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. MrCompletely Says:

    I will def check it but most fela remixes just make me want to listen to original fela tracks….which I am slowly upgrading from mp3 to lossless album by album

  2. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Soundway’s Ghana Soundz Volume 2: Afro Beat Funk & Fusion in 70s Ghana

  3. MrCompletely Says:

    that’s the exact one I’m listening to now Jerome, just not on Spot

    def check the SE Rogie link I posted, or look him up

    Dieman Noba Smoke Tafee (“Dead Men Dont Smoke Marijuana”)

    killer. “the music that plays on the escalator ride to heaven”

  4. Darth Vaper Says:

    MrsMia is Padme.

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    in before “_____ is Jar Jar” jokes

  6. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Just fired it up MrC. On track 2 Africa Is Home. Will def check your Dieman Noba link. Thanks yo!

  7. MrCompletely Says:

    today’s gripe: people who call themselves developers but can’t be bothered to learn how to grep properly. WTF peoples

  8. Darth Vaper Says:

    Or should I could say … “Padmé Naberrie of Naboo (publicly known by her regal name, Padmé Amidala) and also known as Her Royal Highness, Queen Amidala of Naboo and as Her Excellency, Senator Padmé Amidala of Naboo.

    MrsMiA easier to type.

  9. Jerome Garcia Says:

    I’m gonna call her Her Royal Highness from here on out. Prep her so I don’t get any funny looks. Pls & thx.

  10. Darth Vaper Says:

    Call her Royal Highness, Queen Amidala of Naboo if you please.

    Seriously though. Sidious telling me I killed Padmé in my anger, was a real bummer. Felt so good to throw him down the vent shaft to his death after he tried to kill my son.

    I really should have done that much earlier once I realized that Padmé had given birth to a young Skywalker (or two), and she had not actually died and Sidious had lied all along to me. I really stewed for a long time on that lie.

    I hate Sidious more than T3 hates Coventry. Which is a lot.

  11. snow Says:

    mmmm… regular expressions…

    Thanks gents. Glad to be able to share good news!

    phishm at dicks!? that’s great. with such a strong BB showing, it’s gonna be a great weekend. *super phatty matty sunday show* gonna have to pace ourselves (or triple down, whateves).

    6 months of unemployment and I’m feeling sooooo much better. Can’t wait to rage. kind of glad I held off going east since I feel like I have really chilled out the last couple weeks. the long weekend without the family was really grounding in the end. I was sick and spent a lot of time horizontal.

    @JG- We’ll have our own post show dab session. drop me a line, so we can be in touch. snowbankbb@g-male

    I’m staying in Broomfield to be close to one set of friends, but at least one night I’m hoping there will be a post-show BB party and someone can give me a ride there. Then I’ll cab it back to broomfield.

  12. snow Says:

    your post after mine was classic BB @mia. looking forward to seeing you, ya big blubbering rainbow pony

  13. Darth Vaper Says:

    Anyone have Herbie Hancock Live at Suntory Hall, Tokyo, Japan in ’87? I thought it was on the never enough rhodes website, and seems to be gone.

    Not easy to find anymore.

  14. Darth Vaper Says:

    Likewise Snow, looking forward to seeing you ya red, white and blue velour wristband and headband’d but still sweating profusely dude.

  15. Darth Vaper Says:

    Maybe it was terry cloth. My bad.

  16. snow Says:

    @C- I have some fela in lossless.
    teacher don’t teach me nonsense
    noise for the vendor mouth
    Alagbon Close/Why Black Man Dey Suffer

    Want any of those?

  17. snow Says:

    I actually only have headbands and none of them are RWB. I have a red, yellow, blue and orange green blue. 4lyphe

    it’s like spatula city, but for headbands.

  18. lumpyhead Says:

    Darth Vaper Says:
    August 14th, 2014 at 1:44 pm
    Think after this Curtain With, I’m playing Hampton Fluffhead.

    ^ hell yeah

  19. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Mike weirdness from circa ’08

  20. Darth Vaper Says:

    Hampton Fluffhead.

    Wish I would have been there for that…

  21. MrCompletely Says:

    I’d love those first two thanks @snow

  22. Verno329 Says:

    The cape pen is the perfect companion for taking my perfect companion to the dog park after work. Gotta take advantage of a day in the 80’s in August in Alabama.

  23. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    reading back on the conventry talk. i skipped coventry. in fact, i pretty much skipped 2.0 (only two shows: utah and denver ’03). i was really off the phish bus in ’03 and ’04. i was literally obsessed with climbing in ’03 and ’04. all my free time was spent on a rope. i was at state bridge, co seeing melvin seals during coventry and i remember experiencing a brief moment of guilt and sadness because i did not make the effort to go to the “last show ever”. after some friends came back and told me how shitty trey was and how, for the most part, the music was shit, one friend exclaimed, “that was not their last show, it was too crappy. they will be back for redemption.” he was right. and now, while i don’t climb like i used to, i have been seeing more phish. i am so happy that they came back.

    my 11/2 for your 11/1

  24. MrCompletely Says:

    and somehow as so often happens I land on good ole Freddie Hubbard. Straight Life, yo.

    Ethiopian Knights will fit really well with this album

  25. MiA Says:

    I was just sad after Coventry. Didn’t matter whether they played brilliantly or not. Phish was gone for good it seemed.

    Honestly if they came out and killed it I think I just would have been more sad.

    Pre-Vegas and 2.0 were really pretty good. After that it seemed hit or miss, but still a lot of hits. By Coventry it looked like Trey had a year left.

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