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. marcoesq Says:

    Regardless of what they have ever played for Halloween, there are always a percentage of fans who hate it. Nothing has changed. Difference is now we have a bunch more songs we’ll see in near future.

    Expectations are a bitch, yo.

  2. vapebraham Says:

    i definitely cannot relate to the militantly pissed off stance re. haloween ’13. new phish tunes debuts are concert paydirt.

  3. marcoesq Says:

    I went into this Fall with the only expectation that I’m having a kid soon and this is the only Phish I will be seeing for a long while. Made my experience much more enjoyable.

  4. Stoney Case Says:

    JG, T3, confirming my suspicions.

    again, agree with napraham. nothing to really suggest an album cover was coming. it was pretty much telegraphed for Indio and the first AC halloween.

    what if they are going to become a festival / holiday band? they’d have to change their pre-tour dynamic a bit. a little more ear calibration before starting tours if they will be short runs.

  5. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Phish is more than welcome to play 5-10k venues from now until they decide to stop…

    Yes please!

  6. jtran Says:

    I guess I am 4th or 5thing OK Joe’s

  7. Stoney Case Says:

    palmer, that’s what i’m thinking. they’re giving the jaded vets the easy way out, with the downloads and webcasts.

  8. vapebraham Says:

    yep, stoney was thinking the same re. indio and halloween ’10. None of the fake out, play zeppelin mood setting this year ala 10.30.10.

  9. jonacho Says:

    thanks for the words of mature wisdom in this review Miner. I am still reveling in the joy from Halloween. I am so pleased to have been part of the experience with the band and audience. I say – if you don’t like it, don’t go – free up a ticket for someone else to have their own experience. Expectations crush the moment. I thought Wingsuit was a great example of how confident this band is right now. The lyrics reflect 50 years of experience, and the music the same. Loved it, loving it, looking forward to many more years!

  10. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I think the band is having as much fun as ever playing.. The music is kick ass also..

    I hope they play either a winter/Spring or a Fall tour every year, to go with the Summer and NYE run. Seems like a recipe for success for them and us.

  11. vapebraham Says:

    ditto what jonacho and palmer just said. well-put, boys.

    spinning hampton ’13 funky bitch and trey is spitting fire. $$$ bitch.

    :raises a lunch-time flower power (don’t worry they’ll be gym hitting in the evening) to phish and the BB:

  12. vapebraham Says:

    they’ll be

    ^^^ too much flower power

  13. jdub Says:

    The flufftard thing is bit extreme even though I know it is in jest. More like glass half fulltards versus glass of wine half empty. But that’s a mouthful.

  14. jdub Says:

    Music is supposed to be fun after all. Too much strutting, chest pumping, and dick punching on the internet for my taste. In all fields, not just Phish.

  15. Mr. Palmer Says:

    glass of whine?

  16. Stoney Case Says:

    jdub, you’re a phan.

    Baby’sAss are flufftards. twittards. noobtards. all dat.

    BB good with me. You’re a working man. fluff away.

  17. dorn76 Says:

    Phish does what they want, always have.

    Lucky fucks they are.

  18. Mr.Icculus Says:


  19. Stoney Case Says:

    basically, i’m going to rip, in jest, every unemployed, ungrounded, unfounded, never miss a show expert, trying to be like mr. miner. like it’s my job.

  20. jdub Says:

    I hear ya Robear. Baby’s Ass, PT, and the like are the noxious cyber cesspool I avoid at all costs these days. This place is a haven.

  21. dorn76 Says:

    Case in point.

    Theme from 11/2. Can’t Fluffenuff.


  22. vapebraham Says:

    lost my shape. trying to act natural.

  23. Stoney Case Says:

    jdub, realizing you’re not a twitter guy. it’s a ‘tarded world out there, when it comes to phish.

    for the politically correct:

    by adding ‘tard, i’m suggesting that people’s desire to see themselves or their view as more important than others, they are retarding their ability to truly get IT, or anything, really.

  24. vapebraham Says:

    poseurs take cover, stoney’s in town.

  25. jdub Says:

    So flufftards for the cesspool and fLuffinaires for the phans. I dig.

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