On August 2, 2003, at 2:30 a.m., Phish performed an hour-long, ambient group improvisation at Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Maine, from the top of an abandoned air traffic control tower.
"White rolls of fabric were dropped, covering the tower," Elayne Best wrote on fan site Phish.net. “Three dancers from the Bay Area’s Project Bandaloop began performing acrobatics at the top, and then they began to gradually descend in front of projected patterns. The band was able to match the jam to the rhythmic motions of the dancers. This was accomplished via ground-based video cameras and tiny television monitors on top of the tower. Amorphously improvising amidst their own sonic art installation, Phish had once again outdone themselves; leaving behind them a trail of smoke and light in the night sky.”
I was living in Connecticut at the time, and I had no idea this was going on. Nobody I knew even listened to Phish anymore. I can’t remember what was going on in the world, but it was less than two years after 9/11, my son was two and a half and my wife was working as a teacher while I was home with him, trying to finish my dissertation when he napped.
But later I heard about the Tower Jam, and I finally listened to it for the first time a couple of nights ago. I sketched this out on an 18 in. x 24 in. piece of paper as I did, juggling six different colored markers. The width of the sketch, from left to right, represents the length of the improvisation (or 60 minutes; the midpoint of the diagram is roughly halfway through the piece, or 30 minutes). Each color is an interpretation of what one of the players is doing at any given moment. Large letter names (“E,” “A,” etc.) represent tonal centers, usually (but not always) established by the bass voice (Mike, in blue).
There’s a third dimension to this schematic that’s not in many of my other ones: a third, outward-leaning dimension, which occurs around where the first dramatic descending lines occur. At these points, where that vertical dimension is so prominent, the sound gets “stacked” on top of itself. There’s a build-up of density; see if you hear that too.
This is only an interpretation of the music, representing the first and only time I’ve ever listened to it. I’m not sure I’ll ever listen again, but probably.
For more of these, visit setlistschematics.tumblr.com.
One of my personal favorite Phish moments.
If you hear this show and have anything to bitch about I feel so. So. Sorry for you.
This is IT.
It’s been too long since I’ve posted here on Fuck Yeah Phish so I’ve decided to lay down some pictures my friends and I took during my first phish phest experience.
It was my first excursion of any real length to see this band that we love so much. It was completely worth it and we had the best time possible.
If you’ve never been part of a phestival I highly recommend it.
A wrong turn in CT netted us this snapshot of dumpster company sign. We knew it would be a great time. Later during the first set break on the first day, my buddy Richard passed out from heat and lack of water. We had 4 people lift him and begin to carry him out of the crowd, completely unconscious, out cold. When Gordo began to drop bass bombs at the beginning of Disease to open Set II, Richard suddenly awoke looked directly up at me while I was carrying him from under his arms and screamed “PUT ME DOWN! DISEASE IS STARTING!” yup. DWD.
Taken during the Ghost glowstick war. One of the biggest of all time and definitely my favorite that I’ve been a part of.
“If you could only see what I see when I walk onstage…I see the faces. I see joy. And if that’s escapism for three hours then fine. There are enough bad messages in our culture that people are getting bombarded with CONSTANTLY: you’re not good enough, you don’t look right, you don’t have enough money. And to be able to look at a large group of people looking back at me who look like they don’t have a care in the world for fifteen seconds…not only that, but they feel like they’re…joy, there’s actual joy etched into their faces for a bit of time. It’s such an honor.”
I was just going through my iPhoto library. We pulled up next to this when we made a wrong turn someplace in Maine on our way to IT way back when. Just an example of how much the world around us can be related to music we listen to.