The Top 10 Shows of the Year

Miami 2014-15 (Andrea Nusinov)

Honorable Mention: 7/20 Chicago, IL, 7/25 Charlotte, NC, 7/30 Portsmouth, VA, 8/1 Orange Beach, AL, 8/31 Commerce City, CO, 10/22 Santa Barbara, CA, 11/1 Las Vegas, NV, 12/31 Miami, FL

***

10. 7.27.14 Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD

Merriweather 7/27 (Andrea Nusinov)

Merriweather 7/27 (Andrea Nusinov)

Almost any of the honorable mentions could be pulled into this slot for different reasons. I chose the second night of Merriweather for the following reasons. 1) It was quite a feat for the band to channel the type of old-school. zany energy it took to throw down this wild second set. It shows they are still in touch with the musical pranksmanship that, in many ways, put them on the map. 2) The “Tweezer” and the “NICU” jams are pretty awesome nuggets of Phish. 3) The band was absolutely glowing and clearly had an incredible time playing this show. 3) The first set is quite strong. 4) I didn’t want to deal with getting shit on social media for leaving this show out of the top ten.

I: Fee, The Curtain With, 46 Days, 555, My Sweet One, Sand, Bouncing Around the Room, Saw It Again > Fuego, You Enjoy Myself

II: Wilson > Tweezer -> Back on the Train -> Tweezer > Back on the Train -> Tweezer > Waiting All Night > Free -> Tweezer -> Simple -> Tweezer -> Free ->Catapult -> Slave to the Traffic Light, Down with Disease -> NICU -> Hold Your Head Up > Jennifer Dances > Hold Your Head Up, I Been Around

E: Boogie On Reggae Woman > Tweezer Reprise

***

9. 10.31.14, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV

10/31/14 II. Las Vegas, NV (Eric Battuello)

10/31/14 II. Las Vegas, NV (Eric Battuello)

A sharp and Halloween-themed first set gave way to one of the most outlandishly conceptual sets of music of the band’s career in set two. A complete blowout of the imagination, Phish led us on an adventure like none other in covering Disney’s “The Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House.” If I was ranking these shows on the live experience, this would be much higher on the list, but I’m ranking them on their musical content after the dust has settled. By the time the band went to jam in the final set, they didn’t have much left in terms of focus or creativity, thus this show doesn’t possess much replay value after you’ve memorized the ten musical vignettes. In no way am I trying to diss a signature night of Phish by placing it here, it was one of my favorite nights of the year, but looking at timeless jamming, this one falls a little short.

I: Buried Alive > Ghost, Scent of a Mule, Sample in a Jar, Reba, 46 Days, Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, Lawn Boy, Saw It Again, Tube, Wolfman’s Brother

II: Intro, The Haunted House, The Very Long Fuse, The Dogs, Timber, Your Pet Cat, Shipwreck, The Unsafe Bridge, The Chinese Water Torture, The Birds, Martian Monster

III: Punch You In the Eye > Golden Age > Tweezer -> Heavy Things, Guyute, Sand-> Tweezer Reprise

E: Is This What You Wanted?, Frankenstein

***

8. 11.2.14, MGM Grand, Las Vegas NV

Though Halloween featured a theatrical blowout, this show possessed more consistent playing throughout and one of the most impressive passages of Fall Tour in “Chalk Dust > Piper.”

I: Runaway Jim, Foam, Mexican Cousin, Ocelot, Sugar Shack, A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing, Halfway to the Moon, Bathtub Gin, Free, Walls of the Cave

II: Chalk Dust Torture > Piper > Theme From the Bottom > Wombat, David Bowie, The Line, You Enjoy Myself

E: The Moma Dance > Slave to the Traffic Light

***

7. 10.28.14, BGCA, San Francisco, CA

Phish had hit a bit of a slump before turning things around during this fiery, two-set performance. The jams of the night came in “Kill Devil Falls,” “Twist,” and ‘Harry Hood,” but the beauty of this show was also in its non-stop ferocity over the entire night. A slacking Trey pulled himself together for this one and really shone, playing powerfully and creatively all night long.

I: Crowd Control, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Wingsuit, Water in the Sky, Plasma, Halfway to the Moon, Poor Heart, Gumbo -> Sanity > Run Like an Antelope

II: Kill Devil Falls > Mountains in the Mist, Fuego > Julius, Twist > Runaway Jim > Harry Hood

E: Loving Cup

***

6. 7.4.14 SPAC, Saratoga Springs, NY

SPAC '14 (Andrea Nusinov)

SPAC ’14 (Andrea Nusinov)

A fire-filled show was squarely centered around the epic debut of “Fuego’s” jam, an event we thought would foreshadow far more than it did. Phish backed this up with strong takes on with “Disease,” “Twist” and “Light.” Though a “YEM” could have dealed the deal a lot better than a “Number Line” and “First Tube,” the damage had clearly been done in a very memorable holiday outing.

I: The Star Spangled Banner, 555, Kill Devil Falls, The Moma Dance, Reba, Waiting All Night, Runaway Jim, 46 Days, Rift, Split Open and Melt, The Squirming Coil

II: Fuego > Down with Disease > Twist > Light > Theme From the Bottom, Backwards Down the Number Line, First Tube

E: Character Zero

***

5. 7.12.14, Randall’s Island, New York, NY

7.12.14 (Chris Lajaunie)

7.12.14 (Chris Lajaunie)

This second set was the best of the summer to date when it dropped. There was no filler, no bullshit. Just perfectly sequenced jams with the “Ghost” of the year at the heart of the set. “Punch,” “Carini” led off and an stunning “Hood” closed a frame that will surprise you on respin. And then the next night happened.

I: AC/DC Bag, 46 Days, Yarmouth Road, Devotion To a Dream, Free, My Sweet One, Back on the Train, Halfway to the Moon, Sparkle, A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing, The Line, Run Like an Antelope

II: Punch You In the Eye, Carini > Ghost > Wingsuit, Rock and Roll, Harry Hood

E: Tube > Joy, First Tube

***

4. 10.17.14, Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, OR

10.17.14 Eugene, OR (Eric Battuello)

10.17.14 Eugene, OR (Eric Battuello)

Phish started out Fall Tour with an absolute banger. Sculpting a seamless, improv-laden second set with one of the jams of the year in “Crosseyed and Painless,” Phish had things fully dialed in for this tour opener. “Carini -> Plasma,” “Twist” and an awesome “Hood” filled out this impeccable frame of music. The “Reba, Roggae, Simple -> Maze”segment of the first set is also particularly choice.

I: Waiting All Night, Free > Poor Heart Sample in a Jar, Strange Design, 555, Bouncing Around the Room > Reba, Roggae, Simple -> Maze, The Squirming Coil

II: Carini -> Plasma, Farmhouse, Halfway to the Moon > Twist, Crosseyed and Painless > Harry Hood > Rocky Top

E: Wingsuit, Sleeping Monkey > Quinn the Eskimo

***

3. 8.30.14, Dick’s, Commerce City, CO

8/29 (Graham Lucas)

8/29 (Graham Lucas)

All things came together on the band’s second night in the Rockies in 2014. Phish unfurled one of their most cohesive performances of the year, with a nearly perfect second set. The guys were fully hooked up and following their lead guitarist who had his best individual night of the year. Phish had suffered during the late-summer without Trey’s leadership, but the clouds parted on this night, offering us the guitar god we all fell in love with and vintage tone that went unreplicated after before and after Dick’s. Though this set doesn’t boast a true centerpiece jam, it carries an improvisatory thread throughout with a more than serviceable “Disease” jam and a “Carini” that will make a dead man’s spine tingle.

I: Free, The Moma Dance, Halley’s Comet, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan,555, Rift, Sample in a Jar, Devotion To a Dream, Yarmouth Road > Sparkle, Wingsuit,David Bowie, Cavern

II: Down with Disease -> What’s the Use?, Carini > Light > Fuego > Slave to the Traffic Light, Meatstick > Bold As Love

E: The Horse, Silent in the Morning, Fluffhead

***

2. 1.3.15, AA Arena, Miami, FL

Miami (A. Nusinov)

Miami (A. Nusinov)

The second set of this show, minus the token opener, is among the most complete of the year. Phish never came up for air during this frame, as each song got the full treatment. The “Disease” alone, is a gargantuan improvisational feat, shifting seamlessly through several distinct themes, but they ran with the spirit on this night, getting particularly deep with “Light,” adding an uncharacteristic rock peak to “Sneaking Sally,” and crafting sinister bridge between “Sand” and “Harry Hood.” It is very seldom these days that Phish throws down an entire set with such a sense of adventure, but this was one of those once-in-a-blue-moon type of performances.

I: Maze, AC/DC Bag > Divided Sky, Cavern > Scent of a Mule, Plasma, Devotion To a Dream, Water in the Sky, Split Open and Melt, Character Zero

II: Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Down with Disease > Light -> Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley > Sand > Harry Hood, Suzy Greenberg

E: Good Times Bad Times

***

1. 7.13.14 Randall’s Island, New York, NY

Randall's Island (Andrea Nusinov)

Randall’s Island (Andrea Nusinov)

There’s just no question that the Phish threw down their most profound effort of the year on Sunday, July 13th at Randall’s Island in New York CIty. Capping an initial fortnight of summer tour that focused on wide open and patient jamming, this show features a “Chalk Dust” jam that can rightfully be thrown into a conversation about the band’s best jams of all-time—not just of this year or of this era. They carried this golden thread through a delicate “Light” and the best “Tweezer” of 2014. And while everyone has memorized the second set, the first is the best first set of the year as well. In a scene rife with debate, there should be none here.

I: Sand, Winterqueen, Reba, Birds of a Feather, Water in the Sky, Possum, Runaway Jim, Bouncing Around the Room, Maze, Split Open and Melt

II: Chalk Dust Torture > Light > Tweezer, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Sing Monica, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Backwards Down the Number Line > Tweezer Reprise

 ***

Miami 14-15 (A.Nusiniv)

Miami ’14-15 (Andrea Nusinov)

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2,590 Responses to “The Top 10 Shows of the Year”

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  1. [an unrelated] Wilson Says:

    I drop by on a whim, and look what i find…

  2. [an unrelated] Wilson Says:

    …anyways. can’t argue with the list, with the possible exception of Eugene. Solid show, but I don’t think it was any better than that Merriweather blowout. Most underrated in my opinion: VA Beach 7/30.

    Good to see a fresh post. Cheers.

  3. Jerome Garcia Says:

    New post! THANK YOU MR MINER. Looking fwd to the discourse that abounds today. Think shows 1 & 2 interchangeable depending on the kind of the Phishes you dig.

    From prev post:
    booby just be booby yo. A little tipsy & confrontational but hey. Guess going to bed @ halftime was a mistake huh? Missed delic KP & a stellar 2nd half. Oh well…off to milk those cows…

    Thx again Scoop for DP13. Shit is uncut GD @ its finest.

    Make it a good one you skinny jeans wearing conspiracy theorist cunts!

  4. dorn76 Says:

    Skinny jeans are just jorts with legs!

    (Repost!)

    Miner! Good to see you.

  5. jonacho Says:

    I’ll vouch for Eugene. An incredible show with an old-school smaller arena feel. You had to trek to Eugene, and it was a special night.
    Biased of course.

  6. dorn76 Says:

    Going to come down to a debate over the RanDust. Heard some say it isn’t as engaging on replay. Dunno bout that.

    I sure as shit had fun in Miami and I’m just glad to see a show I attended on the best of list for a change.

  7. phishm Says:

    That RanDust is really good, but I like the Light better. What a jam that one is IMO.

  8. [Not Tom] Says:

    agree with his #1 and #2 … after that I think it gets much harder. But glad to see a new post finally.

    Love the discussion this will spark

  9. ghostdog Says:

    muchas gracias mr miner

    @jg… excellent DaP. great remaster. many put this in cream of the crop territory which i have never quite put in top tier… but damn i may have to reconsider. not only the DS Dee (w bob doing fantastic spanish work) but china rider, wrs, row jimmy, playin…. fucking smokeshow

  10. ghostdog Says:

    randy3 is def in 3.0 creamtop. handsdown best sequence of the year.

    @bwana… yeah i was dec 2001 adventure ed. worked at NOLS for about 10 years. now have 2 kids and doing solar wotk in Tucson. actually back to school pursuing nursing. no doubt we have prob praised jah together at some point

  11. GWKush Says:

    Hey Now! Miner lives! Thanks for a new one! Truth that #9 & #10 could be interchangeable with the runners-up. Why care what people think of your ops on social media? Let those clowns gripe.

    How bout them Seahawks! oh wait….

  12. [Not Tom] Says:

    Also agree that Randall’s was the run of the year (Miner seems to agree with a #1 and #5 show out of the three).

    Wish I had been there for it.

  13. Stoney Case Says:

    Pats! Super Bowl Champs!

    Brady torched the legendary Hawks d in the 4th quarter. #BestEver in a scene rife with debate, there should be none here.

  14. Kaveh Says:

    Pats! Super Bowl Champs!

    ^ I’m totally alright with this. 🙂

    Morning BBers…Happy Feb…6 more weeks of winter, so says the rodent. But if that is more of the winter we have been having here, then I’m all for it.

  15. Kaveh Says:

    @Miner: Thanks for the new post and top 10. Much appreciated.

  16. Gavinsdad Says:

    Mid march we will find out if the NE can handle Randy’s and Watkins. I’m thinking no way. Fellow Philly Phish dad has his money on Tahoe for reasons I don’t jive with (show in parking lot, shows end early so his wife can go to bed and he can rage…ok).

    Glad to have made Randalls. Dumb luck and tristate advantage. Nite 3 pushed up into mikes corner in eye shot of a number of BB and non BB crew. Buttery flow. Haven’t heard that show since aug. prob time to revisit.

    Totally slept on that BCGA set mentioned above.

  17. Gavinsdad Says:

    Bitterish and white people problemd with 14 in general. Wanted to hit more. I mean Vegas. Waaah.

    Go social media!

    Thanks Miner.

  18. Stoney Case Says:

    G’dad, ’14 was our lightest year. Saints of Circumstance and all.

    We enjoyed Chicago more than most, and had an absolutely cathartic experience at Dicks after losing a friend. All in all, really appreciate the webcasts. Missing Randall’s a bit of a fail. But being across the country is a pretty good excuse. Nothing else was even possible.

    Gonna start hitting some of these ’14 gems on the job site radio. Time to give the talk radio a rest for awhile.

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    Hey it’s miner! Comeback post! Looking forward digging into the numbers this afternoon.

  20. MrCompletely Says:

    Obviously Stoney enjoyed the game and particularly the halftime show. First time a lion’s ever been to the super bowl!

  21. MrCompletely Says:

    Ghost, I had a hard time for awhile with that 74 show, I heard it as good but not great for years. I think it helps to see it in context: a mellow psychedelic Sunday evening in front of the home crowd.

    There’s little urgency and no explosive moments really until late in the game. But there’s also no pressure and no hurry and the result is pure flow. It’s the opposite of a rager – chill and cerebral.

    It’s not what I always want, even from 74, but it’s a great example of what it is. A tiny step down from the similar 11.11.73 masterpiece.

  22. sumodie Says:

    CID Fare Thee Well VIP tix & travel prices are now posted. Onsale moved to Feb27

    Looks like they dropped what would have been the cheapest VIP ticket only package. Only two VIP tix deals listed now

    Ouch: http://www.cidentertainment.com/events/gratefuldead50/

  23. tela's_muff Says:

    good list Miner! no argument with top 3. i’m not as big on the two Vegas sets (not counting Haunted House set), and can’t recall how good that complete SPAC set is. Need to revisit. i do love that Eugene set. as you mention, great Twist and Hood in addition to the C&P.

  24. sumodie Says:

    Miner, thanks for the top ten list! Will savor it after I shovel out this latest ongoing snow fall

  25. Kaveh Says:

    @sumo: I saw that they did drop the “Playing” option. The cheapest option is a tough one to shallow…hoping the way they re-worked the tickets in regards to mail order, might make that people don’t need to do VIP unless they want to.

    Feb. 27th will be a crazy ticket day.

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