Reader’s Picks: Jeff Walls

12.28.12, MSG (Graham Lucas)

12.28.12, MSG (Graham Lucas)

“Midwestern Meltdowns and an Assorted Few”

Selections and text by Jeff Walls aka @Tela’s_muff

Tweezer > Makisupa” 11.30.95 II, Dayton, OH

This masterpiece is in the middle of a run of what I consider to be the greatest string of “Tweezer’s” ever performed by the band. A monster exploration of rock groove that they band was owning on a nightly basis at this point. Trey and Page each shine on this one, and we even get hints of what sounds like an early “Birds” jam!  Frankly, it may be Fishman that deserves the MVP throughout. This is a fine example of peak Fall/Winter ’95 Phish—explosive, percussive, guitar heroics, it’s all there. Cherry on top with a nice segue into “Makisupa,” allowing Trey to hop on his mini-kit.



Maze” 12.28.96 II, Philadelphia, PA

If nothing else, know that 1996 was the year of “Maze” (and “Simple”), and when it takes the second slot of Set two on the  NYE run, hold on. This was the last version of the year, and it gets the full treatment. Both Page and Trey both crush this version, with Trey getting the edge, giving it an extra helping of tension, and a little dash of evil with the last couple of minutes reaching terrifying levels. They don’t play “Maze” like this anymore.



Caravan” 12.29.96 II, Philadelphia, PA

This slid under the radar then, and it still does now.  The last “Caravan” played by Phish, and it’s a murky, swank little run through the jazz classic they had performed so well in their club days. It carries over amazingly well in the cavernous Spectrum.



Ghost -> She Caught the Katy” 7.21.98 II, Phoenix, AZ

Having missed all of ’97 and all of ’98 up to this point, and having been completely out of the tape trading circle, I hadn’t heard Phish funk, although I had read reviews on the internet. The last live show I had seen was 12-31-1996, so, needless to say, this show was a revelation to my ears. This isn’t the best “Ghost” ever, but to me it holds a special place. It has some funk, then Trey kicks it into overdrive, building and directing, and the jam absolutely soars, eventually landing into a huge “She Caught the Katy” bustout, complete with heavy fog machine usage. I was front row this night, and still haven’t gotten over this jam sequence.



My Friend My Friend -> My Left Toe -> Whipping Post” 7.25.99 I, Noblesville, IN

This is easily my favorite first set ever, and this may be my favorite sequence of Phish ever performed. It may be one of those “had to be there” moments, but the cosmos aligned in the cornfields that night. After the fun “Meat” opener, and a heavy “MFMF,” “My Left Toe’s” ambiance enveloped the masses (who were baking in 99 degree heat that day. I consider this to be the finest version of “My Left Toe,” and the drop into Whipping Post could not have been more unpredictable, and perfect for that time, on that day.



Twist” 12.31.99 II, Big Cypress, FL

This is my personal favorite “Twist.” It’s the first song that comes to mind when I think of that night in Florida. I think it’s the best example of Phish excelling at ambient music. It’s mesmerizing, and beautiful, almost like a bedtime lullaby, but instead performed for 80K people swaying in unison, as the band calms us down for the long night ahead.



Drowned > Chalk Dust Torture Reprise” 7.11.00 II, Noblesville, IN

This show had a lot to like, mostly antics and creative setlist construction, but the unequaled highlight is “Drowned -> CDT Reprise.”  A blistering jam erupts out of The Who classic, with Trey all over his loops. Eventually he lays back and allows the band to settle into an infectious funk groove, complete with a brief start-stop jam. I can’t think of many jams where I had as much fun dancing as I did during these 5 minutes. When the hilarity ensued with “CDT Reprise,” the bliss and humor of Phish reached it’s zenith.



Bathtub Gin” 2.22.03 II, Cincinatti, OH

A must hear, top tier version of “Gin.”  May or may not have been inspired after Trey pegged a kid in the face with a glowstick. Either way, this is a beast that can be separated into two parts. Part 1 – “The Mr. Completely Jam,” containing all that dirt and growl from Trey that I love from 2003. Part 2 – The insane Trey/Page weirdo “Gin” funk breakdown (listen for what I think sounds like playing with “FoTM”). In between all that is straight up dirty rock and roll.



Tube” 6.24.04 II, Noblesville, IN

Those were dark days for all of us, and the Deer Creek >Alpine Valley run in 2004 did little to shake the stain of sadness. Yet this “Tube” gave me one last time to dance in the moat at Deer Creek, and dance I did. The last jammed out “Tube” provides a good work out for Page, Mike, and Fish, while Trey adds some effects and other tones throughout. A bit harsh for “Tube,” but overall still above average rock groove.



Split Open & Melt” 11.21.09 I, Cincinatti, OH

My pick for the best “Melt” of 3.0. 2009 has left little for highlights, but the Cincy shows that Fall were well played, and this “Melt” showed signs of a band still able to send kids fleeing for the doors. I tend to think that all 3.0 “Melt’s” are formulaic to a certain degree, but the level to which they commit to the truly demented is what make “Split’s” work for me.  This version left everybody in attendance motionless, I imagine having internal discussions with their sanity. I think what makes this work is Fishman finding something to do while Trey sets up his loops. It’s a devilish few minutes at the end of the jam, and one of the more challenging improvised pieces the band has dropped in 3.0. And yes, they’re able to seamlessly work back into wrapping up the song.

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184 Responses to “Reader’s Picks: Jeff Walls”

  1. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Is your avatar John Oates? if so, that is pure awesome.

  2. Sumodie Says:

    Almost ready to pull the trigger on Gorge flights, as soon as my Seattle crew okays my dates

    I was one of those who had no clue about that Philly ’96 Caravan. Those were my only Philly shows I believe. Followed up one of those nights by getting lost on the way to our friends’ pad that was on the edge of a section of philly where we didn’t belong. After getting swarmed with crack heads at a gas station, we dragged one of them into the car to help us out. Scary bizarro post show spunion antics

    And those were the days when we puffed all the way down to Philly, all day & night during the shows, and all the way back home

  3. MiA Says:

    Just put in my brackets at CBS. Appears that Halycon won in ’11 and ’12?

    I need his picks for my money wager…

  4. BingosBrother Says:

    Choice picks tela

  5. BNCB Says:

    saw a fantastic show last night. new band from the northcoast,
    ‘Naive Melodies’. They play the music of the Talking Heads. Really groovy, fun, high energy. Segue one song into the next. Great night out. I think they’ll be doing a really small west coast swing. I’ll let you all know.

  6. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Nice little Antelope tacked on to the end of track 1..

  7. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Nice List, Tela’s!

    Loved that Ghost>She Caught the Katy!

  8. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Sumo- Thanks for posting that review of Follakzoid. Getting me excited for Thursday. bring on the shroom tea!

  9. BingosBrother Says:

    Classic tweet

    Is the Ghost drop one of those DO tell the same jokes every night? Lol

    Is the Theme bridge one of those DO tell the same jokes every night?

  10. BingosBrother Says:

    Free dl from The Side Band That Actually Jams,657/Mike-Gordon,-Scott-Murawski,-Todd-Isler,-Tom-Cleary,-Craig-Myers-mp3-flac-download-3-20-2011-The-Orange-Peel-Asheville-NC.html

  11. Selector J Says:

    Buenos días, mis amigos!

    Nice post today by the Muff. I was lucky enough to catch everything on that list from between 99-04. Fun to revisit those memories. Checking the Phoenix Ghost now. Right in my wheelhouse. Really can’t go wrong with a ’98 Ghost.
    So where the brackets at? I think that I need to throw my hat in the ring this year. Should be a pretty wild tourney this year. No invincible teams a la last year’s Kentucky this time around. Lot of sleeper teams out there.

    Speaking of which, I might have to put my Heels in the Final Four after their ACC Tourney play. Even with Shane Larkin playing like he was possessed by Chris Paul, if Miami hadn’t been shooting the lights out, Carolina might have stole that one. Can’t get enough of PJ Hairston this year– heart of a lion in that kid’s chest.

  12. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I like Miner’s Hoyas this year. Got a nice draw, have a great player that can carry them, and they play great defense.

  13. jtran Says:

  14. Selector J Says:

    Yea, @Mr. P! Otto is killing it. Plays both ends of the floor like an All-American and definitely capable of putting G-Town on his back.

  15. Selector J Says:

    Thanks for the link, @jtran.

  16. jtran Says:

    greensky killed it last night btw

    First set highlights LUOLMA with tweeprise jam, as well as the only extended jam they did of the night, which was on some instrumental that they just took out near the end of set 1. hodown jam > funk jam > dobro spaceship jam > hodown. $$$

    Last show of tour, so they had Ryan Montbleu and his band sit in for all of set 2. First two songs didn’t really gel, but they eventually started sounding super good together. Highlight of the set was an extended Gumboots with a drum breakdown (montbleu’s drummer on kit, greensky guitar player on cymbals) right back into the final chorus.

    All members encored together with Gangsta’s Paradise, greensky mando player on the verses and ryan montbleu on the chorus. Hilarious.

    Show was streamed online so hopefully some good audio surfaces. The jam in set 1 was probably the best improv I’ve heard them do in the 4 shows I’ve seen. 60 shows into tour they were tight and locked in.

  17. Luther T. Justice Says:

    Now this is the smuff I like! Nice list telas.

  18. Mr. Palmer Says:

    This was brought to my attention via Mr.C.. It is an interview of “Bear” Owsley Stanley by David Gans from 1991. If you have some spare time, it’s very interesting.

  19. Snigglebeach Says:

    So not to sound like a dick… But who’s got Fall Tour Rumors??

    With Massachusetts getting left out of summer tour, woostah or even Garden sound like a lock but beyond that anything? Halloween??

  20. btb Says:

    Love me some Greensky…I can’t believe I haven’t seen them live yet.

    I have serious problems

  21. MmmHmm Says:

    Anyone catch that Jimmy V 30 for 30 last night on ESPN? Pretty moving segment. I’m a Heels fan but damn that 1983 NC State team was a true Cinderella story and Valvano is an inspirational character to say the least.

  22. marcoesq Says:

    Afternoon all. Great playlists here, Tela’s. That DC Drowned>CDT was one of my top 3 all time favorite experiences. So much fun.

    Gdad, anything shaking Wed night? I’m in town

  23. phoammhead Says:

    do you need an invite to join the bb march madness bracket thingy?

    phoamm at gmail

  24. sumodie Says:

    Palmer, yeah if Pitchfork liked Follakzoid then i guess I’m allowed to as well

    Don’t forget to spin Holydrug Couple, also orange’d, another terrific slice of chilean psych goodness

  25. marcoesq Says:

    I really like how this is just the Twist jam from Cypress. No need to mess around

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