Ace Cowboy’s Phish Hampton Review: Trey-Rod and the Three Jeters

No matter which set you most enjoyed from this weekend’s run, we can all agree on one undeniable absolute truth: If you’re returning home from these shows with anything less than an ear-to-ear smile, a gigantic boner (or the less popular clit-boner equivalent) and a positive outlook for the future of this band, then it’s probably in your best interests, as well as possibly the national interest, that you stay far away from Phish henceforth. Just go away. No more live shows, no more message boards, no more cynical e-mails to fellow jaded vets. A sloppy batch of notes in Punch You in the Eye or Silent in the Morning is no match for the look on everyone’s face when the opening notes of Fluffhead became audible over the deafening roar.

But if, following a prolonged second hiatus, you somehow managed to be a hyper-critical reactionary ingrate about a 12-hour, 83-song romp through one of the most impressive and expansive catalogs in modern music, then all hope may be lost. I cannot even begin to comprehend how you could find the slightest fault in anything that transpired from the moment the band stepped on stage – including Cactus in his emo-sleeveless-Michelle Obama outfit – ‘til the minute you checked out of your [destroyed] hotel room. And if that’s you, know this: There may come a day when I jazzercise on your grave.

They didn’t jam enough!

Trey messed up the YEM lyrics for chrissakes!

I counted 27 flubs in the first set alone!

My uncle touched me in the shower when I was nine!

Big picture, folks, big picture. Rome wasn’t burnt in a day. (Wait, that’s not right.) Well, Rome wasn’t built that quickly, and what took this band more than 20 years to build cannot be re-captured in a few months of rehearsal. This was simply a simple celebration, an uprooted time capsule of the band’s history; it could never be an immediate return to 25-minute facefucking jams that are talked about solely by date and title, and it wasn’t.

The return to glory merely began this weekend. From here on out there will be flubs, but it’s time to accept these meaningless minor bungles as an inevitability in order to get to the good stuff. And if this weekend is any indication, the good stuff will come in droves this summer. Hampton was a showcase for the future, a supreme flash of the arsenal.

But the sheer madness of this weekend was much more than just the music. It’s the anticipatory stomach churn before the show. It’s the house lights going down. It’s the conversations you haven’t had in nearly half a decade. It’s the snippets of other people’s conversations you haven’t heard in nearly half a decade. It’s the jargon. It’s the lingo. It’s nonstop games of Cornhole on the Ramada Inn grassy knoll. It’s the ticketless guy in the Matthew Lesko costume trying to stand out, and the ticketless guy in the Antelope costume who indulged us with his best Mick Jagger impression. It’s a guy from South Carolina sneaking in on Saturday night and getting a five-minute screamfest from all his friends when he arrived at the seats. It’s feeling the feeling we all forgot. It’s Phish.

News and notes: An astounding lack of arrows on the setlist – there will be a buyer’s market for arrows on summer tour…If you had to pin me down on my favorite tune of the weekend, it’d probably be Suzy…Or AC/DC Bag…Or about 50 others…I love those new green laser pens that a few people in the crowd wielded…two old tunes that have been inserted into Phish songs were played in the same set: The Landlady (PYITE) and The Asse Festival (Guelah)…Speaking of, Kuroda [coincidentally??] used rainbow lights during The Asse Festival…and lastly, the crowd may have grown five years older, but we’re five years more the wiser (and much sorer in the morning – “cash or trade for a heady hamstring and calf massage!”)…I’ve never seen a better crowd in my life, at any show, Phish or otherwise. ‘Til June.

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46 thoughts on “Ace Cowboy’s Phish Hampton Review: Trey-Rod and the Three Jeters

  1. dayjob1978 Reply

    What a magical weekend! It was great reconnecting with those old feelings, even if it took awhile to get used to them again!

  2. Matty P. Reply

    great read!

  3. Chefra Reply

    You got a way with the words, Ace. Love your reviews. Why aren’t more people talking about the Hampton Wolfman’s? Gordon’s basslines are nasty. Thoughts?

  4. Gary Reply

    Yes, it was me in disguise. And yes, I would always break bread with you Ace.

  5. Chris from the Half Hour Music Hour Reply

    Kudos on this review. Most reviews seem to fall into two camps, the it was just magical and everything was perfect and this was the best show ever and you missed the show of a lifetime etc. The 2nd are the critical flub counting reviews of the haters. This was the 1st I read that seemed to be straight up. They are back, we all rejoice, the energy was magic but they made mistakes and yes there were really no “25-minute facefucking jams that are talked about solely by date and title”.

    While I missed this shows (1st Mothership miss since ’98) I have been a phan for 25 years. I have listened to the shows and I agree they are tighter than I have ever heard them to which I give a lot of credit to the slower tempos they are using (listening to NYE 97 right now and damn did they play fast back then). But I will also say that at least on tape, nothing really sticks out to me as best every phish.

    That being said, if this is the starting point for the year everybody better hold onto their hats because these 3 shows are in rarefied air. While I may be in the minority, the band did some great shows in 2004 as they headed out to pasture and I would never have thought that after walking out of the 1st shows of that year in Las Vegas (Trey was sick and totally sucked and no Kuroda). So hearing Hampton ’09 is making me giddy for Camden and the rest of 2009 and beyond.

  6. Ben Reply

    Nice review, but it might have the unfortunate effect of nipping interesting critical comments. I’m a little nervous about how my two comments below will be received by the Hampton-hyped, PH3.0-luvin crowd. First comment: cramming the catalog is not jamming the catalog. The sheer number of titles they played has the effect for me of skipping a stone across the Phish sea. The moments of falling in, dropping deeply, deeply into a song are few and far between. Second comment: these Hampton sets are what Coventry should have been. Cumulatively, the Hampton sets say less along the lines of “We’re back!” than they do “This is what we’ve been!”

  7. jenn Reply

    this weekend felt like one huge soundcheck for the summer. BRING THE HEAT.

  8. Tubz Reply


  9. Chris from the Half Hour Music Hour Reply

    @ben you said it much better than I could (guess that is my my blog is a podcast, my writing sucks). While I do suck at words, my grasp of numbers are a little better. Looking at some stats the avg songs/show from ’95 to ’00 was around 17-18. Phish 2.0 saw that tend continue.

    If you look at this weekend it was 28!!! That is more than even the songs you normally here in a 3 set NYE show. Again, I am not a hater, the shows sound great and the energy must have been unfathomable, but musically I was a little let down. Then again I have always been a quality vs quantity guy and think the band is at their best when then color outside the lines a lot more than they did this past weekend. Just my $0.02.

  10. _goff. Reply

    yeah ACE! what a literary return for the cowboy of cards.

    great to hear/read your words dude.

    I shared very similar sentiments.

    keep on!

  11. TOTHETOP Reply

    Gotta Love it! Your review is CRISP, as was the entertainment. ! !! Thanks for sharing. :)

    …Oh how could I ever have been so foolish…

  12. vtlivin Reply

    Ben – if they were what they had ‘been’, Trey would probably be dead by now, or at the very least drooling on the mike hee hee

  13. tzander Reply

    bravo Ace Cowboy. could not have summed it up better. long time phan and attended the shows. so tired of the critics – you’re right, time for them to exit stage right. no more room for them. also yes – type 2 jamming non existent – YET. and yes, Page was EN FUEGO and T-Money needs a little time.

  14. Hooks Reply

    by far, the best thing said about hampton. hilarious. the band are humans, people, just like us.

  15. k.kreischer Reply

    in a word ‘bingo.’ thank you.

  16. Big Dan Reply

    Best article yet. Keep up the good work. You are the true head i was next to all three nights. Oh yeah our hotel room got seriously violated. I feel so bad for that cleaning lady ha ha. THIS IS RED ROCK S THIS IS THE EDGE. see you all on summer tour:)

  17. Big L Reply

    well said. i do feel bad for the haters. regardless of what phish show we are talking about it isnt about counting the missed notes or riffs. live phish is about the total experience, being completely free of care, and being amongst thousands of others who feel the same. if you weren’t 110% satisfied by what we experienced that weekend, you aren’t a phish fan, and its too bad you took the ticket from someone who is.

  18. The dude! Reply

    I was one of the cornhole dudes!!!! We saw lesko’s car get towed away!….”Bumbed is what you are when your car get towed”…yeah, they played Contact that night….

  19. goff_cowboy. Reply

    Props to Ace for his Hidden Track hidden closet past! I’m so happy Scotty B. resurrected the ghost of Slade here! Great to see his words coming back from the 1-yr. Hampton Revival!

    Don’t be a stranger Ace! the HT readership loves ya forever!

  20. Christie Lampton Reply

    Nice looking blog you have here. The theme is awesome, great color combination.

  21. Pingback: Hidden Track » Stormy Mondays: First Big Phish Jam of 3.0 |

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