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. xpun Says:

    love me some winterqueen. odd second slot placement, but god the weather was so beautiful out on the island that day….pure bliss…perfect slow sun shining down jam

  2. snow Says:

    yo bb!

    hate to spoil the coventry sob stories but…
    Me pops had his ‘procedure’ yesterday and got results today… Good news! they removed two polyps and things look good. He in the hospital tonight cause there were complications, but at this point it looks like these bullets were dodged. Credit to the BB vibe machine!

  3. Darth Vaper Says:

    I’ll be honest, during Slave to the Traffic light, I just hugged MrsMiA tightly and sobbed the whole time. The worst lump in my throat I’ve ever had. Everybody was doing that. Just an audience of 20,000 people crying.

    So I decided to spin it here at work off Phishtracks as I type this.

    Now I’m crying at work over my keyboard typing this.

    Fuck Troy and him ending jams too early. Fuck that whale pedal. And fuck not having great 1st sets.

    I am so damn happy he is back and so healthy. So damn happy.

    I can’t believe it’s 10 years later.

  4. xpun Says:

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

    you may want to seek some professional help there t3 ;)

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    great news @snow!

  6. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Understandable T3. Sorry it still causes such anger.

    Best WAN is 8/1/14 eh vapeski? Firing up OB II as a result. Go for it:
    http://lastrewind.com/phish-20140801-orange-beach-al/

  7. Darth Vaper Says:

    Ah T3. Don’t be angry. Coventry, Coventry, Coventry! (like Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice).

    The ending of this slave is amazing. It really is a great Slave.

    They should never have let Trey leave the stage to reload though. He would have made it through that Curtain With without problems.

  8. Jerome Garcia Says:

    What MrC said snow. Fantastic news.

  9. bearito Says:

    The night I found out that they were getting back together I was watching The Black Keys at the HOB NOLA playing a 50 minute set for like $35. That shit sucked so much. I let go of any residual feelings of anger that night and have never looked back.

  10. Darth Vaper Says:

    That is great news Snow.

  11. bearito Says:

    Hell yeah Snow!!!

  12. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Whoa! Didn’t know they dropped a Curtis Loew in the first set. Starting w/ Curtis then jumping to II. Love that tune. Nobody does it better than Skynard though.

  13. Darth Vaper Says:

    Think after this Curtain With, I’m playing Hampton Fluffhead.

  14. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    ah, I’m not angry at them or anything. and my upset s mostly in jest or at least partially pumped up in the telling anyway. no one got hurt (physically) or anything like that. just left a horrible taste in our mouths after a cavalcade of bad luck robbed us from being there in the end. I’ll (eventually) get around to listing it out.

    @snow
    glad to hear your news. a wonderful way to change my mood away from “fuck coventry” to “yay snow!”

  15. little umbrellas Says:

    divine madness broken world

    Fear is the Mind Killer. Spice is life. The cup is found.
    Fear not the Red Knight.

    #fisherkingROBINWILLIAMS!

  16. little umbrellas Says:

    divine madness broken world

    Fear is the Mind Killer. Spice is life. The cup is found.
    Fear not the Red Knight.

    #fisherkingROBINWILLIAMS!

  17. bearito Says:

    All this coventry talk makes me rethink my shitty attitude when they drop a second set Alaska or The Line.

    But not really ;)

    Viva la Phish!

  18. roberto luongo Says:

    I was locked up in a 4 month scientology based rehab in Battle Creek, MI during Coventry.

    #Fitting

  19. Frankie Says:

    Joe Russo’s Almost Dead rehearsal video.

    St. Stephen > The Eleven > Casey Jones

    http://www.relix.com/media/video/joe_russos_almost_dead_st_stephen_the_eleven_casey_jones

  20. MrCompletely Says:

    that’s a smart and classy move @darth

  21. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Nice linkage drop Frankie. Quick OB interlude for this one real quick like…

  22. little umbrellas Says:

    doubles, wow. long time since I got a Paddlin. Usually the site won’t let you do that anyways.

    The force of Robin is too strong. Why Robin?! it’s like he succumbed to his own RedKnight in real life. Sad.
    stay Divine all y’alls. Love be with you.

    Terry Gilliam often and easily reaches me in my soul.

    ….GO PHISHM GOOOO!!!!

  23. MrCompletely Says:

    did you read that Russel Brand link @lilum?

    remarkable. as his essays tend to be. his onscreen persona is offputting to me but his writing is often quite brilliant

  24. little umbrellas Says:

    Roberto L.
    I think this was one of the big finds recently:
    http://neverenoughrhodes.blogspot.com/2012/04/herbie-hancock-mwandishi-live-1972.html

    C find the gold mine of Mwandishi era Herbie boots. Multiple 40+ jams. I haven’t even begun to dig.

    Also the remaster from the 11/15/72 Playin’ on DPVol11 is tops.

  25. little umbrellas Says:

    ^No, @C. was just reading back with a moment before heading to the beach. Russel Brand?

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