TTFF: The Top Ten of ’11

8.5.11 - "Rock and Roll" (Graham Lucas)

For this week’s installment of Ten Tunes For Friday, let’s review the band’s open, or type II, jamming of 2011. This week’s playlist is comprised of my ten favorite jams or jam sequences from this standout year of Phish (that didn’t take place in a storage shed). I am not claiming this to be any sort of definitive list that anyone else should agree with, rather, my personal picks for the year’s top jams. This list was quite hard to “rank” after numbers one and two, but for the sake of fun, I worked it out. The many honorable mentions are below the playlist in italics, listed chronologically.


10. “Piper” 12/30, NYC, NY

The standout piece of improv from the recently-completed New Year’s Run breaks the top ten with an exploratory yet coherent jaunt that came out of nowhere amidst a relatively sloppy show. The band shook off the jitters for a heavy dose of confident, exploratory, and psychedelic playing. Comprised of several modern textures, this jam served as a stellar cap to the many quality versions of “Piper” in 2011, ending with a segment as stunning as any.



9. “Halley’s Comet” 5/28, Bethel, NY

This is, straight up, one of my go-to jams of 2011. So tasteful, smooth and groovy, the band builds out of “Halley’s” into one of the more original jams of June that always leaves me wondering what I’m listening to. The centerpiece of an outstanding first set in Bethel’s second show, this “Halley’s” sparked and foreshadowed one of the strongest two-set shows of the year.



8.  “Rock and Roll” 6/7, Mansfield, MA

I can’t believe I let this jam drop so low in the “top ten,” but that is a testament to the unbelievably high quality of music we heard from Phish last year. This “Rock and Roll” has it all, first moving from rock grooves into a soulful and uplifting middle section with composed-sounding melodies rolling off Trey’s guitar with speed and confidence. After fully exploring this melodic enterprise, the band moved into darker, scathing and more abstract playing. Transforming into a psychedelic monstrosity, this jam provided the centerpiece of an otherwise clean but uneventful set, but this is one of those jams that can carry a frame of music all by itself. Read More…



7. “Twist -> Piper” 9/4, Denver, CO

This classing song pairing absolutely popped off in the band’s final show of summer, as each piece was laced with high-level musicianship. “Twist” weaves in and out of “Low Rider” before a perfect segue into “Piper.” And this “Piper” absolutely smokes, showcasing Phish at the end of a long summer of playing. Hitting a notable groove, the band added an indiscernible chant (around a jam of the Modern Lovers’ classic “Roadrunner”) into the mix, before bringing the piece down for the most impressive use of the Theremin all year. With Page on his magic instrument, the band engaged in a futuristic, Mind-Left-Body-laced chase through a high-speed, musical wormhole.



6. “Waves -> Undermind” 8/15, Chicago, IL

In the meat of UIC’s “Elements Set,” Trey gets into some dirty, uncompressed playing amidst a stellar “Waves” jam before the band surprised most everyone in the arena with a segue into “Undermind” that transpired under our noses with hardly anyone noticing. “Undermind’s” jam moves cohesively, blending into the final Theremin jam of Leg Two—a majestic passage of music.



5. “Down With Disease -> Fluffhead” 6/3, Clarkston, MI

This gorgeous one-minded collaboration brought a jolt to tour as the band let loose in a multi-faceted adventure. Moving through several cohesive and engaging segments of jamming, the band landed in the theme of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”—the starting point of the piece’s final movement which blended seamlessly into “Fluffhead.” Read More…



4. “Rock and Roll -> Ghost” 6/17, Charlotte, NC

This “Rock and Roll” gets very deep, unique and complex with outstanding interplay between all band members. An exploratory and spiritual jam in its own right, “Rock and Roll” blends smoothly into—easily—the “Ghost” (and one of the jams) of the year. The entire band was locked in and on point for throughout this heavy-hitting sequence that took place at the tail end of June’s tour. And the guys brought “Ghost” to hugely emotive heights, as Trey digs into some his most inspired playing of the year in what was, perhaps, the strongest night of Leg I.



3. “Light” 8/9, Stateline, NV

Experimental, extended, and absolutely otherwordly, this jam is some of the most original music made by Phish all year long. Coming on the heels of The Gorge, Mike forged a path for the band as they flirted with outer realms of the galaxy in a dark odyssey that goes very underrated when it comes right down to it. The relatively abrupt ending does little to tarnish the monumental ground covered. This is Phish without a net. Some love it. Some don’t. I most certainly do.



2. “Tweezer” 9/3, Denver, CO

The most cathartic jam of the year, this “Tweezer” is a melodic masterpiece. Peaking with some of the most soul-cleasing grooves of the year, Trey spirals off the mountaintop and begins to layer and loop two different phrases before he lays down a timeless lead melody that takes the jam through a final stage before an ambient denouement. Fishman holds it down with infectious beats throughout this “Tweezer,” perhaps the smoothest and well executed jam of the year. This piece of music touched the heart of everyone I spoke to in that Colorado soccer stadium, and that is saying something.


1. “Rock and Roll -> Meatstick -> Boogie On” 8/5, The Gorge, WA

This sublime sequence opened up the second leg of summer at The Gorge with the most mind-bending jam of this year in “Rock and Roll.” Integrating their full musical spectrum into this piece, the band also infused the theremin and “storage jamming” into their live show for the first time, and succeeded with flying colors. From the uplifting to the Theremin funk to the evil “Gorgae” segment, the band were like musical superheroes on this night. The Gorge always brings out the best in Phish, and in the most magical sequence of 2011, Phish sculpted the defining piece of 3.0, along with a segue into “Meatstick” that still produces a rush of adrenaline every time I hear it. The band’s momentum spilled right into a stellar “Boogie On” to complete the standout sequence of 2011 by leaps and bounds. Read a memoir…



Honorable Mentions (in chronological order): “Simple” 1/1, “Waves > Caspian” 5/27, “After Midnight” 5/31, “Drowned” 5/31, “Sneakin’ Sally” 6/4*, “Down With Disease > Free” 6/10, “Down With Disease -> Maze” 6/14, “Simple” 7/1, “Golden Age” 7/2, “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” 7/3, “Down With Disease > No Quarter” 7/3, “Light” 7/3, Waves -> What’s the Use?” 7/3, “Roggae” 8/5, “Light” 8/15, “Down With Disease -> Twist” 8/16, “Seven Below” 9/2, “Ghost -> Guy Forget -> Ghost” 9/4, “Carini” 9/14, “Carini -> Tweezer” 12/28

* This “Sally” would have been number 11.


Type II Cast


A couple nights ago, I sat down with Type II Cast‘s host, Stephen Olker, YEMBlog curator and the editor-in-chief of Hidden Track, Scott Bernstein,and veteran, Charlie Dirksen, to discuss the recent Holiday Run. The 90-minute conversation flowed really well, and the podcast—with jam-only audio clips—should be a fun listen for fans of all ages. Click on over to Type II’s page and give the show a listen! Thanks to Stephen and Type II cast for having me on the show!

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820 Responses to “TTFF: The Top Ten of ’11”

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  1. lot rat Says:

    its better to burn out than it is to rust…2012 will bring phish to the next level.

  2. Fatbunch Says:

    Don’t deserve a first after so long off the board but this is a great post and great reminder of all the incredible gifts from the band – witnessed by the fans – in 2011 can’t wait to spin these auds – great list! Thank you Mr Miner and good work BB the last several workin thru and around to the many heart-felt exchanges on the board the last 24. Peace

  3. Fatbunch Says:

    Not first – ha! Word @lot rat happy new yar

  4. alicht Says:

    Great list, Miner.

    I think for #7, the date you meant is 9/4 instead of 6/4.

    Thanks for all the great posts!

  5. Esteban Says:

    Pumped for TTFF! Thanks, @miner. A lot of these have gotten the love treatment on the iPhone over the past few months, especially #s 1, 2, 4 and 5. Can’t wait to listen back this morning…

  6. Esteban Says:

    Side note: Impressed that the Piper made the top ten. I just listened back for the first time since the show, and although it’s a modern take on the tune, I can’t say I’m as enthralled with the tune as I was at the time. Some of the honorable mentions might have fit better in the #10 slot (namely the Sally or ASIHTOS).

  7. willowed Says:

    Very strategic Miner. Let’s keep it positive up in this biotch!

    Do you know I still haven’t listened to the complete Gorge RnR. After the show I kept trying to listen to it on the live Phish App and it kept cutting out with about 7 minutes left.

    Were the last 7 minutes any good? Ha

    Funny thing is, I’m not joking. TIII do you have this show in your mediafire?

  8. Luther T. Justice Says:

    Very disappointed in you @willowed.

  9. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    What country do you think this is, Willowed?

  10. buddysmyles Says:

    todays write up fits nicely into what i was doing yesterday- trying to come up with my favorite 10 shows of 2011. in no particular order:

  11. Phortin Says:

    Great list but you have to at least mention the Roadrunner themed jam in that Piper… That’s the reason it’s so damn good imo.

    Being a huge fan of their cover of that Modern Lovers classic on 9/11/00 I was very happy to see it somewhat brought back in Denver… amongst the rambling… RADIOOOOOOOOOOOO ON

  12. litteringand Says:

    Best Tube of the year- my vote goes to Blossum, its filthy

  13. litteringand Says:

    Didnt they throw down a After Midnight somewhere that is top shelf biz?

  14. angryjoggerz Says:

    Huh, Storage jam didnt make the list?

  15. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    you must’ve missed the parenthetical, joggerz

  16. Cable Hogue Says:

    Nice list….just wanted to point out that you’ve got 5/27 Waves>Caspian mis-dated in the honorable mentions, and it should include Boogie On>….and that sequence is definitely in my personal top ten. Easily my favorite jam of Bethel. There are so many great contenders from the year. Just take a look at an off-the cuff list of outstanding jams not mentioned here: Bethel KDF and Gin (and IMO the Bethel Hood which no-one else seems to rate), Portsmouth Sand, Superball Golden Age, Raleigh Split, I mean that’s just a few total gems that understandably didn’t make the cut, and just off the top of my head. Great year.

  17. phoammhead Says:

    great list and i’d also put boogie on>waves>caspian from bethel in my top 10 . . . cheers!

  18. albert walker Says:

    Great list miner
    Great year
    Way to bring it back positive with the reminders of how hot 2011 was

    I’m a huge Cinci tweez fan
    Also love some blossom sally
    And agreed on boogie waves – just epic

    Rock it out kids

  19. willowed Says:

    When the MSG Tweezer concluded AW I remember sittingin MSG wondering if you would put that above your Cinci Tweezer. Both of them were hot pocket gems!

  20. Jtran Says:

    Thanks for the tunes Miner! So many choices that could’ve made this list, great year

  21. Randy Says:

    The Denver show was 9/4/11, not 6/4/11 as listed in #7. Thought I would list that for those who also create their own daily playlists off of Miner’s lists.

  22. kayatosh Says:

    2011 was a major win for phish and its fans, as miner’s list demonstrates. Going to dig into some of these today.

    beats trying to figure out this mrkt. today’s a difficult day to call. think it has a little squeak higher before a return to weakness next week.

  23. jdub Says:

    Quite an impressive collection of music. Yes, Phish can do it as good as they ever have.

    One forgets jams like the Mansfield RnR. A rather pedestrian show but damn did that jam elevate – similar to another show I’ve seen recently.

  24. Fly Says:

    and the >Mango. Probs best Mango of 3.0.

  25. Guyute711 Says:

    Darth Vader burgers?

    Actually some pretty funny comments for this article.

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