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”

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  1. Tom Says:

    Good read as usual

  2. garretc Says:

    It’s too bad Tweezer doesn’t deserve to be on this list…

    There were some a couple great ones, to be certain, but a lot of standard ones too

  3. Tom Says:

    I think Waves and RnR are the MVP’s of summer

  4. Tom Says:

    yeah, I immediately though of tweezer after dicks. Beside SBIX and Dicks are there any pretty good ones, i feel like i am forgetting one

  5. Born Under Punches Says:

    Creme de la creme indeed.

  6. Patterson Says:


  7. DryIceFactory Says:


  8. DryIceFactory Says:



  9. JeffieM Says:

    Sand? Seems like a highlight of every third or fourth show, at least for me.

    Whatever. Fun piece Miner. Have a good one, folks.

  10. bob dylan Says:


    I just laughed so hard with a coworker but am on my phone. FT mutha fuckin W

  11. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    that was bingos:

    This is why I greenboard.

    Fat arm or naked?

    Penis or shadow?

    As you were.

  12. Daniel Lee Says:

    While I am newer into my Phish journey(a year and a half) I fully agree on these songs. I made it out to the first night of the UIC shows(2nd ever Phish show!) and was blown away. I’ll forever be a fan of these guys!!

    I loved Steam, that was easily my favorite part of That
    Night in Chicago!

  13. SillyWilly Says:

    Morning, kids

    penis shadow girl is packing heat. such a nice looking girl, too.

  14. Jtran Says:

    silly how’d the chillsesh go?

  15. Lycanthropist Says:

    dude Mike at 7 min in on todays RnR is just out of control.

  16. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Jane Holmes?

  17. SillyWilly Says:

    went well, Jtran

    she just got out of a long rel. too.

    kinda nice to bounce some ideas off a female going through the same thing.

    doesn’t hurt that she’s hot, either. haha.

  18. SillyWilly Says:

    Waves is my favorite Phish song.

  19. Lycanthropist Says:

    Its a great one Silly

  20. SillyWilly Says:

    I’d prefer that Waves took the spot of my own voice in my head

    I’d be a much more beautiful person walking around spouting out the opening notes to Waves when asked how I was doing.

  21. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    waves is where I always turn
    waves is how I’m forced to learn

  22. SillyWilly Says:

    who’s Silly here, typeIII?

  23. SillyWilly Says:

    by the way, one of my roommates started calling me SillyWilly this weekend

    in regards to dancing at bars, I said: “I don’t dance at bars.”

    My roommate: “We’ll turn the phish on the jukebox, and I bet we see some SillyWilly tonight.”

    i didn’t know whether to laugh or hang my head in shame. It’s like I’m transparent or something

  24. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    i freaking love that page now uses the theremin as a weapon instead of just a parlor trick. the theremin jam in this rnr is straight pink floyd echoes type shiznit with mike and fish chunking that beat along while page soars over the top

  25. bob dylan Says:

    The Trey notefest on the UIC waves around 3 mins iirc had me laughing out loud at the show. I keep going back to that spot on relisten.

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