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”

  1. Wax Banks Says:

    I think 12/6/97 II is the best single set of that year, Miner, so I’m right there with you, but my favourite passage is the Izabella > Twist > etc. When Fishman jumps on the cowbell and Page starts playing those nasty slicing Hammond lines, the hair on the back of my neck stands up, but it’s the halfway point of the Izabella outro that kills me: the Page/Mike break, with Trey and Fishman yelling and growling encouragement from the stage. Then everyone but Page cuts out for eight bars and the man just goes gorillashit on the clavinet, and I’m out by Neptune somewhere.

    That 12/6 Twist was long my favourite version for one simple reason: Trey’s wah-scratches during the opening bars signal to the band that the funk is gonna stay deep throughout the tune. The space never loses its rhythm power, the funk takes on a cold sepulchral quality, and as the final vocals echo out, you get this quick crescendo and BAM! Into a wild, too-brief outro jam that wanders through the (relationship) graveyard, complete with subterranean undead echoes, to arrive at ‘Piper.’ Fantastic.

    I also agree wholeheartedly with Exree Hipp’s choices, to a one. The ALO Hood isn’t the greatest ever but it remains my gold standard.

  2. Jediketch Says:

    April Fools !!!!

    I Had too…

    Realistically Though,

    11-02-96… Set 2…. Crosseyed>Antelope

    Coral Sky Amp, for those unfamiliar…..

    The Crosseyed>Antelope Is A Force To B Reckoned With !!!

  3. Wax Banks Says:

    No, I take it back – the 11/30/97 Wolfman’s is perfect until the ‘Heartbreaker’ jam, then is unbearable. Scratch that one. 🙂

  4. Jediketch Says:

    Couldn’t Agree More About the 12-06-97, “Name Drop”

    Was just listening to that set less than 48 hours Ago, and I still get chills every time I hear that “Twangy/Metallic” Intro to the Tweezer.

  5. aaron Says:

    You posted it just yesterday – 12/31/93 YEM. Trey’s riff truly should have been turned into its own song, ala Tweezer itself coming from a 12/31 (89?) jam

  6. paulygh Says:

    Go 2 Shows->
    6-17-94:”RUN OJ RUN”
    11-14-95:2nd Set
    12-7-94:Spreckles,Love the Simple->’pult->Simple
    12-30-97:DA BOMB
    Big Cypress

    ps.Minor just a idea,for a week lets dedicate each Festival
    Mon.The Ball
    Tues.The Went

  7. yisseroff Says:

    Wolfman’s from 1997.03.01 (Slip Stitch and Pass). Never gets old… jam perfection

  8. wanderin Says:

    1. 12-31-95 Mikes Groove
    2. 10-96 Harry Hood
    3. Clifford Ball Harry Hood
    4. 8-96 Divided Sky
    5. 6-95 David Bowie Jones Beach
    6. 6-95 Fluffhead

  9. R1 Says:

    11.17.97 TWEEZER

    til I die

  10. wanderin Says:

    I hit enter before I finished….anyways you get the point..the list can go on and on but those 6 have historically been my go to songs….they all take me to my “happy” place

  11. Pence Says:

    cant wait to get on today after work to listen to some of your suggestions, a lot of good info here today

  12. cason Says:


    my personal favorite of all time.

  13. Al Says:

    Forgot a few:
    SUZY+Jam: 09/14/00 Darien, 11/13/96 Minneapolis
    GUMBO: 06/14/00 Fukuoka
    SPLIT OPEN: 11/09/96, 06/14/00
    GHOST: 07/23/97, 11/17/97, 11/28/97.
    MIKES: 10/25/95 (inkl Breathe), 08/13/96 Creek, 11/06/96 Knox
    BATHTUB: 07/29/98 Riverport
    TASTE: 07/22/97

  14. Al Says:

    YEM 12/29/96 (Rotation), 10/18/96
    MAZE 10/18/96

    But really, guys, Check out REBA from Deer Creek 06/19/95!

  15. Frankie Says:

    Agreed man! I did a virtual flashback summer tour ’97 last summer and i remember this one stood out as i was playing Mario Bros 3 on Nintendo… 😀

    I had an idea Mr. Miner! It would be awesome if you have time later on to compile the jams that stood out today and make a Miner’s Picks selection with the readers favorite jams!


  16. Kaveh Says:

    08.17.97: Bathtub Gin > Uncle Pen.
    The groove in Gin is amazing…I love this one.

    02.16.03: David Bowie > Catapult > David Bowie
    This Bowie is rock and roll solid.

  17. RobAins Says:

    7.15.98 – Roggae

    12.31.95 – Anything

  18. AintNoTele Says:

    Milke’s Groove ’98 worchester
    First live show that got me into the band and i still listen to it!!! It’s one of the few that I actually have on CD, the rest are all digital/on ipod. I would start with that mikes groove through antelope every weekend driving between charlotte and chalreston SC, got me to columbia every time with a huge shiteating grin the whole way. I used to roll down the windows and sunroof and flail arms out both at the same time jamming out like a fool.
    Video of the prague Ghost is one of my favorites too. Trey goes buck while with that pitch shifter…

  19. oboyler Says:

    12.31.95 reba

  20. Nakis Says:

    10.20.94 Hood. I’ve always been surprised that they picked 10.23 for ALO instead of this one.

    Hood is what happiness sounds like.

  21. SOAM Says:

    Worcester 98 rocks-How bout the Bag from 8-13-96

  22. cason Says:


    i caught the first 3 shows of that 97 summer tour, va beach>raleigh>atl and without a doubt the atl ghost stands out as the highlight of the run.

    even better than the dwd>mikes from the walnut creek.

  23. In Flagrante Delicto Says:

    In addition to a great topic, Minor, you’ve also done it right with the pick.

    My go to post show music is never Phish – almost always Steely Dan’s Aja.

    My go to Phish jam it too tough to pick – really depends on the mood – but my go to Phish Maxell II/CD/playlist/set is a hometown show that’s been featured on this site before.

    4/4/89 II: Birds, 2001, Brother, Brother Reprise, Ghost, Lizards, Bowie, (E) Hood

  24. borgy40 Says:

    8-15-04 Glide

    Just kidding:
    11-17-97 Tweezer and Ghost
    10-31-98 Sweet Jane
    7-21-98 Bathtub Gin
    8-11-04 Antelope > 2001
    12-31-95 Weekapaug
    12-1-95 DWD

    I’ll stop there.

  25. A_Glide Says:

    I just pulled 2 4-day RR’s passes of ticket master!

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