What’s Old is Gone

Boardwalk Hall (Andrea Nusinov)

Boardwalk Hall (Andrea Nusinov)

There was no greater risk that Phish could have taken on Halloween that to buck tradition and deliver a full set of new original songs. Many Phish fans have a notorious reputation for hating on new music as Trey explained in this striking anecdote from Wingsuit’s Phishbill: “Every time we’ve put out a new Phish album —literally every time—a certain contingent of fans has felt that the band they know and love is coming to an end. It’s never true.” He then went to recall how he was heckled in 1990 after debuting “Reba,” one of his fans’ longtime, most coveted compositions. Needless to say, Phish didn’t expect their audience to lap up their newest offerings in Atlantic City, but they put their wingsuits on and did it anyway. And in doing so, they shocked a fan base that thought it had virtually seen it all. Though I never saw this, I heard that many fans were disappointed with the band’s decision. But why? Their reaction made no sense to me. Phish has always used their Halloween sets to guide their playing—a sort of litmus test for where they have been and where they are going. And if the songs of Wingsuit are any indication, we are headed for another intensely creative era of Phish music. Isn’t that we are all looking for?

10.31.13 (A.Nusinov)

10.31.13 (A.Nusinov)

One of the most notable aspects of the songs tentatively comprising Wingsuit is their diversity. This will not be a simplistic Phish album. Most of the selections were scribed in four-minded collaboration and reflect a thoughtful and intricate songwriting approach. Strewn with lyrical themes of self-loyalty, making peace with the past, and soaring anew, the title track “Wingsuit” provided the perfect introduction to Phish’s future album, as it opened set two. And from there, the band simply went for it, for there was “nothing to lose.”

Phish didn’t have to take such an audacious risk. They didn’t have to play Wingsuit. The guys could have easily memorized another album from the past and crushed it. It probably would have been easier for them, and far more stress-free. But by choosing the path of least resistance, they would cease to be Phish. Secondly, I bet we wouldn’t all have been listening to Eat a Peach on repeat for a week straight, while allowing the tapes of the most glorious tour in the modern era to lay in waiting. But that is exactly what so many fans have been doing with Wingsuit! And there is no end in sight.

There is nothing quite like new Phish music, and being introduced to Wingsuit on Halloween transformed us into innocent, childlike fans; expectations were an impossibility. This element was one of the coolest part of the Halloween set—collective discovery with zero reference points whatsoever. We—the audience—were discovering the power of these new songs with the band. This was a collaborative exercise; an unprecedented gesture in live music in which—most often—fans come to hear the familiar. How many other bands could step on stage and please their audience with 90 minutes of brand new music? Maybe…zero?

10.31.13 (A.Nusinov)

10.31.13 (A.Nusinov)

The Wingsuit set was Phish—dramatically—opening the studio doors to their adoring fans, allowing us to actually be a part of the creative process. This was a dream come true! Out of all the crazy things we had seen this band do over the past 30 years, they had never before played an entire set of new songs. Never. And these songs were written for keeps; a powerful infusion of high-quality music into Phish’s mix in this, their 30th year. Pieces like “Fuego,” “The Line,” “Waiting all Night,” “Wombat” and “Devotion to a Dream” reflect stylistic tangents for the guys, taking them in different sonic directions. Phish didn’t only preview their future album on Halloween, they paved the way for the next prolific era their career.

And now we wait. Not only for MSG’s Holiday Run (which will, likely, include several Wingsuit songs), but for the album, itself, to see which will selections make the cut and in what form. Beyond these upcoming events, however, we wait for the Phish’s next full-fledged tour—seemingly Summer 2014—in which the songs of Wingsuit will come into their own, carry improvisational significance, and begin to find their niche in the annals of Phish history.

10.31.13 (A.Nusinov)

“Wombat” w/ Abe Vigoda, 10.31.13 (A.Nusinov)

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More Thoughts on Wingsuit:

My friends over at PleaseMeHaveNoRegrets.com have written a beautiful, long-form essay on Wingsuit. It resonated with me immediately, and I agree with its content in full. I’ve excerpted the beginning of the piece below and provided a link so you can read it in its entirety:

I. Phish headed into Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall for their three-night, Fall tour ending run with enough momentum from a banner year on the road, and enough confidence in the current state of their now 30-year old artistic enterprise, to step to the line and take a giant leap of faith into the unknown.

And so on an unseasonably warm All Hallow’s Eve on the Jersey Shore, Phish spread out a page of their carefully coiled papyrus, dutifully replaced their quills, dipped them deep into the ink of their creative wellspring and penned an entirely fresh chapter in the epic poem of their career. 

As a band known for keeping their audiences on the edge of their seats, Phish once again zigged where so many expected them to zag. Eschewing their 20-year old Halloween tradition of covering an album by a musical forebear, they instead used the Wagnerian backdrop of Boardwalk Hall to preview their future. In place of covering an album by Led Zeppelin, Elton John, The Band or even contemporary’s like Radiohead or TV on the Radio, Phish played through their own unreleased, in-progress album entitled “Wingsuit.”

Read the rest here!

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Winged-music-note

Jam of the Day:

Wingsuit > Fuego” 10.31.13 II

The future of Phish. I mean…

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1,018 Responses to “What’s Old is Gone”

  1. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Mountains of the Moon- what an incredible song that no one ever discusses, at least to my knowledge. Thank god Phil played it a lot. Quite well also, I might add.

    Creepy, eery, freaky tale

  2. Ulysses S. Wingsuit Says:

    Now someone needs to start posting as MEGATAR

  3. MrCompletely Says:

    I knew a guy who played some crazy uber guitar thing like that, and also a Chapman stick like Tony Levin. He was a superb musician who only liked to play extremely horrible cheezeball fusion, everything sounded like latter era Weather Report playing the Miami Vice theme. He owned a keytar unironically but I never saw him play it.

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    He was a fantastic waiter though. That sounds like a sly burn but it’s not. One of those guys who just fucking loves his job. Odd dude

  5. dorn76 Says:

    Tell me more about Cilantro, C.

    I hear it tastes like soap to some people. How weird is that.

  6. Lycanthropist Says:

    it can be a very thin line Mr. Completely

    fortunately the proximity to New Orleans and being in the heart of blues and soul, he delivers an extremely grooving sound, that i can’t imagine getting out of hiring a separate guitar player. We have yet to record with the line-up as we are still tightening up the heads, but the song contributions and improvs have certainly improved.

  7. jdub Says:

    so in the name of honesty, my wife and i are balling our eyes out while listening to Leonard sing the sacred Hallelujah. I don’t know how it got here, we where just fooling around playing jukebox on the itunes and then… boom. love and peace all.

  8. Rob Ford Says:

    bobble heads for everyone!

  9. dorn76 Says:

    I adore Mountains of the Moon.

    Not really a fan of the guy at all, but Keller Williams has a version that gets me big time, every time. On an album of covers I think.

    Or there’s THIS version.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVqArOogY-c

  10. Rob Ford Says:

    worcester carini better than i remembered. some scary plinko storage shit going on. more of this please yo. it’s better than crack!

  11. Rob Ford Says:

    not that i have much memory of anything really. too many drunken stupors.

  12. Ulysses S. Wingsuit Says:

    Well that was easy.

    1 seeder listed for both torrents, of the same fileset (difficulty: SHN). If you can’t hook to a seeder holler and I’ll hop on.

    http://bt.etree.org/details.php?id=557172

    http://bt.etree.org/details.php?id=532365

    Phish
    11-30-96
    Arco Arena
    Sacramento, CA

    Source: DFOB (Neumann KM 140>DA-P1@44.1k)>ZA2>SF 4.0(fades and minor
    glitch removal)>CDWAV>SHNv3(w/seek tables appended)

    DAT>CD Transfer by Jamie Lutch, 11/2000

    Disc 1: (set 1)
    1. Runaway Jim
    2. Punch You in the Eye
    3. All Things Reconsidered
    4. Bouncing Around the Room
    5. Stash
    6. Fluffhead
    7. My Old Home Place*
    8. Uncle Penn*
    9. Prince Caspian
    10.Chalk Dust Torture

    Disc 2: (set 2)
    1. La Grange
    2. It’s Ice
    3. Glide
    4. Brother^
    5. Contact
    6. Also Sprach Zarathustra->
    7. Timber Ho!**
    8. Jam
    9. Taste**
    10.Funky Bitch**
    11.Amazing Grace
    12.Amazing Grace Jam#

    Disc 3: (Encore)
    1. Crowd Noise
    2. Possum#

    *With John McEuen on banjo
    ^Sung for Page’s brother, who was to the side of the stage
    **With Peter Apfelbaum on tenor sax
    #With Peter Apfelbaum on tenor sax and John McEuen on lap slide guitar

  13. ae Says:

    Great video, thanks dorn.

  14. dorn76 Says:

    DCU2 No Q via LL

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikgbHJtnM_E

  15. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Fleshlight.

  16. MrCompletely Says:

    classic p-funk track amirite

  17. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Love a good Lebowski reference

  18. little umbrellas Says:

    Pliny on tap next door. Lucky 13.

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