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. lonespanger Says:

    New songs are weak. Not bitching, not complaining, just saying.
    They really don’t do much for me.
    “Jack & Jill went up the hill … ” Seriously?
    I agree with an earlier post … that was the “best” of a new crop of 40 songs? Ugh.

  2. tela's_muff Says:

    really love this AC Carini. dare i say more that Reading Disease.

  3. marcoesq Says:

    “really love this AC Carini. dare i say more that Reading Disease.”

    Hell yeah, me too. And the Hartford Tweez. I was in the room for Reading and loved that 2nd set but think the Disease might be getting fluff’d a tad much.

  4. tela's_muff Says:

    nah @marco. i’m a full on Reading Disease flufftard. i just really like this Carini after multiple spins over the weekend. Fall tour is the gift that keeps on giving.

  5. Stoney Case Says:

    can we admit that ‘Wingsuit’ isn’t exactly the way to start a set with a bang?

  6. jdub Says:

    @lonespanger, The Jack & Jill song is really bad. I think we all agree with that, Trey probably does too and it won’t end up the album I bet.

    But what do you think of Wingsuit, Fuego, The Line, Monica, Waiting all night, Wombat, 555, Devotion to a Dream Winterqueen, or You Never Know? Are they that bad to deserve the Ugh rating? Just curious.

    I find 60% of the Wingsuit set to be quite good, 25% to be decent, and 15% not to my taste.

    Love: Wingsuit, Fuego, Monica, Wombat, 555, Winterqueen, Waiting all Night

    Mildly like: The Line, Devotion to a Dream, You Never Know

    Dislike: Amidst the peals, snow

  7. marcoesq Says:

    As the great Jackie the Joke man once said, “Give Rodney a chance!”

    I love Reading Disease and the 2nd set, just been finding that with this new minimalist playing, most jams are taking multiple spins to fully comprehend.

    Hartford Tweez and ACarini kinda on the same trajectory. Listen to them both, along with AC Twist, every morning.

  8. marcoesq Says:

    “can we admit that ‘Wingsuit’ isn’t exactly the way to start a set with a bang?”

    I’ll give you that. I haven’t spun the whole album in full yet.

  9. vapebraham Says:

    Rochester Drowned — $$$. another jam that kicks reading DwD in the ass.

  10. Stoney Case Says:

    if there were not inflatable ponies in wingsuits being swung from the rafters during the chorus of Wingsuit in AC, I’d be pretty disappointed.

  11. vapebraham Says:

    woops. make that:

    Rochester Crosseyed — $$$. another jam that kicks reading DwD in the ass.

  12. Stoney Case Says:

    nappy getting feisty! not only making the jams compete, but staging fights!

  13. marcoesq Says:

    I was more defending their right to play Wingsuit moreso than the songs themselves. Some of these songs I’m not loving but maybe haven’t spun enough.

  14. vapebrahtosh Says:

    warmed some wiesel — the fiesty herbert hoover. lovin this rochester Crosseyed. second half feels like a bonus or second jam, if you will.

  15. vapebraham Says:

    warmed some wiesel — the fiesty herbert hoover. lovin this rochester Crosseyed. second half feels like a bonus or second jam, if you will.

  16. BingosBrother Says:

    lonespanger $$$

    Agreed lonespanger. I’m not complaining that they debuted a bunch of new songs. I’m complaining that they mostly suck. Debuted?

    Don’t stop til ya fluff enuff.

  17. Stoney Case Says:

    like the musical potential of Fuego. Clean up the tone a bit, and the changes work really well.

    thinking Trey being haunted by memories of the kids watching ‘Dora the Explorer’ to come up with those lyrics.

    the middle section with the whammy. i won’t talk about it.

  18. marcoesq Says:

    respect, bingos. putting it into better words than I.

  19. vapebraham Says:

    9.8.73 GSET — $$$.

  20. marcoesq Says:

    Ripped from today’s twitlines:

    We Keep It Rollin’ ‏@TheBabysMouth 1m

    Re: Wingsuit. The potential for this album to be one of phish’s best. And for me closest in effort and approach to story of the ghost.

  21. MiA Says:

    This is a good time fun song about a guy who stole all our money.


  22. jdub Says:

    I joke to my wife that I’m worth more dead than alive @Bingos. Not funny to joke about but I sure as hell sleep better knowing things will be ok financially if…

  23. dorn76 Says:

    Fuego! Debuted the fuck outta that one.

  24. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Next summer when Phish plays Wombat at a venue in Chicago and Bingo’s is there, he will report back with a life changing moment…Usually how it works.

  25. tela's_muff Says:

    the map from Dora? most annoying character ever.

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