This Friday, let’s begin to look back at some of the musical highlights from Leg One. As I tried to pare down today’s playlist to ten songs, it really struck me how many amazing jams went down during June. I have selected some of my favorite pieces from the past tour, but I feel like I have only scratched the surface! I may be revisiting some of these jams in upcoming posts, but for now, here is some stellar music for Friday—2011 style!
“Tweezer” 6.5 II, Cincinatti, OH
This centerpiece version at Riverbend still gets my vote for the “Tweezer” of 2011 thus far, even after Super Ball’s raunchy romp. The guys play with a liquid tightness in this jam as they engage in a whole-band funk fiesta before releasing into the song’s traditional build. Peaked with “Crosseyed” licks from Trey that foreshadowed the cover that lurked around the corner, this rendition comes to a natural end before the band dissolves into “Free.”
This one two-two punch represents the creme de la creme of June’s creative jamming. Taking “Rock and Roll” into adventurous psychedelia, and “Ghost” for one its defining jaunts of this era, Phish had things locked and loaded in Charlotte. Almost a half-hour of pure creativity, this nugget comes from, arguably, the show of the tour.
“Sneakin’ Sally” 6.4 II, Cuyahoga Falls, OH
One of June’s standout jams, this version blossomed into gargantuan grooves, and flirted with “Manteca.” before building out into a dissonant direction. Coming late in a stellar set, this jam stole the show and ran out the back door.
Phish came out on the opening night of tour and blew us away with the delicate and abstract jamming in this gorgeous “Waves.” Little did we know, however, they had just thrown down an all-timer at their tech rehearsal the day before! (Thanks, Shaps!) Though this tour-opening version can’t compare to the musical journey taken while nobody was in the venue, it is, nonetheless, one of the most impressive jams of June. This was one of the first signs that 2011 was going to be a different monster all together.
“Halley’ Comet” 5.28 I, Bethel, NY
In the first set of Bethel’s second-night revelation, Phish broke down the improvisational barrier in “Halley’s Comet” that had stood since the Fox Theatre in the summer of ’09. And when they finally let loose on the late-’90s vehicle, the band threw down a tour highlight, leaping into an innovative conversation. Trey’s refined leadership stood out in these rhythmic textures and the jam eventually merged with a standout “Runaway Jim”—Bethel was in the process of blowing up.
In my opinion, this is the defining hour of music from Leg One. Delving into introspective and cohesive jamming, the band broke through new levels for this era in this extended masterpiece. The multi-tiered “Disease” eventually settled in a jam on John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme,” an interludede that set the template for the final section of the piece. Landing seamlessly in “Fluffhead” in a transitions that was as good as any, the band’s energy coursed through the composition and brought it to a phenomenal peak. Sculpting the song’s final note into an ambient bridge to “David Bowie,” Phish killed the final piece of this puzzle with heads full of improvisational fury. We’ll be revisiting this one for sure!
Tags: Jams, Summer 2011, TTFF