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


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!”

  1. Dorn76 Says:

    Not to toot the Bb’s horn but…

  2. jdub Says:

    Making hard Willowed. I have till 12 to break my kids heart.

  3. willowed Says:

    Tell your kid you’ll take him next week. Give him $10 and hit the road.

    Money solves all of life’s problems

  4. jdub Says:

    Brilliant move and I’m glad to read so much enthusiasm about what went down. When the subject of Phish playing their new album for Halloween came up a couple of months ago, a lot of people didn’t care for it. So psyched they went through with it. I’d much rather have Phish focus on creating new music than copying others at this point in their career. And it paid off last night.

    That 3rd set was pure fire!

  5. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Jdub, don’t make me give this ticket to a wook. Neither of us want that.

    (Don’t worry, BB. I won’t let any others in need down)

  6. roberto luongo Says:

    Trey once again found a way to make his fans actually think about the music they were being presented

    phish fans aren’t that great at thinking. or understanding music so guaranteed reactions were probably mixed.

    but I loved this ballsy idea and if I enjoyed it dabb’d out cooking caramels with the dog and preggers from the couch must have been truly amazing experience in the building.

  7. btb Says:

    So wait, Thom York wasn’t backstage? 🙂

  8. shred Says:

    You guys are kidding yourselves.

    Phish couldn’t put a GREAT album out if Abe Vigoda’s life depended on it.

    Laughing at review. 3rd set ripped. I’ll give them that.

  9. Oldskool Says:

    RL we are on the exact same page. My highlights were:

    Wombat (minus the cheesy dancers but this song has big potential)
    555 (loved this new Mike tune.)
    Winter Queen

  10. Oldskool Says:

    Rift is not a great album? Siket Disc? Etc? I have no idea why you even spend your time seeing this band Shred

  11. mmmhmm Says:

    Spot on review Miner. Dance party in my living room last night. Hail Hail the Phish from Vermont.

  12. mmmhmm Says:

    Spot on review Miner. Dance party in my living room last night. Hail Hail the Phish from Vermont!

  13. RicksFork Says:

    I think that not only was this an awesome and ballsy idea that paid off in the now, but also it speaks so much to the future. I find myself worrying that some day soon the boys will hang it up. A new album with great ideas like this tells me that we have years of Phish to come. Loved Fuego and others and felt that this set had a lot to do with the creative vigor they brought to set 3. Viva la Phish!

  14. robbie Says:

    can somebody put up a ticket code to download show…really want to hear this one

  15. shred Says:

    Studio Album. Rift was 20 years ago. I call it like I see it. I see phish to watch them rip apart tweezer, reba, carini.

  16. mmmhmm Says:

    loved the mafia spoof after set II. “Mike said No”

    Don Gordleone ftw.

  17. roberto luongo Says:

    great point RicksFork

    as someone with a baby due in early Dec and missing my first entire tour since summer 93. me and wife were both loving the thought of the forward looking aspect of dropping new material instead of some Zep.

  18. Snigglebeach Says:

    Last nite was amazing.

    But I gotta say. Not having any extra musicians only makes the Kenwood Dennard sit in that much stranger. At the time I was stunned, then was convinced it something to do with last night. Now?

  19. Snigglebeach Says:

    Oh yeah. Now I want to go BASE jumping too

  20. RicksFork Says:

    Exactly RL. I love Phish covers and enjoy many of the Costume sets on play back, but to have all of this new music to digest while we wait for the NYE run is exciting. Not to mention the reminder it is that the boys are all together, enjoying each others company and making new music based on jams that THEY loved from the recent and distant past. I am psyched today!

  21. Dorn76 Says:

    Even the whisperers among us go to see them rip. We don’t go to see a nostalgia act. Now it seems we won’t have that problem for quite a while.

  22. BingosBrother Says:

    Great job phish. You continually amaze and impress 30 years in. Baptysmal.

    I stand corrected on the line payers. You paid someone to stand in line so you could stare at a 92 year old wombats balls. Hetty.

  23. Dr pronoia Says:

    Very well done, excited for the future

    Also have to point out that it was a brilliant marketing move. When would they have the most eyeballs on them to ramp up enthusiasm for an album? Last night. Super ballsy move and it paid off in spades

  24. Whale returns Says:

    Phish def has some new fun tunes to play with. 4 to 5 of those songs will be in heavy rotation. Loved mikes new tune and fuego was great. Would love it if they did start busting them out tonight. Btw I have a feeling that they will be doing a mini cover tonight.

  25. shwa Says:

    Terrible. Just simply terrible. Could not be more disappointed. Why not just put out the album?? This wasn’t risky at all. This was nothing more than a strategic attempt to sell an album. Didn’t need to ruin Halloween in their attempts to test the waters on their new album. I want my Halloween back!!!

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