Episode 013: Binghamton Halley’s
In Episode 013 we discuss one of the best jams from (perhaps) the best month in Phish history: the 12/14/1995 Halley’s Comet from Binghamton, NY. The first ever Type II version of Halley’s, here the band latches on to a number of hypnotic riffs, riding wave after wave to a crest before jumping into yet another before seguewaying flawlessly into NICU, an extremely rare jam vehicle in its own right. It’s one of the most famous jams in Phish history, and rightly so.
Midway through one of the strongest second sets the band has ever played, following a psychotic Tweezer -> Timber -> Tweezer, and a contemplative break in the ultra-rare, Keyboard Army (only played 15 times, and the last before 09/06/2015, the band dove into Halley’s, a song that spent the majority of its career, to that point, as a set-opener. Yet on this night, following the final “Central part of town,” the band jumped into a torrid jam segment based around a punkish riff that led to a number of wild peaks. In true December 1995 fashion, they infused a bit of deliberate spaciousness before returing to an energetic riff that led directly into NICU. Diving into an extended jam that featured elements of the Halley’s, NICU faded into a gorgeous Page-led segment of ambient exploration before a smooth segueway into Slave To The Traffic Light. An absolutely brilliant set, this showcased the connectivity the band had towards the tail-end of 1995, and foreshadowed the thematic fluidity that would define their best sets in the coming years.
From this point, until 2004, Halley’s Comet was one of the most reliable jam vehicles in an era when the band jammed nearly without restraint. A true turning point for the band, this mirrored the extended era of improvisation that defined them through the end of 2.0. And then, in much the same way that they reigned in exploration when they returned in 2009, Halley’s retreated & once-again was used as a launchpad for another energetic song, rather than an extended jam. Just three times — 06/16/2009, 05/28/2011, and 08/08/2015 — has Halley’s been used as an exploratory jam vehicle in 3.0. Yet while we may have seen the last of the song’s big jams, we’re fortunate to have versions such as this to fall back on.
Songs featured in this episode are:
U2: “Daddy’s Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car”
Pearl Jam: “Smile”
In addition, we discuss two new 2017 records we highly recommend: Grizzly Bear: “Painted Ruins,” and Luke Elliott: “Dressed For The Occasion”
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We’ll be back on Tuesday, September 19 with Episode 014!
Until then, we’ll see you beyond the pond…