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. lumpyhead Says:

    ^ ^ the pointing to self one really gets me. funny shit.

  2. ren Says:

    Mr. C’s blog is gonna give me a Little Wayne sizzurp seizure!!!

  3. ren Says:

    Seems like the shirt design is perfect for the BB. I’ve got to image that 15 or more of us would rock it….be funny to recognize one another at a show that way

  4. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    not a complete library of every show ever, but a great resource for streaming shows in circulation

  5. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Cool site T3..

    I love that the very first show of summer ’99 tour they open with a 20 minute Gin….

  6. [Not Tom] Says: will stream every show from The Spreadsheet – the we app on my iPhone is pretty awesome.

    Every show. My mobile life just got a lot easier.

  7. MrCompletely Says:

    not yet Bingos

    it’s on the list for sometime prob later this year

  8. ren Says:

    Not Tom- not sure I understand…this Phishtracks site has an APP???

  9. [Not Tom] Says:

    “Web app” – probably running HTML. Works great w built-in player

  10. MiA Says:

    Yeah, #2 is 10x better than #1.

  11. [Not Tom] Says:

    Also – once you start playing a song via the web-app you can continue to use your phone for anything else so somehow it taps into the multitask capabilities of the device (I’m listening to Oswego Tube as I type this message on a separate tab in Safari)

  12. [Not Tom] Says:

    Speaking of Oswego Tube, Mike Is plucking the bass lines pretty heavily – Funkified

  13. phoammhead Says:

    sorry, that definitely was unclear of me

    correct, i’m looking for an invite to the bb bracket deally

    phoamm at gmail

  14. [Not Tom] Says:

    TIII and I must have been monitoring our twitter feeds at the same time.

  15. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I don’t twit.
    I just know.

  16. MiA Says:

    Not Tom.


    I love the future.

  17. [Not Tom] Says:

    And it will move on to the next track as you’d expect (with a brief pause like the LivePhish app does)

  18. Kaveh Says:

    Thanks for the site heads up. Perfect to go find a tune you need to listen to; and there it is.

  19. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    that site doesn’t have every show in circulation (e.g. 12/27/96 and 12/28/96 are both missing for some reason), but it is getting there. great resource.


  20. [Not Tom] Says:

    OMG is right. It’s a streaming app so its not like you are getting FLAC files but access to pretty much any show out there without having to download files and import into a music player – that’s a pretty big deal to me

  21. phlorida phan Says:

    ^Is this available on android?

  22. [Not Tom] Says:

    It’s a WebApp probably running HTML5 so it’s available on any smartphone w a browser

  23. [Not Tom] Says:

    ^ multitask functionality that I’m describing is what I’m experiencing on my iPhone 5. YMMV depending on your device.

  24. [Not Tom] Says:

    Will be interesting to see how their servers hold up once this catches on

  25. verno329 Says:

    @NT I’ve been checking out that site all morning too. Is there a way to play a show straight through without having to hitting play for every track?

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