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…

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/2.02-Wingsuit.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/2.03-Fuego.mp3]
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1,018 Responses to “What’s Old is Gone”

  1. revise your despise Says:

    @PB

    Oklahoma Joe’s is by far my favorite BBQ ever and I’ve eaten it all over the country. You have to go to the original location on the KS side in a gas station. It’s on 47th and Mission. Doesn’t get any better.

  2. jdub Says:

    Abe Vigoda in a Wombat suite. Brilliantly odd. I wonder if Abe had any clue who or what Phish was or is prior to stunt.

  3. jdub Says:

    Suite=suit. Damn auto correct.

  4. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    kaveh and fly know

  5. vapebraham Says:

    i absolutely love phish and fall tour ’13. hampton mound currently providing the OG vibes.

    Your were right the first time, jdub. The Wombat Suite is one of the most desirable suites in all of AC (and ventnor) and is preferred by such luminaries as Abe Vigoda.

  6. marcoesq Says:

    Somewhere in some hotel in AC there most likely is a Wombat Suite

  7. jdub Says:

    Abe in a wombat suit sipping on the bubbly in a wombat suite chilling with those dancers in a skanky AC hotel makes me chuckle.

  8. mr icculus Says:

    I need some help guys. I have never seen a MSG show from behind the stage. What is it like back there???

  9. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    OK Joe’s it shall be!

  10. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Gonna get my Wingsuit on now and spin that badboy again via the youtubes.. I like 75% of it..

  11. Spasm Waiter Says:

    I generally order pork ribs when getting my BBQ feed on. What is the signature dish down in KC? I would kill for some quality Q right about now.

  12. vapebraham Says:

    ^^^ while he spins woosta Drowned, which is delicious $$$. it smack talks Reading DwD and backs it up, beating it up with watery space jazz passages, suspense, and intrigue. You can feel the air between the notes. The middle segment features a rock groove (guy forgetish) feel similar to the DwD jam, but looser, stickier. This middle groove segment is sandwiched on either side by more flowing, liquid, spacious, jazzy jamming. the post middle segment has the super kind sitting in limbo blend in w/ mike out front. This be my jam.

  13. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Watching Cusack in THe Raven. Hot chick I had never heard of plays his girlfriend. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Eve

  14. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Yo, come on. You don’t get how people were disappointed? Some people haven’t been to every other Halloween show. That was probably some people’s only chance to ever see them do that. Regardless of how wingsuit panned out, disappointment was bound to happen.

  15. ren Says:

    @PB- You can never have too much BBQ. You also need to hit Gates BBQ. I’ve eaten plenty of BBQ throughout the US like Revise and this one may be tops on my list. Haven’t had OK Joes yet though…added to the list.

  16. marcoesq Says:

    Taking this Niagra for a ride. Diggin the Split and Reba

  17. Stoney Case Says:

    Df, word. Just cuz Miner and the twittards say something, doesn’t make it so. I’m guessing the people disappointed have been intimidated into submission at this point.

    for some reason, i never thought for a minute they were going to cover another bands album. they never even hinted at covering someone else, did they? Also, wasn’t Trey on record saying that WFC would be their last?

  18. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Other way to look at it is the you guys in the building got to see Phish debut an entire set of fresh music, which has NEVER been done before..

  19. Mr. Palmer Says:

    ..so you got something rarer than a Halloween show…

  20. Stoney Case Says:

    Df, you still get a bunch of Stat Cred for seeing all those debuts. Add that to your sash!

  21. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I know at least one person who swears he is done with phish after halloween. he’s that pissed about it. eh, you can’t please everyone.

  22. vapebraham Says:

    disappointment is a function of expectations. expectations with art are a trap.

    and if you didn’t think the new album debut on ween was a strong possibility, then you need to pay better attention b/c it was telegraphed. plenty of talk of a new album, yet only halfway to the moon and say something were busted out in all of ’13. and while people thought they heard allmans and GD quotes, the band did nothing to play up the musical costume aspect of halloween.

  23. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Really @T3? That’s a little extreme. Sounds like homeboy needs to gain som perspective. But one less to battle in the ticket lottery I guess.

  24. Stoney Case Says:

    def get the feeling phish has all the $$$ they need. also get a feeling they would like to shrink the audience size to the point of only leaving room for the flufftards. no room or time for dissenting views.

    fall run and halloween playing into that hunch. Garden Party, Harpudisaster in Chicago, the playbill, some of the other clues.

  25. jtran Says:

    I second Oklahoma Joe’s

    Specifically planned our route west through KC to hit that spot

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