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. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Bigs ups to Rex’s mouth shutting for a while.

  2. Mike in Austin Says:

    @spasm Especially with the h3tty pedestals.

  3. Gavinsdad Says:

    Function before fashion applies to the lot and washers/dryers

  4. Gavinsdad Says:

    I’m an excellent buzz barometer at 42. At 22 I doled out a headbutt to my tour girlfriend. Not a good look.

  5. bouncin fan Says:

    finally spinnin some of this shit. set I 12/29

    Sloth – better side of 3.0 Sloths. getting better capturing the Sloth energy. not quite ragin yet but a nice enough version.

    YEM – def a few comp drop outs but I think the jam is really pretty hot. nothing that will get tons of spins but some nice full band jam work. love the second song slot. no vocal jam would have been nice in the first set.

    Back on the Train has some slop and pretty below average version. doesn’t do much for me.

    moma – a few nice slinky groove sections but pretty standard. fairly clean though.

    Funky Bitch – def one of the set highlights. great Trey comping behind Page. hits some interesting little harder shuffles then usual during pages solo. Trey adds some tasty blues. this song has picked up lately. Tahoe was smokin too.

    Maze – really like this maze too. some more tasty hard comping behind a tight page solo. Trey peaks with some dissonant whale hits. hot little first set version. always love some first set maze action

    rose – halley’s (custied) but everyone loves it so fuck me

    starting Antelope now

    I was up front fighting douche bag mawl heads the whole set which kinda added to my enjoyment of the set. I like those things sometimes.

    fun Phish set. lacks that one nice exploratory jam but not terribly sloppy and a few rawkin type I moments.

  6. butter Says:

    Congrats Palmer and Halc !! and G-Men!!

    Palmer saved my ass from taking the Falcons and pts!

    i’m giving 8 and taking Pitt over the Tebow’s, and the spread just ticked to 7.5 after i got in at 8

    you know what they say, the spread isn’t how many pts they think the other team will win by, its a way to get money laid on both teams

  7. butter Says:

    great review bouncin, i second those thoughts on 12.29.11 I

  8. butter Says:

    i remember some fun jazz convo’s pre Rye Rye Rocco in that lope, i heard Fav things (at least in my head)

  9. butter Says:

    huge Giants fan right now – time to beat the Pack

  10. bouncin fan Says:

    nice little high octane Antelope. thought it was a bit fiery live. band is pretty locked. nice little old school page grand vs trey conversation.

    glad my lifted live ears weren’t playing tricks on me. there are some real nice moments in this antelope. a bit all over the place falls off the tracks a few times but some pretty locked moments here and there. gets some good antelope energy going with Mike and Fish kickin it up in the end.

    not a bad little set 1 there kids

  11. thedayman Says:

    loving this walnut creek jim, really love 95. thanks for pimpage, @jtran

  12. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Just started 12/29 set I myself. Post game celebratory tunes.NFL playoffs baby. Gotta love it. On to Lambeau.

    Butter- I didn’t save you. I’m just a Gmen fan. If the spread is bigger than 3 1/2 next week, take the Giants. That game is a FG game. I’ll take Eli in a tight one! 20 degrees and snow already in forecast for GB next Sunday.

  13. Mr. Palmer Says:

    12/29 set II, that is

  14. Mike in Austin Says:

    Weird that the o/u is 34 and pittsburgh is -7.5. Not a lot of points expected to be scored on this game.

    I took Denver +7.5 (-115)

    Don’t think Denver will win, but don’t think it will a blowout by Pittsburg either.

  15. Mike in Austin Says:

    The spread on the Giants next week is +9 right now (according to

  16. Gavinsdad Says:

    Was a fan of that set no doubt @bouncin…ESP the antelope. Was 15th row thru gbott then had to bail to a walk way where the sound was, obviously, much poorer.

  17. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Mia- wow. That is a layup. I do wear blue-colored glasses though.

  18. joe Says:

    My guy had it at 8. I’m also on the steelers. And agree with the 12/29 set I thoughts. Def dug it at the show. As others have said, sloppy guyute kind of derailed set 2 for me

  19. kayatosh Says:

    nice 12.29 set I run down, bouncin. YEM slot 2 set a nice tone for the evening. 12.29 was that type of show — tough to complain about anything (even the guyute wasn’t terrible) even though it was a no jam show though.

    Anytime I turned to PB btw. songs, he had the steady refrain of “no complaints with that one.”

    I enjoyed 12.29 more than my previous show, 6.10 in camden; could have been the w/ wife vs. solo factor.

  20. kayatosh Says:

    tweaked my left pectoral this morn doing crunches. tweaked the low back cleaning up the yard. getting old. turn 40 this month. dulling the pain w/ red wine.

  21. kayatosh Says:

    slick little glide from 12.28 that seems to have been overlooked in the discussion. highlight for sure.

  22. kayatosh Says:

    speaking of wine. I see our man bigjig is making waves in the in the wine world. Way to go, jig. Looking fwd. to my first sip of a Jigar red. I’d have some shipped here, but I’m in the draconian world of PA.

  23. BingosBrother Says:

    Uber hetty lot pimp is one of the awesomest phrases ever. I don’t really judge the kid because by writing the story you can tell he saw how ridiculous some of his decisions were and was trying to learn from them. Some of us are lucky and some aren’t. Some of us wake up and some don’t. So it goes. Seems that some of you are down on his lot slangin and thats not really cool if you partake in the goods. It takes people with a real set of balls to provide the service that results in a lot of personal and spiritual awakening. I know I couldn’t do it, but I’m thankful for the kids that can. As far as 20 hits, its all in what you wanna do. Most of us wanna stand on the line and peer over the edge and thats fine. But a few are like Hoffman, HST, the pranksters, Jerry, etc., and those few jump right off the cliff. Some come back to tell us about it and share what it was like. Some don’t. And thats fine too.

  24. kayatosh Says:

    thanks for weighing in, bingos. II appreciate those comments because they ring true. I probably came off way too sanctimonious (to steal MIA’s word) in my previous comments. I didn’t mean to condemn cburnside. His tale is actually quite captivating, and as you note, he shows great insight despite the extreme nature of his behavior.

    an old family man, far removed from the days of unbridled psychedelia. they were good days. Grateful for them.

  25. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Find myself rooting for Tebow because everyone hates him.

    Too many haters in this world. I mean, really, did the kid beat up his girlfriend, get busted for dope, get drunk and make an ass out of himself?

    OMG, he’s religious, he must be a dick….so stupid. No wonder this country can’t tie their own shoes.

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