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.

[audio:] Tags: , , ,

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

  1. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I think we can safely say that that is the first link to ever posted to the BB.

  2. Gavinsdad Says:

    The Camden CDT has very tasty whale as well. Ill keep using that as my example unless you need a 3.0 version in which case ill use SPAC 13 steam 😉

    Haven’t listened to dicks 2 more than mebbe once on last rewind so can’t weigh in on s2. Def on my to do list while wife is away this week.

  3. Gavinsdad Says:

    Mpp fee cousins of Camden cdt. As pointed out by a more astute bb’er when LB 10 came out.

  4. snow Says:

    I was going to ignore cause i figured no one cares but hopefully this ends it…

    iTunes U2 explained: Every iTunes loser, er user, (at least in the US) now has Songs of innocence in their iTunes account as “Purchased”. In iOS or iTunes, there is an option to “automatically download new purchases”. If you have that checked, it will have downloaded. If not, you go into the iTunes app, then under purchased and you can download it.

    We will know that my therapy is complete when I can avoid responding to stuff like this but in the short term, I’m still a work in progress.

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    it’s a familiar style of Trey riff @vape, and I really like the little melodic quote by Page, but I don’t know that it’s a specific reference

    classic example of a jam that just got really interesting and then promptly fades…at least it’s into Billy

  6. MrCompletely Says:

    ah that’s probably it @snow, sure!

    I’d rather spend 2 days reading articles on monotheistic cults than go to another Leftover Salmon show, though

  7. snow Says:

    sorry to spoil the surprise… just thought knowing the tale of Jonah and the whale ahead of time would help people…. ya know how they like to know the album being covered.

  8. MiA Says:

    @Vape, when I first heard Page play the keyboards in that Piper, I thought it was Gimmie Some Lovin’ (The Spencer Davis Group). Or a kissing cousin to it.

    But definitely it sounded at times like the first phase of the jam in Randall’s Dust to me too.

  9. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    What if that U2 download sent me over my bandwidth for the month?

    Was the download even ALAC?

  10. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    note: if you are a self-purported “writer” making a solicitation for other writers to join your “circle” of writer friends, perhaps it is a good idea to proofread the post before sending out to your entire fb feed. kinda loses the impact if you have run on sentences, spelling errors, and other grammatical hullabaloo going on there…

  11. MiA Says:

    Wait, Leftover Salmon isn’t a monotheistic cult?

  12. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Actually never checked if I got the U2 or not

  13. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    maybe, but they lack in articles so mrc is out of luck there

  14. GWKush Says:

    damn Miami flights are not cheap, not even from big airports like Dulles. Not even flying post 12/31 or 1/1

  15. snow Says:

    @DF- then you would be pissed that you hard automatic downloads turned on like lots of other people. it was likely a 256AAC.

    yeah, apple borked this one. You should have had to go in and buy it for free. like C said, funny on many levels.

    @T3- can you spin my problem here… apple media professional or something???

  16. snow Says:

    here is the home tune from the musical opera:

  17. sumodie Says:

    Bill Joel must be pissed

  18. snow Says:

    ok, so while crackin myself listening to the song I noticed the dude is holding a bong at 1:40 in the video. stoner hasidic jew FTW! He’s prolly a phan.

  19. snow Says:

    I love Days of Thunder. One of those movies I could watch anytime. Sorry, forgot it’s not Guilty Pleasure day.

  20. aj Says:


  21. GWKush Says:

    Miami 12/31-1/3 kids. mark it. the return of the rage cage.

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    Francis Dunnery has a great tune called “Jonah” but it’s not online because the internet sucks

  23. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    posted for your commentary (fb pic)

    Phases of the Moon looks like it was… something.

  24. GWKush Says:

    that Panic crowd was pretty rowdy and a little thirsty for blood after that dude hopped on stage. lots of “kick his ass” remarks and such

  25. DavidSilver Says:

    Fuck Dulles.


Leave a Reply