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. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    well, I had to shake it a bit to get it in the right frame of mind, but the Randomizer ™ finally kicked out

    Friday, 07/25/1997 Starplex Amphitheatre, Dallas, TX

    Set 1: Beauty of My Dreams, Wolfman’s Brother > Maze, Water in the Sky, Bathtub Gin -> Makisupa Policeman -> AC/DC Bag

    Set 2: Chalk Dust Torture[1] -> Taste[2] -> Ya Mar[2] -> Drums[3] -> Ghost[2] -> Character Zero[2]

    Encore: Theme From the Bottom[2]

    [1] Unfinished; Bob Gullotti on a second drum set.
    [2] Bob Gullotti on a second drum set.
    [3] Bob Gullotti on a second drum set and Page on keys.

    Notes: The second set and encore featured Bob Gullotti on a second drum set. Chalk Dust was unfinished. The Drum Jam also featured Page on keys.

    not a bad one to be sure…

  2. Stupendous Says:

    Morning folks

    I must start by saying that Im so happy to have witness in person a few of the top 10 jams from 09! (Gorge & MIA)

    IMO the 7>Ghost is the #1 jam on the B-list, although a fine exploration
    dropped when it was due, but the words fail come to mind, the point of the
    A-list is pure glory!!! That being said I would replace that with the DWD
    from the 3rd night of Hampton. The glory licks trey gets to in that and the feeling of the overall jam is very unique, def a magical chemistry moment.

    someone mentioned treys guilty pleasure of playing to many notes and impatient to let an idea develop… IMO I was more surprised with mike
    accommodating this in his style of playing, IMO he was playing too many notes in every jam in 09…a tad busy, specially when he grabs the lead…

    Also another jam I’d throw on the A list would be 46 Days from Cobo…

  3. EL Duderino Says:

    I have the Coventry boards.
    But only for collecting/posterity.
    I probably will never listen to them ever.

  4. teajam Says:


    Agree about JB3 being underrated. I thought the whole night was great from top to bottom. Between the music, flow of setlist and the weather it was definitely one of my favorite Phish experiences. To be honest I thought it had the best flow of any show I saw last year.

  5. EL Duderino Says:

    Ketchup Region for this Yankeeeee!!!

  6. neemor Says:

    Mike can play as many notes as he wants.
    To me.

  7. Leo Weaver Says:

    @T3PO…that one will work! Give the randomizer a pat on the back. Liftoff at 10:30.

  8. neemor Says:

    Miami Tweezer melting my face currently.
    I may or may not return.

  9. neemor Says:

    Wow……is that Manteca?

  10. Stupendous Says:

    Y’all should put emotions aside and go listen to the first set of the first day of coventry… HOT!

  11. BTB Says:

    Looks like we’ve all solidified the top 50 jams of 2009…

  12. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    leo, the phishows version is not tracked properly. unless you have another source we may need to go back to the well.

  13. ma Says:

    good morning,


    coventry boards good for 2 things…dickie jam and SOUNDCHECK 1

    btw, agree with leo weaver, bump the albany jams down…love it all.

    disease, light, piper..nuff said!

  14. ma Says:

    still think hampton undermind is tops.

  15. neemor Says:

    Seriously, the Tweezer jam is absolutely, 100%, undoubtedly classic Phish.
    Dancing my ass off at work.

  16. Leo Weaver Says:

    @T3PO…see what else you can dig up then. I’m relying on phishows. But summer ’97 is good.

  17. zzyzx Says:

    They teased Manteca a bit last year.

  18. Leo Weaver Says:

    “Seriously, the Tweezer jam is absolutely, 100%, undoubtedly classic Phish.”


  19. neemor Says:

    The treats being thrown out….thank you Page.
    Then Mike drops in with his shiny new filter…
    Balls out!

  20. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Manteca teases debate Part 37….starts now…..

  21. ma Says:

    mr. p,

    beat me too it, funny….per miner, OY.

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    ok, looks like you’re getting the 1st Went show leo:

    Saturday, 08/16/1997 Loring Commerce Center at Loring Air Force Base, Limestone, ME

    Set 1: Makisupa Policeman -> Harpua[1], Chalk Dust Torture, Theme From the Bottom, Punch You In the Eye, Ghost, Ginseng Sullivan, You Enjoy Myself > Train Song, Character Zero, The Squirming Coil

    Set 2: Wolfman’s Brother -> Simple[2] -> My Soul[2], Jam -> Slave to the Traffic Light, Rocky Top, Julius[3]

    Set 3: Halley’s Comet[4] -> Cities[5] -> Llama, Lawn Boy, Limb By Limb, Funky Bitch[6]

    Encore: Contact, Loving Cup

    [1] Picked up where the Clifford Ball Harpua left off.
    [2] Odd Couple tease.
    [3] Intro performed a cappella with finger snaps.
    [4] On Your Way Down tease.
    [5] After Midnight tease; Trey altered lyrics to reference “Fishman sleeping in the daytime.”
    [6] Fireworks.

    Notes: This was the first show of The Great Went festival. Harpua picked up where the Clifford Ball Harpua left off. After Chalk Dust, Trey remarked that the first three songs served as the soundcheck, which the band did not do before the show. The jam out of Simple, as well as the beginning of My Soul, included Odd Couple theme teases. Halley’s Comet included On Your Way Down teases. Cities included an After Midnight tease, as well as Trey altering the lyrics to reference “Fishman sleeping in the daytime.” The Julius intro was partially performed a cappella with finger snaps. Funky Bitch featured a fireworks display behind the stage that culminated as the song ended. After the show, the members of Phish DJ’d under pseudonyms at a festival tent in what has become known as the “Disco Set.”

  23. ma Says:

    that’s no tease in tweezer, just one helluva funky groove.

  24. neemor Says:

    I’m curious from people that saw PH in the early nineties (there are a few of you-zzyzx, TIII, Robear, etc.) what your take is on the Phishyness of Hartford ’09.
    I loved that show b/c it brought me back to the early days that I heard on tape when I began this journey.
    Was it as historic-sounding as I thought/think?

  25. Pleezer Says:

    morning friends, kinda new to these threads..
    ..but great list Miner. that miami ghost was really topped off, with a cherry so-to-speak, with the NO2..always loved just sitting back and spacing out to that one, especially after a fat ghost dance party…

Leave a Reply