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…

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556 Responses to “A Course Correction”

  1. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Put your Wingsuit on MIa..

  2. vapebraham Says:

    I may have to do some MSG’s. feeling the tractor beam of phish. love the new material.

    snap, mia, laying down the long ____ of the law.

  3. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Kaya- Monday 12/30…. 12.30 is always( well almost) the night… bring your best self..

  4. jtran Says:

    tripping bilies is troll case

  5. Mr.Miner Says:

    over the last 72 hours, I’ve played the shit out of this short tour.

    ac3 dwd and tweeze better than i remembered live to be honest.

  6. snow Says:

    IDK Palms. 12/29 has a lot to say about that. It’s also a sunday.
    My guess is 12/28 – warmup
    29/30 – crush
    31st – high energy, NYE gag

  7. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Trollbear, Whaley Case…. Never knew he was Tripping Billy.. One of the best… Very funny that fella is.

  8. Mr.Miner Says:

    my guess is best nyrun since 1998. 4 nights of crushage.

  9. leo weaver Says:

    You guys…nutso as ever. And lots of new names. New posters or new multihandles?

    I gotta carve out some time to spin this fall…haven’t heard much more than about 18 notes.

  10. Mr. Palmer Says:

    mIner- similar thoughts. AC3 didn’t blow me away in the room, with Theme being the main exception.. Piper did nothing for me.. Disease and Tweezer def better after I had a chance to listen after the fact.. Wish the Tweezer “moved” a bit more… Stays in one central space the whole time… that was my only critique.

  11. Ulysses S. Wingsuit Says:

    Still hear Thrift Shop all over the Gorge Antelope…in at least 3 different spots during the jam. No one else has heard this?

  12. joe Says:

    I’m still mostly stuck on wingsuit listening. The roughest parts lyrics and vocals are the most easily fixable in studio too which is a great sign to me.

  13. jdub Says:

    Yeah, I scooped up 3 nights worth of tickets to make sure I get to see 5 years worth of hustle payoff. And it will, regardless of how the band plays. But I think we all salivate after January 1, 2014.

    Pig n Whistle bitches.

  14. jdub Says:

    Play it Leo! Come to New York.

  15. snow Says:

    the over/under on this NYE run is gonna be high.
    On one hand, they will be playing together while recording the album.
    On the other hand, their best NYE runs are part of tours.

    @Leo – little of both. mostly multihandle play.

  16. Jerome Garcia Says:

    So much dank spinnage from Summer & Fall 2013. Last Rewind is like magic. Crunchygroove only 100x better. Looking fwd to giving Gorge & BGCA a spin.

    Questions re West Coast Phish both nights & sets of Gorge & BGCA 3 set II are worth a listen? Outside of Tahweeze Tahoe 1 set II is also the goods?

    Thanks in advance BB. Can’t quite remember it all re Summer.

  17. leo weaver Says:

    As I suspected snow.

    Wish I could jdub…wish I could. My fam holiday thing is 27-30. I’ll see y’all in the summer.

  18. jdub Says:

    This New Years run is as close to tour asit ever gets Snow. This band will be primed and ready come 12/28. But we all know 12/30 will be the big let down according to Shred’s axiom.

  19. DavidSilver Says:

    Slave to the Cheeseburger.

  20. phishm Says:

    The way I look at it is to leave all expectations at the door and just be ready to get down. If everyone took that approach then the music will always become a vehicle. They play the room IMO.

  21. MrCompletely Says:

    AC3 is a falloff relative to 1 and 2 but not like off a cliff or anything, it just doesn’t have a massive home run jam

    My impression was that the DWD and Piper were high effort/intent jams that didn’t quite elevate, then the very nice middle section of the show was (to my ears) pure “we’re tired, but dammit we’re not gonna jukebox this yet, gonna try to bring it for you guys” – Roggae is clearly a payoff rune these days in Trey’s mind, the solo in Waves peaks very nicely, and trading an outro jam for Tweezer is fair enough. The Tweezer is very good I think, linear but very successful, like the show itself it can kinda pale a bit if you hold it up right next to the competition, but that says more positive about the overall quality of the run than negative about the show itself…

    I really felt like they were trying super hard in that set 2

  22. jtran Says:

    we also know the whole run will not be as good as 1997

  23. phishm Says:

    That’s funny jtran. Watching 12/29/97 now. As good as it gets. Can’t wait for the Antelope.


  24. jtran Says:

    yea miner, thought you did under pamp AC3. Thought it was great for the most part.

  25. jdub Says:

    We’ll miss ya Leo. Who wants warm weather with family on New Years anyway.

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