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. joe Says:

    listening to the show MIA posted. tapping fingers along to heavy things now. I guess I need to come clean and admit I like the song after hating on it for so long.

  2. albert walker Says:

    Maybe iPad will finally get flash now

    Steve hated porn

  3. bob dylan Says:

    ….learning about steve on my Phish site on the train…

    Bit sketched out.. Just googled. Wow.

  4. butter Says:

    Bob did kinda tell me in that, “dont be one more dumb ass sorta way”

    ::::butter brushes it off, loves him some 2.0 kids, my daughter is one 😉

  5. bob dylan Says:

    K got to palmers. Talk to you fools later or tomorrow. Peace

    I’ll go pour one out for my homey

  6. EL Duderino Says:

    Medeski 3 night run ’01
    Winter ’02
    Summer ’02
    May ’03

    in any order you want.

    TAB blows Mike’s silly band down the road

  7. EL Duderino Says:

    Hey Ya! needs to go away agreed there

  8. joe Says:

    I really dug this Triumph of the Nerds. History of the PC. when it came out.

  9. joe Says:

    re: steve jobs

  10. EL Duderino Says:

    I’ve seen that. Good Doc.

  11. albert walker Says:

    Night kids

    Steve jobs was an amazing byproduct of our competitive capitalist society

    Made a shit load of shareholders tons of $$$$
    Jah bless

  12. ThePigSong Says:

    what’s goin’ on here tonight?

  13. Mike in Austin Says:

    The guy wasn’t afraid to have character.

  14. Type II Tambourine Says:

    TAB ’11 sand is fucking DOPE. listen before you judge kids.

  15. albert walker Says:

    And piss off everyone in his wake. Brutally focused and brutally harsh to cats that got in his way

    I don’t dig their products
    But always dug his style

  16. EL Duderino Says:

    I’m a fan of Apple products!
    Me Likey…

  17. ThePigSong Says:

    I’m a self admitted apple fanboy – couldn’t he at least had the iPhone 5 released before he kicked the can? 4s is alright and all, but not what I’ve been waiting 3+ years to upgrade to.

  18. Mike in Austin Says:

    I love his products.

  19. P.S.H.S. Says:

    too bad about jobs. i love my phone and pod. hope the company keeps producing sweet shit. we’ll see i guess…
    i know a guy with pancreatic cancer, shits eats you alive. i think it might be the worse kind, as far as survial percentages go

  20. Mike in Austin Says:

    And … The Cards won

  21. EL Duderino Says:

    being an Apple fan is like being a new gen. VW fan…

    same kinda cult product vibe. both somewhat overpriced but quality is somewhat better

  22. butter Says:

    rip Jobs

    talk about dying a rich man

    love his products, huge headache gone when i switched over

  23. Jtran Says:

    who is this bass player in the stubbs video?

    Looks as gone as Trey

  24. plord Says:

    RIP Steve Jobs and Thank you. Love the products, love the maniacal quest for realizing a specific and personal vision.

    and yeah, first rule of health: do not fuck with the pancreas.

  25. kayatosh Says:

    jobs. 56. too young. fuck cancer.

    my dad had the first macintosh. I remember doing excellent portraits of Dr. J on that thing. i used the spray can feature for his fro.

    speaking of awesome dead guys — geo harrison documentary (part 1) 9 PM on HBO.

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