Drive-In Jam

, comment by n00b100
n00b100 As my previous comment on the Drive-In Jam has been wiped away by the setlist making room for the MLB Jam marking (and deservedly so), I'll take this blank-slate opportunity to talk a little bit about both this and the Storage Jam. I think what makes the Storage Jam such a massive part of the band's history - in fact, I'd argue it's the true turning point of the modern era - isn't so much the improvisational lessons the band learned (there aren't a ton of jams like it, and they're basically all played in 2011) as much as the fact that it was the first time the band had had to go *that* deep in the modern era. That wasn't really a problem when Phish was in their 95-97 "going deep in jams" pomp, since they played a good deal more shows and practiced together more than they do now (this isn't really something I feel needs arguing; that they don't practice AT ALL anymore most certainly is) and thus had worked that particular muscle to John Cena-level firmness. But in 2011, two and a half years into this incarnation? That muscle was flabby, make no mistake. Fall 2010, in a sense, works as a tour because they got away from that - as I like to say, it's the closest they got to 1992-93 since, well, 1992-93, both in terms of shorter jams and in terms of interesting setlists. But they hadn't really opened themselves back up to long-form improv, other than a couple of times in 2009 (remember, there are more 20-minute jams in 2009 as there were between 1983 and 1993 and as many as there were in 2015 and 2016; that said, IMO only 11/28's are truly high-class), and the Storage Jam was the first time they really had to go long AND go deep, and they pulled it off in spades. The going long would still take a few years, but from then on the band was more prepared to go deep, and Dick's 2012 and the Tahoe Tweezer probably wouldn't have happened without the Storage Jam.

Compare that to the Drive-In Jam, which isn't the same marker in time or inflection point as far as the band goes, but mainly because it *didn't have to be one*. By this point in 2015, not only had the band had those extra years of being able to go deep more consistently than not under their belt (cf. Fall 2013), but they'd also just come off of what many still consider their finest modern era tour, one in which they DID go longer than usual while retaining their improvisational chops. So what the Drive-In Jam got to be, then, was not so much a rebirth as a summation, a closing argument to where the band was at that point, so to speak. And it is a REMARKABLE argument indeed, improv that goes from dark to gloopy to what I'd called "material" in terms of how thick and detailed it was, unfailing in its creativity and interest level, one of the finest moments the band has ever cobbled together from a jamming standpoint. And even though we got even less examples of the Drive-In style after it was played (really, the 9/5 Light and 12/31 NMINML), the Drive-In Jam still looms large because of just how goddamn good it is. And that, to me, is the best thing you can say about it - it doesn't have to stand as anything important or meaningful to Phish's career at large. It's just a fucking awesome jam, man.

God, typing this all out just made me even more bummed we didn't get a Curveball secret set. It would've probably kicked 10,000 types of ass.
 

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