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. bob dylan Says:

    I’m proud of myself for having a Phish thought on here for once.

  2. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    yeah, similar notefest to the bethel one too. both are chucklers.

  3. SillyWilly Says:

    I suck at phish thoughts, Bob

    mine are never very good

    I usually just opt for life-isms and hope no one calls me out

  4. Lycanthropist Says:

    yeh RnR takes the cake as best jam of 3.0

  5. Timber, YO! Says:

    no way. has to be the Telluride Tweezer, yo
    they dropped right into Boogie! loved that shit

  6. SillyWilly Says:

    the Gorge RnR makes me unafraid of death, because I’ve obviously already found heaven while listening to it.

  7. [Not Tom] Says:

    I do my best to avoid seeing track times before listening to shows in hopes that I’ll encounter minutes 14 through 20 of any jam – that place that is very hard to get to and isn’t found very often – like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. RnR is the epitome of this.

  8. plord Says:

    I have a hard time keeping myself from backing up to listen to that lick in the UIC Waves like, 6 times in a row. Every time. Straight money.

  9. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    that lick is my ringtone
    Bethel version
    waves becomes me

  10. DukeOfLizards Says:

    New Gillian Welch joint is, as advertised, the brass Brazilians.

  11. stapes Says:

    @ plord – I’m the same way. Did that exact thing the other day on my lunch break. So good, so smooth. I think he has his chops back.

  12. butter Says:

    Great jam vehicle review Miner

    What a Summer!!!

  13. SillyWilly Says:

    gillian welch announced the immaculate conception, lured odysseus into some bad spots, and startled some Bethlehem shepherds on a snowy hebraic night

  14. butter Says:

    Ha ha Siily, ” drop life-isms and hope nobody calls me out”


  15. albert walker Says:

    great piece miner. what a summer.

    Waves MVP for me

    that Waves > Undermind is the bizness

    you kids love that depressing gillian welch stuff. you cats and my girl. she’s always spinning that stuff.

    you guys are the sensitive types huh?

  16. BingosBrother Says:

    “I have a hard time keeping myself from backing up to listen to that lick in the UIC Waves like, 6 times in a row. Every time. Straight money.”

    That lick ain’t human.

    Bethel Waves soundcheck version. Just makin sure nobody misses that.

    UIC Piper from night 3 got pretty awesome I thought. I don’t even like Piper but I was transfixed at the time.

  17. Robear Says:

    ‘waves’ became the theme song to my summer after Bethel. Been singing that song to myself since Memorial Day weekend.

  18. Kaveh Says:

    Morning BBers:

    Trey’s VT show:,645/Trey-Anastasio-mp3-flac-download-10-1-2011-Higher-Ground-South-Burlington-VT.html

  19. Robear Says:

    Lions, and Tigers and Badgers, Oh My!

    Midwest represent!

  20. Kaveh Says:

    Lions, and Tigers and Badgers, Oh My!

    ^ What, no Packers? 🙂

  21. [Not Tom] Says:

    Don’t know if this has been discussed before, but the final destruction notes laid down by Mike near the end of the Gorge RnR (18:50) … it’s like he’s playing the guitar part to Sabotage on his 5-stringer.

    Also, how’d this version not get Less-Royalty’d by a “Qunicy Jam” on the LP release? I don’t think they ever fully return to RnR do they?

  22. phoammhead Says:

    anybody see the news article about espn pulling the hank jr opening because jr said something about obama being like hitler? what!

  23. Kaveh Says:

    @pHead…yep! He had a great run though.

  24. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    it is from this

  25. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    the incident, not the article. KSK is definitely not a news source for tWWL

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