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”

  1. kayatosh Says:

    butterfly effect: I rave about 12.28 set II, but you make some great points about set I. I called it subpar and, as you state, it is easily $$. subpar would be less than $. I guess I meant subpar compared to some of the greats set I’s of 2010. I stand corrected.

    I actually dig that alaska more than most. the katy was a $$$ bustout. wolfman’s pigtail stash all notable. definitely a top ten show for me. i’d take it over JB 1 (8.17).

  2. kayatosh Says:

    the last 4 tunes of 12.28 set I don’t do too much for me, hence my initial recoil.

  3. gavinsdad Says:

    put deposit down on the RV already why dontcha @aw. seems like you like long drives 😉

    JB #line in effect right now. supernice..the semi-whaley leads around 11:00 are perfect for the setting. nice pair of shows. good people. i definitely came around on the venue this Summer…wasn’t much of a fan. i liked dancing down close but at the same time the BB perch up top was pretty fresh too.

    the camdens
    raleigh (mind baby)
    the JBs
    the ACs (nite 2 mind baby)
    MSG 1 and 3

    JBs and ACs and MSG 3 were sick. staying much closer to home this year…perhaps east coast fest?

    richard price’s lush life in my stack for this year. wrapping up the Keith Richards bio right now…pretty fun…great to hear from the man himself.

  4. gavinsdad Says:

    @silly: i missed the Greeks on account of a wedding this Aug. you do what you can do man. that’s all you can do.

  5. kayatosh Says:

    many subtle frankie says teases in 12.28 stash.

  6. jdub Says:

    Bring on the Glen! I wouldn’t mind other bands but would prefer it to be a Phish only event. Already enough peripheral crap to deal with at a Northeast festival.

  7. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Silly- its a card you slip in the back pocket. Save it for something huge. Next Halloween, trip to NY, or west coast. Pretend its no big deal, just get ready to pull the card out when opportunity knocks.

    Listen to Gdad and the rest. Balancing personal and family life with phish is what we do. Can’t get to them all.

  8. phoammhead Says:


    tell him in a very serious and matter of fact tone that he can’t get married that weekend because you have a conflict and that you don’t want to miss his wedding

    if he asks you why, tell him that IT is personal and very important to you

    i’m sure he’ll understand and either excuse you from attendance or move his date

    seriously, give it a try and see what happens

    don’t tell your girl anything about it, though

  9. Aquaman Says:


    This is not my regular type of music, a all……but a few years ago I went to the Snoop Dogg Birthday show here in Chicago at the Aragon Ballroom.

    Possibly one of the best times I have ever had at that venue. And I’ve been there a bunch. If ever there was a “feel good and let it all hang out” show, this was it. People passing nuggets up on stage, ‘bane everywhere.

    Simply put a great show.

    You’ll have a blast.


  10. EL Duderino Says:

    phoamm is gonna get Silly dumped 🙂

  11. albert walker Says:

    I don’t do weddings

    Missed many a wedding for a phish show

    Never the other way around

  12. phoammhead Says:

    phish phirst, dammit! 😉

    we all know about MrMiner missing Alpine due to a stupid wedding! 😉

  13. Chuck SWE Says:

    ask for his daughters hand in marriage, then, immediately set your wedding date for july 4th at the phish show before he can announce his date. then, you can call off the engagement or…

  14. Mr. Palmer Says:

    silly- don’t listen to phoamm or else you won’t have to worry about any in-law family issues ever again. Unless that is your goal.

  15. Chuck SWE Says:

    and then…


  16. phoammhead Says:

    seriously, though, i’m pretty much with aw on this one – really don’t care for weddings or things that get in the way of what i want to do 8)

    sometimes you gotta take a stand and let the chips fall where they may

  17. Mr.Miner Says:

    i cant see how Phish wont have a 5 week tour from Hampton > Festival…and i bet, all in all, there is over a week of off-days in there…damn fogies 😉

  18. EL Duderino Says:

    @ phoamm

    If your parents were divorced and one of them was getting re-married you’d be there…

  19. Mr. Palmer Says:

    …and then reconvene for 2 or 3 weeks in August? I hope….

  20. gavinsdad Says:

    phoamm’s gotta meet my wife and then try to talk smack like that. 😉

  21. phoammhead Says:

    @El Dude

    I’d skip it – you’re only entitled to one wedding where everyone has to show . . . . plus, i’d still be pissed they got divorced, anywayz.

  22. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Gregg said Dickey will never share the stage with him again. No?

  23. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Spasm

    No they will not be on stage together ever

  24. Mr. Palmer Says:

    llfa- its very easy to tell the married folks from the one’s that aren’t in this conversation….

  25. gavinsdad Says:

    ^so hoping what Miner and Palmer are hoping. that would be real nice. tough thing is that on the first leg they’re gonna have to break south then midwest/south, then midwest/north, then back east. perhaps only leaving me with the fest end of the leg. s’alright.

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