The Top Ten Jams of 2014

7.12.14 Randall's Island (Chris LaJaunie)

7.12.14 Randall’s Island (Chris LaJaunie)

10. “Crosseyed and Painless” 10.17 II, Eugene, OR

Phish came into Fall Tour rested and raring to go and promptly dropped one of the jams of tour on its very first night. The band moves from hard groove into far deeper psychedelic textures when all is said and done, in a smoking piece of music.



9.”Chalk Dust > Ghost” 10.21 II, Santa Barbara, CA

This one-two punch that opened up the second set of Santa Barbara moved to some very cool places in both halves of the sequence. The most beautiful portion, however, comes deep within “Ghost” as the band hits a musical plane that felt congruent with the Southern California surroundings.



8. “The Wedge” 7.20 II,  Chicago, IL

This jam popped out of nowhere in the middle of Chicago’s final frame, and changed the landscape of the set from routine to creative in an instant. The band hits on some minimalist funk as they calibrate their communication, finally hooking up in some serious grooves before turning on a dime into the infectious chord progression that resembles “Paradise City” among other songs. All in all, a very cool surprise slice of Phish.



7. “Ghost” 7.12 II, New York, NY

This groove-turned-exploratory version of “Ghost” stood at the center of “Randalls Island’s second show, and represents the version of the year. The band applied their patient and intricate style of the early summer to this show stopper, leaving us with a peak moment of Phish from the middle night of their New York City stand.



6. “Fuego” 7.8 II, Philadelphia, PA

This was one of the many long form jams over the first two weeks of summer that built to the Randall’s “Chalk Dust.” On relisten while making this list, this jam struck me as a bit meandering and scattered compared to the rest of the top ten. Delivered in movements, this “Fuego” is certainly is an improvisational beast and hits some choice places, but it lacks continuity and tightness throughout.



5. “Chalk Dust > Piper” 11.2 II, Las Vegas, NV

Phish’s Las Vegas stand provided just what the doctor ordered after an inconsistent Fall Tour, and its finest jamming came on the final night in this second-set sequence of “Chalk Dust -> Piper.” The interplay in “Chalk Dust” turned far more creative than several extended versions of summer and fall, coming as a welcome refreshment from a jam that started to grow a tad stale. This “Piper” took a turn from its usual frenetic pace into a gentle, melody driven peak that proved to be the golden nugget of the entire musical sequence.



4. “Simple” 8.29 II, Commerce City, CO

Denver’s “Simple” is some good, clean wholesome Phish. A journey that moves straight out of the gates with an upbeat tempo, peaks with some of Trey’s most cathartic playing of the year. In fact, this jam is the piece in which Papa Bear awakened from his late summer slumber during which he dreamt about playing weird, aimless rhythm guitar in a rock band for a tour. But his awakening was glorious. And just then when you’d think this piece was winding down, a dance party breaks out. This was a feel good jam through and though, and a great welcome to the Rockies.



3. “Down with Disease” 1.3.15 II, Miami, FL

This “Down With Disease” was the finest piece of improvisation to come out of the inverted New Year’s Run in Miami. The band connected four distinct and disparate themes with notable fluidity once they jumped ship on “Disease’s” composed jam. Improvising at a higher level than at any time in the Sunshine State, Phish slowly deconstructed each section and blended it into the next, creating an incredibly dynamic flow of music. Deep within this “Disease,” the band descended into some of the most gorgeous music of the entire year—a stunning space of aural gold in which Trey spun grail melodies over an ethereal backdrop. Red worked out of this quiet midsection with some grittier leads that developed into a harder rock peak of the jam, putting an exclamation point on the trip before coming down via an abstract denouement.



2. “Harry Hood” 7.1 II, Mansfield, MA

In a year that featured more open jams out of “Harry Hood” than any in history, the first is still the most impressive. After a set and a half that amounted to lay up lines, the band got their feet wet with “Ghost -> Weekapaug” and then absolutely took the plunge in this now-iconic “Harry Hood.” The band’s coherence and command as they bob and weave through open waters is nothing short of astounding. This jam is both exploratory and super-tight simultaneously, creating a truly epic piece of Phish.



1. “Chalk Dust Torture” 7.13 II, New York, NY

This jam from the final night of Randall’s Island is the runaway jam of the year. This “Chalk Dust” is among the elite versions ever played and is a clinic in improvisation. Phish took us on a wild journey in this monstrosity, and each and every movement is impeccable. From the initial burst and melodic peak to the meditative, astral jazz finale, this near 30-minute epic is truly on the all-time level. This “Chalk Dust” was the centerpiece of a very special evening of Phish.

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29,462 Responses to “The Top Ten Jams of 2014”

  1. bearito Says:

    I love me a fresh hoty robe. I often wake up in one when I go hard. Ain’t saying it’s pretty, but damn it feels good (if it feels good).

    Great thoughts in such few pages. Love this place.

    Phish is gonna do it’s thing this Summer. Can’t wait to hear it unfold. Butter hit the fuckin bullseye with the Mike, John, Page have something to prove comment. I like this as I think Trey can get too wrapped up in his own head when he’s calling all the shots. He wants those three to shine just as much as we do.

    New Ratatat digested. Now for a first spin of this new Tame Impala.

  2. xpun Says:

    Wait the pope can’t rock a robe!? WTF!

  3. Selector J Says:

    @dorn – The secret to pulling off bathrobes is the shades.

  4. Sally Says:

    Happy Saturday! Move is done, now just unpack. The cats were pissed but I think they are hally with the upgrade now that we are here. L

  5. Sally Says:

    Whoa-this is hard to post from a phone!
    My kindof 98/99 picks-love!!
    Can’t stop listening to treys crazy fingers

  6. little umbrellas Says:

    Crazy Fingers !!!!! River vibes, floating down the bliss river. Feelin that Sally!

    ‘Hang your heart on laughing willow
    stray down to the water, deep sea of love
    Beneath the sweet calm face of the sea swift undertow’

    … Just finished a weird night of music, did the dinner music.. cocktail mellow.. quite vibes, for the the reopened Cafe Du Nord. But it was Sun Hop Fat. We did Ethiopian Jazz/world psych, with a four piece, super quiet.

    Buzzed BB’ing, been a bit. So many cocktails.. admittedly.. let the Sunday confessional begin!! I’ve drank a lot!! And got paid to do it!

    (And instead of going out last night, I stayed home and watched Back to the Future 1&2! Ha frame me.)

    .. they want us every Saturday.. Maybe once a month.. good pay.. but so funny to play so quiet.

  7. little umbrellas Says:

    The Pope shall have his smoking robe. Or none shall pass.

  8. little umbrellas Says:

    “Maybe Trey needs Jeff Holdsworth back?”


  9. bob dylan Says:

    Graham Hendrix was born at 12:15am on 7/12/15!!!!

    I’m glowing. So is mama. 8lbs 12.9oz

    Stories to come but we’re beat.

  10. little umbrellas Says:

    Dylan!!!!!!!! you did it !!!! she did it !!!!!!
    vibes to the lady Dylan and your new son.

    wow!!!!!! BB birth post!! love sent

  11. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Congrats bob! Great to here the little guy is here mother & child are healthy & happy & that mama & papa bear are all aglow. Graham is a big boy!

    Great thoughts yuns guys & gal. I’d like to see the equivalent of Key & Peele’s ‘Luther’ Obama’s ‘Anger Translator’ of Treyvernious on Summer Tour.

  12. Jerome Garcia Says:

    1st spin of JWil’s new 5 song drop Slide by EP. Yes! Love me some Jonathan.

  13. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Wow. Can’t believe I’ve slept on this for the past several months. EP was released on 11/28/14. Info here:
    Great early live version of Angel played at Seattle’s KEXP for the US Social Club Session which I’ve enjoyed via the tube of you previously. Linkage:

    Fixin to hit the rd for a show at Tarrytown Music Hall in Tarrytown NY this evening by way of a friend’s in Fairfield CT. Looking fwd to hanging w/ one of my oldest & bestest his lovely wife & their two wee ones. Loaded up w/ PSU Creamery ice cream flava flavs they’ve requested. More than a little stoked to catch Sunday CRB.

  14. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Quadratic’d. Also found JWil’s Spotify Sessions which is his set from Bonnaroo ’14 which was stellar. Caught that live on the cast courtesy of Scoop last yr.

  15. MiA Says:

    Congrats Bobby D and mama!

  16. xpun Says:

    Congrats to the entire Dylan family!

  17. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Enjoyable read from Bob Crawford of The Avett Brothers on his FTW experience.

  18. RoosterPizza Says:

    Congrats BD!

  19. RoosterPizza Says:

    Smoke DZA-Crazy Glue (featuring Cory Gunz & Big Sant)

  20. phlorida phan Says:

    High five Bobby d! Congrats on being a daddy. Real life 2.0!!!

  21. hoedown Says:

    Congrats Bobby D! My daughter was born 7/11 and yesterday we threw down for her 2nd bday! It’s a wild ride…hold on tight!

  22. MiA Says:

    I read Phlorida Phans congrats in Dr. nicks voice. High five everybody!

    2 eagles and six birdies for a 61?! Go Jordan!

  23. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Congrats Bobby D. So happy for you guys. Have a blast!!

  24. phlorida phan Says:

    Hi Dr Nick! Yeah, Jordan is kinda on a little hot streak. Would be awesome if he could pull this off at St Andrews, coming into the PGA with a chance at the slam. Perfect timing with tiger falling off the earth.

  25. MiA Says:

    There is a 40th anniversary release of Good Vibrations I’m spinning this morning.

    The Wiki posting on the song is really good with a great analysis of all the components, but listening to them practice it really pulls all the different components apart:

    Damn I love the composure of this song/fugue.

    I get a lot of people think the beach boys are bad surf 60’s nostalgia from a state fair but they really deserve the credit for changing the face of music and creating prog rock IMO and the creation of the studio as an instrument.

    Cellos and Theramins and the Andalusian cadence.

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