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)


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!



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. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Could not likely be more poignant, Señor Miner.

    i know I pined for new material…

    Pumped for NYE!

  2. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Alos, headed to KC today for the week.

    ANy suggestions on thing to do/see when I have some downtime. Mostly evenings.

  3. vapebraham Says:

    Miner’s the man. In his writing, he hits the sweet spot somewhere between descriptiveness, exuberance, humility, and clarity. miner’s dedication and the BB got me back into the sport and leisure that is phish.

    This is my spot. You won’t find me sending more than a fleeting moment on green board and i’ve never read any baby’s mouth (i don’t twiiter, and until yesterday, had never really checked out any twitter pages(?). was looking at phunion for the first time for a bout a min. and got quickly sidetracked by friday’s child nudies. she seems like fun). i did see baby’s mouth (as ID’d by a BBer) outside the speckled hand and he seemed like a young, affable, cig toking fellow.

    spinnin metermen 9.6.13. whittled it down to 6 keeper tracks: 4,6,10,11,12,16. page shines. amazing how true he plays to the style; he’s a musical chameleon from a chameleon band.


    what the people say?

  4. vapebraham Says:

    even when they open things up, he still sounds more like art neville, james booker, or allen touissant rather than page from phish. amazing.

  5. vapebraham Says:

    that i got lost; make that Toussaint

  6. marcoesq Says:

    youse a poet, kaya. (In my best Philly suburb voice)

  7. vapebraham Says:

    and you, marco, are a beacon of light in the world of wingsuits.

  8. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    good stuff, miner. we keep it rolling…

    KC is part of my territory and I go there at least once a year. it is all about the BBQ if you dig on that. I cannot recommend Oklahoma Joe’s enough. gas station/bbq joint that is straight awesome. but everyone has their favorite so the best course of action is to sample a few over the course of your stay if possible, assuming you do BBQ at all.

    downtown is pretty dead at night unless you are going to a show or something since no one really lives there. everyone and everything is out in the surrounding towns. where are you staying?

    I pulled the jambase listings for the area for this week… not much (i.e. nothing) I’ve ever heard of until the weekend.

    honestly, I’ve never found the nightlife in the KC area to be one I dive into while there. seems pretty spread out. but this is a decent list

  9. Stoney Case Says:

    can anyone tell me why Abe Vigoda?

  10. vapebraham Says:

    he’s referenced in the lyrics to wombat

  11. Snigglebeach Says:


    Because no one else had a tv show called Fish.

  12. Kaveh Says:

    Alos, headed to KC today for the week.

    ^ BBQ your brains out.

  13. marcoesq Says:

    I’m assuming it was in reference to his TV show Fish and the kitschy type 70’s theme music in Wombat.

    And where was that Godfather spoof vid with Vigoda released? I only saw it through Lawnmemo on Twitter. Maybe they just knew him or ran into him.

  14. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    he played Phil Fish on Barney Miller (and the spinoff Fish)
    he’s a legend
    why not?
    provided better set up for the Godfather gag (he’s in the film)
    Broadway tie ins!
    because it is Abe Fucking Vigoda, why you gotta ask?

  15. Kaveh Says:



    My wife and I always use Triple D to find good places to go and eat when going to a city. Enjoy and we look forward to the report.

  16. phoammhead Says:

    spun wingsuit yesterday for the first time since hearing at the show and love it . . . not all of it, but wow, i’m really excited to hear some of these tune again at a future show. i’m also looking forward to the final album product and seeing how it turns out. great time to be a phan!

  17. marcoesq Says:

    2 Cahinz is playing KC this week. If that ain’t prime shit I don’t know what is

  18. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Yes, BBQ is on the agenda.

    I am hamstrung sin coche, but can cab it and expense it.

    FTR, I will be holed up on Overland Park, KS.


  19. marcoesq Says:

    If I ever play on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, my lifeline call a friend will be TIII. Dude knows everything, relevant and not.

  20. Stoney Case Says:

    thanks Kaya, Marco, Sniggle. Been out of the loop and missed the background. Had to have a bit of broadway flair for halloween, I reckon. Does Abe live near AC, or did they bring him in for the stunt?

  21. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Garcia for the write up Sr Miner. Couldn’t agree more. Word Phoamny McPhoamm. God damn it feels good to be a gangsta 😎

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    funny story, marco. I was a semi-finalist for that show… twice. that’s the last step before getting on the teevee. this was back when it was still a big primetime show, not the syndicated dealio it is now. the phone question process was pretty dang hard.

  23. marcoesq Says:

    You mean bigger than it’s current daytime slot with Cedric the Entertainer??

    That’s pretty cool, I imagine you would do well on there. Maybe now is your time

  24. marcoesq Says:

    Abe Vigoda seems like the physical embodiment of Atlantic City so I would guess he lives somewhat near there.

  25. Fly Says:

    Oklahoma Joe’s FTMFW. Do it!

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