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. jtran Says:

    worst part of fall tour – when trey told the crowd to take off their patches

    UGH

  2. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Well, if thats the worst thing, then we made out alright…

  3. snow Says:

    I bet that Trey didn’t even know the woo-x was going to be in the Phishbill

  4. Mr.Miner Says:

    Hartford mos definitely ca-russsshes it!

  5. joe Says:

    these may or may not have been taken already. courtesy of another bb’er

    Hampton codes: 069229028672(10/18) 073519674693(10/19) 914661319744 (mystery show, most likely hampton 3)

  6. BingosBrother Says:

    Yes GC!

    Dance Metal is the best kind of music ever made!

  7. Ulysses S. Wingsuit Says:

    Really? I thought Ambient Cha-Cha was.

  8. dorn76 Says:

    DCU DCU HFD was the 3 pack of dreams for this seen-100-shows kid. After 20 years following, I still get excited.

    But I’m on the list and get to drink backstage, even in the dry venues, yo.

  9. dorn76 Says:

    I’m sure I was talking politics and trolling the piss outta this place a couple years ago.

    ‘Memries.

  10. little umbrellas Says:

    see the french fries
    see the shakes

    drive through window makes you wait.

  11. hoedown Says:

    The AC Tweezer works just fine for me. I remember saying to a friend at set break that I was quitting phish if Tweezer didn’t drop that last set (a joke but was really jonesing for it), and it delivered big time for me. Was totally lost in the moment and absorbing the last set of an epic weekend. Could have been longer or more sections, sure, any always can….but I felt like it was a plinko’y dance party version played through and did not leave any type of blue ball feeling at all. After the run of shows from Woohstah to AC 3, I don’t see how anyone could be disappointed. Although I was a bit surprised YEM didn’t drop that last set but it just made me that much more thankful to have caught Reading!!! Plus wasn’t everyone suggesting YEM get shelved a bit and only drop once or twice a tour.

    I personally got my cup filled and cannot wait for MSG. 29th and 30th on tap for me this year.

  12. little umbrellas Says:

    country kraut

  13. garretcorncob Says:

    I will forever be more than slightly miffed that in Tweezer’s best year in a very long time I didn’t catch a single one for the first time ever. I’ve caught two Tweezers in one run of shows before! But no, denied!

  14. Mr. Palmer Says:

    yeah, no one is saying there was anything remotely resembling disappointment.

    Mia- that was a joke about AW first post, right? Had to be..

  15. garretcorncob Says:

    Ok, so DCU Waves, pretty good, but not great. Drifts along all melodic and wavy like, then gets into a bit of ambient goo, then Trey starts Carini before Fishman is quite ready for it. Good jam in a tour full of great ones.

    Will continue reporting back as situations develop

  16. Dorn76 Says:

    Go to shows, shake your ass
    drink cold beers, rockin’ a backstage pass

  17. garretcorncob Says:

    Ok, Carini getting funky here… Well, I will definitely be revising this set up from “meh” to a higher rating to be named later

  18. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Love the HollyWood Hood.

    Here’s a question 20012-2013.. Best back to back Phish years since _____?

    a) 97-98

    b) 98-99

    c) 03-04

    d) 94-95

    E) none of the above….write in response..

  19. garretcorncob Says:

    Ah, but that bit was a little rough between Trey and Fish there at the end. No wonder they wound it down…

  20. Mr.Miner Says:

    yeah, dcu carini, albeit 3rd of 3, is super super groovy and bomb…

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    b

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    love it

  23. Mr.Miner Says:

    or write in 99-2000. 2000 was bomb until fall. and 2013 doesnt have that many shows

  24. Kevin Says:

    Man, now you have me bummed out. Yeah, maybe those were the last Hampton shows. But as someone who has always considered Hampton Phish to be hometown Phish I sure hope not.

    May there be many more years filled with many more Hampton runs.

  25. MiA Says:

    F) 09-10

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