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:

    Waiters gonna wait @Tela’s

    On my way to palmers crib. 3 kids to put to bed. Whiskey does that quickly for little kids right?

  2. joe Says:

    hoping o-o-h child is in trey’s rotation this tour

  3. bob dylan Says:

    Am I the only one who doesn’t give a single shit about tab anymore? I wanna be interested I’m just not. Anyone who’s been, is it like 99-03ish?

    Jaded TAB vet

  4. bob dylan Says:

    Looks like a dan McCarthy sunset out the train window tonight.

    Light blue/pink
    Dark pink

    Really pretty. Jerz smog makes great sunsets.

  5. phoammhead Says:

    no, you’re probably not, bd

    i like trey = i like tab

    this is going to be a good run

  6. joe Says:

    I’d say you are in the majority, bob. he’s not playing in my neck of the woods, but if he was, I’d be there for a fun night out.

    It’s still better than Mike band, right?

    if that’s what they need to do to keep the phish batteries charged, then I’m all for it.

  7. albert walker Says:

    Shine killed TAB

    My girl loves it so id go

    But I agree pretty worthless. So soft and sterile. Can’t even respin shows I was at. Grade A velveeta cheese

    I’m an asshole though
    Hate Mikes band too

  8. bob dylan Says:

    I’ve seen every tab show within reasonable distance since 03. 03-04 was the sweet spot for me. Full horn jams, Trey dominating. Last tour left a serious sour diesel taste in my mouth. Terminal 5 gets partial credit, acoustic gets some credit and 18 year old musicians gets some.

    Wether or not she is good and the cutest one on stage Trey should get some ballers to push him IMO. Seems he wants to just lead from my view. Which isn’t bad I guess. I’m just not paying to see that. Maybe I’ll listen to one and change my mind.

    At this point I’m meeting palmer and gcub and the rest for drinks then bailing. Just feels weak to do that. I’m a Trey whore after all…

  9. joe Says:

    that’s what’s frustrating to me. Seems like it should be an outlet for him to be more experimental. Instead it is used to be more bland. Satisfies his solo, adult contemporary, pop-star fantasies, I guess.

  10. bob dylan Says:

    It’s still better than Mike band, right?

    ^no. Not in my book. I have genuine drunk fun at mike. Don’t know the songs and he jams so I can just follow the bass and have fun.

    I’ve seen tab enough that it just seems like a ripoff. Again, coming from a Trey fluffer even.

  11. bob dylan Says:

    I mean Jerry wasn’t that diff from show to show but at least he could jerk your heartstrings out of your body.

  12. albert walker Says:

    There are ripping horn sections all over nyc probably not that cheap though

    The horns add nothing to this line up

    I loved 99 to bd

  13. phoammhead Says:

    i like shine a lot.

    seems trey’s jammin’ more this time ’round . . . with whole band taboot

  14. bob dylan Says:

    That was gonna be my other argument. There are so many shows here I can’t even pick the ones I wanna see let alone afford em all. Even tinariwen is like 40.


  15. albert walker Says:

    Exactly Joe

    TAB was a groove project in 99
    A Latin Afro psych thing next
    And DMB post shine

    Enough hate from me though
    Keep the fingers fresh
    Phish is killing it

  16. Mr.Miner Says:

    how should it be a place for him to be more experimental. he is playing with a backing band…

    i disagree that TAB should be anything more than a place for Trey to do what he wants. I’m not that interested after that summer tour we just saw, but whatever. What I think he lacks is a legit solo repertoire. All the bangers are phish songs now except for push on, and who the hell cares about TAB jibboss and Sands now that Phish are crushing them. More covers, more originals, less of the same would make it vastly more interesting to me. I mean, ya know, whatever and all, but at least he’s keeping horns in jams now and seems to have intent to be more creative in his least thats what ive heard…but honestly, how can u get psyched for tab sand at this point…i hear they killed money love the other night though…

  17. Mr.Miner Says:

    mike’s band is the worst ever…come on now…

  18. bob dylan Says:

    Was thinking that too. At least he’s practicing.

    What’s gonna happen to Dave next year after all this time off. Uh-oh

  19. Mr.Miner Says:

    JGB kills TAB…JGB kills DEAD in many opnions for pure Jerry playing…

  20. Mike in Austin Says:

    “Anyone who’s been, is it like 99-03ish?”

    Last TAB show I did was Halloween at Stubbs in ’06. Was about 18 rows back. For those that haven’t seen it …

    Super sketchy First Tube at start for sure, but it gets a lot better.

    The end of the show is really ripping though. Haven’t seen a TAB show since. After hearing Burlington, I could definitely do it again. Although the JAMMING in this show is pretty great.

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    and fwiw, i think Winter 2002 is the bomb TAB tour…

  22. albert walker Says:

    It’s Def well presented for what it is miner

    Just not my thing

  23. bob dylan Says:

    I was blackout for mike. Not proud of it but the memories are better than what I hear from you guys.

    Damn you sweet action. Creeper beer that one. So smooth on the way down.

  24. bob dylan Says:

    Just meant you wouldn’t do jer tour. Repeats and what not.

    But damn would it be fun to see hey ya again, right guys? Guys?…

  25. butter Says:

    you guys dont sound too ready for the snake head

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