And here are 2012’s all-star jams. The ballots please…
“Light”—Overflowing with creativity virtually every time out, “Light” takes home the 2012 MVP trophy in a runaway contest. Beginning with AC’s “Lighteca” and ending with the Dick’s now-household version, “Light’s” improvisational campaign went unmatched by any other jam. Each rendition seemed to build on the one before until the song’s outing in Denver leaped into the conversation of all-time jams. “Light’s” 2012 season was the best by any song in the modern era.
Best Version: 9/1 Dick’s
Most Underrated Version: Alpine Valley 7/1
Other Versions of Note: 6/16 A. City, 6/23 Star Lake, 7/8 SPAC, 8/17 SF
“Tweezer”—Phish’s classic launchpad finally returned to prominence last year, stepping up its game over leg two and finishing with a bang at MSG with the defining version of 3.0. Steeped in feel-good, bliss-laden jams over the second half of summer (aside from Bill Graham’s foray into abstraction) every time “Tweezer” dropped during Leg Two, a treat ensued.
Best Version: 12/28 MSG
Most Underrated : 8/17 Bill Graham
Other Versions of Note: 6/10 Bonnaroo, 6/24 Blossom, 8/22 Kansas City, 8/26 Charlotte, 9/1 Dick’s
“Ghost”—“Ghost” came to play in 2012 and easily lands a spot on the year’s starting five. Following a breakout season debut at Worcester, “Ghost” continued to perform at a high level all year long with its two of its most profound and uplifting performances coming in Long Beach and MSG.
Best Version: 6/7 Worcester
Most Underrated : 8/15 Long Beach
Other Versions of Note: 7/1 Alpine Valley, 7/6 SPAC, 9/2 Dick’s, 12/31 MSG
“Carini”—Phish dropped three monstrous versions of “Carini” last year—Worcester, Dick’s and MSG—that all traveled in different directions illustrating the diversity of the jam. Spanning blissful ambient textures, groove based improv and dark, mindfuck abstraction, “Carini” featured some of the year’s best jamming.
Best Version: 12/30 MSG
Most Underrated: 8/31 Dick’s
Other Versions of Note: 6/7 Worcester, 6/10 Bonnaroo, 6/30 Alpine Valley
“Golden Age”—This new era cover finally broke last year after a largely contained 2011 campaign. Bursting at the seams from early in the year, the band expounded on “Golden Age” throughout both legs of summer tour. Often dipping into hard funk grooves and sometimes moving beyond, there was no shortage of highlight versions for a song that has been begging for this treatment since its Albany debut. Hopefully the band has settled on this type of improvisational role for the appropriately titled 3.0 anthem.
Best Version: 7/3 Jones Beach
Most Underrated: 8/25 Lakewood
Other Versions of Note: 6/24 Blossom, 6/30 Alpine Valley, 9/1 Dick’s
***** ***** ***** *****
This year’s second team of jam vehicles is quite a formidable squad in its own right, illustrating the increased diversity of launchpads last year. Each of these boast definite consistency and at least one amazing version.
“Down With Disease”—Though “Disease” didn’t hold the same place of prominence as in other recent years, the song still sprouted some quality jams. Two underappreciated versions came in Cincinatti and San Francisco, and the best versions of the year—by far—kicked off the second set of 12/30 at MSG.
Best Version: 12/30 MSG
Most Underrated: 6/22 Cincinnati
Other Versions of Note: 6/29 Deer Creek, 7/7 SPAC, 8/17 SF
“Piper”—“Piper” maintained its rock solid position in the regular rotation, always containing the possibility of a significant jam and most of the time delivering.
Best Version: 6/8 SPAC
Most Underrated Version: 6/30 Alpine Valley
Other Versions of Note: 6/15 Atlantic City, 8/22 KC, 9/2 Dick’s, 12/31 MSG
“Twist”—Phish expounded on “Twist” more in 2012 than in recent years when they primarily used it as a contained jam. This song produced one of the year’s top jams with Cincinatti ominous excursion while the other standouts traveled in a more melodic and ambient directions.
Best Version: 6/22 Cincinnati
Most Underrated : 7/4 Jones Beach
Other Versions of Note: 6/15 Atlantic City, 8/29 OKC, 12/28 MSG
“Rock and Roll”—Though “Rock and Roll” remained in significant rotation, most often producing some sort of exploration, only two versions jumped off the stage—Long Beach and Pelham. Other’s provided solid chunks of jamming though probably won’t make any tour highlight reels.
Best Version: 8/15 Long Beach
Most Underrated : 8/24 Pelham
Other Versions of Note: 6/20 Portsmouth, 6/30 Alpine Valley
“Chalk Dust Torture”—”Chalk Dust” snags the fifth spot on the second team on the strength of its final three outings of summer. Building the jam in magnitude over these three versions, the band crafted one of 2012 indelible jams at Dick’s during the Fuck Your Face show.
Best Version: 8/31 Dick’s
Most Underrated Version: 8/25 Lakewood
Other Versions of Note: 8/28 St. Louis
One-Off Type II Gems:
“Roses Are Free” 6/8 Worcester,” “Birds of a Feather” 6/15 AC, “Back on the Train” 6/28 Deer Creek, “Waves” 6/28, “Fee” 7/1 Alpine Valley, “Sneakin Sally” 7/6 SPAC, “Simple” 8/18 SF, “Crosseyed” 8/19 SF, “Limb by Limb” 8/28 St.Louis, “Undermind” 8/31 Dick’s, “Runaway Jim” 8/31 Dick’s, “Sand” 9/2 Dick’s
Jam of the Day:
The signature jam sequence of 2012.
Tags: 2012, Jams, The Moment