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.

Tags: ,

332 Responses to “My “Go To” Jam”

  1. Mugician Says:

    Another great:

  2. Mugician Says:

    I think this is one of my favorite songs of the weekend.

  3. Chris Says:

    08-17-1997 Gin. Everything a jam should be.

  4. Henry Holland Says:

    you can totally see Page and Trey both crying at points

    Well, thanks to your link and the kick-ass quality of that video, *I’m* teared up now, remembering when I hit PLAY on Mr. Miner’s No Spoilers 3/6/09 I and nearly falling off my chair when those glorious arpeggios from Trey rose out of the crowd noise. What sheer balls to start with that song of all songs and to do a really terrific version of it as well.

    My jams:

    Bowie 11/26/94 Doesn’t get the hype that 11/29/94 does but I think this one is better
    YEM 10/31/95 “fuck her in the ass” vocal jam
    Hood 10/23/94 It’s the bit that starts the at 12:45 mark, Fish starts a tribal beat, the others pick up on it and Trey does those amazing super-distorted bends under the notes and then it just EXPLODES–wow
    Maze 6/18/94 Totally demented organ > guitar solos

    1994 and 1995 rule for me.

    Someone mentioned Walls of the Cave, check out the SPAC 6/19/04 version. I have all 9 Pebble & Marbles that have been done so far on 2 CD’s, I really like the IT version a lot, great playing by Fish especially.

  5. AintNoTele Says:

    This is a great day for phishthoughts, we need one of these a month. It only serves to make sure everyone is sharing in the groove. Maybe I missed a gem here and there, maybe you have never heard my favorite, thanks to everyone for filling in the blanks. It’s like we are all scratching each others back, freaking great. Standing apart from any other website I have ever see, the love and unity just oozes out of here, melting off my computer screen, and I’m not even tripping!!! It’s freakin great, can wait to see whats on tap tomorrow…

  6. AintNoTele Says:

    *seen, not see…maybe I did get dosed

  7. Mugician Says:

    @Tele: seconded. I couldn’t agree more. This is possibly the tightest knit online community I’ve ever come across, and I’m part of a LOT of em. Just goes to show how well Phish brings people together who normally wouldn’t have ever.

    What an epic band.

    I’ve said it twice, and I’ll say it again: freakin’ GREAT topic. Especially after all the ticket stuff – man was that depressing.

    Watching My Friend My Friend with my system cranked. I can’t get enough of that build-up into the solo – and the LIGHTS, jesus christ Kuroda, GENIUS.

  8. Mugician Says:

    So I’m reposting this since it was on the first page:

    Here’s my list so far. I’m going to compile it, then decide which one is “the” jam (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
    Fluffhead – Hampton 09
    YEM – ALO – because that shit is just too damn funky.

    Shit.. I really could go on and on and on.

  9. totally tubular Says:

    tube dayton 97 always loved that

    and i think i almost like the jam that comes after the izabella after the tweezer than the tweezer itself. that tweezer is the bomb though no question

  10. Mr.Miner Says:

    Harry Hood 12.30.95- changed my life
    Slave Clifford Ball
    Reba 7.6.94 Montreal (ed.) !!! Not sure this has been said!!!
    Limb By Limb Great Went
    Ghost Portland ’99 (not mentioned nearly enough)
    Zero > 2001 11.26.97 Hartford
    Antelope 12.29.97 (for the post 95 ones)
    could go on forever– hence the Miner’s Picks series 🙂

  11. Mugician Says:

    7.6.94 – Montreal*

    Yeah… pretty fuckin’ kickin’.

  12. Mugician Says:

    Actually… Miner, could you do something like that? A Mr. Miner’s “all time picks”? That would be pretty cool, or maybe, we the readers could all collaborate and come up with a small definitive collection – sort of our own A Live One or Slip Stitch and Pass. An ’83 to ’09 picks… HA… I’m just thinking out loud now…

    PS – is that “Club Phish” download what I’m talking about? Maybe I should download that and see…

  13. Harpua Says:

    I can distinctly remember the song that changed the path my life would take. During my Freshman year of high school, I started playing guitar. This also happened to coincide with the first phish show I ver got from a friend, Halloween 90′. Trey’s playing on the possum from that show just completely blew me away. Ever since that moment eight years ago, I’ve tried to listen to and learn as much about Phish as I can. While I have many other favorites now(especially Bomb Factory Tweezer), that one stands out as the most important to me.

  14. hairy pood Says:

    ^Henry Holland: I mentioned “Walls,” and I was at that SPAC show, too. It was my birthday, and probably a superior version to the one five days later that I mentioned. i brought up that 6/24/04 show because someone was referencing the next two nights, which, although great, didn’t stand next to the Deer Creek 2nd night for many reasons.

    “But that’s just like, your opinion, man.”

  15. tba Says:

    I was visiting UVM this weekend, and to the horror of dad, had decided UVM not UVA. remember such a vibrant UVM, hell The Dead had just played there not to mentin Garcia. Little did I know. I do remember skipping this being too high to move from a dorm room..I was 17 Chrsit sake

  16. Henry Holland Says:

    ^Henry Holland: I mentioned “Walls,” and I was at that SPAC show, too. It was my birthday

    What a great way to spend your birthday! Reba opener, a nice Scents & Subtle Sounds, that raging WOTC, a way psychedelic Song I Heard the Ocean Sing > the mammoth Piper. I was in the last row of the balcony and the sound and lights were incredible.

  17. Jeff Landry (Chuck_Norris) Says:

    My alltime favorite Go-To Jam would have to be the Stash and its subsequent Jams that came from it. DelayLoop Jam and the Manteca sandwiched in between right into probably the best segue (which are commonly flubbed) into NICU that I’ve ever heard. That’s IT right there. Perfect example.

  18. Jeff Landry (Chuck_Norris) Says:

    Forgot to mention… The Stash from 10-30-98 @ Thomas Mack in Las Vegas of course!

  19. TheDropper Says:

    I know people in Texas wanted Phish to come down for a festival, but when they found out it wasn’t true, did they have to resort to name calling?

  20. mumbo1030 Says:

    12\2\97 ghost
    prague ghost
    alpline valley 04 ghost
    i tend to like the ghost grooves

  21. mumbo1030 Says:

    and the first set of 11\17\97 hits my soul favorite first set ever

  22. Deighton Says:

    YEM- 8.14.93 WORLD MUSIC THEATER, TINLEY PARK Illinois- Insane jam with crunchen vocal jam

  23. Highbury Says:

    I was also at the Palace in 97 and the second set is a classic.
    However, I was at Deer Creek that same year and my go-to-jam…

    Cities – 8/10/97

    Like Classical Music with Movements and Transitions

  24. andrewrose Says:

    Ok, ok, you got me. So in addition to the all time desert island jam of 12.6.97, here’s a bunch off the top of my head. All of which are all time insane jams.

    7.23.97 Ghost
    8.17.97 Bathtub
    8.11.98 Runaway Jim
    11.29.98 Bathtub
    12.7.99 Halley’s
    12.7.99 Bathtub
    2.28.03 Tweezer
    6.20.04 Twist

    ps. Anyone have ANY tickets to Mansfield, Hartford, SPAC??

  25. Mr.Miner Says:

    agreed on all accounts^

Leave a Reply