The Top 10 Shows of Tour

7.16.14 (Jesse Herzog)

7.16.14 (Jesse Herzog)

I must admit, in ranking shows, I am essentially ranking second sets. There were a couple first sets that stood out over others this tour, but at the end of the day, when thinking back and spinning these shows, it’s all about the second sets. There were no first sets that were strong enough to sway my decision making process, so there’s my disclaimer. And therein lies the reason for a couple of rather tight calls on this list of shows. As always, thanks for reading!

Honorable Mention:  7/3 SPAC, 7/5 SPAC, 7/18 Chicago, 7/19 Chicago

10) 7/8 The Mann Music Center, Philadelphia, PA

This show breaks into the top ten on the strength of its “Fuego,” the second best jam of tour, and its late-set sequence of “Ghost > 2001 > Harry Hood.” Though Trey shanked the “Tweezer” jam, there is more than enough meat to carry this one. The story here, however, is the monumental “Fuego” jam that still stands as the song’s most developed and prolific outing.

I: Axilla, Gumbo, Taste, 555, Tube, Halfway to the Moon, Camel Walk, Sparkle, Halley’s Comet > It’s Ice, Ocelot, Walls of the Cave

II: 46 Days, Fuego > The Line, Backwards Down the Number Line, Tweezer > Ghost > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Harry Hood > Tweezer Reprise

E: Possum

***

9) 7/25 PNC Amphitheatre, Charlotte. NC

Charlotte Official (J.Santora)

Charlotte Official (J.Santora)

Living in the shadows of the Merriweather stand since the weekend they both happened, Charlotte’s performance actually has quite a bit to offer. This show’s centerpiece is a long form “Chalk Dust” that stands second only to Randall’s in summer’s top versions. The seamless sequence of “Fuego -> Twist -> Circus” boasts tour’s most impressive segue between the latter two songs, and summer’s most intricate and variant  “Reba” popped up late in the second set.  Trey’s “riftcord” in the “Piper” jam was the only blemish in this set, and Charlotte has  one has one of my favorite first sets taboot.

I: Mike’s Song > Back on the Train > Weekapaug Groove, Wingsuit, Possum, Tube, My Friend, My Friend, Winterqueen, Beauty of a Broken Heart, David Bowie, Golgi Apparatus

II: 555, Chalk Dust Torture > Fuego -> Twist -> When the Circus Comes, Piper > Rift, Waiting All Night > Reba > Character Zero

E: Loving Cup

*** 

8) 8/1 Amphitheatre at the Wharf, Orange Beach, AL

Phish’s first visit to the Gulf Coast resulted in a smoking second set that featured the jam of the south in “Down with Disease” and an original “Tweezer” that reached a gorgeous musical space. Pairing “Fuego” and “Slave” in the middle of the set and then closing things out with a seamless mashup of “Boogie On” and “Antelope,” Phish brought their best Southern effort on the three-night run’s opening night. A rock solid set of music gave the Phish-starved deep South something to write home about.

I: Chalk Dust Torture, The Moma Dance, Heavy Things, 555, Rift, 46 Days, Tube, Devotion To a Dream, Wolfman’s Brother, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Free, Character Zero

II: Down with Disease > Theme From the Bottom > Tweezer > Prince Caspian, Waiting All Night, Fuego > Slave to the Traffic Light, 2001 > Boogie On Reggae Woman -> Run Like an Antelope

E: Bouncing Around the Room > Tweezer Reprise

***

7) 7/26 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD

This second set flowed like water from start to finish and boasts plenty of high quality improvisation throughout. The jam of the show is a toss up between the ‘70s-rock infused “Ghost” jam and the avant-garde fusion that went down in “Light.” Each of these jams is quite good and of completely divergent feels. The opening run of “Carini -> Ghost -> Steam” came off without a hitch and a contained but blistering “Harry Hood” capped things off. A true powerhouse Phish set.

I: Sample in a Jar, The Moma Dance, Wombat, Backwards Down the Number Line, Roggae, The Wedge, Wolfman’s Brother, Nellie Kane, Lawn Boy, The Line, Stash, Suzy Greenberg

II: Carini -> Ghost > Steam -> The Mango Song, Monica, Light -> Also Sprach Zarathustra > Harry Hood

E: Julius

***

6) 7/30 nTelos Pavilion, Portsmouth, VA

Portsmouth Official (Kelly)

Portsmouth Official (Kelly)

Portsmouth’s second performance was far and away the best show Phish has ever played in the intimate nTelos Amphitheatre. It was always a treat to see Phish in such a small outdoor venue, but the shows there have always been medicore. That changed this year in a big way on night two, as Phish dropped only the third “Fuego” jam of tour (and first since Philadelphia almost three weeks earlier) and it was a keeper. The band was locked on this night and it showed in “Fuego’s” deep groove throwdown, a vibe that continued with the second-ever “Meatstick” jam (and first since 7.15.99), a funktastic piece that eventually bled into one of tour’s “Pipers.” This set boasted flow, bust-outs, surprise jams and just about everything you’d want in a Phish set (except a powerful closer).

I: Bathtub Gin, Devotion To a Dream, Yarmouth Road, Guelah Papyrus, Alaska, It’s Ice, Poor Heart, Mountains in the Mist, Meat, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, David Bowie

II: Fuego > Gotta Jibboo, Meatstick > Piper > Billy Breathes, Seven Below, Waste, Backwards Down the Number Line, First Tube

E: The Lizards

***

5) 7/20 Northerly Island, Chicago, IL

I’ve totally come around on this show, as I was in a poor headspace that night, and the back half of this set completely smokes! This is a “Mike’s Groove” to be reckoned with, as the band not only split open “The Wedge” like never before, crafting one of tour’s best jams out in the unlikeliest of places, but they followed it up with an incredibly unique “Ghost” jam that was as dark as “The Wedge” was light. A smoking “Weekapaug” this closed the “Groove” emphatically and an above average “Disease” kicked things off in a set that flows from start to finish, despite an unneeded “Theme.”

I: Gumbo, Runaway Jim, Tela, The Line, Scent of a Mule, Bathtub Gin, Silent in the Morning, Maze, Ocelot, Walls of the Cave

II: Down with Disease > Winterqueen, Theme From the Bottom, Mike’s Song > The Wedge, Ghost -> Weekapaug Groove, First Tube

E: Character Zero

***

4) 7/12 Randall’s Island, New York City, NY

When this second set ended I called in perfect. With everything it its right place, Phish played an airtight frame of music with highlight jams all over. “Ghost” is the true centerpiece of the set, a patient journey through rock and downtempo realms. A stunning “Harry Hood” closes things out, and an intricate and ambient “Carini” started things off. Tour’s only “Punch” opened the set and tour’s only “Rock and Roll” came as a blistering contained rendition. Throw in a strong “Wingsuit” in the middle of the set, and you’ve got—well—a perfect frame of Phish.

I: AC/DC Bag, 46 Days, Yarmouth Road, Devotion To a Dream, Free, My Sweet One,  Back on the Train, Halfway to the Moon , Sparkle, A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing, The Line, Run Like an Antelope

Set 2: Punch You In the Eye, Carini > Ghost > Wingsuit, Rock and Roll, Harry Hood

E: Tube, Joy, First Tube

***

3) 7/4 SPAC, Saratoga Springs, NY

7/4 Official (Mumford)

7/4 Official (Mumford)

Rarely does Phish open a second set with an hour of top-shelf improvisation but on July 4th that is exactly what happened. And they did it in grand style, debuting “Fuego’s” jam with an exploratory, twenty-minute excursion that peaked in tour’s most sublime moment. From the new to the classic, the band slid into a run of “Disease > Twist > Light” before ever looking up for air. They coasted to the finish with “Theme,” “Number Line” and “First Tube,” but the damage had most definitely been done. This one was a holiday show to remember, and—easily—the best July 4th show in since 7.4.00.

I: The Star Spangled Banner, 555, Kill Devil Falls, The Moma Dance, Reba,Waiting All Night, Runaway Jim, 46 Days, Rift, Split Open and Melt, The Squirming Coil

II: Fuego > Down with Disease > Twist > Light > Theme From the Bottom, Backwards Down the Number Line, First Tube

E: Character Zero

***

2) 7/27 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD

MPP Official (J.Callos)

MPP Official (J.Callos)

Night two of Merriweather was a different kind of Phish show. Though breakthrough jams took place in “Tweezer” and “NICU,” the take away from this night was about energy. But not the balls to the wall energy one would associate with a rock show, but the wacky, Phishy energy that was necessary to pull off such a second set at all. This type of setlist trickery and antic/comedy driven show was part of the band’s repertoire in the early-Ninties, and here we were in 2014 witnessing a performance every bit as musically inspired and energetic. Watching the band perform this show was like watching them rediscover their youth. As if shot into some alternate zone by Fishman’s abrupt change of direction in “Tweezer’s” jam, the guys became possessed with a spirit of old—but a spirit that clearly still burns brightly in their hearts today, driving the modern version of Phish. We’ve all seen a lot of shows, and we’ve all seen the guys have a great time on countless occasions, but something was different on this night, they were having a whole ‘nother level of fun as they wove in and out of songs, stopped to jam where the spirit moved, and generally carried on with a zaniness that has lied just below the surface for the most of the modern era. This night was special for us, no doubt, but far more significantly, this night was special for them.

I: Fee, The Curtain With, 46 Days, 555, My Sweet One, Sand, Bouncing Around the Room, Saw It Again, Fuego, You Enjoy Myself

II: Wilson > Tweezer -> Back on the Train -> Tweezer > Back on the Train -> Tweezer > Waiting All Night, Free -> Tweezer -> Simple -> Tweezer -> Free, Catapult -> Slave to the Traffic Light, Down with Disease -> NICU -> Hold Your Head Up > Jennifer Dances > Hold Your Head Up, I Been Around

E: Boogie On Reggae Woman > Tweezer Reprise

***

1) 7/13 Randall’s Island, New York City, NY

7.13 Official (J.Flames)

7.13 Official (J.Flames)

No antics in this one, just the best improvisation of the entire tour in a Hall of Fame hour of music that went “Chalk Dust > Light > Tweezer.” “Chalk Dust” is up there with Phish’s all time jams, easily cracking the upper echelon of that discussion. A true masterpiece that soars out of the gates and then settles into the most intuitive and connected jamming of the summer, this one has replay value for days as it continues to wow with every spin. Showing ultimate composure and exhibiting patience rarely seen in this day and age, the band navigated a near half-hour piece of music that is ridiculously dense and rich, featuring countless feels and soundscapes. But that’s just the first half of the coin. On the backside Phish dropped “Light > Tweezer,” each a standout highlight of its own. The band dripped into a surreal “Mind Left Body” jam in “Light,” and packed the tour’s best “Tweezer” with totally inventive playing, building to a group-wide peak that saw brains explode across Randall’s Island. This first hour of the second set was real-deal Holyfield, sashimi grade Phish that will stand up to anything. Finishing the set with “Velvet Sea,” “Monica” and “Slave,” this one was airtight through the end. Randall’s final performance also boasts my pick for best first set of tour, featuring several juicy selections.

I:Sand, Winterqueen, Reba, Birds of a Feather, Water in the Sky, Possum, Runaway Jim, Bouncing Around the Room, Maze, Split Open and Melt

II: Chalk Dust Torture > Light > Tweezer, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Monica, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Backwards Down the Number Line > Tweezer Reprise

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692 Responses to “The Top 10 Shows of Tour”

  1. Darth Vaper Says:

    I’ve really come to grips with Coventry. Sure it was tough, I was attending the upcoming funeral for a friend drying of a drug addiction that was destroying their brilliance.

    I knew I didn’t want to be there, but knew I didn’t not want to be there.
    I had been to every Festival (except Camp Oswego) and there were a big handful of friends that were all going that I knew I likely wouldn’t see again without Phish.

    It would be like Phish hanging it up today, and all your BB friends are going to the show. You would go. Just to hug it out in the end. And that’s what I did. And cried.

    We flew into Montreal. I had originally rented an RV, for six folks I knew wanted to share, but he was getting sketchy about the rental fast and I didn’t want the $1900 RV bill with no-one to share it with either. In the end, I just rented a Suburban or a Fordasaurus. Threw all my camping gear in it, and made my way to Newport via Quebec’s Autoroute 10. Smooth sailing.

    Ended up driving through Newport in the morning, picking up ice, and sundries and getting stuck in line on SB91. Heard Mike’s news in the morning, leapt into the rig, drove through the median at one of those “authorized vehicles only” and headed back to Newport, drove through the town, and made it on the 105, about .25 miles from Airport Road and paid someone $25 to park in their yard for the weekend. Grabbed our gear and pulled it up the long hill of airport road. We found a pretty dry spot, set up our tent, and were ready to go by noonish. I am confident it only took us from hearing Mike’s voice to putting up our tent maybe 4 hours? I think we even went back for stuff halfway through the day. There were golf carts and trucks hauling people up and down airport road.

    I was tired, exhausted, and everything, from pulling up my camping gear, but most of the camping area was dry, with good trails through it. It really wasn’t a bad deal at all.

    The walk in and out to the field sucked. It took some boomers and the yawns hit early ended up crashed out on a gorgeous blue tarp that someone let me lay on (hadn’t thought about bringing a Tarp to the show). By the third set, selfish assholes had plodded all over it, and destroyed it.

    There are some great jams though. The Disease started good, but sucked during the glow stick part, and well, that whole set ended up sucking. Trey was as far gone as he has ever looked in his life. Those are the famous “fucked up Trey” gifs from that jam. Everyone else is playing fine. Just Trey shitting the bed.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgoKr0S0RaY

  2. vapebraham Says:

    Crazy to think he was that far gone and is now prancing and smiling and still ripping, albeit at a slower pace.

    Guy in the hood is 28. Says he’s been a fan for 20 years. Dam, son. Getting down w phish as an eight yr old – respect. Cat saw 10 shows this past tour and loved them. Loved. He feels they are playing really well right now.

    Sick effect in the o beach 2001. Not sure who or what is making that sound, but I’ve never heard it before. Early in the tune.

  3. lumpyhead Says:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BvBheGnIYAAer0M.jpg

    this clock looks like admiral ackbar.

  4. bearito Says:

    So happy to see Gumbo get slightly released from it’s chains in Alpha. Thought we were going to get a full on “mama slaved all day home cooking” version but we got the “crock pot” recipe instead. Still $$

  5. vapebraham Says:

    Mia: can u repost your last post, please. Many won’t read it on prior page due to its placement.

  6. vapebraham Says:

    Fatty Boogie lope in O beach.

  7. BingosBrother Says:

    Conphession : have yet to get Randjobbed.

  8. Darth Vaper Says:

    Ha ha.

  9. vapebraham Says:

    For the love of God, bingos, spin the night 3 set ii.

  10. MrCompletely Says:

    boogielope is legit fun. nimble phish is good phish. quick witted and light on their feet

  11. Jerome Garcia Says:

    I’m an unabashed bottom page’d to top page’d poster so here’s Darth’s previous Coventry post:

    Darth Vaper Says:
    August 14th, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    I’ve really come to grips with Coventry. Sure it was tough, I was attending the upcoming funeral for a friend drying of a drug addiction that was destroying their brilliance.

    I knew I didn’t want to be there, but knew I didn’t not want to be there.
    I had been to every Festival (except Camp Oswego) and there were a big handful of friends that were all going that I knew I likely wouldn’t see again without Phish.
    It would be like Phish hanging it up today, and all your BB friends are going to the show. You would go. Just to hug it out in the end. And that’s what I did. And cried.

    We flew into Montreal. I had originally rented an RV, for six folks I knew wanted to share, but he was getting sketchy about the rental fast and I didn’t want the $1900 RV bill with no-one to share it with either. In the end, I just rented a Suburban or a Fordasaurus. Threw all my camping gear in it, and made my way to Newport via Quebec’s Autoroute 10. Smooth sailing.

    Ended up driving through Newport in the morning, picking up ice, and sundries and getting stuck in line on SB91. Heard Mike’s news in the morning, leapt into the rig, drove through the median at one of those “authorized vehicles only” and headed back to Newport, drove through the town, and made it on the 105, about .25 miles from Airport Road and paid someone $25 to park in their yard for the weekend. Grabbed our gear and pulled it up the long hill of airport road. We found a pretty dry spot, set up our tent, and were ready to go by noonish. I am confident it only took us from hearing Mike’s voice to putting up our tent maybe 4 hours? I think we even went back for stuff halfway through the day. There were golf carts and trucks hauling people up and down airport road.

    I was tired, exhausted, and everything, from pulling up my camping gear, but most of the camping area was dry, with good trails through it. It really wasn’t a bad deal at all.

    The walk in and out to the field sucked. It took some boomers and the yawns hit early ended up crashed out on a gorgeous blue tarp that someone let me lay on (hadn’t thought about bringing a Tarp to the show). By the third set, selfish assholes had plodded all over it, and destroyed it.

    There are some great jams though. The Disease started good, but sucked during the glow stick part, and well, that whole set ended up sucking. Trey was as far gone as he has ever looked in his life. Those are the famous “fucked up Trey” gifs from that jam. Everyone else is playing fine. Just Trey shitting the bed.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgoKr0S0RaY

  12. Darth Vaper Says:

    tl;dr’d 2x

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    it’s like deja vu all over again

  14. bearito Says:

    Bingos def needs to get his bird wet with Randjob 3

    Tis’ the sickness

  15. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Bingos time to get Randy w/ the Triplet:
    http://lastrewind.com/phish-20140713-new-york-ny/

  16. sumodie Says:

    Ive always felt it was very fitting that Coventry was such a mess. It gave me hope that the band might someday return (tho I too had fully closed tje books on phish after Coventry)

    My only significant negative experience at Coventry was having to ditch my crew as they werent prepared to hike in. One brought her kid…

    Once they dropped me off with just a backpack and tarp to sleep under (shouldve brought my sleeping bag but opted to go light) I had an awesome time underneath the intense bittersweet cloud

    Slept in a nice grassy field not far from the main gate (cars had never been parked there) and stayed fairly clean. On the second day I was so close to tje stage to be on the crushed rock they had spread around the immediate stage area

    Caught a ride home to western MA with an acquaintance. Barely listened to Phish till the Hampton announcement

    Very bittersweet to be there without my crew tho. That part hurt a lot

  17. Mr. Palmer Says:

    TrainWreck Trey playing with Glowsticks…

  18. Darth Vaper Says:

    Spinning Tinley in honor of AJ’s first show. I remember thinking it was weird how they went from playing the State Theater, and Aragon in April to playing Tinley (which I thought was a huge place) in 4 months.

    They were also playing Red Rocks, which I was excited to go to and was gonna meet a friend, so figured I’d just head down there, and hit it before my last year of college started.

    Then I found out my TA job at the University started on the 23rd because the prof wanted me to “start early” and “get up to speed” and I panicked on getting out there and back in time.

    I could have gotten up to speed just fine. Jerk. I rued about that for awhile.

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    “Ive always felt it was very fitting that Coventry was such a mess.”

    Seems like everything about it was conceptually integrated and apt – the symbolism and reality meshed on every level.

    I have a good friend, a guy I used to see Phish with fairly often, who went to Coventry and is still so mad at the band for how fucked up that scene was that he refuses to go to any shows. He listens to webcasts and such but will not attend. As an industry guy he feels some kind of weird personal affront that I don’t understand.

  20. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Some other memories…just started to read this so if it sucks I blame Coventry.
    http://www.jambase.com/Articles/122452/10-Years-Later-The-End-Of-An-Era-Phish-At-Coventry

  21. bearito Says:

    That DWD vid Darth posted is the first Coventry I’ve listened to since the theater-cast.

    Fuck Trey. So glad to have you back brah.

    Sincerely,

    Rito

  22. xpun Says:

    any coventry link always leads me to watch glide……i may have to listen to randy3 just to balance that shit show out

  23. verno329 Says:

    I looked at Coventry (from a distance, mind you) in a similar respect, MiA Vaper. I viewed it as the last time you were going to see someone you were really close with, either forever or at least for a long time. You don’t leave there saying “Well that certainly wasn’t the best time I ever had with _______.” You say “Man, I’m gonna miss that guy! Hope he can find whatever it is he’s looking for and come back to us someday. But if not, at least I can say I saw him off the best way he would allow.”

    Been a stressful and frustrating day at work but the ’95 PJJ is getting me through it. The abstract psychedelic mindfucks are exactly what I need today.

  24. Darth Vaper Says:

    I agree Sumo. Many of my friends that I went to hug it out with didn’t make it into the show, and they watched from a theater somewhere in New York or just didn’t watch at all.

    I figured it was great that I :

    1) Didn’t get the RV. I would have been screwed financially, and not been able to get in, or had to park much farther away.

    2) I hiked a mile. Maybe. The stories of 15 mile hikes, and parking in some farmers field and/or getting rides in, then not having a way of getting a hold of the person/losing cars, etc. It was kinda … well crazy.

    3) Mud sucks. But it didn’t pour on us. The nights were actually pretty pleasant. Adversity brings people together. And I think the Phish people that were there, all felt like they were part of a group that really was committed to seeing the band off the best we could.

  25. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    can’t do it.

    I’ll check in later if/when the coventry convo dies down.

    I just have too much negativity wrapped up in that one.

    maybe if I write it out it’ll help me put it to bed, but that’s not happening right now.

    shit, I can’t even drive by the exits for coventry, ct or coventry, ri without getting pissed about the whole thing.

    fuck coventry

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