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. EL Duderino Says:

    but I could be wrong on all that will head back to Charlotte after the show.

  2. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    Thanks el dude. GBOTT was the way I spoke of it but have since trained myself to call it BOTT. Sort of like trying to train one’s hair to part the other direction.

    Trolley sounds like a good idea, although I don’t know we’ll do it, as we may be driving back to Greenville post-show. Will have to see closer to the date of show. Definitely looking forward to seeing everyone. That’s the only show that Mrs. [NT]M is hitting and I’ll have a great old friend who lives in Charlotte and his current girl with us.

    BTB – the meet-ups will likely be various. I think the “locals” are caravaning over to Raleigh day of show and then back to Charlotte post-show.

    While the meet-ups will be fun in NC, I think the funnest will be in Atlanta, since it will be a two-fer and we won’t be bogged down with travel on the 4th. I’m probably bringing a first-timer to the Atlanta shows. He has no idea what he’s in for.

  3. Leo Weaver Says:

    Looks like it’s time for me to jump in here.

    Good morning folks! Miner did a great job with the top 10. I can’t really argue much, though would shift a few things around, most notably, push Albany -7>Ghost farther down the list (down meaning closer to 10) and move a few others farther up. Matso (I think) makes a great point about the “B list” and points out some good ones there (Asheville Ghost comes to mind).

    Re: Southern Swing…for all you guys making the NC portion of the southern swing, I will be hosting a meetup at my house pre-show for the Charlotte show. I live basically in downtown Charlotte. If I can round up enough folks to help chip in and justify the cost, I’m thinking seriously about renting a party bus for transportation from Casa de Weaver to the venue and back (it’s about 10-15 minutes away). I’ll be serving BBQ at the meetup…proper BBQ (pulled pork). If you’d like to join us, I’d recommend getting a room at one of the downtown (or uptown as it’s called here) hotels. You can walk, cab, or Lynx from them to my place. I’ll be updating the Meetup spreadsheet soon to begin getting a head count. I’d offer you all a place to sleep at my house, but it’s very small. And I don’t need a bunch of wooks leaving the couch cushions grimy 😉

  4. BTB Says:

    Deer Creek

    I ate a French Bread Pizza with a layer of water on top. Probably .18” of accumulation on top the cheese…

    El Dude- sounds good.

  5. BTB Says:

    Leo – Look forward to engaging in some southern BBQ disputes with you and the crew!

    I have medallions, crystals and million year old sea shells to barter a place on the couch 😉

    I got $25 on a party bus – no problem.

  6. Leo Weaver Says:

    @BTB…million year old sea shells huh? Might be able to at least get you a doggie bed for that 😉

  7. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    I made a post and it got lost in the dead letter office

    BTB – I consider Charlotte and Alpharetta to be local shows for me (I live half way between to two) and I lived in Atlanta for 8 years (3 of which were in Alpharetta before Encore Park was built).

    Leo – very nice of you to host the party.

  8. Leo Weaver Says:

    @BTB…by the way, your most recent work is brilliant! The Mrs. and I both got a kick out of it last night.

  9. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    @ BTB – watch out. Leo Weaver’s dog is very, very, very small. That bed can’t be very large (maybe 2 ft square?).

  10. willowed Says:

    Hey Neemor,
    I noticed your post about the weather and Phish. Perfect combo.
    Don’t forget to mention the JB 3
    This Jones Beach show = a much underrated show in my estimation.
    Twist with Santana teases.
    Twenty Years Later 2001 Slave combo.
    Absolute perfection!

  11. Leo Weaver Says:

    Haha…wondered if you or Dude would pick up on that first @[NT]M. Hope he can curl up in a tight ball.

  12. Guyute711 Says:

    Leo, I may have like 4 or more people who may be interested in getting on the party bus. I will start spreading the word.

  13. EL Duderino Says:

    The southern swing will be very nice indeed. For those that have not been to the Weaver’s home it is absolutely beautiful, and they are excellent chefs.

    BTB I’m sure the pulled pork will be outstanding.

    @ Marshall

    The Dude’s “special lady friend” and I believe Mrs. Weaver will be joining the festivities so your wifey will have a great time IMO.

  14. EL Duderino Says:

    Where has Whole Tour been?

    I bet him and his lady would be down with disease on these plans too.

  15. Leo Weaver Says:

    I like neemor’s weather tie-in as well. It’s said that your garden will show more significant growth just after a storm…the electrically charged air gives the plants an extra jolt of grow power. I think the same thing happens with the PHish.

  16. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    If the other Charlotte locals finally show up, I’ll be surprised and delighted. Verno … you hearin’ this?

  17. neemor Says:

    Wish I was headed South.

    Mmmm….wet Creek Pizza…summer tour at its finest.

    Leo, the peak at the 21 minute mark of the -7 was worth every second.

    I’m sort of hoping that the jams this year are a bit more stripped down, which can also be interpreted as ‘more ’97-ish’…I’m noticing that Trey is playing a lot of notes as Mike once chastised him for in Bittersweet Motel.
    If he tries to go too many places at one time it’s as if his new, active and un-influenced brain tries to cram too much into those tight places that sometimes just need to be invaded and simply hopped right out of…

    Long way of saying that (especially in a jam-band setting) for me, sometimes less is more.

    This is of course in retrospect after listening to many hours of 09 on tape.
    Originally, during the year, we spoke often about how Page and Mike had lots of space to fill holes and really shine, which seemed like a direct result of Trey stepping back.

    Now I’ve begun to think that this was more in tune with the idea that they are playing that much better and really stepping up while Trey, while having changed a little bit, may not be making room for the others on a conscious level.

    Maybe I’m just nuts.

  18. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Leo W.

    Do you have any idea how many people the bus/trolly will hold?

    Or how many we need to make this feasible?

  19. Leo Weaver Says:

    Hmmm…what to spin this morning??? Oh the options. I kinda want to stay on my ’95 kick, but today’s post makes me want to revisit some of last year.

    @guyute…sounds good, lemme know when you get a better idea of the #. I’ll need to order that thing before too long.

    @dude…I was just wondering the same thing. Kid popped in here for a few posts a couple of weeks ago. Guess his budding romance is taking up all his time.

  20. neemor Says:

    Being from CT and desiring a taste of the south, I grabbed a pulled-pork sandwich from KFC last night for dinner.
    I must say, I was not disappointed, but I also know that Carolina BBQ is very different, very vinegary and light.

    Just figured I’d share what we northerners have to submit to to enjoy some of the foods you take for granted…

  21. neemor Says:

    In light of Miner’s #1 pick, I will be spinning the Miami 12.29.09 show at 10am EST (half day today for neemor)
    yawning drone streams it.

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    if you want me to crank up the Randomizer ™ I can make that happen. We can even limit to a specific year if that’s your bag.
    You want a toe? I can get you a toe.

  23. EL Duderino Says:

    @ neemor

    I would say that Trey’s un-opiated brain is helping the jamming situation in the long run. The jams while not nearly as long have more purpose and are intellectually stimulating instead of boring which in my opinion 2.0 is full of. You’ll never here the band sound like it did in ’97. We were just in the right place and the right time and I think that’s what makes it so special, in the sense you had to be there. Kinda like ’74 GD…You had to be there

  24. Leo Weaver Says:

    @neemor…I’m all about the -7, not so much the ghost. I spun both yesterday (or was it Monday?). It’s tough to break them into separate jams though because of the -7 tease in Ghost and the >. And yes, that 21′ mark is certainly worth every second. I think by Miami Trey was giving the others more space, especially Mike.

    @dude..we can get them for <50 (and I think even more), but those big ones are some jack. Once I get a general idea of #s, I'll get it nailed down a little more.

  25. EL Duderino Says:

    @ neemor

    That’s Eastern Carolina BBQ.
    Then there’s Western Carolina BBQ.

    Very different. I like Western better, but I’m from the north. My “special lady friend” likes Eastern better but she’s from the south.

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