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. bhizzle Says:

    Talking of Izabella’s, from 6.6.97 Charlott, VT (Brad’s joint) there is a smoking Stand>Izabella that I jam to frequently.

  2. jimmy Says:

    for me its Stash>Manteca>Stash from 11/14/95. calms me down, picks me up, brings back memories, brings a shit-eating grin.

  3. doctorfret Says:

    DWD. I think I could listen to that tune every day for the rest of my life. I remember hearing it at the Patriot Center 94 fall tour and they were just toying with opening the jam up. That DWD was one of the heaviest musical moments I’ve ever had. It’s short and sweet, but man it floored me!

  4. AbePhroman Says:

    11/18/96 Simple

    I had an AUD of this forever and it’s on the “Road to Vegas” Bonus Disc that came if you pre-ordered Vegas ’96. Simply amazing jam that leads perfectly into Swept>Steep.

  5. JerZ Says:

    I have to agree with a few people that have commented so far:
    The Nassau Roses
    THe Went Bathtub

  6. DC Says:

    Stash > Manteca > Tweezer
    Vegas 10/30/98

    Loved this run VU Loaded is one of my favorite albums of all time, but this piece from the night before is one of the highlights of the many shows I saw in this raging venue

  7. BingosBrother Says:

    Happy April Fools everyone! Looking forward to checking out everyones picks. Gotta be the Brooklyn Free for me, never have I heard such perfection. IT is good.

  8. mittens Says:

    DC, that’s a great pick, that segue into Manteca is $$

    I have to go with 12-11-97 DWD. Pure Phish crack.

  9. Pence Says:

    10-31-95 YEM. Is the one that sticks out. Feels like I could air guitar to it in my sleep.

  10. Pence Says:

    cool addition to the comments board btw. Miner you dont cease to amaze me!

  11. travis Says:

    1999-12-31 (day): Split Open & Melt -> Catapult

  12. slave2traffic Says:

    Clifford Ball… Reba > CTB. The jam is epiphanous the entire way through, and the no-whistle hard stop segue right into Cars Trucks Buses is freakin’ mindblowing.

  13. Frankie Says:

    Thanks for sharing your jams everyone, classic versions! Mine are:

    Reba 10.31.94

    The way they push it to this unique little melody and then they bring it back with so much energy hits me everytime… I’ll remember listening to this jam for the first time all my life, walking through a snowstorm, thinking these guys are on to something bigger…

    Ghost 8.2.98

    This Ghost is one of my ultimate favorite versions of that song. I made 3 or 4 copies of my XL-II tape in fear of losing it and good thing ’cause i gave a copy to this shuttle driver in Vancouver who was listening to A Live One on his radio. They are really on and jam through it with patience ’til they reach a really cool polyrythmic groove that only last like 30 seconds before they drop into… Lifeboy. Perfection!


  14. boulderjosh Says:

    Great topic.

    Bag > Psycho Killer segue from 97

    Bag > Another One Bites the Dust 9.14.99

    Ghost from Radio City

  15. Los Says:

    Ive been going to hampton 97 Hailey’s a lot lately n 12-11-99 second set…they need to be releasing both these shows!!!!!!!

  16. Roxie Says:

    5-22-00 Ghost Radio City

  17. Los Says:

    Does anyone know where I can score that Road to Vegas bonus disc?

    I missed out on it when it came around


  18. Exree Hipp Says:

    The Clifford Ball is full of jams I have listened to this way, but the all time, never get tired of ’em jams for me are:

    12/30/93 Mike’s
    6/11/94 YEM
    A Live One Hood
    12/1/95 DWD
    12/9/95 YEM
    Free and Mike’s > Simple from the Clifford Ball
    11/30/97 Wolfman’s and Stash > Free
    12/6/97 Tweezer

  19. Exree Hipp Says:

    And how could I have left out the Clifford Ball Reba. The climb to that jam is one of the most transcendent things I have ever heard.

    One of my favorite Brothers, and my favorite versions of It’s Ice and Fluffhead come in the next set, woo.

  20. Toby Says:

    For me it’s gotta be the Mike’s from Alpine 97, with honorable mention to ACDC Bag from 12-30-97, Wolfman’s>Sand from 9-11-99, Wolfman’s>Boogie On from 12-7-97, Bathtub from the Went or Riverport 98, and last but certainly not least I listen to Antelope from 10-24-95 when I want to hear perfection from Phish.

  21. Al Says:

    My Go-To-Jams:
    YEM: Alive One, 06/11/94, 11/28/97, 07/24/96 Hanover.
    ACDC Bag: 09/14/99 Boise
    HOOD: 11/22/97 Hampton, 12/30/95 MSG
    TWEEZER: 02/20/97 Milan, 02/28/03 Nassau
    CROSSEYED: 02/16/97 Cologne
    REBA: 06/19/95

  22. Toby Says:

    I’ve always thought “If I ever end up in a coma, just put some good headphones on me, crank it up, put on the Antelope from 10-24-95, and I’ll be conscious in 16 minutes”

  23. Dr SF Jones Says:

    Amen to the 2/16/97 Crosseyed. The 11/14/95 Stash is a monster too. But can’t listen to that one too often because it kicks me in the brain every time.

  24. Jediketch Says:


    All The Way !!!!

    Any Of Them


  25. Dr SF Jones Says:

    @ Toby- I bet no doctor would have ever thought of that, but I bet it could work.

Leave a Reply