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. MrCompletely Says:

    it’s a legit idea @joe

    there has been more than a little tour nanny discussion. I would be into it under the right circumstances and I know others would too

  2. Mike in Austin Says:

    C, I liked his work with Zappa, and the earliest era with Twang Bar King and Lone Rhino. Dropped “The Momur” on TT a while ago.

    It takes a little getting used to. Reminds me of Steve Vai earlier stuff.

    Do like some of that acrobatic guitar stuff.

  3. voopa Says:

  4. garretc Says:


    Ah yes, a friend of mine who likes King Crimson like we like Phish was hyping the Adrian Belew show, might have to hit that up… Oh, the 14th? Welp… Nevermind! Flying home for fall break that night…

    Where is that Kottke show? Never listened before, sounds like it’s worth checking

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    aladdin. perfect

    here is the seminal “american fingerstyle” album “6 & 12 String Guitar”

  6. butter Says:

    @joe – great idea

  7. MrCompletely Says:

    2 more pretty sick kottke vids

    want to talk about technical, man, leo brung it hard

    he could play pretty too

  8. Mr. Palmer Says:

    They could set up a big corral on the lawn somewhere where all the kids can get down together. Parents are free to go about their business but they have to carry around one of the beepers like they give you when your table is ready at a crowded restaurant. When your buzzer goes off, you must retrieve kiddo. 20 bucks a kid.

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    finally a couple of great John Fahey tracks courtesy of youtube related links

  10. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Thanks for the links @ C. Will check them out for sure.

    5pm show on a Sunday. Seems just about perfect. Hopefully Giants are at 1pm. Leo is scheduled from 5-7.

  11. MrCompletely Says:

    I’m thinking strictly an offsite service

    the other thing would be cool too but I’d be willing to go a lot over $20 for proper care during the show

    secure location, reliable person, fun stuff to do, not too many kids

  12. garretc Says:

    Right on C, grabbed the DL, give it a listen after this TAB show, I suppose

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    sometime when you’re in the mood for something chill but very interesting

    it is acoustic guitar after all. not really workout tunes or dance party time

    situationally awesome tho

  14. MrCompletely Says:

    keep in mind it came out in 1969. beyond groundbreaking for the time.

  15. Mike in Austin Says:

    I think I need bring an inflatable jumpy gym on the lot next time.

    “I got your h3tty inflatable moon bounce here! Who needs their 5 minutes of peace and quiet while your kid freaks out in the ball pit?”

  16. Mike in Austin Says:

    Maybe not.

  17. angryjoggerz Says:

    No wook kids allowed. If they came in on a beer cooler, turned away.

  18. angryjoggerz Says:

    Fact: I set up moonbounces for 2 summers as a city job. Best job ever.

  19. Mr. Palmer Says:

    have a bunch of wooked out spunions jumping in the ball pit

  20. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    12.29.95 Gin is a clinic in old school Gin jamming

  21. Mr. Palmer Says:

    When you bring your kid to a show, what is the cut off for the kid to have his/her own ticket? Do they make a 5 year old have a ticket?

  22. angryjoggerz Says:

    George Harrison documentary on HBO starting tonight

  23. Mike in Austin Says:

    I think I could set up moonbounces if this job doesn’t work out. Sounds like fun. Everybody loves you.

  24. EL Duderino Says:

    10 years old
    9 and under get in free

  25. Mr. Palmer Says:

    ^^ thats cool

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