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.

[audio:] Tags: ,

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

  1. tela'smuff Says:

    i never tire of this Whipping Post. for those that were there that day, it was soooooo hot. just brutal. that Whipping Post, and Trey’s big release at the end, the entire lawn pumping their fists in the air. seriously fun.

    @phoamm – email sent

  2. marcoesq Says:

    I would also like an email invite for the bracket. m h o y t 1 3 at gheemail

  3. tela'smuff Says:

    oh, i thought Phoamm had the means to do the inviting. i need an invite!

  4. gavinsdad Says:

    thanks for the picks Telas. nice to see what’s inside everyone’s head. I went right for the Tube cause your description of dancing in the moat resonated with me…great version and for a guy who doesn’t really seek out auds i loved the crowd noise on that version…they were PUMPED…are 3.0 crowds that active?

  5. Kaveh Says:

    Thanks for putting up the BB Madness brackets!

    Now I got something to do during lunch today. 🙂

  6. DryIceFactory Says:

    The Nutter Center Tweezer!!!

  7. ren Says:


  8. jtran Says:

    I posted the link but have no idea who can invite others, sorry

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    great picks Telas. I have to snap out of this Spacemen 3 loop

  10. snow Says:

    I want to play too.
    I emailed phoamm. Thanks man!

  11. snow Says:

    Mr C is back on the internet from hiatus. Is it Mr.C 2.0?

  12. btb Says:

    It took 30 years for Trey to drop the Persnickety bomb

    I’m cool with it. Pretty accurate actually

  13. gavinsdad Says:

    nice C – just sent that space cat on shrooms link around here at work.

    Loved that Drowned>CDT reprise…i love that this goodness was in set 1 (!) of a show that i only knew for it’s Set 2 (moby dick madness). sick shit. you guys who made that show mustve had a blast.

  14. tela'smuff Says:

    @gdad – 7/11/00 is still the most fun i’ve had at a show. lots of factors involved, but i laughed (a lot) and danced my way throughout.

  15. snow Says:

    The persnickety comment was the greatest work of euphemism to come from someone not working for a government in a generation.

  16. ren Says:

    Willing to do the legwork on these T shirts if peeps are interested. IF we order 15 shirts or more I can make it happen for around $20 a pop including the 2nd round of shipping to the individuals

  17. BingosBrother Says:

    Awesome tee ren.

    6/24/04 was a weird show for me. Last one ever(thank god not), previous nights show was an insane spiritual test, of which I passed, and am now ok with death as a result, also evil was denied. Anyway, ate a couple klonopin, never had, never will again, and was pretty much stuck in place head bobbing all show, until the emotion Coil encore. All was not right in the world, but we lived to fight another day, and now it is.

  18. MiA Says:

    Someone will surely correct me, but I think Halcyon did the original CBS Bracket Madness back in ’11. I also believe he’s the pool manager and has the ability to invite people to join too.

    Someone who contacts him often needs to bump him to post the invite links on here (I think).

    Or I could be wrong. I put up my choices. Seemed to take it.

  19. ren Says:

    If you are interested in a PERSNICKETY tee shirt hit me up at

    paulny123 at gheeze mails

    If enough peeps are interested I’ll make it happen

  20. BNCB Says:

    I’d say leave off ‘I’m with’.

    Go with finger pointing and persnickety.

    One mans opinion. Not an artist.

    Telas, forgot about that Drowned. Gonna spin that.

    Green Flash Double Stout is $$$

  21. gavinsdad Says:

    keeping with my “i just streamed it commentary” Mike’s work in the Whipping Post was so positively dirty and Berry Oakley/Allan Woody faithful…fucking awesome…looking back at the stats and how infrequently they played it in the later 90s it’s really cool how they found that phrasing in the MLT and segued seamlessly into it and just destroyed it.

    thanks again telas. lotta jewels in these reader picks.

  22. BingosBrother Says:

    Yo C, you read Black Swan Green yet? Similar as a coming of age story to Catcher In the Rye, but way less whiney, and way better. Kinda obsessed with David Mitchell now. Thanks.

  23. ren Says:

    Alternate design:

  24. BingosBrother Says:

    I like that better because of the miracle finger. Respek.

  25. ren Says:

    Good point @Bingos! The site I’m looking on really does make it easy to make custom t’s….wish they would have had this when I was in college. It was art school though so we just screened our own

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