My “Go To” Jam

Hampton (M. Yates)

Hampton (M. Yates)

Everyone has a go-to jam. It fits any mood you could ever be in, and you’ve listened to it lord knows how times in your life. It is the first piece of music you want to hear when you are glowing after a show, ready to conquer the world. It is the first piece of music you want to listen to after a hard day at work. It is the only piece of music you could never possibly get sick of, even if played on a loop in your head forever. It is that analog tape you wore out, that CD you never lost, and now it is forever stored on your computer, iPod, and phone. It is part of you; you feel the music more than listen to it—it just all fits.  For me, there is only one answer to this scenario—the “Tweezer” from Auburn Hills ’97.

In a tour in which Phish navigated the stratosphere seemingly on auto pilot, this jam tops them all. For twenty-two minutes in 1997, Phish actualized a dream-turned-memory that will last forever. Following a musical path of larger-than-life-funk leading into cosmic psychedelia, the band sculpted a drop-dead masterpiece.

Hampton (T.Caine)

Hampton (T.Caine)

As the band stepped on stage for their second set in Detroit, they toyed with “Tweezer’s” opening lick before an extended drum roll—a la “Possum”—took them into the song. A version that contained many unique brushstrokes throughout its composed section got downright filthy the moment the jam opened. Page led into the open waters with a tweaked clav line and was joined by the brontosaurus-sized bass lines of Gordon. Trey hopped atop the methodical grooves with infectious wah-based rhythm licks. When Phish locks into grooves like this one, everything feels composed, like there is a master plan behind in all.  Maybe Phish didn’t compose it, but the higher powers did, and they were just the messengers, because what transpired on this night was certainly touched by the divine.

The funk was as thick as ever, dripping from the rafters of The Palace like vines of a prehistoric jungle prehistoric. With machine-like precision, Phish threw down a groove session that holds up to any of that famed fall. By this point in the tour, their polished and nuanced “funk” had become a living and breathing entity all its own, every note fulfilling a specific purpose and holding mythological meaning. The music engulfed the arena and united all present in one collective consciousness.

Hampton (A.Kuroda)

Hampton (A.Kuroda)

Page and Trey laid down some effected textures and began a very gradual build out of the lockstep funk into a more futuristic milieu. Before the band took it out to another galaxy, however, they sat into one more funk pattern, climaxing the opening half of the jam in a classic ’97 guitar-scratching, stop-start groove. Directly following this, Trey played a lead melody that galloped the music outwards into the cosmos. As the band followed his celestial lead, Trey opened a wormhole with one majestic lick—and if you know this jam even slightly, you know the one I mean. Within a few minutes we had traveled from the Mesozoic era to place outside of space and time.

From here the music became poetry over which the bards of history would drool. Embarking on awe-inducing path of exploration, Phish transformed The Palace into an alternate, dimension of pure transcendence. Taking a turn for the dark and dramatic, the music harnessing every atom of energy in the building and beyond, transforming into seething odyssey of the unknown. The ensuing improv was the most powerful passage of music I have ever witnessed. Phish plunged the deepest of places within us all and never once missed a beat. The band put on a display that no other four humans on earth could even approach, echoing the soundtrack of the universe’s creation.

Hampton (J.Volkhausen)

Hampton (J.Volkhausen)

As this colossal segment peaked, the band tore right into “Izabella” without wasting a breath. Whoa! We found ourselves smack in the middle of “Tweezabella,” a term that would live on forever in Phish lore. The ensuing “Izabella” produced the most full-on dance rhythms ever heard from the song, and the band would go on to create one of the greatest sets of their greatest tour.

I could listen to this “Tweezer” forever, and once started, it’s hard to stop before the end of the set because the band never did. But in those twenty-two minutes Phish took us on a journey of a lifetime. In a timeless moment that might as well have lasted twenty-two days, Phish bore their soul while touching ours in a spiritual exchange that defines the very ethos of what this is all about.




What is your “go to ” jam? Respond in Comments!



4.1.86 Hunt’s “Festival of Fools,” Burlington, VT <  TORRENT LINK

Phish circa 1986 (The Phish Book)

Phish circa 1986 (The Phish Book)

Let’s rewind 23 years to April Fools day 1986.  Phish was still playing covers around Burlington, and writing songs that would become classics.  Highlighting this April Fool’s Day show was the second set opening prank of “Help > Slip > Bag,” as well as early versions of “Harry Hood” “You Enjoy Myself,” “Icculus,” and “McGrupp.”  Enjoy this slice of comedic history as we enter April, or in other words, one month closer to June.

I: Quinn the Eskimo, Have Mercy > Harry Hood > Dave’s Energy Guide, The Pendulum, Jam*, Icculus, You Enjoy Myself

II: Help on the Way > Slipknot! > AC/DC Bag, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Alumni Blues, Dear Mrs. Reagan, Not Fade Away^

*With Zenzile, a poet from South Africa who may have been a student at Goddard College. ^Featured members of The Joneses, with whom Phish alternated sets.

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332 Responses to “My “Go To” Jam”

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  1. JoyBoy Says:

    I think I have an audience of 12-6-97 on the ipod…I need to dig it out.

    My go-to Jam is the Second Set Stash opener from the Paradisio in Amsterdam 7-2-97…..this little known nugget presents Trey’s greatest, most melodic and stunning solo ever……and the band is with him every step, particularly Mike. If you haven’t heard this, well, you must.

    BTW, while it was occuring, I was lucky enough to find my way to a PA speaker stand on Page-side, which, when I stood on it, made me level with the band on stage….I was so close, if I didn’t pay attention I thought I might lean on Page’s keyboards….it was like I was in the band, cause when Trey looked at Page, he was looking at me….very strange….felt sinful

  2. hairy pood Says:

    has to be the tube from the next night for me. i wasn’t at either show, and i had a copy of the nutter center way before the palace, so its been with me for a while. i remember listening to it almost every day when i was delivering pizzas about seven years ago. soo funky and they stop and start it back up again, pure goodness

  3. Mugician Says:

    I’m really racking my brain here. I don’t think I have one single “go to”. I definitely have a special playlist, consisting of my all time favorite recordings… but no “go to” that I know of yet. Perhaps I need to sleep on it.

  4. Mugician Says:

    What a great topic!

  5. Dr SF Jones Says:

    It is amazing how hard Trey is ripping on this Tweezer. From about 13:30 on is just unbelievable. Have to listen to that one more time….

  6. Dr SF Jones Says:

    I can always listen to the Hood from A Live One. Though I am not exactly certain of the date of that recording, it has an absolutely fluid and perfect build from the solo section to feelin’ good about Hood. The first time I did E that had me levitating from my bed.
    The SOAM from 12.31.93 is another. Was an instrumental jam in my conversion of my older brother to a full blown phan. He played that show until the tape broke.

  7. PhishTaboot Says:

    Hood from Hampton Comes Alive was always my “go to”. Since we have been spoiled by internet access to Phish recordings the “go to’s” don’t stick quite like they once did. Kinda sad…I miss buying a CD and playing the shit out of it like there was no tomorrow.

  8. Matso Says:

    @ DR SF Jones –

    You beat me to it. There are a lot of classic jams I love and have returned to hundreds if not thousands of times (eg. 12.30.97 Bag, 12.31.95 Mike’s, etc), but the A Live One Hood is inexhaustible and has never worn out for me. The full band interplay is amazing and unlike most other Hoods. When Fish starts working his way through the kit, ending up on the high toms just as Trey peaks – well, I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

  9. Mugician Says:

    I’d have to second Harry Hood from A Live One. I was thinking earlier that whatever “my jam” was gonna be, it was probably gonna be off of that album.

    I remember the first time I heard it too. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it here, but the first time I heard Phish was Slave from A Live One. I was a *hooked* phishie-instant phull blown phan that night – I knew these guys were something incredibly special. That was…. 5 years ago I think… and I’ve been listening to A Live One ever since. But for some insane reason, I hadn’t ever heard Hood (I don’t think EVER) from that album until only 2 months ago. I was sitting at this computer, with my Super Sexy Sounding System, blasting A Live One, and Harry Hood came on. I think I said, “whatever, fuck it”, because every time the song had come on previously, I had never been able to get into that quirky weird intro, so I always skipped. Then, BAM, new favorite jam just like that. I knew from there on out that I needed to give songs their entire run-time before passing judgment (which as a musician I’ve always had a tough time doing).

    The more I think about it, it’s starting to come down to those beautiful sound-scape jams for me. I’m thinking of Squirming Coil, Harry Hood (A Live One) and Fly Famous Mockingbird (NYE 95 – MSG). But of course, I’m gonna look through my collection again to see what else I’m potentially missing.

    Peace, and Enjoy IT.

  10. Mugician Says:


    Here’s my list so far. I’m going to compile it, then decide (if I can bring myself to such a reality)

    Slave to the Traffic Light – ALO
    Harry Hood – ALO
    Squirming Coil – ALO
    Fly Famous Mockingbird – NYE 95
    Pebbles and Marbles – IT
    Taste – Hampton 09

  11. lanser Says:

    love IT.

  12. tofuloaf Says:

    Easy for me. I have 2 from the same set. Bathtub gin and hood from the went. OMG! I’m not sure it gets any better than that.

    Great topic miner.

  13. Edison Says:

    Roses > Piper 4/3/98 (Pure Bliss from start to finish)
    Tweezer>Soul Shakedown Party 2/28/03 (the 13 minute mark from the tweezer brings me to my knees it’s so uplifting and good for the soul)

  14. Edison Says:

    excellent call tofuloaf! both incredibley uplifting as well! i would love if they would remaster and release those boards.

  15. Mugician Says:

    So after having posted what I just did, I was inspired to listen to Hood and Coil. I did.

    I urge anyone and everyone to stop everything and listen to The Squirming Coil from A Live One – Page is absolutely radiant.

    Hood is pretty damn great from Went, in fact, it’s the second best version I’ve heard, but ALO version hits me so much harder and in such a different place – this topic is all about personal connection.

    In terms of pure rocking the fuck out, I’d have to say the thirty minute Tweezer from ALO is fucking epic and for the last 8 minutes of the song the band is in a completely different galaxy.

    Chalkdust from NYE 95 is also pretty fucking intense. And again, Bowie from IT.

    Christ. Fuck. Jesus. I could go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on.

    Again: EXCELLENT topic.

  16. jlange1970 Says:

    Concur on the Live One Hood. Could listen to forever. Also was at the 12/6/97 show and my mouth gaped the whole night, especailly 2nd set.

    I’ll cast a vote for the 8/14/93 Antelope>Sparks>Walk Away>Have Mercy>Antelope craziness. I was also at that one, 5 row center, and..well…it was when “I knew”.Awesome jamming thoughout, especially for ’93.

    It’s also been many years since I heard it (wore out the Maxell XL), so it may not wear as well, but the 12/95 Champaign Tweezer>Makisupa>BBFCFM was a favorite.

    God, I could go on forever…

  17. Dr SF Jones Says:

    Fuck yeah, that’s the part.

  18. brocksburgh Says:

    I fully support the Hood call, but I always go to Hampton ’97. It is incredibly uplifting and always puts a smile on my face. They build it so patiently to this massive peak, and then after “You can feel good…”, it slowly dissolves into Trainsong without any pause.

    This was my second show (after the previous night), and that jam and transition absolutely floored me. That was the moment when I “got it”.

  19. bhizzle Says:

    When I first read “and you’ve listened to it several hundred times in your life.” The thought of me wearing out my Soundgarden Badmotofinger tape, but then I thought we’re talking Phish here. It’s difficult to try to call out specifics due to listening to the multitudes of shows available now (thanks etree!). But the more recents shows seem to stand out. As Edison stated the Tweezer from 2/28/03 gets alot of my cd attention and then the entire second disc from LivePhish 06 (11.27.98) gets the same. I will agree that “A Live One” really held my hand when that was first released for a long time and I would almost say it granted my a new perspective when listening to Phish. I had new ears so to speak.

  20. mr. icclus Says:

    Ever since i’ve been back from Hampton i can’t get enough of the 3rd night opener SANITY!!!! Play it over and over on way to work and home. A classic you can always find in my CD player is the Slip,Stich and Pass CD. Never get enough of that MIKE’s SONG

  21. Litteringand Says:

    7-15-98 Tweezer>California Love>Tweezer.
    12-7-97 Bag> Psycho Killer>Jesus
    Don’t operate heavy machinery while listening to these

  22. DC Says:

    7/30/97 Ventura, CA

    Bowie > Cities > Bowie

    great venue, rippin show, but this was the highlight
    the segue into cities is flawless
    jam turns into a reggae groove and I remember thinking they were bringing the bowie into have mercy, but cities was just as good
    hot, tight, fast cities
    great stuff

  23. notkuroda Says:

    I saw 10 pages of posts yesterday. I think Mr Miner is the Andy Gadiel of 3.0!

    My go to jam is basically the first set of 10/21/95, either the Reba(which was my first and still favorite) or the Good Times Bad Times>Tweeprise(one of the best segue’s ever!!!)

  24. proconkid Says:

    Here’s a gem:

    Sneakin’ Sally Jam

  25. dvsgel Says:

    My top 2 go-to jams:

    Tube from 12/29/97
    Roses from 4/3/98

    For a go-to set, probably the first set from 8/16/96 and the second set of 12/29/97.

    Great topic btw.

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