “Fuego,” a song, that if I had to bet, was written after they listened to the drum and bass jam from Dick’s “ Chalk Dust” (as the band was quoted in the Phishbill as having listened to recent jams and picked out memorable parts to form songs around). “Fuego” features several parts, including a vicious drum and bass jam and overlaid lyrics. The song “Monica,” performed acoustically with a head of steam last night, will make for an incredible electric arrangement. “Waiting All Night,” a trippy and groovy number with drippy guitar work will fit great deep in second sets.

And the songs go on! “Wombat”—featuring a hip-hop dance routine with actor, Abe Vigoda—is a new funk vehicle that will provide some serious dance sessions in the near future. “Devotion to a Dream” carried an upbeat rhythm and a bluesy, Allman’s feel, with lyrics that sounded like an allegory for the band’s 30-year journey. “555” was a groove-based, Gordon-scribed piece that continues a recent trend of engaging Mike contributions to the catalog. “Winterqueen” is a gorgeous Trey and Tom ballad—played once (or more?) by TAB—that also featured some improv, taboot. “Amongst the Peals of Laughter” was a harmless acoustic folk song and “You Never Know,” the set’s finale, was an intricately written piece about the band being taken five million by a ponzi-esque schemer.

10.31 (J.Silco)

10.31 (J.Silco)

The feeling amongst my crew at setbreak was one of straight elation. We had just been hand served one of the—if not the greatest—batch of new songs ever dropped by Phish! And five long years after Joy, nothing could have come at a finer time. It’s hard to believe that tour is about to end with an entire universe of new material having just been unveiled. But, damn, we may very well be looking at their greatest record ever. Back in ’09, when Phish was interviewed by Rolling Stone, Trey said that he wasn’t sure the band had recorded their best album yet. Guess what, Trey? I think you were right.

And if an entire set of incredibly lush new Phish material wasn’t enough, the band came out and played, arguably, the best third set of their career, jamming their proverbial faces off. Kicking things off in true Halloween fashion, Phish opened the late-night frame with a seething version of “Ghost.” The band converged on a driving, inspired jam that evoked the feel of some memorable ’99 versions. But then the 3.0 twist came in, as the guys slipped into a gorgeous and uplifting second movement of the jam, bringing things into cathartic territory. The band was in total command of their craft in this third set—clearly feeling the weight of twelve debuts lifted off their shoulders—and were locked into sacred jamming. Equitable, lead-less, and totally awe-inspiring, this “Ghost” seemed like it would be the jam of the show. That is until they started “Carini.”

10.31 "Wombat" (Andrea Nusinov)

10.31 “Wombat” (Andrea Nusinov)

The band was taking no prisoners on this night, showcasing every element of what makes them the incomparable live act that they are. And so after a colossal version of “Ghost,” Phish stepped into their most prolific jam vehicle of the last two years—“Carini.” Having just spun this jam once in my buddy’s hotel room, I can—easily—say that this is on the level of anything from this tour, and likely beyond. For me, it was one of those out-of-body experiences in the live setting that when you go back to listen floors you twice as hard. That what full-fledged, all-in Phish will do to you—and this jam was all that and a bag of chips! “Carini” was multi-faceted to the core, spanning darkness, infectious groove, and straight free-form jamming for what seemed like an eternity. This was bliss—Phish throwing down the gauntlet in the third set of a holiday show! Can you remember the last time that happened? 1998—it’s been a while. And this was a complete, start-to-finish Phish set, unlike the three-song, abruptly ended stanza of lore.

10.31 (J.Silco)

10.31 (J.Silco)

Following 35 minutes of the best music you’ll ever hear, the guys tore into an interlude of “Birds of a Feather” before dropping into an impeccable, soul-tugging rendition of “Harry Hood.” “Bug” bridged the set to its closing “Antelope,” at which point I needed to be hooked up to IV fluids to compensate for what I had lost over the night. But water would have to wait as the band demolished their final jam of an unforgettable Halloween night. A celebratory “Quinn the Eskimo” provided the only cover of the three-set show, a rarity for Phish, and a cool twist on the encore for a night once defined by other’s music. In all of the possible scenarios that could have gone down last night, what happened was easily the Phishiest, thing that the band could have done. It is night’s like Thursday’s that make these guys the Phish from Vermont, living legends of rock and roll history.

First set notes: Comprised entirely of standard rotation songs, Phish was clearly focused on what was to come set for the duration of the first set. “Stash” and “Gin” provided slightly better-than-standard versions, but it was clear from the jump that this night would be about the second two sets. And was it ever.

I: Heavy Things, The Moma Dance, Poor Heart, Back on the Train, Silent in the Morning, Kill Devil Falls, Mound, Free, Camel Walk, Stash, Golgi Apparatus, Bathtub Gin

II: Wingsuit*, Fuego*, The Line*, Monica*, Waiting All Night*, Wombat*, Snow*, Devotion To A Dream*, 555*, Winterqueen*, Amidst The Peals Of Laughter*, You Never Know*

II: Ghost, Carini, Birds of a Feather, Harry Hood, Bug, Run Like an Antelope

E: Quinn the Eskimo

*debut

10.31.13 Boardwalk Hall (Jake Silco)

10.31.13 Boardwalk Hall (Jake Silco)

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686 Responses to “Put Your Wingsuit On!”

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  1. tipmorris Says:

    great review, as always, thanks Miner

  2. jdub Says:

    Nice job Miner.

  3. willowed Says:

    Cash fucking money!

  4. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Abysmal ….

  5. jdub Says:

    Fucking Abe Vigoda in a wombat suit. I mean really. They’re lucky he didn’t croak on stage.

  6. In Flagrante Delicto Says:

    Fuego was fuego.

  7. jdub Says:

    I am torn. I have a ticket stub for tonight but have a shit ton of work, a yard that needs cleanup, and a mudroom remodel before it gets cold. If I go, my life is that much harder the next few weeks. Plus my son asked this morning if I would go to the HS football game with him tonight. The responsible adult would stay home and take care of business. Need to decide by 12.

  8. Roberto luongo Says:

    great move. really enjoyed most of the album. def thought big potential on a bunch of this .

    wombat. classic phish antics with a hard funk groove . love this. could be a groove monster live

    555. another funky as shit track. best Mike I heard in ages. great Fish work and some classic off kiltered Mike changes and feels.

    Fuego . big win from jump on the couch . everyone loved this one. set 2 comin soon.

    wingsuit was TABish recent Trey light pop. not my thing. scared me a bit but song 2 quickly recovered.

    Snow was just terrible. out of Mikes vocal range . weird pop lullaby or some shit. not good. at all.

    Treys acoustic song. wow . another terrible preachy new school pop Trey chune.

    the rest I all really dug to various degrees . no doubt some of the hipper material I’ve heard from em in ages and even with the 3 somewhat clunkers IMO amazing set of music .

    begin the wingsuit era !

  9. Dorn76 Says:

    Breakfast and a Wingsuit.

  10. Dorn76 Says:

    There’s your answer Jdub.

  11. Roberto luongo Says:

    great move. really enjoyed most of the album. def thought big potential on a bunch of this .
    wombat. classic phish antics with a hard funk groove . love this. could be a groove monster live
    555. another funky as shit track. best Mike I heard in ages. great Fish work and some classic off kiltered Mike changes and feels.
    Fuego . big win from jump on the couch . everyone loved this one. set 2 comin soon.
    wingsuit was TABish recent Trey light pop. not my thing. scared me a bit but song 2 quickly recovered.
    Snow was just terrible. out of Mikes vocal range . weird pop lullaby or some shit. not good. at all.
    Treys acoustic song. wow . another terrible preachy new school pop Trey chune.
    the rest I all really dug to various degrees . no doubt some of the hipper material I’ve heard from em in ages and even with the 3 somewhat clunkers IMO amazing set of music .

    bring on the wingsuit era !

  12. neemor Says:

    “But the opus of the set was “Fuego,” a song, that if I had to bet, was written after they listened to the drum and bass jam from Dick’s “ Chalk Dust” (as the band was quoted in the Phishbill as having listened to recent jams and picked out memorable parts to form songs around). ”

    ^ this

  13. btb Says:

    Reading the Playbill from last night now…love these guys.

    Trying to play catch up!

  14. willowed Says:

    Yup that 555 and Fuengo. Those should be placed in regular rotation right now.

    I hope to see one or both on Saturday, or tonight for that matter.

  15. jdub Says:

    Honestly, I could easily make up the work. But the kid asking me first thing in the morning to hang with him tonight sealed the deal. Family first. I did skip out for a nice 5 night run last week. There is that.

  16. roberto luongo Says:

    set I Trey seemed to be fighting it. dug a bit of Stash and Mound seemed kinda tight but def seemed off.

    set III nothing to be said. everything that is great about the jamming of this tour. wide open rolling improv. creative. surprising. fresh. that Carini is just a monster.

    love the idea of the Dicks Dust living on through a song. spun that shit last night. fuckin beastly.

    have fun kids. wingsuit bitches.

    and I think Snow is a perfect song for a bro Snow. his themesong.

  17. Gordo Says:

    PHISH throws the best curveball in the game!

  18. willowed Says:

    Trying to find my absolute favorite sweat shirt before I leave for Jersey. The wife took it to work. I must have left it in her car after Hartford.

    Noooooooooo

    There is nothing like a perfect sweat shirt. Tough to find.

  19. jdub Says:

    Fuego becomes the new power house jammer on Saturday night.

  20. Oldskool Says:

    Shred you just don’t get it

    Derek Trucks covering some other band or Phish showing their dedication and continued passion rather than being a greatest hits band? Not to mention bringing us into the process and truly creating a once in a life time experience. Isn’t that why we go? To bare witness and feel involved in these unique moments? Please let me know a more special time than Phish dropping 13 original tracks. Of course some worked and some didn’t, but that’s not even the point.

    Clearly the moment was lost on you. It’s not ’97. I am not the same person as then and neither are they.

  21. willowed Says:

    Jdub. My kids asked me if I was going to be away all weekend and miss thier soccer games. With out any hesitation I said….Yes.

    Sorry kids, you have me for the other 364 days of the year.

  22. jimi455 Says:

    so – not to toot my own horn. But I called this a month ago:

    http://www.reddit.com/r/phish/comments/1nnfay/phish_halloween_wish/

  23. willowed Says:

    Just busting balls Jdub. You’re a better man the me.

  24. Dorn76 Says:

    Totally get it! My in laws are in Cherry Hill, NJ, so best of both worlds for me. Drop of my girls around lunch tomorrow and head to AC. Should be a decent tour closer.

    Unless they choke in the big moment, you know, like always.

  25. PigSong Says:

    I don’t see much hate, but I’m sure it’s out there. LOVED what went down. Was every track my favorite, nah, but busting that out was very special indeed.

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