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”

  1. Stoney Case Says:

    Dorn with a Bingos funk breakdown = my favorite Jam

  2. BingosBrother Says:

    Stoney’s magic elixirs and hugs = the special sauce in my funk jam

  3. Sex&City Says:

    There is something really special here on the BB. I can’t imagine what you are going through Dorn, but from the looks of it… you have a bigger family here then anyone could ask for. My thoughts are with you and yours.

  4. Nate Says:

    Your honorable mentions include the Down with Disease on 7/1? I think you meant 8/1.

    Also — love the list, but imho the Wedge and the Chicago Hood are both more successful jams than the Portsmouth Chalkdust.

  5. jtran Says:

    hey dorn, thinking of you and your family. i’m really sorry to hear the news but know you’ll get through it in time. we’re all here for you.

  6. 4thDimension Says:

    institutional bias against chicago shows? amazing that wedge isn’t a top ten jam, but i can see the argument. thanks miner as always. still think 6:30 – 7:37 of the simple jam is most transcendent phish of 14, and rivals passages from disease supreme; KC Tweezer; 1/1/11 simple; dicks 11 tweezer; LB ghost 12; and some others as the most spiritually fulfilling music of 3.0

  7. dusty Says:

    Looks like no fall tour for this kid. Was trying to avoid the work India trip convergence but I knew it was going to happen. No one wants to take trips there in monsoon season. I will have to provide my own space camp soundtrack, but work provides the shots and visa.

    Hang in there Dorn. It does get easier or the feelings of overwhelmed get less frequent. Just process it straight on, don’t hide behind any substance.

  8. DryIceFactory Says:

    eh.

    I think you need to redo this list. I was there for Chicago Light, it wasn’t even the best jam of the set. Hood was.

  9. DryIceFactory Says:

    And how come nobody likes the CMAC Disease? One of the most underrated jams of summer IMO and would easily make a top 10 list for me.

  10. bearito Says:

    Hey BB, been off the grid till I finally got around to finish listening to the Dicks run last night, no-spoilers stylee. So much great music! Hope all in attendance got what they were looking for.

    Dorn, I’m so sorry to hear about your mother & stepfather. Having lost a sibling to an auto accident, my heart goes out to you and your family. The road is long in trying to understand why the universe takes us in the blink of an eye, but rest assured that their spirit and energy will be with you always.

  11. BingosBrother Says:

    I agree with Miner on Light myself. Loved Hood and it’s dancey uplifting jam, but that Light is what is rare these days. Straight up skull fucking psychedelic nastiness. Tore a hole in that dance floor. Fireworks show on the skyline after that jam. Universal stamp of approval.

  12. Snow Says:

    Dorn!!!! So sorry for your loss. That’s just fucking brutal. If there is anything we can do, just holler, okay? Just try to let yourself grieve. You can’t change the past but you can always experience the present with an open heart. Hang it there homie… This too shall pass.

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    “I might even argue that the Randall’s Dust, Light, Tweezer deserves to be grouped all as one long glorious segment”

    ^^^ that’s how I hear it

    Hilarious article on The Duck
    http://www.sbnation.com/college-football/2014/9/8/6120557/oregon-ducks-mascot

  14. MrCompletely Says:

    I absolutely love that little bonus jam out of the Wedge but I can’t see it being quite a top shelfer

    Miner was originally totally underwhelmed by that jam, then came around on it a little but still wasn’t overwhelmed by it either – so I would say he is moderately whelmed.

    2nd tier kind of jam, very dope, not a ton of movement, gains a lot of mojo just for being a Wedge jam

  15. BingosBrother Says:

    Best Wedge Evah! From the port a potty to the dance potty.

    @dif http://blog.phish.net/1409111404/ranking-the-jams-of-summer

  16. Snow Says:

    This is why miner has a phish blog and I don’t. So much music played this summer, I can’t remember half of it. As always, Thanks for sharing your phish thoughts.

  17. RicksFork Says:

    I guess the only thing from this post that baffles me a little is not seeing any of Dick’s in the honorable mention category. No Ghost? No Sand?

  18. aj Says:

    This just blew my mind:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RXKztGW0zA

    total WOTC

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    nothing about Dicks is honorable is the issue there

    disreputable mention maybe

  20. tela's_muff Says:

    surprised that Dicks Carini didn’t make your list Miner. you’ve given it high praise via Twitter.

  21. aj Says:

    This one too, skip to 3:38 for Lizards

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ge22Guzh_uw

  22. Stoney Case Says:

    It does say “My Top Ten” up there. Not “The Top Ten”

  23. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    okay, who’s got access to the tapes of this one?

    dj shadow and cut chemist digging through Afrika Bambaataa’s crates on the fly? sign. me. up!

  24. Sex&City Says:

    @AJ… how do you find this shit?!?!

  25. aj Says:

    Saw it on “another” phish blog

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