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.



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.



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.



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.



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.”



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?



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.



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.



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.



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. MrCompletely Says:

    I can’t argue with what the Chargers did, but they didn’t get a whole lot of production actually attacking Sherman. 5-5 is nice but 60 yards isn’t exactly “lighting him up”.

    Niners need a pass rush and a big O-line upgrade.

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    don’t be silly, it has nothing to do with the Packers, I don’t have a homer interest like you do

  3. MiA Says:

    My Fantasy team was annihilated. AJ Green didn’t help me. 0 points. Michael Floyd got 2 points. Chris Johnson got 4. Brees did poorer than normal.

    His Cincy defense killed my Denver defense.

    And he also had Jordy Nelson which was like a one man show on Sunday.

    Peyton did well though.

    Seriously, Kaepernick got an “inappopriate language” penalty for 1/2 the distance to the goal?

    A reason why khaki shorts can help golfers

  4. verno329 Says:

    Gonna dive in later after a small taste this weekend but the Storage Jam is still one of my favorite pieces of 3.0

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    some of the officiating yesterday was quite bizarre

  6. Stoney Case Says:

    they didn’t play like chicken ass chumps. my only point. 5-5 for 60 yards smokes 0-0 for 0 yards!

    that’s all i got. the off the field stuff is so heavy and disgusting. nfl may die sooner than we thought. at least taking HGH out might make the game less deadly

  7. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Sea doesn’t look so dominant away from home… Add in the fact that Harvin got a little banged up yesterday ( what else is new) and suddenly a forgone conclusion isn’t so anymore…

    Loved seeing the Bears stick it to 49ers… Chi my sleeper pick in NFC.. I really think if the D can keep playing like last night and Forte stays healthy, they have a legit chance to make it.

    RG3 is done.. Time for WSh to cut cord with the nickname and the QB… Cousins is better anyway, and it’s not close.

  8. MiA Says:

    Oddly, the NFL didn’t need parity. Injuries, arrests and suspensions are kinda doing that job for them.

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    fair enough! this week I’m required to concede all NFL debate points based on the apparent fact that I know very little about football.

  10. Stoney Case Says:

    C, I’m calling Verno and Kaveh the homers, not you. You’re the free agent fan. Why I expect, no demand, either better analysis, or more agreement with me.


  11. MiA Says:

    Respect for Smoking Jay Cutler getting up and dusting off after that massive helmet targeted right into his chest, then just throwing a touchdown via a one-handed catch.

  12. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I had Sammy Watkins and Antonio Gates on my bench yesterday and still managed to win my matchup against someone that has really been getting on my nerves… oh how sweet…

    I won by one point ( well, I still have TY Hilton tonight),, He had Crabtree.. How great was it when that last pass fell off his fingertips? Made my night.. Lol.

  13. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    best to leo and fam and all the rest dealing with major loss lately.

  14. MiA Says:

    My kicker needs like 75 points.

  15. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    NY-tinged Halloween for the Mule (w/ Jackie Greene) in Cincy.

  16. verno329 Says:

    Pack were fortunate to come away with a win yesterday. Probably only won cause they threw to both sides of the field this week and didn’t play scared.

    Still too reliant on the whale though

  17. Stoney Case Says:

    Any of you deal with a compulsive liar? My ex is one. It’s kind of remarkable. They become so accustomed to lying about, basically, everything. They lie about things that are EASILY verifiable to be lies. But you’ll never get them to budge. Never get them to admit to anything. I have caught her in so many lies, big and small, without ever a resolution.

    My question, thinking out loud is, do these people actually convince their brain they ARE telling the truth? Or do they just think the other party will never be able to prove their lies? And if they do, just lie more?

  18. MrCompletely Says:

    I dunno Stoney. Really weird. A good friend here at work has to deal with someone like that – her husband’s ex, mother of kids. Big trouble in little Portland.

  19. Stoney Case Says:

    Been to Denver 3x under legalization. At least this time, the product looked really excellent. Still tastes either:

    1) unflushed
    2) sprayed with soap based pest products

    Getting better though. And yes, I sampled the best of the best. The clubs are joke.

  20. snow Says:

    @Leo- vibes man. ditto what everyone says about you being kind and solid hombre. would saddle up for rodeo any day wit ya. hugs and condolences homie.

    @Football – seahawks D settled down in the 2nd even with Chancellor and Thomas hurt. still the superchargers were just better. ouchy. Antonio gates was killer. Freak of nature.

    @palms- I was thinking early yesterday it’s scary how much the seahawks rely on percy. doh.

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    @df. you’re taking a far too simplistic view of dick’s 2. sure, no individual jam is in the top 10, but if im ranking chunks of music from this summer, dicks is coming in 3rd behind randalls and 7/4. your stick-to-itiveness make you seem so stubborn and refusing to recognize a stellar phish show. oh well. cant stress enough how ON and locked and crushing the band is throughout. So there are no longform jams and 3 smaller ones. Seems like your preferences are coming into play here, bc improv wise, phish has it locked for dwd > light. denying that is totally pointless.

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    that’s exactly how I see it @miner, if you break them into individual chunks there’s not a clear top shelfer (Carini ain’t bad) but as a whole it works great. And I’m with you on flow not just meaning a clean segue, it also has to do with tone and mood. Rewatching the video clinched my opinion of that set as quite good

  23. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    “just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it”
    george costanza

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    tone, mood, sequencing of jams and improvisational space…it all counts

  25. phlorida phan Says:

    Breaking NFL News:

    The Bucs still suck! Need to play the Giants to find out who is the shittiest. Maybe the bucs will starting beating the teams they’re not supposed to, instead of losing to the teams they should win.

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