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. MiA Says:

    Its light in the jamming department, but engaging in the quality of tight playing and challenging stuff. Curtain, Demand and Rift are sharp. Guyute is pretty good for what it is.

    Easy to shrug off Rift though. Sadly a great tube that was oddly overplayed a bit lately in 3.0

  2. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Thanks Kaveh.

  3. Gavinsdad Says:

    Hugely Allmans-y chords last couple mins of Woosta Drowned….so very nice.

  4. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    just in case those mediafire links don’t work (or if you want to quickly add this to your own dropbox) here is the MGT Comp reupped

  5. hoedown Says:

    What up BB!

    Not sure if this has been mentioned but obviously most of you know the Wingsuit songs were started based on favorite jams that Gordo recorded in his journal, most of which are from post hiatus or 3.0. Or so it said in the Phish Bill.

    So with that said, if they actually did this exercise, I have to say the end of 555 surely is a direct reference to the Bill Graham 2012 Light Tweeprise build / peak before they drop into Sally.

    Sorry if this has been beaten to death already, but it hit me like a ton of bricks while listening back last night on way home from dinner.

    Peace and love, Peace and love…

  6. little umbrellas Says:

    show em Voop! Eddie Harris & Lester McCann!

  7. Fly Says:

    Dat Hampton Carini…

    Underpamped severely, likely due to #Line. Damn, this Fall Tour. Phish yo! Old and filthy like an ex stripper MILF.

  8. Ulysses S. Wingsuit Says:

    I would literally, but I’m a bit busy at work to look for videos.

    However, I highly recommend the Harris/McCann album Swiss Movement, which captured them performing together, unrehearsed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in ’69.

    It includes the great, great Cold Duck Time as well as their “hit single” Compared To What.

  9. 4thDimension Says:

    @vape the best halfway to the moon was night one bill graham … Trey sticks his solo with real guitar and mike is kicking his bell throughout

  10. 4thDimension Says:

    Trey was much more laid back on fall halfway to the moons …really hope they stretch it this summer

  11. Jerome Garcia Says:

    UlysseStar droppin the jazz recs. Niiiiicety. Gonna run Spot run up that Swiss Movement for later.

    Eddie Harris is the shit. Big influence on favs Karl D & Robert Walter.

  12. Rob Ford Says:

    hoedown, i’m guessing that tweeprise in 555 was just a jam and won’t be in the song… it’s tweeprise yo

  13. Rob Ford Says:

    also, subways

  14. MiA Says:

    Niagara Viagra Split. Damn this sounds so good. Really a great job on mastering.

  15. MiA Says:

    Ha ha. Subways subways subways. Subways!

  16. hoedown Says:

    yeah its just odd that they say they wrote these songs based on JAM highlights that Mike remembered, and that surely was a JAM highlight….one of the top communal peak experiences of 3.0. Maybe they feel its just different enough to be considered its own thing vs. a regurgitated tweeprise peak. Pretty cool regardless. The similarity is clear as day to these ears.

  17. MiA Says:

    I’m really glad Fishman doesn’t sing his part in Taste anymore.

  18. MrCompletely Says:

    “Jerry & Merl performed FJD 8 times in late ’74, and they also did it 4 times with Legion of Mary in ’74-’75”

    fwiw there’s very little meaningful distinction, it’s the same lineup except Ron Tutt instead of Paul Humphries on drums, and while Tutt is my man-crush favorite, Humphries is a heavyweight as well, and if anything he was more suited to jazz than Tutt was, but regardless: modal noodling.

    The only jazz take from that era I love is Cucumber Slumber https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYYqfctLgRE check out Tony Saunders chiming in down in the comments

  19. Dorn76 Says:

    Step into space

  20. MiA Says:

    Not my favorite Taste ever…

    Love that track. Great composition.

  21. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Need a small respite for Phish… Listen to this…

    Ali Farka Toure & Ry Cooder


  22. MmmHmm Says:

    just thumbed thru all the D. Vann pics from fall on the new site. Mike looks dejected and left out in all of the off-stage group shots. kinda strange.

  23. MrCompletely Says:

    Paul Humphrey not Humphries the cricket player. I screw that up every time.

    He played with a ton of people from Steely Dan to FZ, was the main drummer on What’s Goin’ On, had some cool chill “northern soul jazz” releases under his own name with the “Cool Aid Chemists”


    great drummer

  24. MrCompletely Says:

    dunno how the Slip Stitch & Pass version of Taste could ever be topped

    pure uncut sickness

  25. ren Says:

    It’s all in Mikes head…someone needs to dose him

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