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. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Is that envelope or wah at 430 of AC Carini? Effect he uses regs to great success.

  2. ren Says:

    Here’s to hoping that Woo-X takes care of the problem once and for all.

  3. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Except that they woo the shit out of Hartford GA. Gatdangit.

  4. ren Says:

    Thinking about making a “digi tech” sign for MSG in honor of Stoney

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    quick repost for later in the day peeps, official release FLACs


    Fillmore 2.11.69 via vooper, JGB 9.1.90 audio ripped from my DVD

  6. ren Says:

    It’s the new #line >horse joke….hopefully more like >horse in that it goes away

  7. ren Says:

    Crowd increasingly reluctant to the woo as Fall progressed I think

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    one of those Fall Golden Ages is a lot like the Dicks Dust in that the meat of it is basically like an eight minute drum solo by Fish with the guys playing along side of it. Just constant monster fills from every direction

  9. little umbrellas Says:

    agreed Ren! Spray the crowd with WooX!

    JG, gave me a Lol! not sure that’s happened yet. Vehicle+Wingsuit. whoaw.

  10. dorn76 Says:

    Even after directed to “take off your patches” by our beloved Broadway Bust, the crowd was less than fully enthused to woo.

  11. Jerome Garcia Says:

    ^proud of myself I am. Shit happens all the time for me Lil Um. Love it when the BB makes me laugh out loud. Ha!

  12. phoammhead Says:

    trying on my wingsuit in proper head space

    let’s see how this compares to sunday morning’s straight-up spin, which i loved

  13. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Woosta 2 set II to finish up my work day. Best set of tour? Or is that AC 2 set II?

  14. little umbrellas Says:

    just picture that though. fully on it and in a wingsuit.

  15. phoammhead Says:

    damn, just got cold in a minute

  16. jdub Says:

    Hopefully you are not fully on it, in a Wingsuit, and free falling. Unless that’s your thing I guess. That could get crazy.

  17. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Do they make wingsuits in Omar the Tent Maker size? Bc I might need that…& a heroic dose…

  18. phoammhead Says:

    a couple of gin drinks for good measure

  19. jdub Says:

    Get after it phoamm.

  20. MrCompletely Says:

    so, what, “wingsuit” is code for using a Fleshlight now?

  21. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Really dig that last 3 min or so of Woosta Drowned & then into Light. Wow.

    Drowned jam is great but those last few min grabbed me fwiw.

  22. Jerome Garcia Says:

    I had to google Fleshlight…help me Jebus

  23. jdub Says:

    Tweezer, Carini, and Golden Age stars of fall tour. Couldn’t ask for a better trifecta. Although I must say, the indoors didn’t bring the darkness like I thought it may. The MSG ’12 Carini still serves as an outlier – band is too happy to get all dark and nasty I guess.

  24. Jerome Garcia Says:

    No MrC I think there is much intrigue about actually donning a wingsuit getting electrified whilst getting down at a Phish show. But if I’ve proved anything it’s that I dunnoshite.

  25. phoammhead Says:

    LOL, C

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