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. Jerome Garcia Says:

    I finally got it after reading the flow of pg 36 again #thickheaded

  2. Gavinsdad Says:

    I call that the “inside out” filter @spaz. No clue. Betcha Lu or plord knows

  3. MrCompletely Says:

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

    agree, that jam’s a bit static & template-y until the ending segment, then it goes off, and the payoff rolls right into Light as soon as they get through the rock peak

  4. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Reading best set of fall.

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    sorry but from here on out wingsuit = fleshlight that’s all there is to it

    you can all act like it means something else but in your hearts every time you see or hear that word you’ll know the true meaning

  6. Gavinsdad Says:

    Fish is just disgusting this Fall but slightly disgustinger this Summer (looking at you dicks Dust monster breakbeats)

    When u listen super close to his kick drum foot in the tail end of the two Carinis or the drowned or the light from Woosta it’s straight up sorcery.

  7. phoammhead Says:

    dammit C!

  8. Ulysses S. Wingsuit Says:

    Fleshlight? Sick. Just gimme a gallon of whiskey and I’ll paint the sky.

  9. Mr.Miner Says:

    agree, that jam’s a bit static & template-y until the ending segment, then it goes off, and the payoff rolls right into Light as soon as they get through the rock peak

    ^ though this Light’s solo, rock peak, what have you is quite on point

  10. jdub Says:

    That’s the difference between the 20 and 15 minute jam. Sometimes they need those last 5 to strike pay dirt. Bunch of 18-20 minute jams this fall that only really elevate at the end. Good sign.

  11. MrCompletely Says:

    Hartford Golden Age is the Fish one. Check it out. From when the song part ends until the Woo break is just a filthy Fish freakout. Then post Woo there’s a brief fullband candy jam & he’s still killing it there

    but from like 6 minutes to 11 or so is just whippety bap bap sha bim whippety bam bam shit with some cool trey interplay taboot.

  12. jdub Says:

    Thanks for the imagery C. Just ruined the song for me.

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah the last few mins of Drowned are in that KVHW style bliss groove mode (seriously, it sounds like a peak KVHW moment, that is a huge compliment), then Light has to work through its usual rock peak, which is great, then it breaks down into a great syncopated full band section with a harder feel than that Drowned outro jam

    great sequence of music, unified but diverse

  14. little umbrellas Says:

    @Spasm, starting around 3:45 AC Carini. right after the song, Trey kicks off the jam with some E minor..

    This is actually an example of Trey using the digitech whammy pedal in a different way (it has many uses all you foolish haters). Here he is using it to drop the guitar down an octave in conjunction with the wah.
    he’s playing on the high e string and b string but it is much lower and bass’y sounding. hard to describe, but an awesome sound. he does it in 555 as well. thought it was a little bit of a reprise.

    dropped octave whammy pedal, with wah (and possibly also the univibe and or leslie)

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    if I can ruin it for you that easily you’re not trying

  16. phoammhead Says:

    i’m finding myself thinking about switching over to one of these dank jams being pamped . . .

  17. little umbrellas Says:

    Fishman inbetween that section and the Major section is rocking those subdivions! Page with the feedback Wurli. awesome moment.

  18. MrCompletely Says:

    Seriously. @G diddy. Hartford GA. 6 to 11 minute mark. DOOO EEET. Get your Fish on.


  19. phoammhead Says:

    hit skip on snow . . . sunday morning was acceptable since mike’s singing like a choir boy

  20. jdub Says:

    No need to apologize DF. Reading is a mighty fine set 2. Not sure I’m up to the task of figuring out my favorite. Woosters, Hartford, Reading, AC2 all have a say but something resonates about Hampton 3.

  21. Gavinsdad Says:

    I am truly tickled by the hey hole

  22. Jerome Garcia Says:

    KVHW is indeed a compliment. You’ve rec’d some great KVHW shows on here over the yrs @C which I have thoroughly enjoyed.

  23. phoammhead Says:

    would take this damn thing off, but devotion is just so hot damn catchy!

  24. phoammhead Says:

    i don’t smoke enough . . . love this buzz

  25. jtran Says:

    stuck on niagra 95 set 2

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