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. tela's_muff Says:

    Except when he does solo, we totally notice it. Randall’s.

  2. gavinsdad Says:

    Word telas like In the s1 Gin from Randys

  3. tela's_muff Says:

    Question. What happens when/if Halloween jams don’t work their way into setlists. Maybe a little for NYE but summer is a long ways away.

  4. butter Says:

    but then listen to Vegas Wombat at a loud volume, some incredible listening and collaborating going on

    this is new school Phish, the rapping maybe goofy – but Wombat is closer to the HH material than anything else off Fuego

    Wombat is my fave off Fuego currently

  5. butter Says:

    i’m sure it will be worked in Telas

    this is sorta Phish’s answer to the whole world embracing the electronica genre and to stay current / non nostalgia

  6. butter Says:

    this Line in Vegas3 set 2 and the 46days in Seattle outta Cities, just proves youll never figure this band out.

  7. RicksFork Says:

    Wombat is the shit. Loved it and had faith in it since the dunked out Halloween version. Obviously the Abe V stuff is going on, but underneath is a funk throwdown. Vegas Wombat was super legit.

  8. RicksFork Says:

    Dunked = funked

  9. tela's_muff Says:

    Forgot about Wombat. Love it.

    I’m hoping so Butter, but I fear the meltdown if they don’t. The way i view it is 4 50 yr old dudes just pulled off one of the coolest most creative live concerts I’ve ever watched on the internet. I’m just proud of them for doing that. I’m not trying to place heavy expectations as to how that will shape their future. Although i certainly welcome that change.

  10. gavinsdad Says:

    @mr c – do a little poking around for emerald scientific

  11. RicksFork Says:

    100% agree Tela’s. Been thinking the same thing. Something tells me we won’t see as much of them as we want. I hope I’m wrong.

  12. dorn76 Says:

    Playing Fuego like they did at Mann and then letting it die on the vine for the rest of the year was NOT the way to endear the song to jaded vets.

    MannFuego all day any day.

    Out of the night, comes a frightening sight, the Mann they call MannFuego! MANNFUEGO!

  13. dorn76 Says:

    That’s a riff on an old Imus bit. Damn I’m old and a Jabroni.

  14. tela's_muff Says:

    Referencing Imus bits is like hyping SCI jams. Just sayin. #ribpoke

  15. BingosBrother Says:

    Only saw Fuego once and it was not jammed. Fucking loved it and the energy it created lifted up the whole rest of the set.

    Pretty sure I just saw a Phish poster in Seattles locker room. Snow has to be jizzing everywhere.

  16. phishm Says:

    I really dug the version they played at SPAC.

  17. RoosterPizza Says:

    The New York fuck me in the ass Giants are playing again.

  18. MiA Says:

    I was killing in FF until M. Lynch put up 50 points against the absolutely embarrassing defense of the Giants.

  19. Herzog Says:

    voopa i didn’t know you guys had your own christmas

  20. Herzog Says:

    was calling for that wombat jam all tour since SB. knew it was coming. a bit short but they crushed it. need more wombat jams.

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    i like the analogy @gd

  22. Herzog Says:

    very interested to hear TAB this year. seriously think something was wrong with trey this tour. just listen to that brian and robert solo. fucking terrible.

  23. Mr.Miner Says:

    wombat is kinda awful imo. but peeps seem to like it, so whatever. it’s a herky jerky funk song that is hard to dance to. Kind of defeats the purpose a little…

  24. Herzog Says:

    miner, it’s not a good song but they seem to like jamming it. chi wombat jam was a sick psych jam. vegas was a sick funk jam. can go anywhere with it it seems so i’ll take it anytime

  25. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    ^ YourPetCat

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