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”

  1. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    OKC is just a smuff troll

  2. Gavinsdad Says:

    NotTom – NotSure why u even need to ask. A tour made up of only 3 packs would give me a summer long boner

  3. Kaveh Says:

    Afternoon BBers…

    …hits keep on coming…rejected via GDTSToo….only looking at the 3rd…but only strike one.

    @mrC: spinning that Alabama May ’77 show you recommended yesterday, so far so good…smooth as you said…3/4 through set one. Thanks for that.

  4. dorn76 Says:

    Dallas?

    Phish is doing an International Tour in 2015?

    BUNK LEVEL RED

  5. Darth Vaper Says:

    Agreed Gdad. There are places like Concert Window that allow “self-production” of concerts and you keep all the cash. Works O.K. for some singer songwriters.

    In other news, I just discovered this?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZ63tZO7_yM

    Prince – Dirty Mind 1/30/82 Passaic NJ.

  6. Gavinsdad Says:

    Total smuff troll.

  7. lumpyhead Says:

    loldorn

  8. GWKush Says:

    wow thats a heavy article on Trivoli and Coke’s extradition in the New Yorker. Had heard of Coke and his operation before but didn’t know Jamaica was akin to the middle-east as far as raids, militant brutality, and political unrest. The DEA and Homeland security literally watch it all go down but cover it up to the american public. Shameful.

  9. xpun Says:

    I would personally love nothing but 3 night or longer stands. 3.0 has pretty much proven that the days of multiple cities in multiple days just doesn’t create the environment that the band thrives in. 2011 rust belt the last successful such run i can think of. Multiple nights allow both the band and crowd to settle in and get down. I’m a weekend warrior type now and really like the destination aspect of shows now. Long distance travel before and after shows just no longer appeals to me like it did in the past.

  10. garretcorncob Says:

    Why isn’t anybody listening?!? This is important!

    4/2/73 Here Comes Sunshine!!!

  11. garretcorncob Says:

    I got to the 18 minute mark and was wondering how I’d missed them not only starting Dark Star, but getting way into it. But no.

    Just getting weird in a different song about suns.

  12. garretcorncob Says:

    There’s even the DS-style seamless segue from madness into a Bobby breather (a whole ‘nother kind of madness, if you ask me).

    Curious about the upcoming WRS Prelude > Eyes deal coming up too. Not a pairing I expect.

  13. little umbrellas Says:

    Darth Vaper Says:
    February 12th, 2015 at 12:30 pm
    Boom!

    I should get all these tapes digitized so I actually end up listening to more of this music. Lots of new music on tape. Kids drawing their own tape cassets covers. Cheap way to do it. Probably got 15-20 tapes of local music that I’ve hardly listen to it.

    If a group has a 45′ I’m definitely picking it up. Cheaper, probably a choice cut, and smaller so easier to carry on into the night. Easy.

  14. lumpyhead Says:

    since I must travel no matter what, it would also work well for me if they only did larger multi-night runs. Music would prolly prosper too. could see an argument for either side.

  15. [Not Tom] Says:

    In 3.0 the shows that have let me down the most were those where I was driving to the city the day of the show. Not saying all were like that, but I agree that settling in allows the band and the fans a chance to stretch their legs figuratively and literally.

  16. tela's_muff Says:

    Fuck OKC

  17. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    there it is
    feeeeeeeel the hate
    let it burn

  18. garretcorncob Says:

    Skip the skip show

  19. GWKush Says:

    Jamaica is first hand evidence of the utter failure of colonial rule and its perpetuation of indentured servitude in the modern day. The IMF continues the cycle through circular economic “betterment” policy. Offers high rate loans to create economic spark but due to lack of sufficient export business and reliance on highly taxed imports, countries like Jamaica dive further into debt under these IMF/World Bank setups, default on loans, and the cycle continues. Jamaican natives proud and hard working but the pulling up of self by bootstraps cannot exist when there are no bootstraps to be pulled. Sad state of affairs down there. would be interested to know how someone like R. N. Marley comes home with coffers of cash from playing to whitey and helps his family and country without being seen as a sellout or traitor. Must be a thin and difficult line to walk. humbling for certain.

    tl:dr 4/2/73 HCSunshine has a really nice meltdown jam. Maybe my favorite version next to the 12/19/73 version that helped me discover that stellar tune BITD.

  20. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    i would take the pepsi center over red rocks. i know i sound crazy, but phish is too big for red rocks. i said to my girl after the 2013 dick’s run, “phish out grew red rocks in four years.” she said back to me, “they just out grew dicks.” she had a point- those shows sold out and they sold out again in 2014. red rocks is going to be a shit show if phish plays there, imho. it will be a rehash of 1996. colorado loves phish and people who love phish love to come to colorado to love phish. i really hope they play a bigger venue if they play CO this summer.

  21. plord Says:

    GC Bobby was toying with the intro to WRS a bunch before they started playing the whole suite on the reg. This seems a little late for that though? I thought there was a complete WRS in Feb of that year.

  22. [Not Tom] Says:

    haha @tela’s … I remember how excited you were about the Zoo show when the tour got announced. Bummer

  23. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    1997 gorge is the goods!

  24. [Not Tom] Says:

    Red Rocks only works if the Denver shows aren’t destination shows. 2 nights max that way people might be less willing to travel for them.

  25. GWKush Says:

    what exactly is going on with that girl on the cover of Roxy and Elsewhere? Is she adjusting Frank’s grand wazoo?

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