Gotta Jibboo

Originally Performed ByTrey Anastasio
Appears On
VocalsTrey (lead), Page, Fish (backing)
Phish Debut1999-09-10
Last Played2023-10-06
Current Gap25
HistorianMartin Acaster (Doctor_Smarty)
Last Update2024-06-07


“Gotta Jibboo” was first unveiled at the 2/15/99 Higher Ground debut performance of Trey Anastasio Band. “Jibboo” was given the opportunity to further stretch its legs in most of the gigs on the TAB Trio’s first tour that May. It was one of several songs Trey – along with drummer Russ Lawton and bassist Tony Markellis – used to develop the band’s signature groove-based style of jamming. Crackling with vitality and deftly balancing raw power and graceful swing, “Jibboo” wasted no time making its mark; check out the excellent back-to-back offerings on 5/14/99 Portland, ME and 5/15/99 Albany, NY.

TAB, “Gotta Jibboo” – 5/11/99, Washington, D.C.

Following TAB’s lead, “Gotta Jibboo” became a guidestone for Phish moving to a looser, more groove-oriented sound in 1999 and 2000. On the surface, it shares some characteristics of old-school Phish: lengthy instrumental passages punctuated by brief enigmatic lyrics. Unlike many of the old war-horses, “Jibboo” instrumental passages are not composed, but rather heavily improvised. Mike and Fish anchor the song with a steady driving rhythm, while Trey and Page create a wide variety of soundscapes, often making liberal use of digital delay loops and synthesizer effects. The lyrics are puzzling for those who do not know what it means to “Jibboo;” but considering the inherent rock and roll aspect, you have to assume either sex or drugs (and keep on drinkin’ too), since those pastimes occupy the other corners of the ternary phase diagram of rockstar life. It’s quite possible that the word “Jibboo” comes from the Dr. Seuss book Oh, The Things You Can Think!, but how it came to be used as code for adult behavior is anybody’s guess. 

“Gotta Jibboo” made its Phish debut on 9/10/99 at the Gorge – arguably the most stunning outdoor venue in the country – and since then was firmly planted in the Phish repertoire and in frequent rotation until the hiatus. Owing to the song’s party starter vibe, many of the early performances were in the crucial second-set opener slot. For a sampling of the early Phish takes on “Jibboo” check out 9/29/99 Las Cruces, 12/10/99 Spectrum, 12/30/99 Big Cypress, and 7/10/00 Deer Creek. Perhaps one version Trey would likely not have you hear is 12/13/99 Providence, which he noted as being an instance where the band never gets in sync and the groove is rushed. On the other end of the spectrum is the “Camden Jibboo” the nearly 30-minute 7/4/00 extravaganza that has long towered above the rest. Its first fifteen minutes presented the standard grooving and looping, but then the band took the jam into serious Type-II territory with power rock grooves and bouncy porno funk. The “Camden Jibboo” is essential Phish listening.

"Gotta Jibboo" – Phish, 7/4/10, Atlanta, GA

Considering the song’s strong performance out of the gate, it was not surprising that “Jibboo” showed up on Farmhouse. The studio track is one of the album’s strongest, colored by delay loops and horns – Dave Grippo on saxophone, James Harvey and Andy Moroz on trombones, and Jennifer Hartswick on trumpet.

Upon the band’s return from the hiatus, less structured songs from the Farmhouse era such as “Jibboo” apparently fell out of favor. When the band did want to try a free-form jam during this period, it was more likely to use newer vehicles such as “46 Days” or “Seven Below.” Three of the six "Phish 2.0" versions are worthy of repeat listening: the almost twenty-minute 2/20/03 Rosemont Horizon offering; the 12/28/03 Miami version, characterized by more rocking dissonance than groove-based jamming; and the often overlooked gem in the 8/14/04 Coventry rough.

Phish, "Gotta Jibboo" – 11/1/13 Atlantic City, NJ. Video by LazyLightning55a.

When Phish returned from their breakup in 2009, “Jibboo” resumed a regular role in the setlist, with eight appearances evenly split between first and second sets. Most notable of these was the 12/29/09 Miami “Jibboo,” which served as the bread of a tasty “Wilson” sandwich then segued into an unusually strong “Heavy Things,” anchoring a delicious second set. The seven performances in each of the next two years were used either as a utility dance booster to first sets (see 8/7/10 Greek Theatre or 12/31/11 MSG) or as a bridge between other more improvisational offerings when performed in the second set (try 7/3/11 SuperBall IX). Perhaps the most notable from this collection occurred on 6/20/10 at SPAC, when Tony Markelis joined Phish to lay down his song’s bass line, while Mike assumed reserve duties on a second guitar. 

Since the early post-reformation years, “Jibboo” has faded from prominence. Though the first (6/17/12 Atlantic City) of four 2012 performances saw it reprise the encore role it had previously occupied only on 6/15/00 in Osaka; the dwindling had begun. Since then there have been multiple double digit show gaps for “Jibboo” (30 being the longest) and no version longer than 10:29 (11/1/13 Atlantic City). Though all five of the performances distributed between 2014 and 2015 landed in second sets, they served only in the aforementioned bridging the gap (see 7/30/14 Portsmouth) or kicking things off role (8/5/15 Starlight Theatre) to limited effect. Which begs the question “And what would you do if you met a Jibboo?”  

"Gotta Jibboo" – TAB, 10/16/08, New York, NY

Despite the reduced role with Phish, “Jibboo” remains a TAB fixture, anchoring setlists well over a hundred times. If the TAB scene is more your thing, run don’t walk to hear the quintessential “Tower Jibboo” from 2/24/01 Philadelphia. Beyond that, feel free to dip into virtually any era of TAB and you are certain to find the best that band and time period had to offer. For slightly different takes visit performances with guest musicians including 5/27/03 at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom with Warren Haynes, and 10/21/08 in Providence with Scott Murawski, Oteil Burbridge and Bill Kreutzmann.

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