By now, you’ve probably heard people using the term “plinko jam” to describes Phish’s recent syncopated staccato-jams. This style has been developing for some time now and has been featured prominently in jams since the summer tour began. The first true “plinko” jams are believed to have appeared at the Greek Theatre last summer during “Cities” and “Simple.” But even before that, it seems the band was on the path to discovering this new sound. It then fully emerged during the New Year’s run, as was seen in the Worcester “Hood,” and then “Tweezer,” “Sand,” “Tube” and more at MSG. For those completely unfamiliar with what this term refers to, here’s a video of the plinko jam in “Sand” from 12.31.10 at MSG.
The “plinko” jams typically see Page move to the clavinet with Trey laying down a series of staggered loops. Basically, Trey will play a riff to go along with Page’s phrasing and then loop it through his boomerang pedal. Then, using a palm-muted picking style he syncopates the loop against his own playing, and it creates a mishmash of sounds, now called “plinko” jamming.
Listen to the “plinko” jam around [6:00] during the ”Sneakin’ Sally” from Cuyahoga on 6.4.11
I’ve noticed that, in general, Trey has been using his boomerang significantly more this tour, and has more or less dropped the whale (whammy). Trey generally has one pedal that he latches onto each time the band explores a new sound, and this time around he seems to have favored his loop station. You will see him moving to it more often, and listening back to the soundboards, it’s evident that he is using it for more than just the “plinko” jams.
Here’s a few videos from the New Year’s run with time stamps indicating where the “plinko” jams start developing.
“Wolfman’s Brother” (10.30.10) [6:30]
“Harry Hood” (12.28.10) [7:01]
“Tube” (1.1.11) [0:52]
Notice as Page moves to the clav and Trey follows by laying down a reversed loop under his palm muted notes.