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. Mr.Miner Says:

    it is your dog’s name. so funny.

  2. tela's_muff Says:

    For the 98% of fans who see no more than 2 shows a year, it’s a lot of fun.

  3. Mr.Miner Says:

    i don’t see much of a diff b/w any non-jammed fuegos. LA started to go way abstract for two minutes only to get the kibosh. Fuego started a song that amped me up. Now its like “ok, ten-twelve minute break of anything serious happening.

  4. Mr.Miner Says:

    Fair enough. Thought they had written a new jam vehicle, not a new pop song.

    I’ll take Wingsuit or Winterqueen over Fuego any day, all day

  5. butter Says:

    Yea my wife was mentioning that about set 1 last night. Mikes was dirty, with the classic Hydrogen, Wingsuit, Plasma, Sanity!!

  6. Mr.Miner Says:

    to be completely honest, wingsuit and winterqueen are the only songs I dig live off Fuego at this point. They can shelve all the rest for all I care. I know, wishful thinking 😉

  7. Herzog Says:

    I dont like any phish song that they don’t jam.

  8. Herzog Says:

    Fuego is the new numberline

    Which is fucking bunk considering there’s no new light

  9. tela's_muff Says:

    I think Fuego will find its space again. I’m not in love with anything off of Fuego but I’ve only seen 2 versions of each song. No Monica. Enjoyed everything at this point but not blown away. I’d say Winterqueen prob gets me closest to that happy place.

    Def think that BG Fuego had some extra sauce.

  10. Stoney Case Says:

    Great banter today. Nice to see u miner!

    Agree with your Fuego thoughts.

    #AlwaysSunday

    Lions and Niners win!

  11. butter Says:

    I’ll gladly take Fuego over a 46 to get an arena rawking

  12. butter Says:

    First hit of flower since 11/2

    What an extracty world these days

  13. butter Says:

    Just took Vegas Chalk > Pipes to the dome… So great, let’s see if Tory peeks this theme like I thought live

  14. RicksFork Says:

    BG 2 first set was off the hook. Loved that show. I agree the Twist Jim Hood sequence doesn’t flow as well, but all of those are hot and the Twist ending is the best 5 minutes of music of the tour. Gives me chills.

  15. voopa Says:

    46 days ’til American xmas

  16. tela's_muff Says:

    Stoney- u also agreed with me on BG Fuego. Time to get your Fuego thoughts in order. #StoneyDiego

  17. butter Says:

    Bunch of Olympic judges up in here

    9.2

  18. gavinsdad Says:

    You guys are right on Fuego. At the Mann the composed sections sounded like a pulsing death march….pounding, incessant, super phishy tune overall…but it was also cause it was peak playing with a peak multi sectioned jam. What a version in hindsight.

    Now it’s fuego.

    That song actually could have been performed unfinished with them dropping into the ether at any moment. Not to be.

  19. butter Says:

    Vegas Theme Trey solo is brief but peaky, great tone control with some assertiveness

  20. butter Says:

    its actually amazingly mindblowing when you think of how little Trey solos have to do with a Phish show these days

  21. gavinsdad Says:

    Just saw some “starburst” @butter (Lemon Larry x nebula according to the nerds). S’aright. Darker and workish but nice deep fruit stink and great overall effect.

    Then I went to a friends who had an unnamed something that blew that stuff away. Oh phila.

  22. butter Says:

    ^@AW

  23. RicksFork Says:

    Was thinking that yesterday butter. Listened to a bunch of 96-98 this weekend and realized how much less soloing we’ve become accustomed to these days.

  24. gavinsdad Says:

    I think it’s a plot. ’14 was another ’96. We will see that come ’15. Haunted House the end of the year “remain in light” metaphorical shot in the arm.

    Phish keeping the formula fresh. But will they keep the fanbase?

  25. butter Says:

    hmmm dont think ive heard of that one GD

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