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”

  1. jdub Says:

    Not saying much Re: best Mango of 3.0 but it was a good one in a great spot.

  2. Jtran Says:

    Podcast with YEMBlog, Charlie Dirksen and Miner

    (haven’t listened, just posting it)

  3. albert walker Says:

    January effect Kaya. pretty good jobs number. data has looked good out of US.

    I wouldn’t no what to do here either. were still generally short on the whole world slow down driven by European austerity and china slowdown but as long as this takes a while to play out and the US data continues to tick higher could have a bit more of a rally

    also that dollar strength I imagine could eventually derail this thing. if the euro starts falling towards parity that would destroy our markets I imagine

    starting to ignore terrible news like the Unicredit equity raise that went terribly in europe.

    interesting times. but short term I agree. tough call. any big european event could still trip this thing up quick.

  4. jdub Says:

    So, is Rock n’ Roll the new Tweezer?

  5. willowed Says:

    Can somone point me in the direction of the greates BOAF every played by the boys?

    I am feeling that jam today. Would like to listen to a scorcher.

    Thanks in advance

  6. kayatosh Says:

    aw: sitting here in limbo. still banked some coin staying strictly short this week. I play the micro-time frame and dig the volatility we saw (provided I’m not getting steam rolled by it). hate trading fridays but have already thrown in a a few quick short trades. R2k dropped .65% off the open. weak hands. trying to find some footing now.

  7. jdub Says:

    Can’t go wrong with 4/2/98 Birds.

  8. Aquaman Says:

    Quick fly by.

    Ugh, root canals. Need one but don’t want one. See y’all on the other side of NO2.

    (there there, this won’t hurt a bit)

    -aqua broken grill-

  9. jdub Says:

    er, 4/4/98 Birds – the jammed out one.

  10. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Birds- 7/8/99 Va beach.

  11. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Island Tour (debut)
    the Providence one jdub mentioned
    Holmdel, NJ (summer 2000)
    Great Woods 2004 (probably my favorite BOAF)

  12. willowed Says:

    I was at both of those Jdub. Woohoo!

  13. jdub Says:

    And for a straight up ripper of a Birds see 2/28/03.

  14. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    ah, yeah. that Va beach one is hot too. good call palms

  15. willowed Says:

    and the 2004 GW and IT

    Looks like I am doing pretty well for being in attendance for the best Birds ever played.

  16. Aquaman Says:

    Just read today’s post. Great work Miner.

    Yet, I shed a silent tear for Bloossom Sally. My stars were aligned during that jam.

  17. willowed Says:

    commencing 8/10/2004 Birds now!

  18. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    hot damn, I really love this Dick’s Piper jam. the bassline Mike starts about five minutes in which Trey picks up on and then goes vocal on has been in my head for the past 3+ months.

    thanks again for the jamz, miner. looking forward to spending some time this weekend really diving into the book now that life has settled into wintery quiet.

  19. Aquaman Says:

    Willowed ventura California 98 birds. Money. Hope I got the year right. But seek ventura California Phish.

  20. Aquaman Says:


    Get the mp3 at nugs dot net.

  21. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I think I saw this guy at a festival.

  22. plord Says:

    Best (cleanest) Mango of 3.0 is still Gorge ’09 I believe. Go back and give a listen. Great tune for the opening spot also. The GW one is no slouch but there’s a flub in the usual spot.

    Hot list. It was a great year for jams and don’t let anyone tell you different.

  23. Mr. Palmer Says:

    great picks Miner. Making my way through this weekend. Mansfield RnR is nice. Glad to see Pnc Drowned crack the honorable mention. 5/31/11 gets my award for most under the radar 2 set show ( less the Divided Sky bork job) of the year. 1st set Sand, RnR and then two second set jams that get type 2 in After Midnight and Drowned.

  24. verno329 Says:

    Great list Miner! I’m downloading your picks for a quick mini-playlist but for some reason I can’t grab the Piper. Can anyone else dl that track or is it just me?

    Thanks again!

  25. DryIceFactory Says:

    Umm… Great Woods Mango was a mess. Lyrics were so badly botched it was ridiculous. Musically it wasnt terrible, but dropping the ball on singing your own song is inexcusable a la PNC Ghost.

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