Into the Great Wide Open

6.18.11- Raleigh (John Crouch)

Though Phish jammed on a diversity of songs throughout this past summer, some provided multiple leaps into the wide open and unknown musical pastures. Below are the five most consistently profound jam vehicles of Summer 2011.


“Down with Disease”

Phish played eleven versions of “Down with Disease” this summer, and nine of them broke free into open jams. Several renditions became highlights of the season with Clarkston’s epic excursion leading the pack. DTE’s 20-minute “Disease Supreme” took the cake for the version of summer, but other stellar outings included UIC’s exploratory jaunt that touched on so many places before winding into “Twist,” Super Ball’s powerful, groove-laced, then ambient piece that led into “No Quarter,” Camden and Alpharetta’s first-leg psychedelic standouts and Essex’ Junction’s final statement of summer. Nine for eleven—that’s one hell of a batting average. Also featured as an experimental vehicle in Bethel, Tahoe and Denver, one can make a strong case for “Disease” being the jam of the season.



6.3.11 (Michael Stein)

Ever since “Light” burst onto the scene in 2009, the song has consistently pushed the band outside the box. “Conventional jamming” doesn’t exist in “Light” aside from Trey’s atonal solo, and the song’s improvisational canvas is ever-morphing. In eight summer outings, all but two reached completely original galaxies, led—head and shoulders above the rest—by Tahoe’s dark, bass-led adventure. UIC’s version likened an extra-terrestrial encounter, while Denver’s final suite of summer favored delicate and melodic interplay, culminating in the sublime “Disease Reprise.” Super Ball’s “Light” turned into the first blowout version of summer, reaching soulful planes untouched by the song over June. Though Riverbend’s version is not long, the band reaches an ethereal plane that—by all accounts—should have been explored further, though Portsmouth’s version capped the most impressive “Light” of leg one.


“Rock and Roll”

“Rock and Roll,” the lasting piece of Halloween ’98, not only provided the jam of the year, the era, and one of the best pieces of all-time in the Gorge’s 8.5’s abduction, it also left some other lasting highlights on Summer 2011 as well. Mansfield’s version provided one of the indelibly mind-numbing pieces of Leg I—a jam that holds up to anything from the summer. Charlotte’s “Rock and Roll” blossomed into a deeply soulful excursion that has been overshadowed by the top-shelf “Ghost” that followed, and in these three jams alone, the song produced three tremendous summer highlights. Throw in a very experimental, though not as cohesive, version at Merriweather, and you’ve got half the versions of summer. Others included more rocking outings in Denver (which segued into “Come Together), Essex Junction (which dropped into “Twist”), and PNC’s first-set banger.



6.11.11 (Brian Ferguson)

Though “Waves” only made it to stage four times this summer, three of them were top-notch highlights. Busting the doors of summer wide open on night one in Bethel, the band deconstructed “Boogie On,” landing in “Waves,” and commencing one of the lasting highlights of the season. Getting into a delicate conversation and then abstract soundscapes, Phish announced their improvisational authority on tour’s opening night. The next version, in Super Ball’s finale, was one of several centerpiece jams in the festival’s most experimental (main stage) set. Moving far into ambient, space harmonies, Phish eventually seeped into a dripping version of “What’s the Use?” And then “Waves” came out in the Element Set as the spark to one summer’s most revered sequences: “Waves -> Undermind -> Steam.” Though the band only played four versions this summer (Merriweather being the other), three turned to absolute gold.



Always reaching wide-open musical pastures, only four of nine summer versions truly grab my attention—Denver, Hollywood, Merriweather and Raleigh. Denver’s Theremin-laced excursion remains one of my favorite jams of summer, while Hollywood’s psychedelic experiment continues to fly under the radar. The Mid-Atlantic region saw two standout explorations of “Piper,” Merriweather first night spectacle and the lesser-talked about rendition from Walnut Creek. Beyond these top four, Blossom’s version, though succinct,” gets into ambient realms quickly and segues into the only “Lizards” of the summer, and Super Ball’s rendition provided high-speed action that dropped into “Tweezer.” All in all a very solid summer for a song that is synonymous with improvisational adventure.


Jam of the Day:

Rock and Roll -> Meatstick -> Boogie On” 8.5.11 II

The creme de la creme of Summer 2011.



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923 Responses to “Into the Great Wide Open”

  1. leo weaver Says:

    Give the HTC a test drive. I have a thunderbolt and love it. I’m not exactly tech savvy…at all.

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    come on we know this is you

  3. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah I don’t care at all, apple vs whatever, as long as it works

    i really should get one of each

    anyway later everyone. don’t let get beat up by cops or nothin

  4. butter Says:

    i had a Samsung i700, at Coventry

    it worked in pc windows format. i was streaming pga tour championship highlights on the runstrip

    with my short hair and large pda with headset, all the wook kids thought i was a narc

  5. PBS Says:

    Yea, C, you got me. I also have the windows insignia next to it…working on the full sleeve…paying homage to the folks that foster my employment.

  6. Esteban Says:

    @phoammhead @c0wfunk are you guys still heading to TAB tomorrow at Thomas Wolfe? Me and a buddy of mine should be in town around 5p, probably head to Jack of the Wood for a beer…

  7. garretc Says:

    “After dropping out of Reed College, a stronghold of liberal thought in Portland, Ore., in 1972, Mr. Jobs led a countercultural lifestyle himself. He told a reporter that taking LSD was one of the two or three most important things he had done in his life. He said there were things about him that people who had not tried psychedelics — even people who knew him well, including his wife — could never understand. ”

    So many great things about this paragraph. From the NY Times obit.

  8. butter Says:

    that samsung had a stylus and your one option of data input was that grafiti language

    i actually got really fast with it

  9. butter Says:

    ^should read, “one of your options”

  10. butter Says:

    there was the keypad, stylus which you could grafiti write or tap your way thru

    the thing was super buggy and ahead of its time, major pain in the ass, but did mega tricks at the time

  11. butter Says:

    super Chi Bears hi jack:

    White House visit: More than 25 years after their lopsided victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX, the 1985 Bears will be honored by President Barack Obama Friday at the White House.

    The famed team never got the chance to celebrate in 1986 because the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up two days after the Bears had pummeled the Patriots 46-10 at the Louisiana Superdome.

    Mike Ditka, Kevin Butler, Richard Dent, Gary Fencik, Willie Gault, Jay Hilgenberg, Dennis McKinnon, Jim McMahon, Steve McMichael, Emery Moorehead, Matt Suhey, Tom Thayer, Keith Van Horne, Otis Wilson are among those slated to attend.

  12. butter Says:

    super bowl shuffling with Obama

    that should be enough to get my re-elect vote 🙂

  13. Mr.Miner Says:

    apples crush other computers. at least in my world. Thanks Steve.

  14. marcoesq Says:

    morning all. Apple is the supreme, rip mr. jobs

  15. kayatosh Says:

    big digging the TAb 10.1, 10.6, AND 10.8. good recordings of each.
    love some of the TAB joints: night speaks, the way i feel, goodbye head, simple twist up, ML&C.

    Land of Nod is a unique sounding tune for TAB. complex (at least to my ear) psuedo-reggae style arrangement, but cheesy chorus.

  16. kayatosh Says:

    should be “been digging” rather than “big digging” at least i didn’t type big dicking

  17. kayatosh Says:

    add drifting and case of ice and snow to the list of dope TAB tunes

    highlights form my listening:
    10.1 ML&C, snake head thumb, drifting, winter queen
    10.6: frost, it makes no difference, case of ice and snow, the way I feel
    10.8: land of nod, night speaks, goodbye head, case of ice and snow

  18. kayatosh Says:

    palmer and butter re. iaudio 9: perhaps I’ve had no issues b/c I have a PC and not an Apple.

  19. EL Duderino Says:

    Alive Again
    Mr. Completely
    At The Gazebo
    Silicon Fairy
    Aqui Comma Alla
    At the BBQ
    Sidewalks of San Francisco
    Every Story Ends in Stone
    Tube Top wobble

  20. EL Duderino Says:

    Happy Coffee Song
    Nothing But An E Thing
    Flock of Words
    Noodle Rave Daddio
    Last tube
    Nothing but A G Thing
    Happiness in My Pants

  21. EL Duderino Says:

    a lot of Trey tunes to be palyed

  22. EL Duderino Says:


  23. EL Duderino Says:

    even Pebbles and Marbles

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