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.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Phish-2014-07-29-Chalk-Dust-Torture.mp3]

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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.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Phish-2014-07-19-Light.mp3]

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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.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Phish-2014-07-11-Down-with-Disease.mp3]

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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.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Phish-2014-07-13-Tweezer.mp3]

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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.”

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Phish-2014-07-12-Ghost.mp3]

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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?

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Phish-2014-07-04-Fuego.mp3]

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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.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Phish-2014-08-29-Simple.mp3]

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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.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Phish-2014-07-01-Harry-Hood.mp3]

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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.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Phish-2014-07-08-Fuego-1.mp3]

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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.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Phish-2014-07-13-Chalk-Dust-Torture.mp3] Tags: , , ,

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

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  1. m00nshake Says:

    First? 🙂

  2. Buddysmyles Says:

    Second?

  3. sumodie Says:

    Huh? Only one Dick’s jam on this list? However, I’ve not replayed Dick’s so I can’t say I agree or disagree

    Randall’s was powerful fo’sure. I might even argue that the Randall’s Dust, Light, Tweezer deserves to be grouped all as one long glorious segment

    Miner, what a great highlights list from summer, thanks!

  4. Buddysmyles Says:

    A Great list for The State of Phish! Although i m a huge LxL so this SPAC version would make my top 10…. Biased!

  5. dorn76 Says:

    Miner with the kick save! And a beauty. Ty man.

  6. RicksFork Says:

    Morning BB. My thoughts are with you Dorn. Condolences and vibes.

    6 out of the 10 from summer isn’t bad for this guy. Love that the Mansfield Hood got no. 3! That was a special one and well deserved.

  7. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Thoughts and prayers, Dorn. So sorry for your pain. May you and your family find peace in this difficult time, man.

  8. Stoney Case Says:

    Your mom raised a great son, Dorn.

    Look for Stoney at odd hours going forward with the little man home. Damn dogs woke him up this morning.

  9. JB Says:

    That’s a heck of a top ten. MAnna from the gods. Not too surprised no Disk’s on there, from the couch it seemed to be middle of the road. They need to stop taking a month off before they hit Commererce Park again next year.

  10. Stoney Case Says:

    Nothing from the Kitten Factory Tweezer. Someone’s not going to be happy when they see this list.

  11. RicksFork Says:

    Middle of the road is something Dick’s was not. Simple stood alone and that made it a top 10 jam, but the rest were phenomenal parts of a greater whole. DWD>WTU, Carini>Light. Tweez>Sand, Mike’s.

  12. phlorida phan Says:

    Gutted after reading that news Dorn, vibes brother.

  13. RoosterPizza Says:

    Just read back. Take care, Dorn. Vibes.

  14. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    best to you and your family, dorn. there is solace in music and humor so keeping being you through it all.

  15. Stoney Case Says:

    New album from the House Band:

    http://greenskybluegrass.com

    I dig it! Spun twice whilst driving. Great work from Hoffman on the vocals throughout.

  16. RicksFork Says:

    I dig it too Stoney. Spun through this morning.

    Looking forward to seeing them Thursday night.

  17. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    nice list miner. i think everything could be switched around depending on taste with the exception of #1. that dust is hard to beat.

    peace to you, dorn.

    @jb and @ricks- i agree with ricks. dick’s was not middle of the road. nights 2 and 3 where full set explorations- the whole is what came together. while night 1 had the centerpiece in simple.

    thanks for the talk yesterday- i am logging off today. enjoy yourselves.

    my extra 11/2 and 11/1 for your extra 10/31 plus cash!

  18. Stoney Case Says:

    We could all convene at the Fillmore in November for the Greensky tour closer in San Francisco. Will be their first at the Fillmore.

  19. aj Says:

    Dorn, just read back… man, so sorry to hear about your loss, what a difficult time for you and your family. Sending you love and vibes, my friend. Seriously.

  20. vapebraham Says:

    morning, BB. nice picks, miner. that couldn’t have been easy.

    been spinning GD 4.27.91 set II this morn. love hornsby in the mix esp. when he picks up the accordion for UJB. next up 7.12.90 set I (rainy show).

  21. verno329 Says:

    Much love to you dorn. You are one of the ones who always helps remind me not to take the stuff we talk about here so seriously. We’re always here for you when you need it.

    *Re-post from last post. Didn’t realize we had moved over. I swear this isn’t a “bottom-paged” thing, dorn

  22. George W. Kush Says:

    Dorn, peace on ya. Lost my father tragically and suddenly a few years back and what helped me the most was/is keeping in mind the life lessons that your folks bestow upon you and the good example they set for you of acting compassionately and empathetically towards others. They are certainly looking down and guiding you daily whether you feel it immediately or not. Keep yer head up and rally around your family. Hug a lot and tell people close to you what they mean to you. Its never too late for that.

  23. tela's_muff Says:

    wow. really sorry to hear that news Dorn. sendings vibes your way.

  24. BingosBrother Says:

    Dorn is my favorite jam.

  25. ren2.0 Says:

    Had to come out of lurker mode to give Dorn some love. So sorry for your loss my friend. Knowing what I know of you, your family will be lucky to have you during this time. They will lean on your kindness and sensitivity and you will bring them cheer to brighten the darkness as you often do for us here.

    Sending all my best thoughts and energies along your way.

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