Historian: Dan Mielcarz (ColForbin)
Last Update: 2014-01-16
The common wombat (Vombatus ursinus) is a marsupial native to Australia. Herbivorous, crepuscular, cuddly and muscular, the wombat is uniquely suited to life in arid regions, with a thick cartilaginous posterior that helps it fend off predators. The Phish composition, "Wombat," is a quirky, funky, funny, danceable tune uniquely suited to life inside a Phish setlist, that gets everyone moving their hind sections. Wombats can be dangerous if agitated – one is advised to climb a tree and wait for the animal to calm down; Phish fans are advised to dance their asses off should they encounter the tune.
Debuted as part of the Wingsuit set on 10/31/13, "Wombat" became an instant fan favorite. The infectious groove – that is indeed "kinda like the theme from the 'Fish' TV show" – and amusing lyrical interplay among the band members quickly captured the attention of both fans in attendance at Boardwalk Hall, as well as those on couch tour. This was before the highly entertaining on stage antics that included perhaps the most improbable guest appearance in Phish's history.
Phish, “Wombat” – 10/31/13, Atlantic City, NJ
During this premier rendition of the tune, a person in a wombat costume was gingerly led to the center of the stage by some very athletic looking dancers. Over some funk vamping at the end of the tune, the dancers – including the person in the wombat costume – busted out a choreographed dance that sent the crowd into a frenzy. As the tune wound down the dancers left the stage, but then Trey called them back up to introduce the person in the wombat costume as none other than 92-year-old legendary actor Abe Vigoda (of The Godfather, Barney Miller and the aforementioned Fish TV series). While the person who was actually dancing in the suit was not Vigoda (the wombat disappeared from the stage for a moment), it was still an amazing sight to see him soak up the crowd's adoration when he was brought on stage without the wombat mask. As an addition to the fun, the band screened a hilarious short film at setbreak (both in the venue and via LivePhish webcast) that featured Vigoda reenacting the scene from The Godfather when Tessio is driven away to get whacked and the famous final scene where the door shuts on Kay, with Page playing the part of Tom Hagen, Fishman as Kay and Mike as Michael Gordleone.
Phish, Don Gordleone - 10/31/13, Atlantic City, NJ
In the Phishbill handed out prior to 10/31/13, the songwriting process was described as being sparked by a collection of favorite jams that Mike brought to the studio. Fans have noticed connections between “Wombat” and the 12/6/96 “Harpua” with Les Claypool and the 7/14/13 “Light.” While the debut and subsequent versions of this tune have been relatively straightforward musically, it is clear that it could serve as a jumping off point for a fantastic funky jam – a fact that leaves many fans eagerly anticipating the evolution of a more improvisational subspecies of “Wombat.”
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