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. butter Says:

    you mean 555 DF?

  2. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Got to the venue at 7:10. You know, around the time you should get there. Took FIFTY minutes to get inside. Fucking ridiculous understaffed lineup. Of course by then I had to pee, which of course took over another 20 mins in that bathroom. So yeah on my 55th show for the first time I missed the first couple songs. Such bs

  3. roberto luongo Says:

    I felt the album had to be recent. that classic rock just wouldn’t work. felt Trey was gonna go post 2000 and bet Miner $1000.

    not exactly what i expected but I’d have an extra $1000 this morning and would say def vibes with my feelings of this halloween just had to be more fresh. more progressive.

    no Zep.

  4. butter Says:

    when they walked out for encore he was holding that picking arm and hand like he’d just taken a massive hit on the football field, RL and C

  5. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Can someone link me to a playbill? Obvs didn’t get one

  6. Sgt Pepper Says:

    anyone know where i could stream the halloween set? i used to have a good page bookmarked but i got a new computer and forgot its name

  7. roberto luongo Says:

    love 555

  8. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    sounds like most folks really enjoyed themselves last night, others thought it was lame- i can understand both perspectives. personally, i think it was a very cool idea- i have not listened to a note yet, but i can’t wait to hear the new songs.

    my halloween was rad- danced the night away to radical local music. don’t tell me this town ain’t go no heart- people were out in force last night- festive.

    mason jar was a smashing success- people really liked it. one dude actually said, “damn! this taste so good!” came home with an empty jar (which was the goal). groovy, cool, heady buzz from tea. very mellow on the pysche, but super high energy, fluid body high- very cool. i’m happy i drank and shared as opposed to throwing it away. what i thought was going to be evil, was very light and positive.

    in bed by 3:00 and still made it to a 7:45 meeting feeling great. old man still got it!

    enjoy your friday.

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    word, butter. Something’s up for sure, it seems. tendinitis or who knows what.

  10. verno329 Says:

    Agreed completely William H Bonney. If they liked the new material so much they could have dropped it as a complete set at Hampton or even one of the other nights of AC. My disappointment isn’t due to not getting to hear any particular cover album, just think if they wanted to play a bunch of new material they didn’t have to wait for Halloween to do it.

  11. MrCompletely Says:

    http://lastrewind.com/

  12. tela's_muff Says:

    Snow is a struggle vocally and lyrically, although i do like the musical arrangement.

    he is indeed crushing those effect driven jams @rl. what like 5 straight shows with a soaring top shelf jam? band is locked in. which is why i’m so impressed by this new album. they played it really tight for debut material.

  13. butter Says:

    think you’ll make it DF missing that Heavy Things and Moma?

    seems like your working on your 100 show jade dealio a bit early 😉

  14. Sgt Pepper Says:

    thanks for that mr. c! been waiting to relisten to this since the beginning of third set on the stream last night

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    dude @butter that 20 minute ambient psych jam in Silent was the best part of the show

  16. btb Says:

    “Phish wildlife repertoire”

    Lulz

  17. butter Says:

    phishbill: http://static.nugs.net/phish/ph131031_phishbill.pdf

  18. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    thanks butter. i dont care about missing the first 2 songs, i care about not being able to get drugs and being sober for the whole show because of that lineup.

  19. [an unrelated] Wilson Says:

    i figured there would be some complaints, but ya can’t say what they did didn’t take some big balls. My only real complaint with the band lately has been the lack of new material – and that’s not so much a complaint as it was something i genuinely thought was hurting the shows a little bit (even though the playing was spectacular at the shows I saw). So, from my perspective, what they did was a clear nod to their understanding that phish has to move forward with new music. I think the whole thing should be very exciting for anyone who loves the band and – like me – is already looking forward to phish tours in the years ahead. Great time to be a phish fan, for sure.

  20. GhostPhunk Says:

    if red is visibly in pain each night like you guys are saying… better hit what you can right now. I would imagine at this point in the game these are not recoverable injuries. it will nag and nag, at least it’s the right wrist and not the left. game over if it’s left.

  21. MrCompletely Says:

    Party Supplies is cracking me up with these samples. amazing

  22. RicksFork Says:

    I respect everyones opinion of what happened last night. Admittedly I was not there, but even from my couch cast I felt honored that the band wanted to share this new music with their fans. I thought some of it was hot and others needed work, but it was still really cool. I realize it breaks with tradition, but isn’t Phish a band founded on breaking from tradition and exploring new places and spaces? Finally, even if you scrub the 2nd set from your memory you still got it served to you between the book ends of a really legitimate show. That 3rd set was fire and for those who didn’t appreciate the 2nd, it should be easily forgotten with a re-spin of the 3rd.

  23. dorn76 Says:

    Shitshows at phishshows is not like a new thing.

  24. Nagarjuna Says:

    Regardless of opinion about set 2, I’m inclined to credit it, at least in part, for the overall very high quality of this tour. It seems to have been a vehicle for intense and refreshed band collaboration and cohesiveness. It’s been their little secret this whole tour – and a secret all about the vitality of their own tight unit – and may have enabled the great jams of fall 13.

  25. roberto luongo Says:

    you get to Tracy Champman yet C? huh. awesome.

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