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. snow Says:

    ZOMFG my life is so crazy right now. It’s like somebody pressed FF on the shit hitting the fan sequence of my life. Ha! I’m not even comfortable discussing most of it here. Luckily I have other venues but I wanted commiserate with others having a tough go. hang tough everybody. This too shall pass. keep going. We always have the BB. at least when I’m not fucking it up with pete carroll talk.

  2. snow Says:

    I always thought I could sell the South florida family vacation. Wifey has family in florida. Nice break from the winter rain. Maybe shoot up to orlando for a couple nights.

    Nope. Instead I get this look like I’m trying to sell a three-some with another woman.

  3. dorn76 Says:

    Sascha update: Severely herniated disc! Operable! Not a tumor! She going in now with guarded but good prognosis. Of course it’s dicey, but best possible scenario given the presentation of 11 year old dog who can’t was almost totally paralyzed.

    Please send some healing vibes to her and precision to her Cornell trained surgeon.

    I’m part Irish. Don’t I get some luck? Or is it just alcoholism and lack of body hair?

  4. butter Says:

    warm weather (hopefully 09 was freezing) seafood, fresh guac, sand under toes, south beach and our band for 4 nights in an easy ticket bball arena

    sign me up

    was going to skip MehSG for sure this year. glad to see band and me on same page

  5. BingosBrother Says:

    I don’t know if you did it yet, but our dog had the same thing and we did acupuncture with magnets and drugs and it worked. Just a heads up. Vibes homey. Bad shit attracts other bad shit unfortunately.

  6. vapebraham Says:

    lovin GOAT. thnx, guys. the second tune words is some potent hoodoo.

  7. butter Says:

    confession, i listened to the new U2 album today while doing some yard work..

    i was scared it was trying to brainwash me as it appeared on my phone automatically, so made for a weird ironic listening experience…more Bono blah blah…didnt really hear a lot of content, kinda creepy deal i tell you

  8. MiA Says:

    Go Sascha!

  9. BingosBrother Says:

    Just to give a rough idea. Shit was crazy as hell yo.

  10. dorn76 Says:

    Chest bump, bb.

  11. BingosBrother Says:

    Big hugs. It’s a hard knock life, for us. Funny thing is, we’re probably lucky comparably and it still feels so heavy sometimes. Thank god for substances and Cornell trained vets.

  12. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Oh fuck, just checked my phone. That U2 shit is on here ahhhhhhhh

  13. BingosBrother Says:

    U2 makes everything worse.

  14. Marcoesq Says:

    Is it looking like Miami for NYE? See you suckers there if so! At least for 2 night

  15. vapebraham Says:

    U2 – big meh. Achtung baby is the closest they came to artistically relevant, but basically an annoying, self-absorbed, overwrought band. Sunday bloody shut the fuck up. They give ReM a run for most annoying band ever.

  16. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Saw U2 in concert 2X believe. 1st time I took a bunch of pressies. Second time I got super drunk.. Fun on pressies…well, more fun, I should say.

    Ome of their old music was relevant. Not anymore.

  17. RicksFork Says:

    Completely agree Kaya. Despise U2.

    Very sorry Dorn. Hope the pup is okay.

  18. dorn76 Says:

    We’ve got it Simple cuz we’ve got a dog!

    She’s out of surgery and doing well. Long road but she’s a Dobe with a string heart. MRI showed a nearly severed spinal cord, and an equally decimated bank account.

    As my Mom used to say “money is for spending, you can’t take it with you.”

  19. dorn76 Says:

    Back to your reg scheduled whale banter. Score one for the dorns. Still trailing big but we’re scrappy.

  20. vapebraham Says:

    Go, dorn. Go eagles!

  21. vapebraham Says:


  22. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I need a big drive out of Foles here, Kaya…

  23. Mr. Palmer Says:


  24. voopa Says:

    And money is fuingible. Speaking of which, I have crash space in Eugene, and can provide rides from NorCal to there and Seattle, and points south on the 19th. For details, email me at 3 o’s.

    Go team!

  25. voopa Says:

    Ah shit, I published my email again.

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