The Top 10 of ’09

12.29.09 (W.Rogell)

It’s tough to continue to thinking of topics as this point in the year, so I figured I’d have some fun today. I’ve been re-listening to a lot of the best of last year, and I thought I’d put together my own, personal, top ten list of 2009. These are just my picks, so if you think they are crazy, don’t fret; they are just one man’s opinion. I generally don’t compile lists like this, but as I said, this is a pretty quiet time of year, and I’m sure it will spark plenty of discussion. Anyhow, enough with the disclaimers, here’s Miner’s Favorite Ten Jams of ’09.


10. “Wolfman’s > Piper > Joy” – 10.30 IIIndio

With all the focus duly placed on the Exile set, this segment of music doesn’t get talked about too much – but it should. Each half of the combination features completely unique and masterful improvisation. “Wolfman’s” moves from swanky, liquid grooves into minutes of eerie Halloween ambient space. Using “Wolfman’s” to dive into the occult, Phish briefly magnified the dark side on an overall cheery Halloween weekend. Emerging from the menacing soundscape came “Piper,” evoking memories of the monstrous combination in Vegas ’98. This time, however, “Piper” brought three distinct sections of improv, the last morphing into a “Just Wanna See His Face” jam; a secret preview of the Halloween set. Phish added layers of vocal harmony over the gorgeous music, giving the piece their stamp of approval as unique and special ground. The landing point of “Joy” worked perfectly.

9. “Ghost” 12.31 IIMiami

This standout jam from New Year’s Eve illustrated how far the band had come in one year. Playing off each other with fluidity, Mike and Trey alternately led this piece, punctuating the most engaging set of the three. The band wasted no time, bombarding the crowd with their dense musical style of late-’09. The resolution into an “Auld Lang Syne” tease clinches this “Ghost’s” status as an all-time New Year’s Eve highlight.

8. “Light” 12.2 II – MSG

MSG - 12.2.09 (W. Rogell)

Out of the many explorations of “Light” during fall tour, none approached the version Phish played at their return to Madison Square Garden. Coming at a time where the band played the song nearly every other show, this version fully realized the experimental potential of the song for the first time. Taking this incarnation into upbeat and genuinely new territory, MSG’s “Light” gave everyone a glimpse of the depth of jams that will surely continue stem from the song this summer. From the moment it ended, this version stood out from the rest.

7. “Get Back on the Train” 12.30 II Miami

This ethereal exploration came as the centerpiece of December 30th’s second set. Passing through multiple sections of unique improv, this jam, literally, blossomed out of nowhere. Immediately vaulting to into the “best ever” position for the generally jam-less song, “Get Back On the Train” provided one of the most unlikely virtuoso highlights of the entire Miami run.

6. “Tweezer” 7.31 II Red Rocks

"Tweezer" 7.31 (G.Lucas)

The Red Rocks “Tweezer” brought the house down with its combination of gooey textures and jazzy grooves. The first brilliant “Tweezer” of the year, its placement in one of the 2009’s strongest sets made its unveiling all the more dramatic. Perhaps the first true Phish-crack of 3.0, this “Tweezer” created an unforgettable experience.

5. “Sneakin’ Sally” 8.7 I The Gorge

As the sun set at Phish’s first night back at The Gorge, the band took the opportunity to dive into the musical abyss. Taking the classic cover through a set of chunky grooves en route to a mid-song vocal jam and out into the heavens above, the powers of Phish and The Gorge converged for the first time in this era. While many favor the second set “Bathtub Gin,” this jam brings more original playing to the table.

4. “46 Days” 8.15 II Merriweather

Merriweather '09

This jam flies way under the due to its placement amidst one of Phish’s least exciting shows of the year. However, this version of “46 Days” sits atop the top shelf of 2009 offerings. Spending only four minutes attached to the song, Phish exited quickly into thick, murky grooves. Gaining textured momentum, this piece moved through an ambient transition into one of the most gorgeous sections of music played during 2009. Hitting a stride seldom seen last year, Phish reached a triumphant plane that gained a life all its own. Re-listen – this one is a down-low masterpiece.

3. “Rock and Roll” 8.8 II The Gorge

While most of the attention falls on the first night of The Gorge, the most spectacular jam came on the second. Utilizing their go-to 2009 vehicle, Phish crafted one of the most cohesive and exploratory jams of the year. A multi-themed epic, this extended piece ebbed and flowed with organic improv, featuring some of Trey’s best work of the year. During this piece, the band clicked as a whole in a way they did few times throughout their comeback year. This will stand up to anything.

2. “Seven Below > Ghost” 11.28 IIAlbany

11.28.09 Albany (Peek)

I’ve never hidden my love for this spectacular fifty minutes of music. Coming at a time when Phish desperately needed to break form into something greater, during this sequence they accomplished all that and more. Transforming “Seven Below” into a cathartic dance party, the band fused groove and melody into a phenomenal segment of improv. And once Phish hit their stride in the set-opener, when they hit “Ghost,” they sat deeply in the pocket without missing a beat, creating totally original music. Turing this version into a multi-planed adventure, the band locked in from moment one of the most tightly woven tales of the year. This sequence represented a significant breakthrough during fall tour, and a reminder that Phish was, in fact, still Phish.

1. “Tweezer” 12.29 IIMiami

12.29.09 (W.Rogell)

I’m a sucker for huge “Tweezers,” and none came bigger than this in 2009. Dropping on the magical date of December 29, the band let loose on this version, crafting my most indelible moment of the year. Beginning with massive, bass-led dance grooves they threw down the most ferocious section of dance grooves of ’09. So juiced on the musical goings-on, Trey, then Phish, added a layer of vocal improv, complementing the jam’s infectious rhythms. Mike led the band through this section with filthy and dynamic rhythms. Bringing the band into the second stage of the jam, Mike soloed with his envelope filter as the band blended into more exploratory music. Trey played staccato melodies through this space-groove, toying with some signature licks. Phish morphed from this section into the most beautiful moments in all of ’09. Entering sublime, soul-searching psychedelia, the band fully tapped into the source, channeling the mysteries of the universe. A blessing to be a part of, words can only go so far in expressing these sacred moments. While the rest of this list can be discussed all day, in my opinion, the only definite comes in the top spot with “The Miami Tweezer.”


Jam of the Day:

Tweezer” 10.27.94 II

A compact, action-packed version from Charlottesville, Virginia.




7.18.99 Oswego Co. Airport, Volney, NY < Megaupload

7.18.99 Oswego Co. Airport, Volney, NY < Torrent

Unofficial Osewgo Poster (Distante)This underrated three-set beast offered treats in ever shape and size. The outrageous “Piper” in the third set, and the second set “Jim > Free” are can’t miss highlights. And there’s plenty in between.

I: Punch You In the Eye, Farmhouse, Water in the Sky, Bathtub Gin, Back on the Train*, If You Need a Fool*, I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome*,Beauty of My Dreams*, The Moma Dance, Reba, Chalk Dust Torture

II: Runaway Jim > Free, Meatstick, Guyute, Axilla, Llama

III: My Soul, Piper > Prince Caspian, Wilson > Catapult > Smoke on the Water Jam > Icculus, Quinn the Eskimo, Fluffhead

E: Harry Hood

* w/ Del McCoury Band

Source: (FOB) Neumann U89i (Omni, Split 6′) > Apogee AD1000

679 Responses to “The Top 10 of ’09”

  1. Robear Says:

    lw, the ooooh outro was from the Gorge.

    ‘drowned > crosseyed’ = the sickness!

    duder, haven’t done any mind bender’s at a phish show this century.

    nearly lost a friend over this Gorge ‘Sally’ 🙂

    really like the ‘gorge jam’ though.

  2. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    if anyone else cares to hear what the “Me and My Arrow” secret language signal sounds like in action, check out the YEM from 4.30.92. At 11:18 (on phishows version) Trey gives the indicator and at 11:21 you get the signal itself. pretty rippin’ version taboot!

  3. Guyute711 Says:

    Surprised no one has mentioned anything from Charlottesville. Light was pretty damn good there and Run Like a Naked Guy was pretty awesome as well. Not to mention Sneaking Sally with a vocal jam at the end.

  4. willowed Says:

    Agree 100% Seven Below solid…Ghost not so much.
    Ghost got lucky that he got partnered up with 7 Below. If that same version was all by itself at another show we wouldn’t give it the time of day…..sort of.
    I think you and I have had this conversation before.

  5. verno329 Says:

    What I remember hearing/reading (possibly incorrect, correct me if I’m wrong) she was hardly ever able to hear herself over the rest of the band which is what led to some of the “bad moments.” I also heard that she pretty much was only on the bane…which considering what the other members were on was like only eating salad amongst a group of carnivores. Again, I could be totally mis-remembering this (h/t to Roger Clemens)

    None of this is a defense for what happened during your average Playin’ of course.

  6. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    my wife found out the hard way that prepping for Hampton II this year by only eating a salad was a baaaaaaaad idea. long night post show for Mrs. Disorder.

  7. cal Says:

    lw–aboustly! (sorry, took me a sec to figure out what you really meant…now I want to come up with a definition for that word…)

    Whole second set of DC is up there for me. That “Tweezer” all by itself, as well as “ASIHTOS”>”Drowned”.

  8. Robear Says:

    gorge sally = otherworldly

  9. lastwaltzer Says:

    @cal “(sorry, took me a sec to figure out what you really meant…now I want to come up with a definition for that word…)” ??????

    @robear thanks ive been trying to figure that out for a week or two (re:light). Also loved that Sally.

  10. BTB Says:

    BTB Fest update:

    Party Buses are crazy expensive the weekend of June 12. Almost $1,000

    15-person passenger vans are $140. Combined with SUV (7 seats) would give us 22 seats for cheap. I think that makes more sense.

    My ladyfriend can drive the bus, just BANE her and she’s good. doesn’t drink.

  11. Robear Says:

    butter, is there a craigslist for your area?

  12. Mr.Miner Says:

    Agree 100% Seven Below solid…Ghost not so much.

    ^ this is insanity. The ghost absolutely smokes……takes the momentum of -7 to a whole new level

  13. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    just BANE her and she’s good.

    you may want to add that this should happen after she gets you safely to and from the venue. some of these cats roll with the serious bane that’ll turn your DD into a puddle. last thing you want to hear is the driver saying “man, am I glad that I’m not the one driving” when they are currently behind the wheel.

  14. Robear Says:

    I’m with Miner, re: Albany ‘7 > Ghost’

    and for everyone’s info:
    ‘Bouncin’ is the most listened to track from 2/28/03 on

  15. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Rock Test your DD always

  16. Kaveh Says:

    @Verno…you got mail. Thanks.

  17. KWL Says:

    @BTB count me in for 2 if there’s still room

  18. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    yes, the Rock Test is definitely the way to go. Works every time.

  19. Mr. Palmer Says:

    rock test?

  20. BTB Says:

    TIII – she has this incredible tolerance. All my friends are jealous, nothing happens to her. But you’re right, the BB be rollin with some serious stashes.

    I’m going to create a word: “Banestache”

    does to your eyes…what the mustache does to your upper lip…totally fucks up your face.

    “I was so ripped, I was rocking a serious Banestache”

  21. zzyzx Says:

    “@robear thanks ive been trying to figure that out for a week or two (re:light). Also loved that Sally.”

    I mentioned that version before you asked on p 18 😉

  22. BTB Says:


    I’ll do a tally and see how many people can commit and then I’ll book a passenger van. If we have 25-30 people, maybe we can get 2.

  23. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Def. have to re-listen to the Gorge RnR tonight. This jam totally escapes me.

  24. flarrdogg Says:

    Qualifier: I love the Miami tweez.
    Statement: I prefer Red Rocks tweez to Miami tweez.

    There I said it.

  25. Robear Says:

    palmer failed 🙂

    ::as he stares at rock::

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