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!”

  1. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    So, Shred, feeling nostalgic this AM? 😉

  2. Dorn76 Says:

    Landing planes. Upskirtin’ wombats.

  3. Matt Says:

    I enjoyed the new songs. But, to suggest that this album could somehow exceed Rift or Junta – or even Billy Breathes – is just plain ridiculous. Perspective!

  4. EUPhan Says:

    I think last night was great. Watching from Berlin, Germany – together with some other European fans united in faith via our Facebook page. As much as I was looking forward hearing a cover of a classic album I always will prefer great new music by PHISH knowing that each new song and album will inject lifeblood into the band and ensures that we can live the life on the road for many years to come. Phish is not a cover band. Never was. This is great! Fuego will be a monster jam vehicle, Monica could be even a radio hit (not sure if anybody wants that), also liked Wingsuit and Waiting all night. Wombat is fun! I can’t see all of the songs ending up on the album or making their regular way into live rotation but this doesn’t matter. PHISH IS ALIVE. THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT. All good but please drop Snow.

  5. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Everyone realizes that Abe was a switctheroo?

  6. RicksFork Says:

    I’m not saying it exceeds or falls short of anything (as I’m sure no one is). Its not even an album yet, and some of these tunes wont even end up on the album that it becomes. It’s an idea taking shape and it’s a statement that good things are to come. I cant understand not feeling excited about what happened last night and excited about whats to come. I think Set 3 was proof of the excitement and inspiration it instilled in the band.

  7. Gavinsdad Says:

    Didn’t catch any of it but admire everything about it. It reflects the bands commitment 100%. We will all play catch up with this band forever. They run the show. It why we go. Stoked for next two nites in BH…pushing off in a couple hours.

  8. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Mike likes the word ‘crepuscular’ definitely shows they really collaborating on the new stuff.

  9. Matt Says:

    RicksFork, I was responding to the blog.

    “But, damn, we may very well be looking at their greatest record ever.”

    I think that is just an insane statement that shows no perspective on Phish’s career and accomplishments. And, I LOVED what they did last night.

  10. marcoesq Says:

    Wow. Great show and review by Miner. I understand the hoopla surrounding NYE and Halloween shows but this and Halloween ’98 are really the only 2 I’ve personally been amped on.

    On Carini now. It’s not even 10am and I’ve already gotten texts from multiple people telling me how epic it is.

    Also pumped to spin this tune that Miner said sounded like Dick’s Dust jam

  11. RicksFork Says:

    I hear you Matt. I think Miner just gets excited and channels that through his words. Sometimes his declarations are a bit extreme in the moment, but that’s what I love about his write ups and this place. Passion for and about Phish. Take it with a grain of salt I guess.

  12. Matt Says:

    RicksFork, You are right on about the overreactions. I do appreciate the passion, but I’m more for a realistic appraisal of 3.0 Phish for where they are in their career. One of my favorite things about them is their compositional complexity that basically ended with Guyute. There are flashes of cool stuff in Pebbles, Walls, TTE, and a few tunes last night, but nothing can match the early songs on Rift, Lawn Boy, Junta, etc.

    This all said, I would be willing to discuss the Carini jam last night in relation to any jam they’ve ever done. It was that good and I don’t think that is an overreaction.

  13. aj Says:

    That was a glorious night of music and community… and I watched it from home. Very, very excited about where the band is now and so happy to be a part of this crazy thing. A++ night, wonderful end for an amazing day for me as well. Thank you Phish.

  14. buddysmyles Says:

    Cuddley but Muscular has to be the best lyric ever…

  15. Admiral Ackbar Says:

    @Matt

    To each their own, dawg. Yes, the days of extended Trey-composed fugal sections are probably gone, but from the couch I heard two or three songs last night with some genuine (if a little subtle) complexity to them. Miles more intricate than basically anything that has been debuted in 3.0, at any rate.

    No to mention, Phish’s existing catalog has the benefit of the “all-timer” versions already having happened (IE, the quality of the songs is skewed by the monstrosity of the jams they’ve produced). EG, I happen the think that Tweezer is kind of a terrible song, but you’re god damn right I’ll take one at every show.

  16. marcoesq Says:

    Carini sounding very nice. Need to give it another spin

  17. mosesmauzy Says:

    WOW Holy Shit!!

    I actually called that Phish would perform their new album a couple of days ago. I tweeted it.

    now since I was not there I need to see some video
    anyone??

  18. Snigglebeach Says:

    @ whoever

    If you can name me more than 1 band that didn’t have a significant drop off in the quality of their studio albums over the course of their career, if like to hear it.

    I say more than 1 cause somebody is sure to surprise me.

  19. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Do you suppose people blow their own horn so much because they can’t blow themselves?

    I probably do.

  20. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Re watching album set now. Much easier listen 2nd time around. I was so nervous for them last night.

  21. btb Says:

    PERSNICKETY

  22. Spasm Waiter Says:

    What do you suppose Abe makes for that quick Cameo?

  23. marcoesq Says:

    Halloween ’96 pretty tasty too. fuck, maybe I like em all.

    Really liking Fuego, the Line…need to hear more

  24. Admiral Ackbar Says:

    @sniggle

    Well, first of all, the thousands of bands that but out shitty albums early in their career did not get to have a “later in their career.” Survivorship bias: IT’S A TRAP.

    That said, when a band changes stylistically over the course of their career, it’s natural for the fans of the early work (or mid period work, or whatever) to reject the stylistic changes because they’re different (but not necessarily worse). It is what it is.

    “If you draw circles, you get famous for drawing circles. What happens if you start drawing squares? Well i’d say the answer to that is, don’t get famous for drawing circles.” – some guy

  25. marcoesq Says:

    I actually called that Phish would cover their new album last night back in ’06 so y’all are just battling for 2nd.

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