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. Mike in Austin Says:

    8 year olds Dude. 8 year olds.

  2. EL Duderino Says:

    He’s a petterass

  3. SillyWilly Says:

    “if they come in on a beer cooler, turned away”

    that’s really funny.

  4. EL Duderino Says:

    I really hope this “Occupy Wall St.” thing keeps gaining momentum

  5. EL Duderino Says:

    A must have for lot… A Deluxe Radio Flyer

  6. Type II Tambourine Says:

    RIP bert jansch

    oh and TAB sand – $$$, not getting nearly enough love around here today, or did i miss the love yesterday?

  7. EL Duderino Says:

    The 1st set is great… 2nd set has some lulls.
    i think there’ll be great things this tour

  8. Mike in Austin Says:

  9. EL Duderino Says:

    LOLZ MIA!!!

    well done sir

  10. Mike in Austin Says:

    Dude, you’re just saying that because of the 11 minute Windora Bug. 😉

  11. EL Duderino Says:

  12. Mike in Austin Says:

    That’s impressive animation.

  13. Mike in Austin Says:

    Type II Windora Bug

  14. Mike in Austin Says:

    Finally made it to the Sand. Starting spin now. Saving the best for last.

  15. EL Duderino Says:

    Burlap Sack and Pumps needs to be 3-4 minutes longer me thinks

  16. EL Duderino Says:

    Curlew’s Call please

  17. Mike in Austin Says:

    Yeah, that is a great Sand. Loved the horns. Not the plinko dance off stuff, but solid head bopping groove.

  18. Mike in Austin Says:

    That was a very mellow second set for sure.

  19. tela'smuff Says:

    love that Sand. think that show has some nice highlights for the first show of the run.

  20. phoammhead Says:

    yeah, finishing up burlington will go to asheville tom nite!

    i screwed around and played acoustic guitar to most of the show yesterday evevin’ and just now . . . i was mostly just comping to trey and the band. 🙂

  21. phoammhead Says:

    crowd seemed to like the show

  22. tela'smuff Says:

    aight. i’m out for 5 days of travel. fly into Chi-town on Friday. gonna hand out Arcade Fire mixtapes and give free hugs to haters.

    gonna leave ya with this album from Chicago Underground Duo.


  23. phoammhead Says:

    hey ya . . . gotta give red for mixin’ it up

  24. phoammhead Says:

    safe travels tela’smffff

  25. sumodie Says:

    spinning TAB show at last…they always slay Jibboo. Band sounds great (everyone is psyched to be on stage for two whole electric sets)

    would love to catch TAB at the upcoming Bear Creek festi in FL -that’s gonna be a srsly FUNKED up weekend of fun, sweeeeet line-up

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