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. [Not Tom] Says:

    Mine went straight from track 1 to track 2 (Boogie On) after Tube ended however it hit a glitch when it tried to play Birds (10:00+ min track). Now I’m getting proxy failure.

    Still a work in progress perhaps?

  2. kayatosh Says:

    tela’s: again, great job, not just with the picks, but also w/ the blurbs. you and the other guest pickers have inspired me to start work on my own. not sure miner will still be running the guest series by the time i put together a few unspoken for gems, but i’m on it. may shoot for a modest 6 picks.

    xpun: saw you plan on hitting BGCA again this yr. my plans are still in flux ither than a cannonoball run to PNC and back w/ the calpaingdad collective, i.e., waiting for nudges.

  3. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    it just blew up all over social media, so I think they are now experiencing a bit of a traffic overload, hence your proxy failures.

  4. Mr. Palmer Says:

    t3- AphaUber playlist lists the halley’s comet as 12/4/99… it’s 12/7, i assume?

  5. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    yeah, that’s def a typo, kaya. it’s the Quad C one so 12.7.99

  6. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Kaya- I’d invite all you guys to crash at John’s house again for PNC but he has moved. Just as close to PNC, maybe even closer, but now he has an apartment.

  7. tela'smuff Says:

    thx @kaya. i’m not a very good writer, or describer of music, so i went with personal feelings. it’s fun, and thanks to Miner for sharing the site.

  8. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    whoops. I meant palmer there, not kaya

  9. MiA Says:

    Seems the site has crashed? I like it though.

  10. MiA Says:

    Kaya is going to BGCA. It is written.

  11. kayatosh Says:

    writing about music or beer or painting or anything subjective is tricky business. go w/ your gut.

    love the nudges. definitely want to do 1 phish trip, just not sure which. BXCA is a front runner. also contemplating dick’s. both?

    so much fun last year @ BGCA, despite only one show blowing up my skirt. BGCA tweezer and dwd were $$$. enjoyed the simple as well.

    palmer: that 2011 PNC party was the stuff of dreams. thanks to you and jon.

  12. BingosBrother Says:

    Come to Chicago kaya!

  13. Kaveh Says:

    I have forgotten how damn good this version is:

  14. kayatosh Says:

    there we go, bingos. chicago fell out of the running when i learned my good buddy in chitown would be out of town that weekend. haven’t ruled it out yet though.

  15. joe Says:

    enjoying the reader’s top tens. Another great job here by Tela’s. Looking forward to digging into them tonight.

  16. jtran Says:

    kaya, nudging you towards Tahoe > BGCA run

  17. kayatosh Says:

    that’s the nudge i like.

  18. sumodie Says:

    My Seattle mamas are game for the Gorge, a tradition we started in ’99

    Now I’m trying to convince them that they need some hot & jammy Dick’s too!

    Would really make my summer if they agreed

  19. sumodie Says: says Seattle > Denver is $320, doesnt sound like the best deal…

  20. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Siket Disc streaming on Live Phish App.

  21. MiA Says:

  22. jdub Says:

    Spent all day with family going through the passport-in-a-day routine. Good times waiting in the joke of a state department room. They take their shit serious. The big payoff being a week in the Exumas, leaving on Wednesday. Super stoked.

    Wife and kids got treated to Darien Drowned on the trip down and the well placed Xeyed that followed. The running joke of the day, still waiting… Cracked ourselves up all day with it.

  23. lumpyhead Says:


    will I see you at chicago, Bill graham, and dicks? I think that’s all I can hit. oh, and H bowl.

  24. xpun Says:

    @kaya. Sorry emailed you. Didn’t see you’d already answered my question.

  25. BingosBrother Says:

    CCCC halleys to the dome. 1st time courtesy of AlphaUber. We’d shit if Trey hit 1 of the countless incredible riffs up in that piece. Ho Lee Fuck. That is as good or better than the pampage. *Dude, that was a fuckin jam!

    *My boy Nuggets fav phrase at a show.

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