All selections and text by Dustin Lewis
“Gumbo -> Sanity” 8.15.98 II, Limestone, ME
A groovy piece from Lemonwheel that perfectly illustrates Phish’s Summer ’98 sound. Tight (but loose), focused and funky. This is one of the truly great (yet somewhat forgotten) segues.
How I miss first set jamming like this pairing. This combo comes in the first frame of the (possibly) last great show at Great Woods. Several other readers picks have mentioned that late ’90’s Halley’s represents an “effortless” type sound. This piece, which somehow merges groove with more abstract soundscapes, sounds as effortless as it gets.
“Split Open and Melt” 12.4.99 II, Cincinnati, OH
With Big Cypress around the corner, Phish was plugging away at the sound that would take them from midnight to sunrise. Trey switches from effect-laden sustains, to the Mini-Keys, and then back to a raging guitar finish in what was one of my all-time favorite indoor dance sessions on a cold night in Cincy.
“Mike’s Song” 12.30.93 II, Portland, ME
I can’t leave out the early ’90s entirely! My favorite “Mike’s” of all-time rages from start to finish. Trey’s ripping dark leads gradually morph into bright, blissful glory. PLEASE BRING BACK THE SECON…….ok, I know, it’s been asked enough at this point.
“Free” 7.31.98 II, Columbus, OH
Not your father’s version of “Free.” Trey ditches the guitar god soloing in favor of soupy Summer ’98 funk. A stellar version that, again, makes you yearn for the days when “Free” was free to run wild.
“Theme -> Dog Log” 9.17.00 II, Columbia, MD
Another reader recently highlighted the “Mango Song” from this spectacular night at Merriweather. This set was one of the most unique of all time and carried a distinctly dark vibe throughout. This “Theme->Dog Log” is really one piece and you can’t help nodding your head back and forth to those distinctly ’00 grooves. Mr. Gordon owns this one.
“Tweezer” 6.18.94 II, Chicago, IL
This is one of my Top-3 “Tweezers.” The aggressive, “in your face” ’94 grooves explode out of the speakers for the first act. After a bit of meandering, Page comes in with a Mind Left Body progression that Trey jumps on like a man possessed. The peak of this jam could only come from those four musicians, in the year 1994.
“Down with Disease” 2.21.03 I, Cincinnati, OH
Another choice from Cincy, but a completely different time. It is jarring just how different the band sounds when comparing Cincy ’99 to Cincy ’03. This piece, taken just about 10 shows into 2.0, captures the band getting to know each other musically again. Though it would take until the summer for the band to really hit the gas full speed on a night to night basis, it was fascinating watching the rust gradually come off the car.
“Roggae” 8.5.11 I, George, Washington
I know that most people have probably heard this one, but I just can’t leave out the obvious highlight from my first set at the Gorge. Walking up and over that precipice to see the wonder that is the Gorge was one of the true highlights of my life. If you have never been, please go. It is a truly special place. This bluesy rendition of “Roggae” brought the sun down with style…
“Mercenary Territory” 10.31.10 II, Atlantic City, NJ
Though “Spanish Moon” seems to be the consensus highlight from the Columbus set, “Mercenary Territory” was my favorite. The full-band peak, including the horns, must have taken hours and hours to get down (though they still didn’t totally nail it.) If you’ve never heard the original Columbus, give it a spin….”Mercenary” is the real highlight.
Tags: Reader's Picks