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. ren Says:

    Glad someone else realized they are in the twilight zone with me

  2. ren Says:


    LOL…couldn’t help myself

  3. BingosBrother Says:

    I know it’s responsible and all, but I feel like I’m jinxing myself by upping my life insurance. :crosses fingers behind back:

  4. Stoney Case Says:

    marco, like i said. haunted by children’s stories and shows. ‘ghost of kids shows past’ and all that.

    feels like Fishman oughta’ be chanting ‘I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map’ during Trey’s outro solo.

  5. Stoney Case Says:

    i blame the BM’s linkage for the wordpress errors, and the #sitegonetoshitness

    jonacho, not sure if they are ‘supposed’ to start with a bang. was just extrapolating based on trends. kind of like starting more sets with Chalkdust Torture than Roggae.

  6. jonacho Says:

    Are they supposed to start the set with a bang? Perhaps they didn’t get the memo. I dig the new stuff, and see it going interesting places.
    OK. I dont dig all of it – but I think there is enough there for some real interesting things to come.

  7. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Stoney has an unhealthy obsession with Baby’s Mouth..

  8. George W. Kush Says:

    Ren, I think that Wingsuit opener would be perfect whilst riding the vehicle. What a dream-like floaty opening few measures. Lyrics are emotive and almost are yearning for/coaxing the listener to put the suit on and take a leap with the band into hazy uncharted territory.

  9. dorn76 Says:

    Re: Palmer picks….DCU DROWNED! Frackin’-A I was pumped to get that in that set 2 opener slot, and boy did it deliver. I see why folks would pick the Twist, it goes further out there, just an epic version. That Drowned was the dirty sexy funk though, more replay value for me.

    Hampton TweezerAge is right there with those Palmer picks, IMHOFWIWBTW.

    Miner, it’s nice to read your unpretentious and heartfelt words on the band we all love so much. I didn’t feel an urge to click on that other review, you gave me all I wanted from a devoted fan’s perspective.

  10. Stoney Case Says:

    lol Palmer! You’re the one that links their stuff mate. I only check their feed when you cats point out funny exchanges. no joke. you and miner their main supporters, intentional and otherwise.

  11. MiA Says:

    Random post… Wonder where this ends up?

  12. ren Says:

    Agreed @Dorn ^….I opened in a new tab but never read. BB is pretty fulfilling.

    Thanks again to our host!

  13. Mr. Palmer Says:

    delusional also, Stoney… biggest supporter> how so?

    I think I’ve linked 2x for laughs…

  14. Stoney Case Says:

    Miner, by posting their turrible reviews.

    Palmer, by the 2x links for laughs..

  15. Mr. Palmer Says:

    ..nor have I ever followed them…

  16. Stoney Case Says:

    you cats oughta’ see the fucking words @MrC uses against me on WwF! he’s hacked the game, i’m sure of it.

  17. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    can I assume ‘cats’ is not one of them?

  18. dorn76 Says:


  19. mr icculus Says:

    Hey guys I have some tickets behind the stage at MSG. Just wondering ive never seen a show from back there. What is it like????

  20. tela's_muff Says:

    can I assume ‘cats’ is not one of them?


  21. jdub Says:

    Does anyone even know what crepuscular means before you run to google it?

    I didn’t before this weekend.

  22. ren Says:

    Stoney missed all of Fall…I’m choosing to feel bad for that cat 😉

    Less Twitter….more Fall highlights should fix ‘im right up

  23. Stoney Case Says:

    Ren, caught most of fall. Only missed Glen Falls and Rochester. Saved a ton of money on flights and hotels by sticking to webcasts and sbd’s!

  24. Zachary Adam Cohen Says:


    Thanks so much for this lovely write-up and the link over to PMHNR. I am so glad that we’re echoing each other, and yet remaining in line with our own prerogatives.

    This is a great piece and can’t wait to see how the fact of Wingsuit energizes both band and community as we get close to YEMSG.


    PS seriously what’s going on in the comments here. Is this PT? ::shivers::

  25. tela's_muff Says:

    :::makes popcorn. cracks IPA:::

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