All selections and text by Lindsey Pontieri
Geeking out about Phish is one of my favorite activities. Rather than taking the clinical route-breaking down the jam, analyzing the tour or spitting out the stats, I put together this list based on what the band and shows bring to me—a sense of community and joy. Some are from shows that I’ve attended, some not, but all put a big fat grin on my face every time I hear them.
I began this with the intention to stick with “Golden Age > 2001″ as it’s become one of my favorite one-two punches, and then I remembered that “Boogie” preceded the pair at SPAC last summer. It’s funky, it’s joyful, it’s triumphant and then “2001” drops in and the whole crowd starts to groove. Love it.
“The Divided Sky” 10.24.10 I, Amherst, MA
Every time they hit the pause, I get goose bumps up and down my arms knowing the beauty of what comes next.
“Chalk Dust Torture” 8.16.96 I, Plattburgh, NY
On August 16, 1996, surrounded by 70,000 of my closest friends, I got hooked on Phish. This may not be the “best” Chalkdust (7/10/99 is often hotly debated as…oops. Stat! Sorry) but this is my first “Chalkdust” and we all remember our firsts. And god was it good.
“Dog Log” 8.2.03 E, Limestone, ME
Silly, goofy fun. I caught this one as the encore and have been chasing it ever since (and Page’s keys in this are great….).
“Suzy Greenberg” 10.31.09 E, Indio, CA
I am a firm believer that a horn section should invade the stage on a more regular basis. Trey shreds through this one with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings taking it to the next level.
“Run Like An Antelope” 7.14.91 I, Townshend, VT
Giant Country Horns were on tour with Phish during the summer of ’91, and this one is a fun show to listen to. It’s raw, relaxed and a sign of what’s to come. During the verse towards the end, there’s some play and a bit of horns as an added bonus.
“Wilson” 3.13.93 I, Boulder, CO
The opening chords to “Wilson” with the familiar call back are known and beloved to many. However, I totally dig the original dark and twisty opening found in this version. There’s also a bit of secret language play with the Simpsons theme. Listen full through; the original chords work their way through the song giving it a different feel.
“You Enjoy Myself” 4.5.98 I, Providence, RI
It’s “You Enjoy Myself.” From the Island Tour. That should explain everything.
“Squirming Coil” 12.30.11 E, MSG, NY
While this  NYE run was inconsistent at best, this is a version that Page takes his time with. As time has gone on and I’ve focused on different aspects of the band, this one has grown on me. Initially, depending what was going on in the set, it was one of my bathroom songs. Now, with time and a different perspective, I find that when Page is alone on the stage, taking his time to finish it up, it is a moment of stillness and beauty.
“Tweezer” 2.28.03 II, Uniondale, NY
Before the band hit the stage, it was a special night. My sister’s first show. And holy crap, did they not disappoint. There are shows embedded in Phish lore and this one is dug deep right in there. This second set opener is 27:08 min of patience and band connectedness that shifts from psychedelic glory to playing off the Frampton tease. This is one of those jams that you get lost in and when you emerge from it, you have to take a second to question whether it just happened.
“Tweezer Reprise” 2.28.03 E, Uniondale, NY
Wherever there is a “Tweezer,” there’s a reprise lurking. Most nights it closes the same show, but in 3.0 I’ve seen it split and played to close multi-night stands and, in one instance, repeated (6/18/10). No matter where or how it presents itself, it’s four minutes of pure head banging energy, and on this fateful night in 2003, that’s exactly how they closed the show. Like all “Reprises,” this one builds and builds, with the energy in the room off the hook, and as it hits its peak, the room explodes and everybody is left exhilarated wanting more.
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