The Top Ten of 2010: Part I

Everyone has their own favorites, but here are my Top Ten shows of 2010 in a two-part series. To craft the list, I looked at shows as two-set entities, favoring full nights with quality playing throughout, rather than ones with only one great set or one to-die-for jam. A list of the best single sets of 2010 might look quite different, but for this exercise, I looked at shows holistically. Today, I unveil at the top half of the bracket.


10. 6.11.2010 Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Illinois

6.11.10 (S.LaBrasca)

Fresh off of their practice sessions at UIC pavilion, Phish came out well-oiled and demolished their opening show of 2010. Blazing through two sets packed with improvisation, Phish brought the heat in ungodly temperatures back in June in Chicago. “Light > Maze, Ghost > Limb” provided the opening sequence of the second set and the meat of the show. Each piece featured a unique jam, and “Ghost” would hold up as a tour highlight. The band never lost momentum throughout the night, crafting an entire show of high powered music to kick off the year. Capping a fluid second set with “Antelope” and the debut of “Show of Life,” things were blissful in Phishville after the first show of the summer.

I: Down with Disease, Wolfman’s Brother, Possum, Boogie On Reggae Woman,Reba, Jesus Just Left Chicago, The Divided Sky, Golgi Apparatus, David Bowie

II: Light > Maze, Ghost > Limb By Limb > Prince Caspian > The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Run Like an Antelope, Show of Life*

E: Cavern, Julius   *debut


9. 6.27.2010 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Maryland

6.27.10 (G.Lucas)

Merriweather’s second show represented the peak of Phish’s most impressive weekend of Leg I. Completing a four-night stand that started in Camden, the band punctuated their Mid-Atlantic run with a thematic second set. Responding to a sign for “Saw It Again,” Trey chopped into the song amidst the liquid funk of “Meatstick,” and initiated a wild second set in which the band wove lyrical teases of “Saw It Again” in each subsequent song, capping the night with the the unforgettable—”Boy. Man. I Saw It Again!” And smack dab in the middle of this musical trickery was a centerpiece of “Piper,” one of the outstanding excursions of June. Throw in a rocking jaunt of “Ghost > Jumping Jack Flash” and solid first set, and you’ve got yourself a nice little Phish show.

I: Walfredo, Mellow Mood, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, The Divided Sky, Tela, My Soul, Ginseng Sullivan, Sample in a Jar, Bathtub Gin, Brian and Robert, Run Like an Antelope

II: Wilson, Meatstick > Saw It Again > Piper > Ghost > Jumpin’ Jack Flash > Saw It Again, Contact, You Enjoy Myself

E: Fire


8. 8.17.2010 Jones Beach, Wantagh, New York

Jones Beach 2010 (M.Ladd)

This show is a dark-horse of 2010. It’s never talked about much but it musically delivered. Coming off Alpine Valley’s summer showcase, the first night in Jones Beach carried the same energy, precision, and exploratory jamming as the previous two in the Midwest. Following a hit—and improv-filled—opening frame, Phish came out and blew down the house with a combination of musical theatrics in the second. Oozing into things with the retro combination of “Lengthwise > Maze,” the band set the table for a non-stop run through the rest of the set. Launching from “Halley’s” into “Mike’s,” this typical summer ’10 “Groove” was packed with action. Following a quasi-ambient outro of “Simple,” the band sculpted the one of the jams of the season in a pioneering “Backwards Down the Number Line.” Impressive versions of “Caspian” and “Rock and Roll” came wrapped in the monster-sandwich before a smoking “Weekapaug” topped things off. You may not recall this show as one of the best of the year, but go back, check it out, and think again.

I: Fluffhead, Kill Devil Falls, Cities, Funky Bitch, Wilson, Reba, Walk Away,Wolfman’s Brother, Possum

II: Lengthwise > Maze, Halley’s Comet > Mike’s Song > Simple > Backwards Down the Number Line > Prince Caspian > Rock and Roll > Weekapaug Groove,Loving Cup

E: Show of Life, Golgi Apparatus


7. 12.31.2010 Madison Square Garden, New York City

12.31 - (R.Gilberte)

The second set of New Year’s Eve is the musical treasure of this three-set show, and the central reason that it broke the top ten. Nobody can’t deny one of the year’s most scintillating frames of music on the biggest night of the year. And the entire stanza was centered around a sublime “Ghost” that quickly transformed into one of the defining jams of this era. Considering Phish shows as full experiences, the third-set Meatstick Extravaganza was as grand as any. With over fifty choreographed dancers on stage representing countries from around the world, Phish sailed through Madison Square Garden on their Hot Dog of lore, bringing back several New Year’s traditions at once, while ringing in the new year. A ripping “After Midnight” and a gorgeous “Slave” provided celebratory bookends to the succinct third set.

I: Punch You In the Eye, AC/DC Bag, The Moma Dance, Scent of a Mule, Burn That Bridge*, Weigh, Ocelot, Beauty of My Dreams, Gone, Rock and Roll

II: Wilson, 46 Days, Sand, NICU, Down with Disease > Ghost, You Enjoy Myself > Manteca > You Enjoy Myself

III: Meatstick, Auld Lang Syne, After Midnight, Backwards Down the Number Line, Piper > Free, Waste, Slave to the Traffic Light, Grind

E: First Tube


6. 10.16.2010 North Charleston Coliseum, South Carolina

Charleston Poster

This show kicked Phish into overdrive for fall tour and they never looked back. Featuring an entire night of top-notch playing, one can point to the  first set “Sand” as the turning point of the tour. The band stacked the opening frame with the first “Curtain (With)” of the year, “Sneakin’ Sally,” “Pebbles and Marbles” and “David Bowie,” building a considerable head of steam by setbreak. Taking this momentum into a flawless and flowing second set that began with a multi-dimensional “Crosseyed and Painless,” and ended with the eye-popping sequence of “2001 > Tweezer > Show of Life > YEM,” Phish scripted a seamless tale of wizardry in South Carolina.

I: Kill Devil Falls, Guelah Papyrus, The Curtain (With), The Mango Song, Sand,Limb By Limb, Sneakin’ Sally through the Alley, Uncle Pen, Pebbles and Marbles, Cavern, David Bowie

II: Crosseyed and Painless, Dirt, Fluffhead, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Tweezer > Show of Life, You Enjoy Myself

E: I Been Around, Quinn the Eskimo, Tweezer Reprise

Stay tuned tomorrow for my top five shows of 2010…


Jam of the Day:

Crosseyed and Painless” 10.16.2010 II

A selection from the number six show on the list.




9.9.2000 “The Knick,” Albany, New York

FLAC Torrent (via etree), Mp3 Torrent, Megaupload < Links

Micahel Ray

This reader request goes out to “Big” Nate who “witnessed the best version of Maze [he] ever saw in Albany” that night. Also recognizing that “this show is probably best known for Michael Ray’s guest appearing in the second set, but the whole show is quite solid.” I’m with you on that assessment Nate, so here you go.

I: Possum, My Friend, My Friend > Jam > Gumbo, Maze, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Roggae, Guyute, Run Like an Antelope

II: Gotta Jibboo, The Curtain > Sand*, Makisupa Policeman*, Cars Trucks Buses*, Funky Bitch*, Cavern

E: Harry Hood*

* w/ Michael Ray on trumpet

Source: B&K 4011 > Lunatec v2 > Apogee AD-500 > DA-P1


549 Responses to “The Top Ten of 2010: Part I”

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  1. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    very curious about top 5… my guess is utica, manchester, 8.7, 10.31, and… camden?

    in reverse order, with utica at number 1.

  2. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    hmm. maybe put canandaigua where camden was… then again that chalkdust jam and 2001 were classic phish gold.

  3. ThePigSong Says:

    Nice looking list!

    My guess is Greek II or III, alpine, Utica, Manchester and AC III.

  4. joechip Says:

    If 1/1 is part of 2010, I’m guessing:

    Greek 3, Alpine 1, Halloween, 1/1, Utica…hard to leave Manch off the top 10 though….

  5. joechip Says:

    …scratch Greek 3, add Manchester…just looked at Miner’s top paragraph again…

  6. nonoyolker Says:

    5. Greek III 4. Manchvegas 3. Halloween 2. Alpine 1 1. Utica. Think 1-1-11 counts in ’11.

    Is it just me or does Michael Ray look like a court jester from Medival Times?

  7. lastwaltzer Says:

    micheal ray is a court jester at Medival times

  8. JeffieM Says:

    5. Manch
    4. 10/31
    3. Greek 3
    2. AV 1
    1. Utica

    Sleeper as Augusta? Camden?

  9. jdub Says:

    Nasty weather this morning.

    Great topic today and tomorrow. Should bring out all kinds of opinions.

    The above 5 would be in my top 10. Plus:


  10. phoammhead Says:

    top five gonna be Augusta, Greek 3, Jamchester, Halloween, Guyutica

  11. HarryHood Says:

    Mornin’ Fellas! Can’t wait to see tomorrow’s list. Methinks Utica is gonna top off the list 😉

  12. BTB Says:

    Starting my day with Lemonwheel Ambient Jam – been at least 10 years since I listened.


  13. BTB Says:

    To bad that pic of you at the Utica show surfaced HHood. You are forever Guyutica to me! Saw what you want that took some balls 😉

  14. lastwaltzer Says:

    So I was listened back to the deer creek light this am, trying to figure out why they are releasing this show………….and I know its been said but:

    It really is amazing the way just about every time they take light out for walk it goes somewhere interesting. This one stays in the box for quite a while, mike refuses to give up his pounding bass lines but once he does….. beautiful.

    Will have to check out more of the show but I’m still scratching my head.

  15. BTB Says:

    I’m joking of course – holy triple post batman

  16. HarryHood Says:

    @ BTB

    Dude, you had me thinking for a minute….. I’m sitting here trying to figure out where a pic of me could have come from and what I might have been doing at the time…… The possibilities were really making me nervous! llfa.

  17. sumodie Says:

    Today’s topic is perfect for yet another winter storm day in western mass…

    The best of the best rises easily to the top for me, which would be Utica, Manchester, and 1111 (but that show took place in 2011, so it’s off the list). Then I start getting hung up picking this show over that one since I’m such a stickler for flow apparently, lol.

    Hard to argue with Miner’s picks thus far, though 12/31 would likely not make the cut if we were picking best 2010 shows that hold up on replay (but I’m not a replay guy anyway so it’s irrelevant). Before NYE I would never have imagined that the goofy Meatstick could be a show highlight, which of course was part of the prank -brilliant!

    For tomorrow I’m guessing Miner pick’s Utica, Manchester, Halloween, Alpine 2, Greek 3

  18. sumodie Says:

    @hhod: I swear I didn’t take any pics of you at Utica 😉

  19. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Hard to overlook the goodness of 10/30 but maybe some flow issues. I think Sumo’s got it right.

  20. EL Duderino Says:

    Phil Lesh and Friends 4/13/01 Sunrise Theater – Sunrise, FL.

    DVD5 with Schoeps MK21’s FOB audio

    I went to both of these Sunrise Theater shows and the Hard Rock Cafe` show in Orlando. Phil had a blood drive during the day before night 2. I got to meet Phil and received a signed poster to me from him. I was terribly heart broken at that time in my life and that put a smile on my face…

  21. EL Duderino Says:

    Does anyone have a link to the Kevorkian re-masters?
    Or at least where I can find a write-up on the Kevorkian re-masters?

  22. sumodie Says:

    10/30 set I was pure fire! We could debate further Phish minutiae by picking best set I’s, in which case 10/30’s would be duking it out with Utica’s and possibly win…but I won’t go there

  23. EL Duderino Says:

    10/30 was Phish Rock and Roll fun.

    The execution was another story.

    That show is a prime example of being in the moment.

    Historical playing… I think not

  24. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Duder- I disagree. CDT, Wolfmans, undermind, possibly the best Bowie of 3.0, Gin, and a huge 2001 made that show more than R&R fun.

  25. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Obviously there was some sloppy slop in the TweeZep.

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