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:

    Very rawky. Halftime.

    The gorge 09 taste – the cymbals eluded me. Was nice to get em back at Reading.

  2. Ulysses S. Wingsuit Says:

    He wants to unite with everyone

  3. butter Says:

    loving this peppy paced Reba

  4. butter Says:

    say Hi to PHil for me Gd

    Love that guy

    my sons first Hi 5

  5. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Fired up for a top ten tunes for Friday ala Miner, tomorrow. Sure to be explosive.

    Does Hartford Tweez get top honors? AC Twist? or a Carini? Stay tuned for all the answers.

  6. garretcorncob Says:

    Ok, after a break to actually do stuff with the kids I’m babysitting, back to DCU 1 II. Just closed a standard Caspian with what might very well be the least awkward #line intro of all time…

    I think right around here is where I start thinking “meh set”. Two good not great jams followed by a couple breathers. Don’t actually remember what comes next, so we’ll see… There’s a Disease somewhere, maybe?

  7. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    were you intending to link to that crazy usb lighter ad, Hiram?

  8. Ulysses S. Wingsuit Says:

    Of course! I Love USB! Can you see I’m not serious?

    As many times as you want, as often as you want,
    I’ll keep recharging until I light a fire in your heart.

  9. butter Says:

    oh hell yea reaching 2nd jam on Niagra Mikes

    fuck yea

  10. Ulysses S. Wingsuit Says:

    Sorry about that. I was reminiscing about my days hanging out and drinking at Ryan’s Store while stationed at Fort Humboldt in 1853.

    For some reason, my hallucination of a futuristic world with dominant electric robot cigar lighters projected itself across my previous two posts.

    So to compensate, here’s TAB 5-27-03 lossless sbd http://dropcanvas.com/8sd0y but not for long.

  11. butter Says:

    thought u may have under pamped AC 3 a bit Miner, but not by much. maybe by a 1/2 grade. B+ up to and A-.

    its def the weakest of the three night run. which slayed tho.

    Tweeze has this gelatinous rhythmic thing where they are all sounding like one instrument or sound. pretty cool, but no Tahoe, Hampton or Hartford, tuff act to follow.

    actually spun that show a bunch as it was on the LP app so long (prolly still the featured show)

  12. butter Says:

    this Niagra Mikes > Week is soul food

  13. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    niagra mike’s has, like, a fourth jam

  14. Mr. Palmer Says:

    World premiere of Undermind in that Hammerstein show. Slow, jazzed out version w/ the horns.. Different that today’s version, that’s for sure. Worth checking out.

  15. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Don’t be fools.. grab that SBD. That is one worth having.. Sounds great also.

  16. butter Says:

    dont even know what to say besides 95 Phish

    bluegrass and country ditties with face melting jams mixed in, along side other stock played Phish songs

    reminds me again why 7.31.13 felt so 95 ish. a regular Phish show with a plunge into madness, that had nothing to do with the rest of the show

    just finished and i’m going straight back for that Reba again

    this Split doesnt nail the drop back into the theme or anything but they just wind back the song down. i dont see whats so hard about that. the mini plot of WTF is going on with Split in 3.0 is just enhanced for me after listening to Niagra’s version

  17. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    quick run to the daily cap there

  18. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Give praise for this band!

    Even at their worst they have been better than most…

  19. little umbrellas Says:

    James Brown Live at the Apollo. $$$ 62 $$$

  20. Ulysses S. Wingsuit Says:

    lol, guess a 1G cap isn’t the best venue for a 1G fileset. I’m clearly still in 1853.

    I’ll fix this, much better than I did with the whole Gould-Fisk thing.

  21. butter Says:

    Niagra Slave is the titties

    theres an innocence when they jam tender in this era

    and i cant explain it, but in 13 Phish i’m always trying to figure out which musician is making which sound, (or its obvious to me 95% of the time) but in this 95 era it just washes over me…. ahhhh my first Phish love 94/95

  22. butter Says:

    yea tried Ulys. and thought i was the dumbass, thx for saying something

  23. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Set II of that TAB show is 1hr 20 minutes of straight jam.

  24. butter Says:

    Palmer, the Giants are what 1.5gm out of 1st?

  25. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Yup, amazingly bad division

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