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. Mr.Miner Says:

    this carini is weird, but it just moved back up a spot or two. Its a mid top10er for me

  2. Gavinsdad Says:

    I’m cage matching the Carinis again

    AC – at mins 10 and then 12 they simmer down as trey keeps seeking. When trey comes in at 15 mins w his leads they aren’t as out front as they could be leaving slight blue balls. I like miners assessment on effort vs execution

    I was harsher this am on Hamptons Carini as I generally like a peak later in the tune where Hampton seems like two distinct movements.

    Feel like I’m sleeping huge on Hampton Tweez.

  3. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Speaking of Niagara MiA… Think I’ve posed this question to the BB before during the RLP & the frenetic pace at which NiagaReba is played (& obv don’t recs if prev dropped in which case mea culpa) but are there other examples of this type of high speed precision playing in ’95?

  4. vapebraham Says:

    AC carini is all about page – a career performance from page in this one. late in the jam, trey implicitly says: “we’re peaking this thing right now. follow me.” they do, but page refuses to play second fiddle. beauty ensues. fishman kicks ass throughout the jam. mike repeatedly sounds the fight bell of approval and page goes clav. whale call bliss outro. 19m mins flies by. $$$+.

  5. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Phish fall ’13 – put your L on these and put your wingsuit on.

    ^I’ll take 2. No make it 4. Shit. Just give me the whole damn stamp. Wingsuit’d.

  6. Mr.Miner Says:

    hartford tweeze and hampton carini—jams where the guys are mere vessels—are my type of jams. Effortless and locked.

  7. Mr.Miner Says:

    i spun hampton tweeze last after all the other highlights, and it sounds like a different band. warrrrrm up scene…but the last few minutes are divine.

  8. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    you want the Machine Gun Trey comp

  9. Ulysses S. Wingsuit Says:

    jtran- The lyric is “Maybe that bird needed a cage after all”

  10. George Wingsuit Kush Says:

    @C, if one were to pick a top 1 or 2 shows from the Europe’72 box, what would yours be?

  11. Gavinsdad Says:

    Appreciate your distinction there @miner as after 11:30 in this Hampton Carini, after the southern rock-ish peak they DO go 4 headed thanks to page and fish holding the bottom (tiny hints of alive again in treys lead in there too)

  12. Ulysses S. Wingsuit Says:

    Freedom Jazz Dance was written by the great Eddie Harris, who also wrote Listen Here. While Eddie’s performances of it are in his typical groove-based dance-jazz style, FJD was popularized by Miles Davis, who applied a more free, post-post-bop arrangement to it.

    Jerry & Merl performed FJD 8 times in late ’74, and they also did it 4 times with Legion of Mary in ’74-’75. But like C said, most Garcia/Saunders treatments of standards fall into the modal noodling category.

  13. little umbrellas Says:

    Muscle Shoals

  14. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    good follow up stuff to my post a few pages back. totally with yas on those points.

  15. jtran Says:


    funny, I thought the first set was kinda boring minus the slave

  16. jtran Says:

    boring if I am being a critic. in room/high/etc would be much more enjoyable of course.

    Set 2 though, is just lighting me up. $$$

  17. BingosBrother Says:

    The last minutes of Hampton Tweez are but the beginning of the StorageAge jam. Bread and butter, those two.

  18. Jerome Garcia Says:

    😉 T3

  19. MmmHmm Says:

    Voop, nice history lesson on the yazz tunes. Good to know.

  20. Kaveh Says:

    @T3: the download on that machine gun Trey page doesn’t work…any ideas where else to get that?

  21. Gavinsdad Says:

    Woosta drowned now lest I forget

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I have it on this cpu, kaveh. give me a few to up it…

  23. Kaveh Says:

    Searched around:


  24. MmmHmm Says:

    this is funny but kind of disturbing…2012 Phish fall tour.


  25. Kaveh Says:


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