My Top 10 Jams of Summer

The Mann '14 (Andrea Nusinov)

The Mann ’14 (Andrea Nusinov)

As always, rankings are silly, pointless and fun all at the same time. This list was extra tough for some reason. Depending on who you are, these jams could take different places, but I feel pretty confident about my group of ten. After making my initial list I re-listened to everything and did some major shuffling. There’s some serious goods in the Honorable Mention section as well!

Honorable Mentions: “Limb by Limb” 7/3, “Chalk Dust” 7/9, “Bathtub Gin” 7/11, “Light” 7/13, “Wombat” 7/18, “Harry Hood” 7/19, “The Wedge” 7/20, “Ghost” 7/20, “Chalk Dust” 7/25, “Tweezer” 7/27, “Fuego” 7/30, “Down With Disease” 8/1, Down with Disease 8/30, Carini 8/30

10. “Chalk Dust Torture” 7/28, Portsmouth, VA

Out of the many versions of “Chalk Dust” outside of Randall’s Island, Portsmouth’s version stands out for its coherence and its narrative thread throughout. The other versions feel a bit scattered.

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9. “Light” 7/19, Chicago, IL

A deep experiment in acid-space-jazz, this jam brought a late set peak to Chicago’s second set. And it was well needed as there wasn’t much of substance played before it.

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8. “Down with Disease” 7/11, NYC, NY

One of many early-tour jams that is laced with super-tight, super-original whole-band playing with a powerful Trey at the helm. This one gets buried in the avalanche of Randall’s jams, but it really shouldn’t.

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7. “Tweezer” 7/13, NYC, NY

Randall’s “Tweezer” was flooded with original playing from the moment the jam drops to its transcendent peak. At no point in this version did the band sit back on any convention, weaving pure gold for the duration. And the way the band collectively climaxed this jam with that chord progression that many reading this can hum right now was nothing short of masterful. This was far and away the best “Tweezer” of the summer.

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6. “Ghost” 7/12 NYC, NY

The centerpiece of a flawless set of Phish, this “Ghost” featured gorgeous whole-band interplay and some of Trey’s most powerful lead playing of the summer. The band hooked up early in this one and got into a Hose-like zone, bringing the jam to a huge peak and then sticking with it into an extended section of fully locked downtempo jamming. At this point in summer, the band was squarely focused on deep, psychedelic jamming and it really shows in the Randall’s “Ghost.”

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5. “Fuego” 7/4, Saratoga Springs, NY

This was as dramatic of a jam debut as we’ve ever seen over 30 years of Phish. We all knew “Fuego” jams were coming, and Trey made sure to make the first one extra memorable. This second version of tour opened July 4th’s second set with an extended exploration that ended with the most dramatic whole-band peak of the summer. The apex of this jam was a moment that, if present, one will never forget—one of those superhero type moments you wish the world could feel. After this massive version, who would have guessed we’d only see two more jams from the countless “Fuegos” played for the rest of the summer?

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4. Simple” 8/29, Commerce City, CO

On the first night of Dick’s all the pieces from summer seemed to come together within this all-time “Simple” jam. Fish and Mike took the reins of this jam out of the gate while Trey sat back adding accents and rhythm licks and plotting a long-range plan. He gradually emerged over the course of several sections and then—for the first time in far too long—took the jam home with a some gargantuan lead playing. After a cathartic peak where the band would usually move on, they—instead—stepped into an all-out, funk throwdown with Trey  spinning dance grooves in a style rarely incorporated into modern day Phish. This “Simple” also contained the longest period of groove of any jam in recent memory.

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3. “Harry Hood” 7/1, Mansfield, MA

Throughout their careers, it hasn’t been uncommon for Phish to drop one of tour’s best jams on opening night. And this summer, the band did just that with their late-set version of “Harry Hood.” This wide-open rendition initiated a character shift for “Hood” this past summer into a type II jam vehicle. While many versions popped off in different directions, this one still holds the top spot for me, a truly magical journey.

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2. “Fuego” 7/8, Philadelphia, PA

This centerpiece from the first night of Philly is a remarkable jam that is unique in its pacing and progression. Displaying incredible patient, the band shifted as a unit throughout this jam, crafting almost orchestral movements. Just as one thought they were heading for a big peak a la SPAC’s version, the guys took a quick left into a section of whole-band groove. All in all, this “Fuego” is quite an exercise in improvisation and another quality example of the band’s early-summer approach to their jams.

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1. “Chalk Dust Torture” 7/13, NYC, NY

While much of this list was difficult to put in order, the top spot was a no brainer. Differing from the many constantly-in-motion “Chalk Dusts” of summer, Randall’s version saw the band develop themes while settling in and exploring several distinct-but-connected musical directions. Even after Dick’s standout weekend, the hour of music highlighted by this “Chalk Dust” still stands out as the most accomplished and innovative playing of the year. There were many great shows this summer, but something special that bears significance in the context of Phish’s career took place on the final night of Randall’s Island.

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1,621 Responses to “My Top 10 Jams of Summer”

  1. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Voopa with killer offer..

    We are party busing to Eug and back to PDX… Then i think we are leaning on Amtrak to SEA ( no idea how many), then staying at Grand Hyatt maybe? keep forgetting hotel.

  2. elihu Says:

    Peace and positive vibes to everyone going through loss and other hard times lately. Glad glad glad that at least the Dorn family dog is alive!

    Orang’ed up my best of Dick’s fantasy mix:

    Set 1: The Curtain With, Devotion to a Dream, Halfway to the Moon, Rift, Sample, Guyute, Hahaha, Wingsuit, Bowie, Suzy
    Set 2: DWD, WTU, Tweezer, Sand, Piper, Carini, Light, Mike’s, Simple, Ghost, Number Line, Weekapaug
    E: Hood, Wading, Tweezer Reprise

    Makes a pretty good show!

  3. phishm Says:

    Good to hear dorn. Glad the old dobe is going to be OK. Give that dog much love. They soak it up like good medicine.

  4. MiA Says:

    Sascha FTW!

  5. MiA Says:

    I like it Elihu!

  6. MiA Says:

    My eyes horribly burn exactly to the minute when the local pollen meter goes from “medium” to high.

  7. vapebraham Says:

    Darren dead sea Sproles — $$$ mnf outing.

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    sorry to hear about all the crazy, snow, even in entirely abstract form

    yay for relatively great news from dorn

  9. phishm Says:

    I know that some folks on here have been having some rough times lately. I’m not trying to compare, but just wanted to let you all know that I just experienced something pretty bad. I’m not going to get into specifics or such, but wanted to share. There seems to be a lack of bottom buddy in the old throne room. A lack of is a poor use or words. There wasn’t any at all. Of course I came to find this out after the fact. This is where the details get a little foggy as I’m already in the process of burying this last event deep in the recesses of my being never to be tapped into again. How could this happen to me? I always make sure to have much paper products on hand in my favorite room. Looking like a quick trip to the old store in the morning to refresh that which is an absolute must. Sorry TL:DR. Glad that’s over.

  10. vapebraham Says:

    Hang in there, phishm. Vibes, man.

    Dilf says colts would have won but for no call on defensive holding that led to int. Luck blames himself for the key interception.

  11. dorn76 Says:

    We’re here for you, brah.

    After you wash up.

  12. sumodie Says:

    Lol, made Miami SoBe hotel res (Clay Hotel, stayed there in 03 & 09) and I haven’t even bought Seattle airfare. As for weather, south Florida isn’t guaranteed to be overly warm around NYE. Very hit or miss

    Dorn, great news about yer woofmeister!

    Can’t stop spinning Jack White tonight. Hmmmm

  13. dorn76 Says:

    Just glad I survived the night without being the butt of any hairless Irish jokes.

  14. Stoney Case Says:

    Weed is burning.

    http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/09/15/wildfire-in-northern-california-town-of-weed-burns-100-homes-at-least-1500-evacuated-siskiyou-county-oregon-mount-shasta-fire-interstate-5-cal-fire/

    #PrayForWeed

  15. phishm Says:

    This is for you dorn.

    http://tinyurl.com/hairless-irish-animals

  16. elihu Says:

    Phishm, I recommend always keeping an emergency stash of wet wipes handy. Truly a bottom’s best buddy.

    So are folks in the know pretty sure that New Years run will go 12/31-1/3?

  17. sumodie Says:

    Not in the know, Elihu, but with 12/31 midweek it just feels right to have the run start on NYE for Miami. Plus all the rumors say that (gotta be gospel then). Some rumors say 3 MIA shows instead of 4

    Since I already had a hotel in mind seemed like a no brainer to book a refundable reservation

  18. elihu Says:

    It just seems strange to not have any warm-up shows before NYE. I was more hoping it would go 12/28-31.

  19. phishm Says:

    I think they should play MSG on the 27th and 28th. Take the 29th and 30th off for travel and such. Play NYE through the 3rd in Miami. That would be cool.

  20. Joe Says:

    Are you going to jack white, sumo?

  21. btb Says:

    Spinning the Disney version for the first time. Spinning last weekend thereafter.

    I read about the idea on Friday. Thought it sounded awesome.

    #sofarbehind

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