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. Leo Weaver Says:

    @T3PO…sure, run the randomizer. I’m looking for something ’95 or later.

    @neemor…ya gotta do what’cha gotta do sometimes, eat whatever’s there. We’ll get you some real Q somehow. I’ll enjoy some for you in the meantime.

  2. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Leo W.

    Less than 50 sounds like the right idea.

    I can’t see more than 25 or so of us, but I could and would hope I’m wrong.

  3. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    I have to ask

    why is “special lady friend” always in quotes (it makes me think it has some deeper meaning than what I think it does) and does she ever get tired of being called that? Is this an intentional aversion away from the term “girlfriend?”

    If you don’t mind, can use use air quotes when you introduce her at the Weaver’s party, el Dude?

  4. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    Huggiebear could probably provide >50 by himself. The man is tour-connected like nobody’s biznass.

  5. neemor Says:

    I would also like to see the band force a long show one of these nights as a real treat.
    I know there’s things like curfews, and this may have to wait for a festy, but to hear the band in the festival setting, where they truly relax and allow space and time for individual jams to develop without fear of persecution or time restraints will be helpful to the sound I’m now chasing.

    Indio was their first foray back into that setting and I’m not sure they were ready for all that ‘space’ and even still, they structured the sets like regular shows…
    I need a three hour set where the band just plays (in the style of Brian Eno?!?).

    Maybe I just need a Phish show badly.

  6. EL Duderino Says:

    It’s from the Big Lebowski movie Marshall

    When the Dude is being followed by a private detective named “Dephino” (sp?) and they’re talking in the street how the Dude is a genius playing one side against the other.

  7. verno329 Says:

    I’ll definitely be down for the Charlotte show. Might not hit up the trolley/party bus thing only because I live like 5-10 minutes from the venue, of course if the traffic is anything like years past that’ll be more like 1-2 hours (grrrrrrr). But that is a great idea. Plenty of hotels right around the University area too if anyone is interested.

    But some good BBQ is oh so tempting!

  8. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    ok, I’m having lots of comments get lost in the ether today. something’s afoot in intrawebland…

    I was trying to link to this map which is a good representation of just how regional bbq sauce preference can be. especially in a battleground state like south cackalacky

  9. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    Indio had curfews. They went over one night, after negotiating it probably. But they were very conscious of it, clearly.

  10. neemor Says:

    My “special lady friend” “hates” “Phish” and “I’m” not “sure” that I can “keep” her “around” much “longer” as a “result”.

  11. jay Says:

    Crosseyed->Morrison Jam-> joy from 7/31 RR is a top ten contender. The jam out of crosseyed gives me goose bumps every time. It is always on heavy rotation and I have never gotten sick of it.

  12. Mitch Says:

    wish I had more time today to discuss the top 10.

    i’m with miner on the tweezer, but sally would be bumped up on my list. thats all i can say for now. gotta work.


  13. Kaveh Says:

    Thanks El Dude for the Phil link. I know I got sweet boards of the run, but will have to check and see if they are the Miller boards or not. Thanks!

    @ Miner – Great list. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  14. verno329 Says:

    It’s so jarring when the BB goes white for me. Don’t know why but it makes me uncomfortable

  15. neemor Says:

    “Woke” her “hot ass” up with “Jiboo” this “Morning” from “Vegas ’04”.
    “She” “hated” “it”.

  16. EL Duderino Says:

    @ verno329

    Your gonna have to get over that. I know UNCC is right there, but this is an event before the event. You’ll miss the good home cookin’ the Weaver’s are so great at.

  17. neemor Says:

    12.29.09 Set II only being spun here at work.
    My boss hates Phish.

  18. EL Duderino Says:

    @ neemor

    When she’s “acting the devil”

    You just have to tell her “Head down and Ass up” 😉

  19. zzyzx Says:

    So I was milling around the library last night looking for a book that I never found, but on that quest, I found my clipboard from 2.0. The Coventry setlists were still on it. It was a pretty funny read, in part because I was the only one in the audience who wasn’t aware that Page was crying and I thought he was just flubbing the Wading, and then my comments on Glide are great, “UGH!” “Could Trey play the riff right JUST ONCE?!?!?!”

  20. neemor Says:

    “Sweetheart”, “Bite” the “Pillows.”

  21. neemor Says:

    Funny, zzyzx:
    Last night, I found (in my moving into my new apt.) my article that I had written from my notes from Coventry…interesting read to say the least!

    I was about 40 feet from Page when he started to lose it, one of many emotional moments for me that weekend.

  22. Leo Weaver Says:

    Nice map @T3PO…and the lines are drawn just about right. My preference is the SC mustard sauce. Also part of the Q equation is the type/cut of meat and how it’s treated after cooking. Eastern NC is typically whole hog and pulled/chopped into a fine texture. Western NC and upstate SC is usually boston butt (shoulder) pulled/chopped finely. The SC mustard region and many parts of Ga, it’s pulled much more coarsely. And in some areas, the meat is lightly sauced just after pulling/chopping. OK, enough Q lessons…

    What did the randomizer pick? I’m ready to spin.

  23. neemor Says:

    Sometimes, I go back and listen to Glide just to remind myself why drugs are bad.

  24. Leo Weaver Says:

    Still haven’t listened back to one note of Coventry…

  25. EL Duderino Says:

    I like the more coarsely chopped BBQ.

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