Please Me Have No Regrets
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EZRIN — We were working to a deadline which was a declared vacation — we had a lot of vacations! I once added it up and I think the whole process probably came out to four or five months of real studio time, but spread out over a year because we did short hours and took a lot of vacations. They were all family guys and wanted to work 10-6 — no, *Roger* decided we were working 10-6. We worked gentlemens hours, wore gentlemens clothes, ate gentlemens food, even had tea and biccies brought in every day at the appropriate time. It was all very civilised. And considering we were doing at the same time some fairly countercultural stuff, it created almost a schizophrenic feeling of surreality about the project — in France, even more so. Some of us were living in Nice, some had rented entire towns, some were living at the studio, it was all quite fragmented, but we would come together at the studio and be creating these amazing things made out of some of the most banal elements — drum sound effects were nothing more than roasting pans being thrown at the floor. By http://www.pink-floyd.org/artint/mojointw.htm

Flight School

I. 

Phish headed into Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall for their three-night, Fall tour ending run with enough momentum from a banner year on the road, and enough confidence in the current state of their now 30-year old artistic enterprise, to step to the line and take a giant leap of faith into the unknown.

And so on an unseasonably warm All Hallow’s Eve on the Jersey Shore, Phish spread out a page of their carefully coiled papyrus, dutifully replaced their quills, dipped them deep into the ink of their creative wellspring and penned an entirely fresh chapter in the epic poem of their career. 

As a band known for keeping their audiences on the edge of their seats, Phish once again zigged where so many expected them to zag. Eschewing their 20-year old Halloween tradition of covering an album by a musical forebear, they instead used the Wagnerian backdrop of Boardwalk Hall to preview their future. In place of covering an album by Led Zeppelin, Elton John, The Band or even contemporary’s like Radiohead or TV on the Radio, Phish played through their own unreleased, in-progress album entitled “Wingsuit.” 

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Phour in a ROW! Phish on Tour

After a slight misstep in Rochester last week, Phish recovered about as well as one might hope and over the last four shows put together a run of shows as masterful and creative as we’ve seen this year. This is a band on absolute fire with a carriage full of momentum propelling them down towards the spooky shore.

Beginning in Glens Falls last week Phish used their “hometown” family show to recharge their batteries, dispelling any ugly energy that unfortunately gathered up in Rochester. At the Glens Falls shows, Phish reconnected to the tether they had started weaving in Hampton, resulting in a truly special affair. That was the “30th Anniversary” show after all, even if it wasn’t official, and placing it in the middle of tour was a masterstroke. Even Sue Anastasio was raging the soundboard next to Chris Kuroda, wearing a hoodie that read “Bring it Home!” on her back.

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On Jam Length, Ripcords and the Tahoe Tweezer

There may be no more contentious issue at work within the Phish community than that of jam length. This issue wends its way into nearly every debate that occurs both online and off, framing our discussions of individual shows, jams, tours and even entire years. It’s not hyperbole to state that Jam length underpins many of the super-narratives governing the Phish community.

In many ways, this is Phish’s fault as over the years, the band unwittingly trained us to see jam length as an indication of certain things; the degree to which their improvisatory powers were on display for instance, or of the intention behind a jam. And even, amazingly, teaching us to use jam length as primary method with which judge the overall success of a jam. Phish proved time and again that the longest jams were the best. Because often enough, they were.

But in producing their outrageous 35-minute plus “Tweezer” on the shores of Lake Tahoe last month, the band not only foregrounded the “jam length” issue, they provided something far more valuable: a reason to look back across their entire oeuvre and reassess some of our most precious assumptions.

The “Tahoe Tweezer” is nothing if not that rare, singular piece of art that is both aesthetically pleasing and intellectually provocative. All great art aspires to “beauty,” but truly high art aims toward, and achieves, “truth” as well. It may be that the truth revealed by the “Tahoe Tweezer,” by forcing a confrontation with Phish’s past, accelerates us toward a clearer understanding of Phish’s entire oeuvre. And that would ultimately position the “Tahoe Tweezer” as one of the most significant artistic acts of Phish’s career.

What if the “Tahoe Tweezer” is simply a very good long jam, as opposed to “one of the best jams of Phish’s career?” (or something approaching that). Perhaps this would send us all back to the drawing board as it were, reconsidering the very framework we use to judge Phish’s career. What if the lasting legacy of the “Tahoe Tweezer” is what it teaches us about Phish’s musical evolution, rather than simply the music it birthed? Because the “Tahoe Tweezer” is not only aesthetically and intellectually coherent, it also communicates essential aspects, all at once, of where Phish is currently situated.

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The Tahoe Tweezer: From Afar

A Personal Journey with the Jam of an Era A guest post by our good friend @AndyMagnes, a movie trailer copywriter who is also Co-Founder of the Music Festival-focused startup Crowdseye.com He can be found on Twitter @AndyMagnes. On Wednesday July 31st at 8:59pm, the Phish from Vermont began the 2nd set of their two-day run at Harvey’s Outdoor Arena by dropping “Tweezer”. I was back home with my fiancée in Venice Beach, recovering from a fantastic weekend at the Gorge in order to prepare for the festivities that awaited us in San Francisco. For the first time all tour, I chose not to seek out a HoodStream link to listen along with. We needed this break so we could finish the tour strong. She cued up an episode of “Chopped” while I lazily updated the setlist via Twitter a few minutes into the second set. @Phish_FTR - SET TWO: Tweezer - 12 min ago. The show seemed a bit uneventful up until that point, so I was rooting for a stretched-out “Tweezer” that would eclipse the 15 minute mark. Something to at least to reward the sacrifices of those in who made the trek to Tahoe. So far, so good. @Phish_FTR - SET TWO: Tweezer - 15 min ago. Unfortunately we had yet to do laundry from the Gorge and were out of quarters. So I was dispatched to the Ralph’s down the street to purchase some chapstick and get $20 cash back in quarter rolls (pro moves). @Phish_FTR - SET TWO: Tweezer - 22 min ago. I’m in an aisle at Ralph’s supermarket when I take another peek at Twitter. Holy shit, 22 minutes? It’s already become the longest “Tweezer” of 3.0 and the longest jam of tour. I text my fiancée, “they just dropped an epic tweezer, I hope they leave something for us in SF”. How am I at Ralph’s running mundane errands when shit like this is going down? @Phish_FTR - SET TWO: Tweezer - 30 min ago. I arrive home, quarters in hand, and am greeted by the news that “Tweezer” has crossed the 30 minute threshold. Is this actually happening?!? Now I’m frantically checking the Twitter feeds of some of our favorite tourheads… @MrMiner, @TheBabysMouth, @bizarchive…just to see what the fuck is going on? Surely this is a glitch in the @Phish_FTR feed and they’re playing something else, right? I am in full refresh-Twitter-every-ten-seconds mode. @Phish_FTR - Tela - Just Now. @Phish_FTR - SET TWO: Tweezer - 37 min ago. 37 minutes. (It would later be immortalized forever at 36:48 on LivePhish). That was the final damage. 7th longest jam of all time and the longest of 3.0 by far. Now everybody on Twitter is buzzing about the band playing a “T Set” after they drop “Tela” and “Twist”. After a quick look at their song catalog, a 36-minute “Tweezer” is not only incredible, it’s a necessity to make this “T Set” a reality! However, Trey ripcords a decent “Twist” jam to drop the best “Architect” yet, putting that dream to rest. But it doesn’t matter. We’re still reeling. They played a 36-minute “Tweezer” and we haven’t even heard it yet! As soon as the show ends, we take it for one spin before bed. Holy. Fucking. Shit. We’re laughing. We’re crying. We’re dancing. We have goosebumps. We can’t sleep. We already planned to not miss another show this tour, and now? Anything is possible. The next morning, Twitter and Facebook exploded. I don’t know if #Tweezer became an actual trending topic on Twitter, but it had completely taken over my feed. People I didn’t even know were Phans were waxing poetic about the Tahoe Tweezer. I wrote my own wordy post about what it means to follow Phish around the country. @OhKeePahBlog suggested “it kinda feels like Phish won the Super Bowl last night”, since people were just openly celebrating EVERYWHERE. The question became less “have you listened to Tahoe Tweezer?” and more “how many times have you listened to Tahoe Tweezer?!?” I personally hit 5 on the first day, which seems to be right in the middle of the pack. You know it’s something special when you feel so comfortable surrounded by so many obsessive nutjobs like yourself. It was such a gargantuan moment in Phishtory that anybody and everybody who loves Phish IMMEDIATELY knew about it. People that haven’t seen shows in over a decade reached out to me about the importance of the instant-classic jam. The band did NOTHING to promote it, yet the grassroots power of the Phanbase made the Tahoe Tweezer’s existence common knowledge. All it took was one epic jam at a random stop on tour, and suddenly, everything was completely justified. The thousands of dollars spent, the countless vacation days, hours, and miles traveled. All to capture a moment like this. And for those of us not in attendance, we desperately wanted to be a part of it. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the WOO’s that followed Tahoe Tweezer in SF and LA came from the coalescence of an entire community around this 36-minute masterpiece. Everyone had not only heard that jam, they had heard it OVER and OVER. And we were all desperate to become a part of its legacy. Not since the “Stash” claps from A Live One had audience interaction spread so virally across the entire fanbase. We were desperate to recreate that one magical moment in time, and so at every single show that followed Tahoe2, for better or for worse, the band and the audience WOO’d each other on.** What happened during and after the Tahoe Tweezer was something that could have only happened in the 3.0 era. The instantaneous feedback on Twitter and Facebook, the ability to either livestream or play the track via the LivePhish app right after the show…all of this enabled everyone to share in that special moment. Not just the lucky 7,200 in attendance, but the hundreds of thousands of phans nationwide. There have been lots of positive and negative things written about the band in 3.0. What made Tahoe Tweezer such a turning point was that the extremely vocal majority was so overwhelmingly positive. Everyone who loves Phish was on Cloud 9 following that incredible jam and we all just needed to share that with each other. It’s a testament to what makes this fanbase feel like home to so many of us. The fact that Phish is playing well enough to make an event like this possible makes me grateful to be alive and touring with them. What a band. What a community. What a moment. **In my experience, there are two types of diehard phans…those that scream “HOOD!” and those who hate everybody screaming “HOOD!” because they’re way too cool for that shit and they were there before the “Hood” calls even EXISTED, man. For me, the call-and-response between band and audience is one of the many things that makes this band so special — from the secret language, to “HOOD!”, to the “Wilson” chant, to the “Stash” clap, to the WOO’s — that type of interaction is embedded into everything that makes Phish Phish. Yes, the WOO’s felt a bit forced at times. But the band obviously LOVES it and Trey was encouraging it with his playing, so lighten up!