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. Jerrydamule Says:

    Nice picks all. Frankie, if you don’t mind, I’m gonna second that 10/31/94 Reba.

  2. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ def my go to Reba

  3. Mr.Miner Says:

    12.30.95 Hood

  4. Mr.Miner Says:

    12/95 Champaign Tweezer>Makisupa>BBFCFM
    ^great call

  5. SOAM Says:



  6. Ryan Ingram Says:

    Well Mr. Miner I’m going with a trio of songs from the day after your favorite. 12/7/97 Dayton and closing out the second set with Reba, Guyute, and a sick sick Possum.

  7. JMelby Says:

    The Halley’s Comet from 11/22/97. The jam out of it gets played weekly here. It was a fantastic moment live and really keeps getting better each time I listen to it.

  8. R1 Says:

    ^Fully second that Halley’s

  9. wanderin Says:

    Do you have any shows from Amy’s Farm that you can post?

  10. Mr.Miner Says:

    some past go -to-

    Cities Deer Creek ’97
    Fukouoka Twist ’00

  11. timber ho Says:

    Real Gin

  12. SOAM Says:

    2001-sleeo-coil-Fukouoka 00

  13. Jediketch Says:

    OK ….

    The Jokes On Me….

    I inadvertently picked a show with a Sparkle in the first Set,
    and am forcing myself through it…

    Instant Karma’s Gonna Get Ya !!

  14. RobAins Says:

    I’ll third the 10.31.94 Reba, as for an all time Favorite Reba in it’s entirety. But the Trey’s opening few licks of the solo during the 12.31.95 Reba (06:11 -> 06:21) is my hands-down favorite 10 seconds of Phish.

    I mentioned that Roggae from Portland 98 earlier, the jam at the end is unlike any other Roggae jam I’ve ever heard. I know it’s pretty composed, and they never really stray too far from the general theme, but that particular version send shivers down my spine, every single time.

  15. A_Glide Says:

    7/11/00 2nd set.

    Moby Dick up in your face

  16. shpongleyez Says:

    Not necessarily my “go to” but the DWD>Free from SPAC (6/26/95) is pretty phenomenal.

    I guess my go to has been Tweezer>California Love>Tweezer>Free for a while now. When a Free emerges from molasses, that’s IT for me.

  17. A_Glide Says:

    I just pulled 2 4-day RR’s off ticketmaster!

  18. Jerrydamule Says:

    Check out today’s nytimes online article re: scalping

  19. Danno Says:

    Piper – 6/19/04 – 32 minutes of goodness

  20. Dani Says:

    1) Wolfman’s Bro – 3-1-97 (SSAP) – DOWNRIGHT NASTY
    2) DWD – 8-16-96 (BALL) – JUST FUCKIN’ RIPPING!!
    3) ROSES – 4-3-98 (NASSAU) – UNREAL
    4) REBA – 7-16-98 – GORGE @ SUNSET

  21. Frankie Says:

    Nice try A_Glide! ;p

  22. R1 Says:

    ^We (me and I forget who else, you RobAins?) were discussing that 12.31.95 Reba not too long ago. Maybe my fave Reba.

    I did just listen to 5.16.95 Reba this morning and it’s brilliant

  23. b23 Says:

    A single go-to jam? I’d have to narrow it down from these:

    6-11-94 YEM
    10-18-94 Reba
    10-23-94 Hood
    10-31-95 YEM
    12-9-95 YEM
    7-15-98 Tweezer -> Free
    7-10-99 Chalkdust
    2-28-03 Tweezer
    6-18-04 Moma -> Free
    6-26-04 Boogie -> Ghost

    Or maybe just the 4-8-72 Dark Star. Smiley face.

  24. dtpeters Says:

    somewhat off-topic:

    Jiboo – TAB – 5/11/99

  25. Dani Says:

    OH, and how could I forget the: SUZY G. of all SUZY G’s from Darien
    and I could go on forever…..

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