As everyone well knows, I almost exclusively comprise my playlists of Phish’s open jams. Not today. The band’s playing was so strong across the board this past tour, that I’d like to highlight some of my favorite contained jams for this Friday’s playlist. As I wrote about as recently as this year, the band’s structured—or type I—playing, was the last part of their repertoire to ripen in this era. Sure, they could get through all the changes without the obvious flubs of post-hiatus, but for the first years of this era, they infused little to no creativity into their structured jams, causing parts of shows—particularly first sets—to drag. This year, however, starting in summer, Phish made a point to resuscitate classic pieces that has lost their luster; pieces like “Bathtub Gin,” “David Bowie,” “Stash,” and “Harry Hood.” During 2013, these jams—and more—have regained their proper place in the Pantheon of Phish. Here are some of my favorites from fall presented to you in a thought out playlist that bring some flow to your Friday.
“2001” 10.26 II, Hartford, CT
Though “Also Sprach” had been gaining creative steam all year, this this tour is first time the guys gave the piece a decent amount of time to breathe, as both versions clocked in at must over eight minutes. Hartford’s tour highlight came at the tail end of a groovalicious set that featured massive versions of both “Tweezer” and “Golden Age,” and kept the vibe alive with a nasty rhythmic throwdown.
“Harry Hood” 10.23 II, Glens Falls, NY
Perhaps the retro environs of Glens Falls seeped into Trey’s consciousness, because he took this set-closing version of “Harry Hood” with the fury of old. The jam begins with some distinctly modern textures and ends with a scorching peak the likes of which we haven’t seen in quite some time—all in all, a stellar version.
“Bathtub Gin” 10.26 I, Worcester, MA
This “Gin” provided the highlight of perhaps the best first set of the tour on the second night of Worcester. Almost breaking form, the band remains anchored in groove and brings this version to a colossal peak—the largest single peak of the entire show.
“Sand” 11.1 I, Atlantic City, NJ
This third-song “Sand” beat out any second setter of this tour, as Phish’s relaxed and confident demeanor showed immediately on night two in Boardwalk Hall. They had just turned in their first “Shaft” jam of the weekend in “Runaway Jim,” when they flexed their muscles on their groove anthem—an incredibly fiery start to one of tour’s strongest performances.
“Roggae” 10.18 II, Hampton, VA
I recently respun Hampton’s tour opener and found it to be an incredibly well played show, if not a touch mellow. This mid-second set “Roggae” stood out immediately and paced the set between “Twist” and before “Carini.” This second set is a dark horse of tour.
“Sneakin Sally Through the Alley” 11.1. E, Atlantic, City
After a spectacular performance, Phish went right ahead and blew up a “Sally” encore, eventually reprising the “Shaft” jam from “Runaway Jim.” Whew!
“Split Open and Melt” 10.29 I, Reading, PA
The band seemed to have this “Split” jam by the horns as they had progressed the piece into ominous abstraction. Then, without even attempting to bring it back, Trey bailed out of the jam abruptly for “Julius.” Not sure what that was about, but this jam is nasty.
“Gotta Jibboo” 11.1.13 II, Atlantic City, NJ
After a monumental “Twist” jam, the guys applied their focus to the groove in this smoking “Jibboo.”
“David Bowie” 10.26 I, Worcester, MA
This intricate “Bowie” closed out Worcester’s big-time first set on the 26th, coming at the tail end of a powerful, set-closing trifecta that started with “Stash” and “Simple.”
“Slave to the Traffic Light” 10.20 II, Hampton, VA
This gentle, understated “Slave” served as a perfect juxtaposition to the fire-filled set it closed, the set of the fall tour.
“You Enojy Myself” 10.29 II, Reading, PA
A real live “YEM” jam?! Lordy, lordy where have you been? Refreshing to say the least!
Tags: 2013, Fall '13, Jams, Miner's Picks