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:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/2.04-Piper.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/2.05-Takin-Care-of-Business.mp3] Tags: , ,

556 Responses to “A Course Correction”

  1. MiA Says:

    Jtran, what do you think about that mid second set Julius, Sleeping Monkey > Sparkle?

    Next night they played:

    Set 2: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Tweezer -> Kung -> Tweezer, Love You > Hold Your Head Up, The Squirming Coil, Tweezer Reprise > Run Like an Antelope

    Encore: Come Together[1] > A Day in the Life

    Who would want to hear that anyway? Pfft.

  2. mmmhmm Says:

    6/22/97 Ghost – Rockplast

    check out 4:11, Trey exclaims “fuck yeah” as the drop into the solo happens.


  3. MiA Says:

    Great to hear JG! That was a great group of tracks!

  4. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Yeah spasmo; very excited for HWA. Schools & Casal = nuff said. You’ve got a chance to catch HWA on Thurs 1/23 @ Bowery Ballroom.

    Fallen in love w/ Casal lately primarily for his work in Chris Robinson Brotherhood who should have a big yr of touring in ’14.

  5. mmmhmm Says:

    also in that video of 6-22, Fish drumming with slacks, leather dress shoes, and a black dress shirt.

  6. dorn76 Says:

    Late in getting back to the party, @shred, but hell yes! We will do a meet up.

    12/30….Phish’s 30th at MSG….30th Anny.

    Figures to be a much hyped show that falls flat.

  7. Jerome Garcia Says:

    gdad how was Phil w/ Anders & Luther? Eat A Peach interspersed w/ Les Bres A Minor Melissa & Mountain Jam. & my fav Anders tune Burning On The Inside. Bet it rocked. Love love love the Tower tabooty.

  8. dorn76 Says:

    Sarah Palin thinks the Pope is sounding “kinda liberal”.

    Sometimes the jokes write themselves.

  9. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Yo Df don’t miss Lettuce in Feb. Funkify yo life!

    Several of you cats have the opp to get down w/ Lettuce. I’m lookin at you Bingos AW aj Lil Um bob d shred spasm MrP dorn jdubs willowed neems plord bobby wierd guyute El Duderino btb etc.

  10. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Rob Ford will be at the Toronto show. Mark it eight Dude.

  11. Kaveh Says:

    @Miner: another great writeUp…hoping you take these posts through each stop/run on Fall Tour and give us an overview. I like these types of reviews that come AFTER the shows have ended and the music has become more than a moment…

  12. George W. Kush Says:

    Is Carini overplayed these days?? Don’t get me wrong, Laura Kush and I have been diggin ’em but seems like the band has so much more to chose from. Don’t Possum Carini.

  13. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Don’t Possum Carini.

    ^give our 43rd President the prize for Best of the BB today. He won it early. & perhaps often.

  14. Spasm Waiter Says:

    @Bingos- Got a chance to meet Taj after one of his Horde sets. Dude was so nice, genuine, cool, and happy.
    @JG- I really got into Cassal’s playing during his impressive run with RA and the Cardinals. This new band might be a lot of fun.

  15. jtran Says:


    After first listen through I just skip those. My set 2 reads

    Split, reba, mikes> paug

    To be honest though I dig both sleeping monkey and sparkle anyway

  16. neemor Says:

    “Is Carini overplayed these days?? ”
    ^ No

    Also, Fuego is the bee’s dick.

  17. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Spasm have you gotten into CRB? Think you’d really dig Casal in CRB. Live CRB >>> recorded CRB but their two albums Big Moon Ritual & The Magic Door are both pretty tasty.

    Big Moon Ritual

    The Magic Door

  18. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    speaking of 6.22.97 and going back to the brief taste convo from yesterday, there is a great, mostly in the box Taste opener in that show. whole lotta norwegian wood up in there

    there’s also a sbd recording of this show out there

  19. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    btw, there’s some funny crowd shots of the heads going off during that taste with zee stoic germans standing behind observing

  20. vapebraham Says:

    great 6.22.97 video. found this gem from 6.19.94. hilarious. and wild background sounds — VHS bleed through.


  21. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Like the idea of adding the last song of the 1st frame when spinning the entirety of 2nd sets. Doing so w/ AC2 Bowie > 2nd set & it does help to set the tone for what’s to come in the main act.

  22. dorn76 Says:

    I might hit that Lettuce 12/21 show @JG.

    Take note, Feb. 8 at Mohegan Sun is a free show at the casino.

    Would be a fun night, but leaving that Friday for Negril with the family. Bitchez!

  23. vapebraham Says:

    the background sounds are actually happening in the adjacent room to where the interview is taking place. wild. trippin.

  24. Kaveh Says:

    Last 6 minutes of the Hampton Tweezer are excellent…love the dreamScape they create, but the path to this point is excellent as well…

  25. George W. Kush Says:

    T3, you notice the coat rack behind Fish’s drums with his blazer hanging on it? Maybe he had a date before the show or something.

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