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. angryjoggerz Says:


    You know what is great on Sunday (other than football, of course)? Jazz.

    Sam Rivers – The Complete Blue Note Sam Rivers Sessions

    From the time of his first Blue Note recording in 1964 to his final session for the label in 1967, Sam Rivers made stunning progress as an avant-garde innovator. Starting with an inside/outside hard bop foundation, Rivers quickly took his music as far out as he could while maintaining a recognizable structure; his work fearlessly explored wildly dissonant harmonies and atonality, dense group interaction, cerebral rumination, and passionately intense, free-leaning solos. The Complete Blue Note Sam Rivers Sessions traces that development chronologically (and flawlessly) over the course of three discs, including the entirety of his four albums as a leader: the relatively straightforward Fuschia Swing Song [sic], the avant-bop masterpiece Contours, the radical standards album A New Conception, and the galvanizing, brilliant avant-garde classic Dimensions and Extensions (which also comprised Rivers’ half of the split double-LP Involution with Andrew Hill). Five alternate takes are also added to the program, including three of “Downstairs Blues Upstairs.” What amazes just as much as Rivers’ imaginative originality is how consistently rewarding all three discs are. Rivers may not be quite as much a household name as some of his equally forward-thinking peers, but any jazz fan remotely interested in the avant-garde should know that this set constitutes some of the finest avant-garde jazz Blue Note ever released.

    CD 1
    01. Fuschia Swing Song
    02. Cyclic Episode
    03. Luminous Monolith
    04. Luminous Monolith (Alternate Take)
    05. Ellipsis
    06. Downstairs Blues Upstairs (Alternate Take 1)
    07. Downstairs Blues Upstairs (Alternate Take 2)
    08. Downstairs Blues Upstairs (Alternate Take 3)
    09. Downstairs Blues Upstairs
    10. Beatrice

    CD 2
    01. Point of Many Returns
    02. Dance of the Tripedal
    03. Mellifluous Cacophony
    04. Euterpe
    05. Mellifluous Cacophony (Alternate Take)
    06. I’ll Never Smile Again
    07. That’s All
    08. When I Fall In Love

    CD 3
    01. What a Difference a Day Makes
    02. Detour Ahead
    03. Temptation
    04. Secret Love
    05. Paean
    06. Precis
    07. Helix
    08. Effusive Melange
    09. Involution
    10. Afflatus

  2. tela'smuff Says:

    experimenting and dipping your toes in the water is a little easier when you people from the BB standing next to you. agreed.

  3. angryjoggerz Says:

    The fact that this conversation is alternating between cburnside and laundry machines speaks volumes about the bb, haha.

  4. butter Says:

    true dat Kaya

  5. Lycanthropist Says:

    spinning some tunes in TT:

    Happy Sunday everyone.

    Who Dat (sorry Robear)

  6. Mr.Miner Says:

    Who’s cburnside and what happened??

  7. SillyWilly Says:

    a weird thought occurred to me

    i’m in my 20s and I feel the opposite of invincible

    like the rug is constantly one second from being pulled out from under my feet

    and speaking to lots of kids my age (and of course many of my peers are in grad/professional school and I’m sure that adds to the anxiety instead of detracts from it)

    but speaking to lots of kids my age, we all feel pretty anxious about many personal/spiritual/social/professional/political aspects of our life

    It seems to go against the notion that the “20s are the best times of your life”

    what I’m getting at is: Do you think the political/social/economic events of this decade have produced something of a shift in self-perception of young people?

    Growing up with the confidence of the 1990s (with the thriving economy, the “end of history”, the rise of human rights) compared to the anxiety of the 2000s with 9/11, the two wars, the economic collapse, and the political polarization.

    Somehow, are the 20s now a time of angst where they used to be one of self-discovery??

    I don’t know. Just dawned on me when I realized most mid-20s kids I know are struggling with the future right now.

  8. SillyWilly Says:


    as always a heartfelt thanks for the music drops.

    my library is so much more hip because of you

  9. angryjoggerz Says:

    Have Phish ever done any Television covers? Might really work. What a hot band.

  10. Lycanthropist Says:


    My 20s were self discovery, but there was a lot of STRESS and ANXIETY surrounding that.

    I had a lot of different things going on as well.

    I had my daughter when I was 20, so all my 20s were trying to figure out how to be a father as well as how to figure out how to be myself.

    That being said, during my time with Chance Fisher, there WAS a certain sense of invincibility that shrouded my judgement when I was hanging with them.

    But, we did hit a wall with our drug and alcohol use, and I was fortunate enough to come away unscathed, yet still having a severe enough experience to detract me from using hardcore drugs.

    I think everyone’s life experience is different and it all depends on the outside factors involved, but I would say that there has been a subtle shift in the 20-30 age group in that they seem much more aware of life’s dangers than when I was in that age group.

    I’m not sure what caused the shift in the paradigm, most likely economic reasons and some eye opening world tragedies..

  11. Lycanthropist Says:

    I was really hoping they would do Marquee Moon as their Halloween choice.

    I think they could have a lot of fun with that album.

    It would be like a blend of Remain in Light and Loaded.

  12. kayatosh Says:

    Nothing attractive, cool, or even hetty about being a full-fledged drug addict who takes 20 hits of cid in one sitting.

    drugs (coffee and alcohol etc. included) are tricky business. They can enhance experiences and bring about pleasure, but maintaining consciousness around what your doing w/ these substances and how they are effecting you in the short and long term presents a serious challenge.

    When does your use become more than just an enhancement, when does it become the whole deal, when does it become addiction?

    My extremely close friend has an addictive personality and has been a herb addict for the better part of 20 years. Morning coffee comes in and out of his life. His wine consumption ebbs and flows, but has been a relative constant in his life as well. He recognizes his varying degrees of dependence on these substances and the slippery slope that each presents. He takes too infrequent breaks and uses yoga to get in touch with himself, but always comes back to his familiar behaviors. With children and the responsibilities that come with them, carelessness is no longer an option. Self-observation and getting to truth have become his daily practice. He is far from balanced but still in the game.

  13. angryjoggerz Says:

    There’s no keys, though, right?

  14. kayatosh Says:

    “what I’m getting at is: Do you think the political/social/economic events of this decade have produced something of a shift in self-perception of young people? ”

    yes. Things seem a lot more hectic and precarious than when I cruised through my 20’s back in the go-go 90’s.

  15. Lycanthropist Says:


    not much, but plenty of room for layers IMO

  16. kayatosh Says:

    “But, we did hit a wall with our drug and alcohol use”

    Most do. It’s whether you recognize the wall or choose to do a Sheen that makes the difference.

  17. Lycanthropist Says:

    Right and amongst the band we had both choices happen.

    Some of us pulled out some of us went deeper.

  18. Lycanthropist Says:

    although none of us went Sheen on it.

  19. kayatosh Says:

    miner: according to his stories on PT, cburnside was a young cat on the phish scene in the 90’s early 200’s who dealt serious weight and eventually got sentenced to a year in prison. His arrest was precipitated by taking a massive amount of drugs and getting extremely careless. As you read his wild tales (link provided a few pages back), you’ll recognize that his arrest and death were inevitable. The cat was off the chain as far as use and reckless dealing.

  20. kayatosh Says:

    TT anyone? It’s time to lighten the mood.

  21. Lycanthropist Says:

    im already spinning in my room kaya…

    please come join

  22. SillyWilly Says:

    Great posts, Lycan and Kaya

    thanks for conversing with me

    One thing I’ve noticed a lot of is people older than me always telling me to just wait, things will settle down, it’ll all make more sense later.

    And what I think they mean is, I’ll become more accustomed to the anxiety, more practiced at dealing with all the while the rational regions of my brain will become physically stronger producing a more clear picture.

    But one thing I truly lament is that clash of the 20s angst vs. the 20s are the best time of your life

    what it produces for so many of us, is a deep regret that we are suffering during what is supposed to be the best time of our lives. We’re burning the candle from both ends. We’re anxious from normal things, jobs, school, new beginnings, but at the same time we’re thinking: I didn’t think it was supposed to be like this. Aren’t we supposed to be invincible?

    it’s definitely going to play out on a broader social context I think

    maybe I’m influenced too personally by those around me? For example, I’ve been seeing a woman who is 4 yrs older than me. I’m 24 she’s 28.

    She’s in a month long trip to India right now which is awesome to me. Her and her friend just said “fuck it” we’ll use student loan money to pay for it and we’re doing it.

    She’s also telling me to just hold tight for a few years, she said she really struggled when she was my age (i know this is laughable, but she hasn’t made me feel weird about the age thing. it could happen, but why fear it right now)

    and so knowing her AND many of you, especially with posts like AJ as AJ seems to be more in the prime of his life than I in mine, I’m looking forward to my later 20s and earlier 30s.

    just seems like a new phenomenon or something.

  23. Lycanthropist Says:

    Yeh I am thinking that the 30s are really a new peak time for people in today’s age.

    It seems like our modern society conditions us to overload on education and self awareness during our 20s.

    I really didn’t start to make sense of any of my knowledge til late 20s and i am just now starting to feel like I am learning how to apply said knowledge and I am 31. I think its during this time that I can really start to take control of my life.

    I feel a little more stable and comfortable in my skin now:

    – I finally feel solid as a father.
    – My marriage has entered a strong honest place that can only grow.
    – I realized that my bands aren’t the be all end all to who I am, and that I exist and have personality outside being a musician
    – I am excelling in my job due to a more pragmatic and practical approach to the work place.

    These are all things that took those 10 years of my 20s to learn how to do.

  24. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Hey Gang- Waiting for the black and gold and reading back. Interesting topics today. Just flipped on the Gmen. 2-0. Strange soccer score after 20 mins.

  25. Spasm Waiter Says:

    @Lycan- I am in your lair.

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