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. jay Says:

    loved the intimacy of the Asheville show. That show more than any other reminded me of the old school Phish I first fell in love with.

  2. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Aqua


    The Charlotte show is the beginning of the 4th of July holiday weekend. The TRAFFIC is going to be redonkulous IMO. The bus driver needs to get us there about 3:00pm or before and has to go the back route not I-85 IMO.

  3. Gratefulcub Says:

    I have loved the Mi(ke)ami Sand this week as well.

  4. zzyzx Says:

    This is something I wrote the day after Asheville:

    The Return of Fun Trey

    Even from the crowd, we form a relationship with the band members. We listen to the shows and try to discern what they’re doing and how they’re interacting. Usually that’s not very successful because we bring our own biases into it (e.g. assuming everyone is using the same drugs that you are), but last night (and really the last few nights judging from the tapes) are different in one important way. The Trey from the early 90s is back.

    I’m not talking guitar skills now, mind you, but the goof. The guy who was a bit of a geek but who had a blast anyway and who would make bad jokes between songs. It’s been so long since he’s been around that I had kind of forgotten he was ever there. The dynamics from the stage changed and we all just wrote it up as them maturing or wanting to try different things or just everyone getting old. Instead, it’s starting to look like that was the on stage manifestation of how bad things had become with him. The music got dark – but it was still GOOD so no one cared – and the band got (well I hesitate to say more serious) less silly and we all rolled with that because, well the music.

    The last few nights have been different. Trey’s obviously been having fun on stage, more fun than I’ve seen him having at Phish in years. He’s telling stories and having amusing banter and just being relaxed, and in doing so his old personality is starting to shine through again. Without even noticing it, I had really missed that. Yes, it’s dangerous to project too much from the crowd and to try to figure out a lot about a personality that you’ve talked to twice since 1994, but it just feels like the darkness has lifted and in doing so, we can see just how bad things were for him and how much better they are now. Trey the rock star is gone, replaced by Trey the goofy guy who – oh by the way – is going to blow your mind with his guitar skills. Even more than the amazing shows being played right now, this is so great to see. I hope this can last.

    And the light is growing brighter now…

  5. jay Says:

    After Miami, Trey can now tell Mike that he plays too many notes 🙂

  6. EL Duderino Says:

    Everyone was worried that Asheville would be a bear of a ticket to get. I remember being on here and people reporting in on how chill the whole town was and how many extras there were. Would have loved to have made that one.

  7. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Nice write up zzyxz. We all like the “goofy” guy over the “rock star” guy. Seems like a rite of passage for guys like Trey. Nice to see someone make it out the other side, especially when it’s “our” guy!

  8. Aquaman Says:


    You are “bringing” the “yuks” today. Keep it up!

    Yes I am “tipping” my waitress on the way out, which for me usually involves the “mushroom” “tap”.


  9. jay Says:

    There were not a lot of extras in Asheville. I was out and about all day and did not see anybody selling tickets. Did not see many people looking either which was strange to be. The most chill scene of the whole summer of the shows I saw.

  10. ma Says:

    agree with jay

  11. Stupendous Says:

    Can someone point me in the right direction to find shows with the secret language explanations… ?

  12. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:


    start here

  13. Chuck D Says:

    3/28/92 has explanation during david bowie

  14. EL Duderino Says:

    Yep 3/28/92

  15. EL Duderino Says:

    The short show ‘cuz of the Variety sewer system backing up.

    Talk about nasty. If I was shrooming I prolly would have blown chunks smeeling that nastiness

  16. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    3.20.92 is a good one for instruction too.

  17. Chuck D Says:

    Mike, during the beginning of the col forbin narration, keeps going “we’re gonna make it up to you, we’re gonna make it up to you, we’re gonna make it up to you”. It must have been real stinky.

  18. zzyzx Says:

    5/14/92 introduces the “All Fuck” signal.

  19. Stupendous Says:

    Thanks guys!

  20. Wilson8or Says:

    Hey everyone. Yet another random Wilson8or appearance, interjecting for no good reason other than you guys rule. That being said, I can’t argue with any of the choices today that Miner made. Unfortunately, I wasn’t present for any of them! I was at MSG 2 +3, but not 1. I’ve really enjoyed listening to the highlights, though. It’s never a bad thing when trusted heads can point to certain: “You need these” versions of songs. I can’t download whole shows anymore since my hard drive, and my external hard drive are packed to the gills with Phish. (hardy har). Anyway, have a great day people.

  21. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    such an uplifting Theme here. love the way this jam can soar when they want it to

  22. Chuck D Says:

    I thought it was “Awwww, Fuck”

  23. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Wilson

    Go get some DVD’s and start archiving them and free up some space. 1TB externals are pretty frickin’ cheap too.

  24. Aquaman Says:

    @ ZZYZX

    Truer words are rarely typed here my friend.

    I agree 100% and if I could could agree more, thus breaking the laws of physics as there is no more than all, I would.

    Thanks for sharing.


  25. neemor Says:

    Awesome thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply