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. Tom Says:

    Tebow makes too much of it for me. He said he was going to try and make a bigger deal of his religion it anytime he could in some interview. That just seems annoying to me. He isn’t the first religious player to be in the NFL. Kurt Warner is just as religious as Tebow, yet he realized it wasn’t about making a spectacle of it in a public forum

  2. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Tom- Ray Lewis does the same shit every time he’s interviewed, as do countless other athletes. Ray Lewis even killed someone and was forgiven. I just don’t understand why people outwardly root against him?

    There are so many other “bad guys” out there to root against.

  3. El Duderino Says:

    acquitted/forgiven you say tomato I say tomato.

    His schtick is old, never liked him.

  4. Tom Says:

    Yea there are definitely much worse guys in the NFL. I mean Dante Stallworth is still playing and he killed someone. I just don’t like how much he makes of his religion. I know he is a great guy, I guess I am just not a fan of his personality.

  5. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I guess you can root for Big Ben. he just rapes ladies in bathrooms.

  6. SillyWilly Says:

    sports fan-ness in general is irrational

    I think it’s fun to see why people root for someone or not.

    maybe we root for someone because they’re super-hot, maybe we root for someone because they smoke pot (michael phelps/ricky williams, 2 of my favorite athletes purely for getting caught), maybe we root for them because they come from our home town, maybe we root for them because we think there’s an aesthetic beauty to the way they play in Scottish winds (tom watson, holler)

    It definitely doesn’t make any universal sense, I mean it always makes sense to the subjective fan or at least it often makes sense to each fan but often not to outsiders.

    I guess I don’t care about Tebow either way, but I do think there’s some really interesting analyses to be done on how the media portrays him.

    fact is Tiger Woods is *probably* responsible for wayyy more philanthropy than Tebow is. And yet Tiger’s sexual morality doesn’t line up with mainstream American ideas. So now Tiger is demonized…So for me, I guess it’s a media issue.

    *I write probably because I don’t know if you can trust the media, ever.

  7. angryjoggerz Says:

    Not to mention that dog killer guy.

  8. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Good points Silly and Aj.

    Silly- something tells me that if Tebow was worth a billion dollars, he would likely be involved in Philanthropy also, for the tax write off if nothing else.. 😉

    FTR- I’m not a huge Tebow fan, i’m just trying to understand the hate. Maybe i don’t see enough interviews but i never saw the “over the top” religious stuff, unless he was directly asked about it.

    I tend to root for the underdog, so i hope he proves everyone wrong.

  9. SillyWilly Says:

    sports fascinate me

    i can’t help it

    im self-conscious about it. like when my mood is ruined after ND loses a football game. that’s pretty dumb.

    but there’s so much humanity.

    so much fun to be had surrounding sports and all the stories and history involved.

    whatever. it’s too late for me.

  10. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Me too silly. I’m a music and sports junkie.

  11. SillyWilly Says:

    totally, Mr. P

    like I said I try not to care either. I guess I roll my eyes when anyone thanks Jesus for the concrete actions that individual took for their own success.

    but that’s more MY immaturity than others.

  12. SillyWilly Says:

    my problems started when I was young

    I used to watch all my dad’s old taped ND football games when other kids were watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

    but not for like entertainment. but to memorize the plays and shit, so I could rattle off play-by-plays of the 88 Fiesta Bowl and geeky shit like that.

    im wretched.

  13. P.S.H.S Says:

    I for one don’t care about tebow at all. It not like gods gonna help him beat the pats if he gets another chance. And it’s been proven time and time again that you need to sleep with super models or kill people in cold blood to hoist the Lombardi trophy, fact. (apparently dogs don’t count)

  14. Mike in Austin Says:

    Love to watch winners. Don’t care if she/He thanks Jesus or not.

    I golf. So I’m very interested in how people get themselves into “the zone” that it takes to shine.

    Phish is much that same way. How do they get in “the zone” when they do?

    Fascinates me.

  15. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Fluffy got the official video treatment from NYE.

  16. Mike in Austin Says:

    My golf comment was just to say “the zone” in golf is the one I’m most familiar with. The hitting 5 pars in a row feeling. And not letting yourself get anxious based on your own success.

  17. chris Says:

    miner you forgot some superball jams in your honorable mentions: 1. reba
    2.bowie 3. piper>tweezer

  18. SillyWilly Says:


    get addicted to something.

    It works.

    Ask Tiger.
    Ask John Daly.

    Ask Phil. (Phil?) yep. fuckin cookies.

  19. P.S.H.S Says:

    Daly averaged 22 bags of peanut m&ms per round, adict.

  20. SillyWilly Says:

    and don’t forget the diet coke, PSHS

  21. chris Says:

    there are actually a bunch of really good jams that could be on there

  22. kayatosh Says:

    pointing up at the sky and praising jesus for your football accomplishments seems a little silly and maybe contrived, but I agree w/ the notion that, in the grand scheme of things, it’s harmless and unoffensive, and a whole lot cooler than raping girls, shooting your own leg with a pistol, dog fighting, and manslaughter.

  23. Mike in Austin Says:

    @sw that’s my problem right there.

    Denver is playing surprisingly well. Looks like Denver D is tired.

  24. SillyWilly Says:

    the diet coke cancels out some of those peanut m&ms, too, ya know.

  25. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Made a playlist of MSG highlights 25 songs. Did i miss anything?
    Rockn Roll
    Golden Age

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