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:

    yeah man

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bud-Rub-The-Topical-Medicinal-Salve/616093035130609?ref=stream

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah exactly. it’s not like it’s gonna cure your broken leg but for just loosening up and stuff it totally works for me, I always have some around

    also really good for actual skin stuff. definitely a fan – just trying not to over-promise – for the things it’s good for, it’s great

    helps a lot with stretching out just regular type tension

  3. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Ha! Word. Completely boring. Still like to burn. Although wax shatter what have you is super niiiiiiiice. Kinda like this Orchestre album. Super enjoyable top to bottom spin; on 2nd to last track. Conotou Club an ’11 release. Not nearly as gritty as some of the Orchestre shit linked by one of our resident Musical Shamans in the past. But worth a spin & as stated earlier essential as it is a release.

    Ricks James bitch! knows of what he speaks. CaRandy>Ghost top shelf 3.0 Phish. Really dug ground covered in Ghost. Would that be considered an ‘in the box’ Ghost jam?

  4. lumpyhead Says:

    get it done aj

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    homeboy put a lot of fuckin work into getting that stuff right that’s for damn sure. big difference from the original trial runs (which were good) to what he has now

  6. MrCompletely Says:

    Orchestre struff really runs the gamut from super gritty to pretty smooth and polished. Massive and super diverse output

    I def vape wax primarily as my early evening or weekend daytime thing but when it’s time to get real there’s nothing like some fire

  7. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Cracked 2nd Unapologetic bomber which means I’m committed to finishingit. Wholly unapologetic about the whole endeavor really. Hop heads yall need to check this previously pamped Stone collabo IPA. Kayanap would give it 3 $s.

    Soundway presents Afro Tropical Soundz
    http://open.spotify.com/album/0x6Yvd5CKVaER5htkGOmjE

    Still back porch’d.

  8. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Some of these tunes have a distinctly Afro Cuban ie Buena Vista Afro Cuban All Stars vibe to ‘em. Hells yeah.

  9. phishm Says:

    Those that are still back porching it when clearly the time to front porch has come with the lack of light. Give this one a shot. It’s what some may call perfect for some in the right mindset. Big fan of the 2.0. Deep music IMO.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbWb2bd4LfQ

  10. RicksFork Says:

    @jg-lovin that Carini>Ghost right now. Did the pre-Dicks run to Vermont for Topper today. Will be traveling heavy to CO with east coast brew. JG, we shall share one in person for certain. @phishm, you in for Dicks? Is this a new turn of events?

  11. BingosBrother Says:

    That looks perfect C. I’d like to jump in a tub of that goodness.

  12. phishm Says:

    The thought of letting another year go by without experiencing that which is Dick’s really got to me when I finally figured out that I didn’t have my kids that Sunday night. My calendar math needs a lot of work. I have checked it a few hundred times today and keep coming up with the fact that I don’t get them until 8pm that monday night. I figured what the hell and checked flights and found the absolute perfect flight for a great price. The rest they say is history. Still need floors for the 1st 2 nights from what I’ve been told, but I’m not worried about it. Can’t wait to meet the bb going. Should be fun.

  13. RicksFork Says:

    @phishm – way to go man! Hope to meet you out there.

  14. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Ricks one the things I’m looking most forward to. Topper is just mud gravy.

    I’ll go so far as to say CaRandy>Ghost>Wingsuit another albeit altogether different incredible triplet from the festie run. Well dome Phish.

  15. verno329 Says:

    Going through some of the Other One recs you all so kindly offered and the Other One > Sing Me Back Home from Vol 23 just tore me down and built me up again. That is now a go-to choice for me. Wow.

    I think I might have to go exploring some more versions to keep me occupied till Dicks. The more spacey the version the better.

  16. Jerome Garcia Says:

    But! But! But a most heartfelt Garcia for your HeadyT efforts! You are unequivocally the Hop Shaman. Truly a King amongst a men. We’ve been over this though 8-)

  17. phishm Says:

    It will be cool to meet you too. I could of sworn we met that other time. You know, at that show where all that crazy shit went down. Remember? We both were going our separate ways so really didn’t get a chance to talk. It was just that casual look that some of us give that says ya, I feel that way too right now. Love it when that happens. Maybe it wasn’t you. Too bad. Hopefully next time.

  18. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Check the Primal Dead Tahoe TOO? If so thoughts?

  19. Jerome Garcia Says:

    DP22 That’s It For The Other One
    http://open.spotify.com/track/1ZNZYnPwbQVxYtDirCIX5U

  20. phishm Says:

    If anyone happened to click on that link. The wolfman’s is spectacular. Almost other worldly. I didn’t think that other worldly was a word until it didn’t come back underlined. Glad for that.

  21. phishm Says:

    And may honestly be my absolute most favorite Antelope I’ve heard in quite some time. Shit is smoking. Hope they play like that at dicks. eh?

  22. butter Says:

    Halloween Halfway to the Moon has some extra mustard on it

    that and Dicks my fav 2 versions of the song

  23. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    1/2 way from billy g 8/2/13 is a go to version for me

  24. dorn76 Says:

    I deserve the top o’ the page considering how hard we got down to Susan and D$$$ tonight.

  25. dorn76 Says:

    Dagnabbit!

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