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. Jerome Garcia Says:

    dorntastic

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    @verno ahhhhhhh okay you like the Baltimore one….you like the long, spacy ones…that’s got like six or seven major phases to it, a colossus and one of the very best so that’s a high standard to set

    in general you want the 72-74 ones

    5.3.72 Paris. Gonzo.

    11.14.73 Other One > Big River > Other One > Eyes > Other One > Wharf Rat with plenty of spaciness

    4.26.72, Hundred Year Hall

    2.23.74 with a nice tiger meltdown and proto-Slipknot jam

    6.18.74 Louisville for sure, that’s on a RT, I can up it if it’s not on spot

    2.28.73 Salt Lake City, it’s on DP28, check the Dark Star too

    9.28.72 Stanley Theater

    those are the big ones from that era of spacy Other Ones that I can think of

    one great one from earlier I don’t think we mentioned is 5.2.70, that’s kind of the ultimate go-to

  3. dorn76 Says:

    MannFuego to put this thing to bed.

    Wife was really floored. Was really nice to recover her hip bumps and look over to see her applauding yet another sick solo. We threw down in the lawn all night with a couple of old friends from the WASP nest of Madison. Me and the wife got the other wife high for first time in quite some time. Hubby totally unawares. Got me thinkin some untoward thoughts…

    The venue is a big stage in woodsy burb with concert quality sound and production, projected onto grass. And sky. Dancing amongst the blankets and chairs behind the Sbd was perfecto.

    Huge Bound for Glory to seek out, @JG. Srsbz. They bring it home DaDRock Stylee, massive emotional peaks, gospel flair, 10 piece funkathon, Susan gravelly love songs, all anchored by Derek’s sublime ability.

    Tip o’ the cap.

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    if derek is finally in a band that’s worth seeing that’s good news

    he’s amazing but most of his lineups & material have been pretty boring to me

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    oh man that’s a fantastic one to get time warp’d

    dorn I hope you pay off that practice

  6. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Tell your story
    Roll the truth around your head
    Bound for glory
    I ain’t getting outta this bed

    Damn right dorn’s bound for glory. Tip o the cap sir.

  7. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Ha! dorn’s trapped in the future…givin mrsdorn sweet lovin til 4:19AM PST.

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    It’s just a jump to the left

    and then a step to the right

    with your hands on your hip (bumps)

    you pull your knees in tight

    but it’s the pelvic thrust…

  9. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Tedeschi Trucks Band has 3 albums Revelator live Everybody’s Talkin & Made Up Mind. Give ‘em a spin @ your leisure. Available to stream on Spot shark etc. Derek & Susan’s Soul Stew Revival if you’re familiar w/ those incarnations was the predecessor to TTB. Big swingin sound. Improv in different places than you’ve come to expect w/ Derek. Solid ensemble. Rhythm & blues revue & then some.

  10. sumodie Says:

    What do I do to her?

  11. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    8/31/2012, 8/31/2013= amazing chalkdust torture. i hope this trend continues this year.

  12. dorn76 Says:

    ^receive her hip bumps…

    #babymakinpractice

  13. dorn76 Says:

    Considered staying up to Quantum Leap. TTB is family time music in the best way. Was very impressed though, I’m not as deep as some. Then the Cialis and my rebuilt pelvis quit.

    4:19 pst is 7:19 CTst. I’m not that virile.

  14. Chris Says:

    I hope the trend of Chalkdust jams continues too. I love the type of fish driven jams that come out of it

  15. Chris Says:

    June 04 actually had a positive vibe. It was a celebration of phish before the darkness. They had just released Undermind too and were debuting some of those songs. 6.17 holds up nicely. Trey was rocking a summer camp haircut and looked happy to be playing as phish on the webcast. Even though if I go back and re-watch it I’m not sure he was happy and healthy. Page looks Like he’s nodding out. Some ripping solos in the asihtos opener and the epic deathmarch Moma free. Also long flowing jams in 46 days and Suzy. It holds up.

    The Chalkdust from the 18th is pretty sick. Then Spac was the ultimate final tribute to what made phish still great during the latter part of their (at the time) careers. Walls, asihtos, my all time favorite piper>(jibboo). The next night was even better. Waves, drowned had big jams in the first set. Seven below> ghost> twist is truly awesome. I had eaten some Molly and was on cloud 9 for it. Seven below and twist are two of my favorite live moments. Mikes bass sounded incredible that night. I’ll never forget that segment.

    I’m sure the vets here on the bb would tell me June wasn’t as positive as I perceive it to be. I saw my first show at pnc ’00. Looking back now and deer creek doesn’t do much for me but if you’ve never heard the 25 minute spaceship landing that is Alpines Seven below and are looking for a sick 2.0 jam than do yourself a favor and check it out.

  16. phishm Says:

    It’s looking like I have a field for Friday and Sunday. Just looking for a Saturday if anyone happens to have one they are not going to be using. It will go to good use. Thanks in advance.

  17. Fareedyomind Says:

    Does this review include the actual tour closer, Alpharetta, GA?
    In your earlier review of the final leg, you claimed the tour ended in Alabama.
    Alpharetta 2nd set was strong like bull.

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