The Top 10 Shows of 2013

12.31.13 (Andrea Nusinov)

12.31.13 (Andrea Nusinov)

Honorable Mention: 7.12 Jones Beach, 7.26 The Gorge, 7.31 Lake Tahoe, 8.4 Bill Graham, 10.26 Worcester, 10.27 Hartford, CT

***

10. 7/5 SPAC, Saratoga Springs, NY

7/5 Official (Millward)

7/5 Official (Millward)

On the second night of summer, Phish threw down a huge statement at SPAC, foreshadowing what was to come in 2013 with one of the most fluid second sets of the year. Infusing creativity at every turn after setbreak, highlighted by one of the most inventive “Lights” ever played, the band was locked in on this night, and never looked back all year. And the first set ain’t too shabby either, particularly the closing couplet of “Cities -> Bowie.”

I: Kill Devil Falls, The Moma Dance, Sample in a Jar, Roses Are Free, Birds of a Feather, Yarmouth Road, Bathtub Gin, Nellie Kane, Army of One, My Friend, My Friend, Cities -> David Bowie

II: Energy > Light -> The Mango Song > 46 Days -> Steam > Drowned > Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Character Zero

***

9. 7/10 PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ

Phish’s return to Northern Jersey came on the heels of Toronto’s last-minute cancellation, hence it was primed to explode. An it explode it did, as the band greeted PNC with Leg One’s strongest show. This second set is chock full of improv, featuring a popular pick for the jam of early-Summer in “Crosseyed > Hood,” and an underrated, late-set “Light.”

I. Llama, Wolfman’s Brother, Sample in a Jar, Julius, Halley’s Comet > Bathtub Gin, Lawn Boy, Ya Mar, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Theme From the Bottom, Suzy Greenberg

II: Crosseyed and Painless > Harry Hood, Axilla, Sand > Light > Good Times Bad Times, Slave to the Traffic Light, Rocky Top, Cavern

E: Possum

***

8. 10/29 Santander Arena, Reading, PA

10/29 Official (D. Welker)

10/29 Official (D. Welker)

Reading contained one of the best start-to-finish second sets of Fall Tour. With fluidity, multiple tour-highlight jams and a potent, retro-take on on “You Enjoy Myself,” this show did far more than set the table for Atlantic City. What is keeping Reading’s ranking this low is its pedestrian first set; one of the least inspired of the fall, salvaged only by a ferocious “Split Open and Melt.”

I: Cars Trucks Buses, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Ginseng Sullivan, Wolfman’s Brother, Sparkle > Walk Away, Divided Sky, Split Open and Melt > Julius

II: Down with Disease > Taste, Twenty Years Later > Piper > Backwards Down the Number Line, You Enjoy Myself, Grind

E: Bouncing Around the Room > Reba, Good Times Bad Times

***

7. 8/31 Dick’s, Commerce City, CO

Saturday night’s throwdown in Commerce City boasts two energetic sets, with a top jam of the year in the now-famous “Chalk Dust Torture.” Don’t forget the late-show, hard-hitting “Tweezer,” the subsequent version to Tahoe’s epic. The rest of the show was filled with rock solid playing and quality song selection throughout.

I: Buried Alive, AC/DC Bag, Wolfman’s Brother, Yarmouth Road, Fee > Halfway to the Moon, The Wedge, Halley’s Comet > Bathtub Gin, Bouncing Around the Room, Mound, Gumbo, Run Like an Antelope

II: Chalk Dust Torture, Light -> 46 Days > Steam -> Free, Joy, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Tweezer > Backwards Down the Number Line

E: On the Road Again > Tweezer Reprise

***

6. 12/31 Madison Square Garden, NYC, NY

NYE '13 (Masthay)

NYE ’13 (Masthay)

This was Phish’s 30th Anniversary show and it contained a vibe like none other. Centered on the sonic recreation of the early ’90s during the truck top JEMP Set, this New Year’s show was a celebration of Phish past, present and future. The band brought their A-game for the entire night, including another fierce third set. And check our every Trey solo in the first set, they are all fresh, inventive and well-phrased. A gentle-turned-biting “Light” blossomed into the improvisational highlight of three-set show.

I: AC/DC Bag, A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing, Wilson, Divided Sky, Ocelot, Sugar Shack, Halfway to the Moon, Fluffhead

II: Glide, Llama, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird, Fuck Your Face, Reba, Icculus, The Lizards, Split Open and Melt

III: Character Zero > Auld Lang Syne > Fuego > Light > Twenty Years Later, Bouncing Around the Room, You Enjoy Myself

E: Grind, Show of Life

***

5. 10/31 Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, NJ

Halloween 2013 was a one-of-a-kind evening. Never before had Phish played us a set of unheard music, a move that leveled the playing field by eliminating any possible expectations of what was to come. The anti-Wingsuit sentiment voiced by a faction of the fan base, in my opinion, spoke far more about the listeners and what they were bringing to the show, rather than anything he band  did. Owing us nothing but continuing to give, Phish allowed all of us into the creative process, playing us a set’s worth of new material. And what a set it was! Paving the way for the next several years, Phish debuted more than a handful of keepers on Old Hallow’s Eve. And then they absolutely crushed the third set, something they hadn’t done, in any holiday show since 1998.

I: Heavy Things, The Moma Dance, Poor Heart, Back on the Train, Silent in the Morning,Kill Devil Falls, Mound, Free, Camel Walk, Stash, Golgi Apparatus, Bathtub Gin

II: Wingsuit > Fuego, The Line, Monica, Waiting All Night, Wombat, Snow, Devotion To A Dream, 555 > Winterqueen, Amidst the Peals of Laughter, You Never Know

III: Ghost > Carini, Birds of a Feather, Harry Hood, Bug, Run Like an Antelope

E: Quinn the Eskimo

***

4. 7/27 The Gorge, George, Washington

7/27 Official (DKNG)

7/27 Official (DKNG)

The second night of The Gorge was Phish’s finest night of summer tour, as they dropped a seamless second set laced with artistry, forethought and patience. Every time Phish gets to the Gorge, everything slows down and Phish’s music garners a spaciousness that is congruent with the venue’s natural surroundings. After an outstanding effort on night one, the band came back and topped themselves with this show. “Disease -> Undermind” and “2001 > Sneaking Sally” anchored—for all intents and purposes—a perfect set.

I: Architect, Golgi Apparatus, The Curtain With, Kill Devil Falls, The Moma Dance, Maze, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Roses Are Free, Say Something, Ocelot, After Midnight

II: Down with Disease -> Undermind > Light -> Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Walls of the Cave > Fluffhead, Run Like an Antelope

E: Show of Life, Good Times Bad Times

***

3. 10/20 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA

The second set of this show was absolutely relentless and left the entire audience in a state of blithering state of bliss. It had been quite some time since Phish had thrown down that hard for the duration of an entire set. Deep dives in “Tweezer” and “Golden Age” anchored the exploration, while the band kept the dance music spinning all night long. One of the moments of the year came in the surprise segue out of a celebratory”Piper” into ” “Taking Care of Business.” And the show ended with “2001 > Sand,” “Slave to the Traffic Light.” I mean—really? This set was pure Phish fire.

I: Julius, Funky Bitch, Back on the Train, Roses Are Free > Sample in a Jar, Ginseng Sullivan, 46 Days, Divided Sky, Bold As Love

II: Paul and Silas, Tweezer > Golden Age > Piper -> Takin’ Care of Business, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Sand, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: A Day in the Life > Tweezer Reprise

***

2. 11/1 Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, NJ

11/1 Official (D.Mumford)

11/1 Official (D.Mumford)

This show makes the number two spot over Hampton on its balance and the strength of its first set. Additionally, the centerpiece of this show,an absolutely transcendent version of “Twist,” bests any improvisational segment of Hampton’s monster set. AC’s second set also remained quite strong after “Twist,” highlighted by a comically-laced “Makisupa” and a very underrated “Light.” Remember the encore of this one? A jammed-out “Sneaking Sallly” with a full-blown “Shaft” jam. Yeah, they were feeling it on this night.

I: Cavern, Runaway Jim, Sand, Halfway to the Moon, Halley’s Comet > Tube, Possum, When the Circus Comes, Sugar Shack, Jesus Just Left Chicago, David Bowie

II: Twist > Gotta Jibboo > Makisupa Policeman, Light > Chalk Dust Torture, Meatstick, Boogie On Reggae Woman, The Wedge, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley

***

1. 12/29 Madison Square Garden, NYC, NY

This start-to-finish barn-burner featured the band’s best playing of the year—and in memory—in the all-time sequence, “Down with Disease” > “Carini.” I’d put this chunk of music up against any from the guys’ 31 shows at MSG, and that speaks volumes. After this gargantuan opening of the second set, the guys kept things moving in the right direction with a comedown of “Waves” and a sexy version of  Twist.” The band sealed the deal with an intricate, rock-solid “Bowie” to close. Don’t sleep on the first set either, an energetic frame of Phish that featured depth-in-brevity within “Gumbo” and “It’s Ice,” not to mention scorching versions of “Stash” and “Walls of the Cave.”

I: The Moma Dance > Rift, Roggae, Sparkle, The Line, Stash, 555, It’s Ice,Gumbo, Walls of the Cave

II: Down with Disease > Carini > Waves > Twist > Golgi Apparatus, David Bowie

E: Possum

12.29.13 (Jake Silco)

12.29.13 — MSG (Jake Silco)

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550 Responses to “The Top 10 Shows of 2013”

  1. Stoney Case Says:

    Ski trip sounds dreamy. Maybe next year. This one a bit busy.

  2. phlorida phan Says:

    Wow wow we wow, Sucks on tap is unreal, the smell alone is causing prejamulation. Gets the coveted $$$$!

  3. MiA Says:

    Nice. Gonna seek that out.

  4. MiA Says:

    Gopherz Bitchez!

  5. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    There goes our host, rating that which shall not be done as done. ;)

  6. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    2013 where all gins are the same.

  7. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    2013 where all gins are the same.

  8. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    2013 where all gins are the same.

  9. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    2013 where all gins are the same.

  10. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    2013 where all gins are the same.

  11. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    2013 where all gins are the same.

  12. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    2013 where all gins are the same.

  13. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    2013 where all gins are the same.

  14. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    2013 where all gins are the same.

  15. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Am I right?

  16. little umbrellas Says:

    7/31/99 Japan. full show on deck.

  17. garretcorncob Says:

    Just dropped the needle on the newly acquired After Dark 2 vinyl.

    Sounds great. These comps are my jam.

  18. bobby weird Says:

    Enjoy By’s $9.99 everywhere in Boston ($5.69 @ Costco? Does not compute). Life in the big city brah. Worth every last penny!

  19. Selector J Says:

    @stoney – Man, these Brits are giving ew0ks a bad name. :mrgreen:

  20. Highon Says:

    ‘Cuse 09 !!

  21. Bowie Opener Says:

    Someone called?

  22. *chad* Says:

    i’m amazed that this made the #1 show of the year. i’ve listened to it several times and i have to say, there is a lot “chunkiness” and sloppiness and not in a good way, either. from listening to the entire holiday run, it doesn’t sound like they really got their groove until the 30th, as far as playing goes….
    even if it does get #1 for 2013, i would hardly agree that it’;s their best show ever at msg. that’s just plain ridiculous..

  23. Kevin Says:

    I was at SPAC and agree that was the best show and 2nd set was pure fire. I had a blast up there and cant argue with that summary. Spot on. But how can the alphretta shows not make this list??? But those shows both (first night for sure, 2nd night was arguable) topped the SPAC shows.

  24. Pizza T Says:

    Awesome. I agree that the MSG was just as good as any best Phil shows from the past, especially when it comes to a cohesive positive band of brothers vibe. OMG the smiles are unlimitled every time I listen 2013 MSG.

  25. MNPhisherman Says:

    I like most of these picks although I don’t see how Santander made it – both Worchester’s and Hartford were far superior IMO.

    I also really like the first night at Bill Graham 8-2. It’s very relaxed and just ouey-guey, melt in your chair heaven. I can see where it might not have be a great show to be at if you love to dance, but sit back with some headphones and take this one in. Reba is just so dreamy and while Trey kinda cuts his solo off abruptly he just leaves you dying for more – and then comes back on Halfway and just KILLS it. Add a great Vultures>Roggae>Sand sequence, Seven Below, killer Walls oncore…

    If ya love the Dead this was Phish’s omage to them … Ya gotta listen to this one!

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