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)

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Winged-music-noteJam of the Day:

Piper -> Taking Care of Business” 10.20 II

Here, Phish laid out their plan for Fall Tour…

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556 Responses to “A Course Correction”

  1. Gavinsdad Says:

    Word C. I mean, Nigel hall married my friends AT the Brooklyn bowl and my buddy plays with Schmeans and the Higher Consciousness. Not like I live under a rock…I’m the dude who likes everything…that’s just a corner of the world I don’t truly vibe on. And I’ve moon boot lover’d, gretboy’d, kdtu’d, soulived’d, etc w the best of em.

    All good. Can’t love everything.

  2. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Respect Gdad. Absolutely can’t love everything.

  3. Gavinsdad Says:

    JG – do ur thing buddy. Don’t listen to me just stating where I’m coming from.

    And with that…off to see Phil which I’m sure everyone enjoys!!!

  4. jtran Says:

    HAHAHAHHAHAHAHA

  5. jtran Says:

    from another forum. possibly the lamest thing I’ve ever written? you’re welcome for sharing

    What does Phish mean to you
    Unread postby jtran10 » 07 Aug 2009 09:15

    My first Phish show was supposed to be Coventry but I ended up selling my tickets because my video camera was stolen. Then I left Phish for a couple years while they all did their own thing and I did mine. Then I heard about Hampton, then the summer tour, and then I was back into it. My longtime girlfriend and I broke up the day of the Fenway show, so I turned to music to fill the void. The positivity and happiness in Phish’s songs have helped me through the past couple months, and now I’m about to see my first show when they come back east to Darien.

  6. jtran Says:

    and now we know why I dig melodic, uplifting jams I guess

  7. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Enjoy Gdad. Tower is bad ass. The penultimate night of this lil NE tour.

  8. phishm Says:

    Nothing lame about that jtran IMO. Sounds honest and to the point.

  9. joe Says:

    moon boot lover. they used to play at a dive bar my buddies and I would frequent in Lawrence, MA called the claddagh pub. They’ve since (at least 10 years ago at this point) opened a newer one with a bigger stage and more fights across the street, but the old claddagh used to get some good bands in there. Anyone remember the Candles? Jiggle the Handle?, etc.

  10. snow Says:

    @Phishm – straight up – you’re a good egg and I appreciate you. BUT when you are clearly wasted and posting incoherent inner ramblings it’s annoying.

  11. joe Says:

    and by good, I mean it in the sense of good, free music at a local dive bar

  12. phishm Says:

    I got you snow. Point taken. Feel free to tell me to fuck off anytime. In all seriousness.

  13. jdub Says:

    I love your honesty jtran.

    People change quite a bit every 5 years, more so when you’re young. Been a hell of ride following along on this site for the past half decade.

  14. snow Says:

    … and that seems to be how your posts started. just think of your audience a bit.

    (Wasn’t really sure I wanted to post that but accidentally hit Submit).

  15. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Jtran we’re first show twins? Nice

  16. joe Says:

    from no girl, no phish seeing to being on the west coast with a great lady and some awesome shows with new friends under your belt seems like growing to me, Jtran. (assume still together, or disregard this whole thing)

  17. jtran Says:

    haha ya joe, confirmed. SLF everyone here has met is the current SLF.

    SPAC1 2010 first date!

  18. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Phishm sits around on his laptop posting here all day waiting for his kids to go to sleep so he can get wasted and sit around on his laptop posting here all night. Cool dude.

  19. jdub Says:

    Phishm wins the lifetime Most Improved BBer award. That early stuff was passionate and heartfelt but kooky. Some here can’t seem to let go of the past but way to come back kid. Honestly.

  20. snow Says:

    Cool phishm. I’m not one to tell people to fuck off. just a little feedback.

    I was a total noob five years ago too and had been seeing the band for five years. Five years of BB edumacation and I’m a well rounded phan. I have a totally different appreciation of the music now.

  21. jtran Says:

    I like phishm’s posts

    cool dude

  22. phishm Says:

    Honestly I wasn’t thinking about the audience in the beginning. I had been on a bunch of different Phish sites and found a lot of the posting to be out there. It took me a while to understand this audience. I didn’t realize the family environment that exists in this place. I guess starting on PT and coming here was a big eye opener. I love this site and appreciate the Phishthoughts.

  23. Rob Ford Says:

    Phishm, we should hang out sometime, I know we’d get along. We have a lot in common.

  24. verno329 Says:

    I don’t remember my first comment but I remember checking out Miner’s reviews of the Fall ’08 TAB tour as we all anticipated Hampton. That was also the last TAB tour I enjoyed spinning on any level. TAB from ’02/’03 is a different story however…

  25. phishm Says:

    Sorry Rob. I don’t hang with politicians, but I may make an exception for you. I still have never seen crack in person so theirs that. A few beers would be cool however.

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