All-Tour Jam Vehicles & Summer Awards

Merriweather 7/27 (Andrea Nusinov)

Merriweather 7/27 (Andrea Nusinov)

First Team

“Chalk Dust Torture”

Top Version: 7/13 Randall’s Island

Other Standouts:  7/9 Mann, 7/25 Charlotte, 7/29 Portsmouth

Two-thousand-fourteen has been “Chalk Dust Torture’s” most significant year in its 23-year history. The rock anthem had been known for blowout jams every now and then, but this summer really changed the game for “Chalk Dust” as it became a routine launch pad. Phish threw down six significant versions of “Chalk Dust” this summer, and more than half are legitimate keepers. Though most of the jams followed a similar contour with constant motion, the band diversified the major versions and carved out several top-level improvisations. Mann’s version set the tone for Randall’s all-timer, while Charlotte and Portsmouth’s versions anchored the back half of tour.

***

“Harry Hood”

Top Version: 7/1 Mansfield

Other Standouts: 7/12 Randall’s, 7/19 Northerly Island, 8/29 Dick’s

“Harry Hood” had a complete transformation over summer tour. Previously, the band had taken the “Hood” jam far out of structure four times in thirty years (Charlotte ‘03, Camden ‘03, Worcester ’10, Hollywood ’13). This summer they did so three times in a month (Mansfield, Randall’s, and Chicago) and then also veered slightly off course another twice more (Philly, Denver). For the first half of summer, while Phish was focused on deep improvisation, “Hood” became an open jam vehicle, birthing three instant classics. But as the summer progressed and the band’s jamming waned a bit, so did “Hood’s” role as a springboard into the ether. The band played a quality contained version at Merriweather, used it as a means to four duets in Alpharetta, and played a stellar though relatively in-the-box version at Dick’s.

***

“Ghost”

Top Version: 7/12 Randall’s Island

Other Standouts: 7/26, Merriweather, 7/20 Chicago, 8/29 Dick’s

“Ghost” could make an case for MVP of summer tour. Just hear me out. It appeared eight times this summer and never disappointed. Phish crafted three very diverse and creative jams out of “Ghost” at Randall’s, Chicago, and Merriweather,  while using it as a blissier, peaked out jam on three other occasions at Mansfield, Oak Mountain, and Denver. The Mann’s version isn’t particularly outside the box, but is quite smooth and enjoyable nonetheless. And even its least significant version in Clarkston was the highlight of a throw-away show, thus it’s hard to make a case against a jam that is essentially batting 1.000.

***

“Down with Disease”

Top Version: 7/11 Randall’s Island

Other Standouts: 7/4 SPAC, 7/15 CMAC, 8/1 Orchard Beach, 8/30 Dick’s

Some things are like clockwork. The sun comes up every morning, bears shit in the woods, and “Disease” is always on the top shelf of jam vehicles for the Phish from Vermont. Ever since breaking out and becoming a consistent springboard in the years of ’96 and ’97, “Disease” has been Old Faithful, never wavering in its quest for the most innovative jams around. This summer, “Disease” had another rock solid tour with several high quality outings that took on different shapes and sizes. Randall’s version is at the head of the class, while Dick’s and Orchard Beach’s also elevated in different directions (as they might as well have been played by different guitar players). SPAC’s “Disease” feels like the forgotten version of tour, though got into a intricate jam following “Fuego” on July 4th. All in all, Summer 2014 another all-star tour for one of Phish’s staple anthems.

***

“Light”

Top Version: 7/19 Chicago

Other Standouts: 7/4 SPAC, 7/13 Randall’s, 7/26 Merriweather, 8/30 Dick’s

“Light” has become a regular all-tour selection in the modern era, always pushing the boundaries of Phish’s sonic comfort zone. “Light” was most often used as a supporting jam this summer, but flourished in this role with multiple late-set standouts. It’s best outing, however, came as the centerpiece of Chicago’s second show, plunging the depths of space jazz. Randall’s version also stood out, coming after the jam of summer and riding the same magic into a gentle and surreal Mind Left Body jam. SPAC’s, Merriweather’s and Dick’s versions all popped off late in the set, keeping the high-end improvisational vibe rolling right through the end of the show.

SPAC '14 (Andrea Nusinov)

SPAC ’14 (Andrea Nusinov)

Second Team

“Carini”

Top Version: 8/30 Dick’s

Other Standouts: 7/5 SPAC, 7/12 Randall’s

“Carini” saw a huge step backwards from its monstrous 2013. The band didn’t truly commit to any particular version from summer tour, using it mostly as a vehicle to ethereal soundscapes. Randall’s version got pretty interesting and intricate, but the “Carini” of the season easily goes to the explosive rendition we just heard in Denver, featuring Trey’s most soul-inspired peak of the year.

***

“Fuego”

Top Version: 7/8 Mann Music Center

Other Standouts: 7/4 SPAC, 7/30 Portsmouth

“Fuego” had quite an odd summer. Phish played the song lord knows how many times, but only jammed it thrice. Two of those three jams are among the best of the summer, including Philly’s masterpiece, and Portsmouth’s is fully connected as well. “Fuego” could make a case for the first team, but it’s fighting some pretty horrible percentages.

***

“Tweezer”

Top Version: 7/13 Randall’s Island

Other Standouts: 7/27 Merriweather, 8/1 Orange Beach

“Tweezer” had a fairly laid back summer, tough its campaign was highlighted by unique and inspired Randall’s Island outing. Merriweather got the full “Tweezefest,” but the actual “Tweezer” jam is a thing of beauty-turned-psychedelia. Orange Beach’s version reaches a gorgeous space but feels a bit underdeveloped.

***

“Piper”

Top Version: 7/5 SPAC

Other Standouts: 7/18 Chicago, 7/30 Portsmouth

“Piper” was most often used in combination with other jams this summer and was almost always good for some interesting minutes of jamming. Its one truly shining moment came as more of a centerpiece in SPAC’s final show in which the band truly developed the jam into something special.

***

 “Bathtub Gin”       

Top Version: 7/11 Randall’s Island

Other Standout: 7/3 SPAC

On the strength of two versions, “Bathtub Gin” made Second Team, All-Season . There’s just nothing else out there with two better jams from summer. And these two were pretty great.

***

Miner’s Post-Season Awards

Jam Vehicle of Summer: “Chalk Dust Torture”

Runner Up: “Ghost”

Rookie of the Tour: “Fuego”

Runner Up: “Wingsuit”

Show of Tour: 7/13 Randall’s Island

Runners Up: SPAC 7/4, MPP 7/27, Dick’s 8/30

Run of Summer: Randall’s Island

Runner Up: SPAC

Segue of Summer: “Twist -> Circus” 7/25

Runner Up: “Free -> Tweezer -> Simple -> Tweezer -> Free”

MVP of Tour: Jon Fishman

***

READER’S CHOICE AWARDS

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20,056 Responses to “All-Tour Jam Vehicles & Summer Awards”

  1. garretcorncob Says:

    And then cried 96 tears?

  2. MiA Says:

    For the Record … I think we will be in Southern California when the Angels win the world series.

    Love to see it.

  3. MiA Says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StjRTrR9A0g

    Great Copeland that doesn’t sound like a “beef if good” commercial.

  4. BingosBrother Says:

    5 years and we finally get to vote? Miners getting soft in his old age.

  5. MiA Says:

    Beef is</ good.

  6. dorn76 Says:

    Beef if good, will eat

  7. dorn76 Says:

    Seeing our patient later today. She doing well.

    Dog is my co-pilot.

  8. MiA Says:

    Finally watched some of the Ken Burns Roosevelt Documentary. I really really enjoyed it. One of his better. Makes me think about all the ones I probably should have in my collection that I don’t.

  9. vapebraham Says:

    nice work, miner.

    yo, does 7.4.14 (SPAC) Reba get any love from the BB? on par with the great Rebas. Our man Ging jedi is deeply dialed. intense, crisp, precision controlled. $$$.

  10. IrieWalton Says:

    Nice, MiA.

    I’m DVR’ing the whole series and look forward to giving it the proper treatment. One of my GP’s is a Ken Burns’ doc. I had the chance to meet him at an event in Boston, a few years, back when the NP series came out. I turned into a total fan boy when I got the chance to finally shake his hand and ask a few questions. Dude is just as chill in person as he appears on TV.

  11. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    this is either the best or worst mmj commercial ever.

  12. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    one of my gp’s is early rem

    i am now running away.

  13. Snow Says:

    This is my favorite wrap up post. Thanks miner.

    I thought this summer was great. I think it belongs with the last three years. Hard to say which is best. Easy to say it’s all been gravy since ’11. Thanks phish! I’m feeling the phish love.

  14. Snow Says:

    I her medication. Yes on 2!

  15. Snow Says:

    *want

  16. vapebraham Says:

    yes for mary jane. You better vape up.

  17. vapebraham Says:

    what mary jane lacked in vocal skills she made up for w/ body karate.

  18. MrCompletely Says:

    Heady, I used to see “early REM” in the mid 80s when they were a regional act on IRS records. They played a lot of big multi-frat outdoor parties and stuff like that. Co-bills with the B-52s. Lot of connections through the Don Dixon/Mitch Easter recording/production group that did the early/mid 80s albums, which I enjoyed at the time. And those shows were good. They had great energy and what was at the time a very fresh sound. Their success allowed the whole creative Athens/Chapel Hill axis of bands to flourish because at that time they were doing exactly the music they wanted to make and making money at it – that is, they weren’t seen as sellouts (until later).

    It’s not something I’ve listened to in years but it was a big part of growing up and I bet those early albums would hold up pretty well.

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    REM and the B-52s pretty much kept the Cats Cradle in business until the local scene started to take off and without the Cradle…welll, shit would’ve been a lot worse

  20. GWKush Says:

    Subway has slimy meats. gross.

  21. snow Says:

    Great News!!! My ice maker started making ice again overnight. One less thing going wrong!! Hell yes!!

  22. GWKush Says:

    Murmur and Green aren’t awful albums. jangly guitars.

    only REM show i saw was at that shitshow Langerado festival at Big Cypress. the night rem played it got down to like 40 degrees in late spring there.

  23. GWKush Says:

    Snow you should name the maker Ebeneezer

  24. vapebraham Says:

    there are other worlds they have not told you about.

  25. MrCompletely Says:

    snow my brother! We also experienced sudden random appliance failure reversal yesterday! after disassembling the nonfunctional agitator in the washer, I put it back together since the replacement part hadn’t arrived, and it started working again!

    hail Satan!

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