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. plord Says:

    My Droid 2 makes a decent GPS and gmail interface but the corp email app, phone, battery life, contacts app are all 100% bullshit. Slow, crashy, brain-dead. Never tried an HTC device, or Sprint.

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    i’m smartphone shopping right now. been trying hard to come up with a reason to buy an android instead of an iphone. free apps is basically it. probably not enough reason. iphones seem better otherwise

  3. halcyon Says:

    Steve Jobs “How To Live Before You Die”

  4. albert walker Says:

    Sounds crazy plord

    I feel for you. You hate Android like I hate new TAB

  5. albert walker Says:

    I don’t know C

    I’m the cat that doesn’t get the iPhone cuz all the douchy Apple fan boys drive me nuts. The little white devices are for Paris Hilton imo

    Id rather have a broken brain dead phone than follow the crowd

    How many years of therapy to fix me?

  6. MrCompletely Says:

    here’s the thing @aw

    your IT guys are probly like most IT guys. they’re real tech geeks and love working on their shit. Its exactly like car guys who are into old Fiats and MGBs and stuff, where half the fun is just getting the thing to work right.

    if you’re a hardcore tech guy, android phones are fun because you get to tinker with all the bits, all the way down to rooting them – meaning basically custom installing a different operating system than the phone ships with – and constantly keeping up to date on all the little upgrades and stuff that are always happening

    people with that kind of personality don’t like apple products because they’re opaque in that way. you can’t easily get under the hood in a meaningful way.

    I like the idea of customization and openness, but in practice, I just want my shit to work out of the box, do what it’s supposed to do, be reliable and easy to use

    apple stuff isn’t always like that – I have had some bunk apple products, and some great non apple products – but since the return of steve jobs they have had by far the best batting average in that regard

  7. chefbradford Says:

    I bought an Android phone a few months ago, and compared to my previous phone (iPhone 3), I’ve had essentially zero problems. Comparisons aside, I have had no real issues with the phone or with the Android OS

    Have had two iPods, major issues with both. My Dad recently bought an iPad 2 and is now trying to sell it

    However, everyone I’ve known who has had a Mac computer has been 100% happy with the product.

    I do respect the many, many breakthroughs Steve Jobs made, and helped to make, and his insistence on WYSIWYG, and the ease with which pretty much anyone can use Apple/Mac products. What put me off was his reluctance to deal in corporate philanthropy

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    and I’m not saying androids are all bad

    plord got a bad one but I know plenty of folks that like theirs. I’m def gonna try a Bionic

    it’s just that really, except for free apps I can’t see any clear edge over iphone in any area

    i hear you about the fashion thing but i just don’t care about that either way

    we had been planning on getting one iphone and one droid since part of the point is that I’m getting up to speed on webdev for phones…should probably do that still, but I’m tempted just to get 2 iphones

  9. albert walker Says:

    I hear ya C

    I’m tech dumb so it could work for me

    I email
    Play angry birds
    Lurk phish thoughts
    Use GPS

    Thats it

  10. albert walker Says:

    I’m on sprint so Apple will be an option soon. I can alter the,shell so noone knows I’m an Apple douche

  11. PBS Says:

    Till the next iPhone comes out, the advantage is text-to-speech, turn-by-turn nav, and swype.

    However, the forward facing cam and ability to buy a billion docking stations that are universal help the iPhone differentiate.

    We have one of each in our house, and a Mac/PC combo. All good for the things we do, but I agree with your sentiments. Apple’s shit just works, for the most part…hard to really get into those devices both HW and SW and really do any serious damage.

    Get both!

  12. MrCompletely Says:

    cops gettin coppy

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    forward facing cam not a feature for me. not interested in vid chat at all. zero. good feature but not for me. same with text to speech. turn by turn sounds ok

  14. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah I’m still trying to talk myself into some version of android phone

    but I think i’ll just be jealous of my wife’s iphone if i do

    I still have no reason to need one, but I need to learn to develop for them

  15. albert walker Says:

    Night kids

    Big trouble in little China and OG tubes

  16. halcyon Says:


    someone I know is down there at Occupy and just posted that shit is chaos down there right now, and getting real violent in parts…..

    I have a Droid Incredible rooted and put on Cyanogen, and then MIUI, once you realize how to root and configure, its pretty easy. You can remove bloatware, and speed up your phone by customizing settings, even install apps to help you be more secure in your mobile internet usage such as TOR.

    Apple, Android, WP& You can’t go wrong with either OS. I guess it depends on who you want to go with, and whether or not you like one product over another. For seamless product integration having all Apple products makes sense.

  17. MrCompletely Says:

    fucking westboro baptist church…

  18. MrCompletely Says:

    love big trouble. classic

  19. PBS Says:

    C – we’re both tech guys, and apart from docking ability, I’m never jealous of my wife’s phone. I think the fwd facing feature is useless as well, but I use the shit out of speech to text, when at first i felt it would be useful. Also, once you get a handle on swype, i think you’d be a convert.

  20. MrCompletely Says:

    i have both pc and mac laptops. on the pc right now. but my music library is in itunes.

  21. PBS Says:

    *felt it would be useless.

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    i’m bad at gesture based input…not sure if i’ll get the hang of swype or not

  23. MrCompletely Says:

    I do appreciate all the input for sure

  24. PBS Says:

    Yea, we have the same setup. Macbook and two windows machines. Our library is served up via the router, accessed by all manner of music players, but itunes is predominant…best app for the job, period.

    Anyway, I love both PC and Mac…equal opportunity tech in this household. Winner goes to the best fit for the need. You’ll note there are no zune players in the house 😉

  25. PBS Says:

    I am too, but swype is legit. Was the major thing that helped me in getting past having a real keyboard.

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