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. bob dylan Says:

    as opposed to tommy lee – the man with the moving drum kit

  2. jdub Says:

    And we forget the RnR opener from Hartford. What a sweet moment. Rest in peace Lou.

  3. jdub Says:

    Tube will forever be “Down at Fraggle Rock” since my wife made the connection. Yes, it’s in there.

  4. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Gotta give the Alchemist folk credit. They have a tough situation going and have worked hard to handle it as quickly and effectively as possible. Here’s hoping they can get the new retail site up and running very soon…


  5. plord Says:

    @lu, you don’t need to shell out the cash for a real Mutron Octave Divider. If you’re even halfway competent with a soldering iron, drop by the Build Your Own Clone pedal kit website and pick up their Divided Octave kit. It is a straight up clone of the Mutron circuit and for single note work it is the fucking bomb. I’ve A/B’d them, it’s close enough to make no difference except the $500 you’ll save (barring the occasional extra-magic-vintage-mojo type units that never come up for sale anyway). Tracking is aces too, no funky calibration, it worked the first time I plugged it in.

    It won’t do chords without freaking out in a beautiful/ugly fuzz/ring mod way, but even that is kind of musically useful, I think. If you want full on octave chords and organ type sounds out of a guitar, you gotta go with something modern like a POG2.

    [and shit, if you’re lousy with a soldering iron, and you want to pay the shipping back and forth, I’ll build one for you. p a l o r d at the giggly mail.]

  6. Lycanthropist Says:

    a bit late..

    but jumping into Hartford Golden Age.

    how y’all been?

  7. plord Says:

    What’s up Lycan.

    Been good. Are you just starting your first spin through Fall? Because man do you have a long list of good stuff to get into…

  8. Lycanthropist Says:

    I have heard a bit of it as it was going on.. Heard a lot of the big highlights, but haven’t really dug deep

    mostly been listening at work

  9. jdub Says:

    Nice to hear from you lycan.

    as a break from Phish I just segued into Meddle. I’m a sucker.

  10. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Some serious college hoops action on the tube tight..
    Kids in bed.. final night of single Dad week… I’m hitting the garage very shortly..

  11. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Lycan! Welcome back.. Plenty of juicy jams to chew on… What have you enjoyed thus far from Fall?

  12. lumpyhead Says:

    what up lycan long time no see

    12.30.97ing at work right now

  13. lumpyhead Says:

    I would prioritize AC twist & carini and Reading DWD personally

  14. MrCompletely Says:

    “honesty always wins.” man I wish that were true

  15. Lycanthropist Says:

    yeh work, wife, and life in general has been all consuming.. but its a good thing. Just missing some me time.

    Phish has been killing it, haven’t really been able to put into words my impressions of whats going on, which is why I haven’t posted in a while, but Phish is most certainly bringing a monumental year that holds up to any in there career and is my current personal favorite.

    It is quite special to have that feeling of wonder, awe, and suspense in full force. They are really killing it in new ways, which is something I wondered if we were gonna really get back. I am very thankful for the music they are delivering on a nightly basis.

    I can’t wait to dig deeper and really get INTO these jams.


    On a personal music update:

    Paradox Charlie continues to thrive. We have replaced the bass player and now have a musician that takes it to a different level. He plays megatar, which is quite literally a 6 string guitar and a 6 string bass on the same neck/fretboard. They are played simultaneously using finger tapping.

    It is amazing and now I have a pocket guitarist and bass player without adding another musician to the take!

    However we have added a “fourth” member in the saxophone position. He will be mostly permanent, with bar/room size being the determining factor. He is also quite talented and tasteful.

    And also, Chance Fisher got together for a night to play a show on Halloween to much success.

    Anyway, long post sorry. Just catching up

  16. jdub Says:

    worth striving for at least

  17. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Kansas/Duke about to tip off on ESPN.

    Kansas freshman Wiggins and Duke frosh Jabari Parker will both be top 5 picks in NBA draft next year. Serious talent on display..

    Now they will probably both struggle under the bight lights tonight.

  18. MrCompletely Says:

    that’s not a long post bro. I post longer than that talking about absolutely nothing and these people put up with it. I could do three paragraphs easy right now on how I feel a bit culturally isolated by the fact that I don’t hold a strong opinion either way on cilantro.

  19. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Tough to beat a PigPen led Lovelight…Lots of awesome in 15-20 minutes…

  20. joe Says:

    apropos of nothing: I’ve had a few random thoughts about feeling old lately.
    1) I was born closer to the JFK assassination that a kid born today (really a few years ago) is to 9/11
    2) born closer to WW2 than the present day.

    totally meaningless stuff but have always thought of those markers as being in the distant, distant past (and maybe they are) but somehow, I’m actually closer to those times than these times age wise.

    anyway, carry on.

  21. joe Says:

    was also randomly thinking about SillyWilly. If you’re lurking, wishing you peace and love.

  22. Lycanthropist Says:

    oh and i dig the halloween choice fwiw

  23. jdub Says:

    see, honesty always wins.

  24. MiA Says:

    I read C’s post in Walter Sobchak’s voice.

    Pretty sure he intended it that way.

    Walter Sobchak: You want a toe? I can get you a toe, believe me. There are ways, Dude. You don’t wanna know about it, believe me.
    The Dude: Yeah, but Walter…
    Walter Sobchak: Hell, I can get you a toe by 3 o’clock this afternoon… with nail polish. These fucking amateurs…

  25. lumpyhead Says:

    hah me too MiA

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