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. Stoney Case Says:

    Agree w/Telas that BGCA’s 2 minutes of extra sauce made for a better than std/average unjammed Fuego.
    Nice work by Trey playing around with the main licks.

  2. Mr.Miner Says:

    i just hate the song i guess. instantly kills the flow of any set imo

  3. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^in regards to wombat.

    Fuego too, but not as much.

  4. MiA Says:

    Hard to feel badass (which I inherently think when dancing to phish funk) when Fishman is jokingly singing about Abe Vigoda? You know the fish TV show.”

    Ugh.

  5. jerseyjim Says:

    reaching 20k comments soon.

    and the honor goes to…

  6. Mr.Miner Says:

    fuego always has that remote possibility of an epic jam, but that makes it all the more annoying when they routinely don’t jam it. I don’t understand. What happened on those 3 nights tbat changed Trey’s mind? SPAC was obviously planned…Mann likely inspired by SPAC, but Portsmouth? Who knows? Trey is a kook.

  7. dorn76 Says:

    Just walked my 93 year old neighbor back home by the light of my iPhone after some wine, snacks and cupcake-making with my daughter.

    She is alone now, Clem died couple years ago, she rakes all of her own leaves on an acre, totally self sufficient, drives to senior ctr, walks for exercise in her basement. She’s fucking 93. I’m so blown away and heartstruck by what she does and all she has seen. She’s a trip, a conversation with her revealed the year they paved our road, 1935, and that she paid off her mortgage by selling our house, left to her by her mom. Sharp as a tack, opinionated, still bothers to color her hair.

    Her dad and brother built the tiny cape house we live in, we learned tonight they brought in a mason to build our giant flagstone fireplace. Takes up half the room, main reason we bought the house…she grew up in the farmhouse across the street. She was married in ’43 ahead of her hubby being shipped off. Watched her son and a few grandchildren die.

    We have it easy.

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    “fuego always has that remote possibility of an epic jam, but that makes it all the more annoying when they routinely don’t jam it.”

    so much of phish is like this to me I honestly can’t single out any single tune for it

  9. tela's_muff Says:

    Completely agree Mr C. Split, Gin, Birds, Mikes, Jim, Halleys, Gumbo, Roses, Cities, etc etc.

    IMO, phish is not a band to follow for every show. Hit the 3 night runs and be happy.

  10. jerseyjim Says:

    RIP: Bono’s Humility

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/10/business/media/for-bono-and-u2-apple-itunes-partnership-finally-hits-a-wrong-note.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

  11. MrCompletely Says:

    I do agree that overall the Fuego batch of material sadly lacked a reliable jam vehicle (like Light) since Fuego didn’t work out that way, but now, boom, jammy new material. I don’t have specific expectations but it’s hard to imagine this not having a positive influence on the rotation somehow.

  12. dorn76 Says:

    She’s 93, folks. Respek.

    Only way Thrillin’ Chillin’ is bad for Phish is if they don’t play it.

  13. dorn76 Says:

    They can leave the weird narration shit, but bring the metal jams. Trey’s enthusiasm rippin those licks in Dogs, Birds, wowwowowowow. Ghoulish, smiling, white tux’d beautiful guitar playing guy.

  14. Mr.Miner Says:

    Completely agree Mr C. Split, Gin, Birds, Mikes, Jim, Halleys, Gumbo, Roses, Cities, etc etc.

    ^ not really the same. They are trying to sort out what fuego is

  15. garretcorncob Says:

    MiA does, however, feel extremely badass when hearing about the ache in Trey’s left ear, or the poor mouse with the car trapped in the snow, or freezers, or…

  16. MiA Says:

    Fuego seemed like a new track to hold down the key spot in a set, in that much of those listed below have lost that coveted title to never reappear again.

    I ask myself, do I really want to see a version of Phish that isn’t interested one iota of extending out an AC/DC Bag one time in 5 years?

    Tweezer seemed to be relegated to the same status as other clean up hitters.

    I appreciate having Chalkdust step up but …

  17. tela's_muff Says:

    True. It took a while before Gin or Disease or some others became jams. But they had 2 to 3 x as many shows to work that out.

  18. MiA Says:

    Lycan tried the same logic with me Garret. Contact = goofy lyrics. Wombat = goofy lyrics. Same Same. Contact = Wombat.

    You are dull. my Pencil is dull.
    You are my pencil.
    Love is blind. Ray Charles blind.
    Ray Charles is love.

    Well, that last one works. But still.

  19. RicksFork Says:

    That’s part of the problem. Jam vehicles don’t happen over night and with less shows and a much larger catalogue it will take even longer.

  20. MiA Says:

    I’m tired. I did shoot an 81 though.

    And I hate FF right now so I’m just surly.

  21. MiA Says:

    I think that’s the disappointment though by some. ’14 started the year rip snorting and ready to take no prisoners. They Trey that was grinning and shredding Disease at Randall’s or Mann got lost somewhere. But came bavk out at Dicks though.

    It’s lightning. It’s in there but it’s random. See three shows and you will get something worth hearing. Probably.

  22. RicksFork Says:

    I’ll be the consummate Wombat defender. Corny lyrics have no effect on me. If they are a gateway to funk then I’m on board with whatever they sing/rap.

  23. tela's_muff Says:

    I wonder what lyrics WoD be suitable to Phish fans.

  24. RicksFork Says:

    Cmon MiA. See three shows and you WILL get something worth hearing. No probably. I know you were kidding, but just sayin.

  25. tzara's Says:

    I hate to admit it, but I like Waiting All Night as a cool down vehicle. It sounds like the riff was taken from a jam, so there’s no reason they couldn’t jam it in the future.

    Not to take anything away from the ’14 talk, but I spent all day making a badass chicken gumbo we are about to enjoy. Best Gumbo to enjoy it with? I know 8.1.98, so that’s the default.

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