A Course Correction

Hampton Coliseum (Andrea Nusinov)

10.20.13, Hampton (Andrea Nusinov)

The opening Hampton shows provided an incredible homecoming to an arena that holds such a special place in the Phish universe. But after the first two nights—two very solid performances—one had to wonder if the Mothership would ever truly gain liftoff again. After the band’s instantly legendary two-night stand of November 21 and 22, 1997—a weekend on which the building garnered its outer-space moniker—and one popping performance the following year, Phish had never played a huge show in the building again. They hadn’t even really come close.

In 1999, the band closed out their December “Millennial Prep” Run with a two-night stand in Hampton, but the tour had, unquestionably, peaked the night before in Raleigh. The closer was a hot two-set show, though the performance produced no timeless jams and, honestly, no real memorable ones either. After ’99, The Mothership became the scene of some notably not-so-sexy Phish shows. First came the inverted New Year’s Run in ’03 which featured a solid opening night followed by two relative duds. Then came August 2004’s one-off performance that the band and their audience would just assume forget. After a five year break, however, and not so long ago, Hampton was the site of salvation. “Fluffhead” rang out through the hills on March 6th of 2009, as the Phish breathed life into a dormant tribe. But—all in all—as we set our sights on Hampton, Virginia, this fall, the question hanging in the air was—“Is the Mothership going to explode this time?” On Sunday night, October 20th, we got our answer.

10.18.13 (A.Nusonov)

10.18.13 (A.Nusonov)

Though the first set was a tad slow, there was nothing objectively wrong with it, as Phish often plays standard first sets on the final night of three-night stands. But after the break, Phish laced up their game shoes and locked into beast mode like we haven’t seen in some time. After their nod to a crew of fans by playing “Paul and Silas,” Trey carried on with his regularly scheduled programming and dripped into “Tweezer.” This was the first jam to illustrate what Fall Tour would be about—patient, long-form, full-band jamming. In previous years—or even tours—Trey would have bailed out of this “Tweezer” jam on two or three separate occasions, but with the confidence built this summer, the band became mere vessels on this night—allowing the music to take its course. And its course was quite ominous.

The most transcendent part of this piece, however, came after Phish had navigated the underworld and found a pristine ambient lair, the likes of which are few and far between in this era. This wasn’t a typical “we-need-to-end-this-jam-so let’s-go-ambient” type of scene, the band had, rather, worked though an extensive, exploratory improvisation and found nirvana. The ending segment of this “Tweezer” is musical ground on which Phish rarely treads these days—a reflective collaboration that likens cosmic fallout of a spiritual explosion. This moment-by-moment endeavor saw the band play with utmost delicacy and respect for what was transpiring. This was special Phish. This was Hampton Phish.

Tastefully wrapping up the jam, the band trucked into “Golden Age.” Stretching things out once again, this time into an airtight groove session, the guys were clearly letting things hang out in what might possibly be their final show in Hampton’s storied round room. The band faked left into “2001” before cutting right into “Piper,” a move that kept the energy sky high and kept the jam vehicles rolling in a set that was building momentum like a snowball rolling down Everest.

10.20.13 (Jake Silco)

10.20.13 (Jake Silco)

Amidst a full-throttle, exclamatory “Piper,” Phish pulled off—perhaps—the move of the tour in only it’s third night. Trey started up a classic rock vamp that sounded as if he was directing his bandmates in a new direction. Always a step ahead of the game—and before anyone could call what was coming—the band spontaneously slithered into the Seventies’ classic, “Taking Care of Business!” On a night that they were doing just that, the masterminds from Vermont conjured up the perfect musical gesture without exchanging a word and The Mothership nearly burst. Chills, shivers, the whole nine yards—this was a moment that nobody in the building would ever forget; collective catharsis and then some—a communal bolt of lightning.

And just as it felt like Phish might exhale for a minute, they threw down a ludicrous set-closing trifecta of “2001,” “Sand” and “Slave,” each song given the full treatment.  “2001” appeared in beefier-than-usual form, paving the way for Hartford’s tour highlight a week later, but also nodding to the outer-space motif of the building that they were currently destroying. Though the band’s improv would progress to more prolific heights over the next two weeks, no performance matched the energy and face-melting intent of Hampton’s finale. But there was also something more poignant at play.

As “Tweezer Reprise” punctuated the night, I couldn’t help but feel the book closing on a chapter of Phish history. The prodigal band had returned to its Mothership and treated it to a proper throwdown, a ritual that will resonate for eternity. This was the show that the Coliseum had been aching for fifteen years, and damn did it feel good. Perhaps Phish will make their way back to Hampton and perhaps they won’t. But if they never do, their mission is now complete and The Mothership’s place in history has been forever restored.

"Tweezer" 10.20.13 (Andrea Nusinov)

“Tweezer” 10.20.13 (Andrea Nusinov)

=====

Winged-music-noteJam of the Day:

Piper -> Taking Care of Business” 10.20 II

Here, Phish laid out their plan for Fall Tour…

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Tags: , ,

556 Responses to “A Course Correction”

« Previous12345678...2223Next »
  1. Ulysses S. Wingsuit Says:

    Diego!

  2. the Baker Says:

    Mr.Miner,
    nice story!
    thanx

  3. the Baker Says:

    Voopa,
    transPHormation is complete, i see!

  4. buddysmyles Says:

    Way to take care of buisness Minor! It has been a Joy to have our band back & to have you chronical it along the way! Thank you Mr. Minor!

  5. Shred Says:

    MinOr– Hampton is the best place ever to see Phish. Wow. The best show too. Best jam.

    Wingsuit is the greatest concept album ever. The best.

    2013 hampton3 set 2 was a smoker.

  6. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Kansas is flat.

    Met a member of my inside sales team, dude is a phishie. Hewas at the the Hampton shows. This is going to be alright.

  7. Dorn76 Says:

    Shred wakes up and tells the coffee it’s a disappointment.

  8. MiA Says:

    12/29 Stage 48 New Mastersounds are playing after party in NYC.

    Should be a great show.

  9. Shred Says:

    I make great coffee every morning. The best.

    I actually love my coffee. Dorn can I make you a cup?? Meet me at msg right now.

    Back out Carini and Hampton 3 set 2 and what are you left with?

    I love me a good concept album.

  10. Shred Says:

    I was not disappointed with Fall Tour. Loved every night but 3.

    The fish tv show was the best sitcom of all times. Or the ropers? Um nofish tv.

  11. Dorn76 Says:

    Love to grab a cup of joe with ya at MSG!

    Maybe we get one good set out of 9? I’m hopeful.

  12. Dorn76 Says:

    Abe Vigoda one of the 20th century’s heavyweights. Up there with Bogey and The Duke.

  13. Shred Says:

    One out of 9 would redeem MSG for all of time. That would be

    <>>THE BEST>>><<<

    Who's organizing a BB meetup for 12/30?? You guys can all pound on me "in the flesh". Is there a process for organizing these things? Dorn, GavinD and Palmer???

    I am currently at msg w cup of coffee for Dorn. Too much coffee gives me road rage in the morning even though i take subway.

  14. Jerome Garcia Says:

    D’oh! From What’s Old Is Gone…love a good Lebowski reference.

    Miner doin work yo. Way to go Donnie!

  15. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Cool stuff Miner. Thanks for your perspective, as always. Hard to keep all the Fall jams straight… a good problem to have, no doubt.

    Have a great folks!!

  16. neemor Says:

    46 Days to the World’s Most Famous Arena.

  17. neemor Says:

    “This wasn’t a typical “we-need-to-end-this-jam-so let’s-go-ambient” type of scene, the band had, rather, worked though an extensive, exploratory improvisation and found nirvana.”

    2013 Phish is special Phish.

  18. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Anybody heard about this group, Hard Working Americans, w Schools and Neal Cassal?
    http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/todd-snider-salutes-hard-working-americans-in-new-band-20131112

  19. jdub Says:

    Nice review Miner. I wasn’t in Hampton but I loved the flow of this set. No filler.

    When in NYC to see Phish at MSG there is only 1 call for pre and post show decompression: the Pig n Whistle. Works every time.

  20. marcoesq Says:

    Heading to Greenville, NC. Staying in Richmond tonight, who’s ready to get down VA style.

  21. ren Says:

    Shred wakes up and tells the coffee it’s a disappointment.

    ^too funny Dorn!

  22. marcoesq Says:

    Taj Mahal playing Richmond tonight. He still worth seeing?

  23. BingosBrother Says:

    Just assume forget?

    Oh, the ironing.

  24. MiA Says:

    People should just send money to Taj Mahal for being kickass his whole career. Going and seeing him now is just paying respect.

    Bet he’s still worth seeing.

  25. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Great minds MiA re: NMS Phish After Party & Taj Mahal. Linked up the NMS as soon as I rec’d the email ystday; Sun Phish > NMS sounds just about perfect. Plus MSG 2 will probably go huge as it’s in that sweet spot in the run 😎 Was checking out Taj’s webby ystdy before leaving the office for tour dates to see if there was something w/in distance to catch of his. Spun a bunch of Taj this wknd down on the Laguna after you linked Hidden Treasures. Both Hidden & Essential Taj. So thx again for helping to make my wknd on the water that much more enjoyable.

    YES marco YES!

    Also AC2 Halfway To The Moon is the bees knees.

« Previous12345678...2223Next »

Leave a Reply