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:

    I didn’t know that Mr. C. Paul Humphrey played drums for Zappa on Hot Rats and Studio Tan (with Chester Thompson)

    Humphrey was the drummer on Let’s Get It On, Feeling Alright, etc. played on Steely Dan’s Aja, etc.

    One of my favorite drummers ever.

  2. MiA Says:

    Damn. Should refresh I guess. Yeah phenomenal drummer.

  3. Ulysses S. Wingsuit Says:

    BGCA Light jam/555 is very similar to Tweeprise, but not it. Similar in that it’s an ascending pattern with a constant build, but not the same scale or key. I think it’s part of 555 to stay.

    Nice Palms! Cooder’s collaborations are great. Love 2003’s “Mambo Sinuendo” w/Manuel Galban.

  4. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    love the ss&p version, but my favorite might be the apfelbaum-aided one from 11.30.96 that came out of a fantastic timber with him on it as well

    that phishtracks version is pretty crappy, honestly, but the leaked sbd is out there and part of the KP comps. it pops big time with his tenor sax on there

  5. BingosBrother Says:

    Just noticed the Cashortrade link on the side. Very cool miner. Keeping it honest. Respek.

  6. dorn76 Says:

    Mike is from another planet. Frowning might indicate happiness there.

    He seemed allright, if a bit persnickety, in that interview posted a few days back.

  7. little umbrellas Says:

    Ali Farke. yes.

  8. BingosBrother Says:

    Nobody puts King Tutt in a corner.

    When I spin the Hampton Carini, I let #Line keep playing. Ripping ass Trey on that one. He earned that bay.

  9. verno329 Says:

    Did you guys see this?


    Crazy stuff

  10. Ulysses S. Wingsuit Says:

    There’s a great Neumann FOB pull of that 11-30-96 show that nobody seems to have (even though db.etree shows at least 100 collectors that do). Guess I have a project for tonight.

  11. BingosBrother Says:

    Sam Hurd is not bright.

    Feds are ridiculous though. Story in the Reader this week exposed the feds for letting these 2 kingpins slang 8 tons of blow in 4 months all because they were snitching on a cartel boss. Meanwhile, these poor dudes who were selling minor amounts from these same dudes were getting 30 and 40 years. Using big fish to catch little fish. This country is a fucking joke sometimes. Be smart kids.

  12. DaNcInG fOoL Says:



  13. MrCompletely Says:

    @MiA, Humphrey played with Garcia/Saunders from mid to the end of 1974, the date of his first gig keeps getting moved. It was Bill Vitt from 70 through 73, Kreutzmann from early 73 to July or Aug, Humphrey from July or Aug (depending on who you believe) through…well, sometime later that year, that’s all pretty fuzzy, by the end of the year it was Ron Tutt and the Legion of Mary name was in use

  14. Rob Ford Says:

    I see no crack cocaine in those cleavages.

  15. Gavinsdad Says:

    Palmer – I wore that Ry/Ali album out when it first dropped. Pretty much my intro to anything remotely African…beyond youssou ndour or king sunny Ade.

    Nice call. If I hum the first three songs I will fall asleep…not cause it’s boring but cause it was one of my bedtime albums

  16. MiA Says:

    MrC, I suspect one can you hear a difference stylistically? His fills are pretty signature.


  17. MiA Says:

    Just found the 4.20.75 Let it Rock. The 4.19 Harder They Come says Paul Humphrey on drums?

    Either way, this is nice.

  18. snow Says:

    soo… I love climbing nudes. So beautiful.

    I need to give AC Carini my undivided attention soon. Pretty interesting how people are ranking it.

    hope everyone is well.

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    everything from 1975 is pretty much rock solid confirmed as the Tuttster.

    4.19, 4.20, 5.21 and 7.4.75 are pretty bulletproof Legion shows

    given the lack of documentation, the debate over the exact beginning and end of the Paul Humphrey era is in fact a matter of debate based on stylistic interpretation and is the subject of considerable argument

    for me the main guys lost a lot of credibility when they insisted for a couple years that it was John Kahn playing bass in the summer of ’74 when it very obviously is not – it’s Tony Saunders, Merl’s son, and you can tell by the fact that his bass actually has tone, as opposed to John’s signature “hitting a couch with a broom” sound….they finally gave in on this point, begrudgingly

    the epicenter of true Garcia nerddom is the epic Jerry Garcia’s Middle Finger http://jgmf.blogspot.com/

  20. MrCompletely Says:

    fwiw the 9.1.74 Garcia-Saunders show released as Pure Jerry Volume 1 is certainly Paul Humphrey on drums. There is an interesting but controversial onstage/FOB audience tape of the night before as well, very jazzy stuff

    that version of Cucumber Slumber I linked before may be a Paul Humphrey gig. I think it is but it’s very unclear. There’s a lot of debate about the date of that show…but one telling point is that it also contains the only known performance JG of “What’s Going On” (as a jazz instrumental) which to me certainly suggests Humphrey as the drummer

  21. little umbrellas Says:

    Muscle Shoals.

  22. little umbrellas Says:

    also 7/15/99 SOAM>Kung>Jam

  23. little umbrellas Says:

    admitedly , pumping live bait 9… ACDC bag! two delays… so nice.

  24. Jerome Garcia Says:

    HFD Golden Age isn’t too shabby itself as a stand alone.

  25. ren Says:

    Dicks Dust keeping me company on the commute home….still a friggin monster!

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