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. MrCompletely Says:

    um, if you have the gear for it the FLACs on the usb are 24 bit not 16 and won’t have the drums/space disk-break fades that you’ll get from ripping the CDs

    so in that narrow sense the USB is actually a little better musically UNLESS you actually still listen to music on CD (which we do a sizable minority of the time)

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    the long time side benefit of the C section is a real thing


  3. MrCompletely Says:

    I love how salty and real most doulas and midwives seem to keep it

    once you’ve been downstairs for about 4 dozen or so of those deliveries I guess there’s not much left to be uptight about

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    you just got schooled a bit though Bob. check out the birth announcement sent out by some other w00k parents yesterday

    fucking slacker

  5. bob dylan Says:

    My buddy and I burn and listen to cds 99% of the time on our drives to work. Really keeps you from getting skip happy which is a worsening condition as the years go by.

  6. bobby weird Says:

    Gans on Tales re: Days Between: “it is the Grateful Dead’s own story.”

  7. little umbrellas Says:

    UC system def makes a lot of money. Scam I could see yes, the thing about the Trailer Park, is kids actually had to provide their own trailers.
    Rent was $180 a month.
    Cleaned bathrooms, kitchen/computers/central living room all taken care of by the UC.
    lawless back then. We had a big hippie painted schoolbus. And built a deck off the bus surrounding it. Had the band gear all set up outside in the Summer and played loud and never heard a peep about it.
    Not many responsibilities, and lots of privileges, a crazy time.
    plus your surrounded by the Redwood Forrest, just walk ten feet behind your spot and your out in the woods.
    Many Parkies, including myself, became Woodsies. Why pay rent at all? Used the facilities and lived in a geodesic dome on a 20foot platform up in a redwood tree for sometime.

  8. little umbrellas Says:

    … Not the list or order I’d have picked, but fun to read about Zappa

  9. bob dylan Says:

    Well damn. looks like we need an 8 color screen print announcement to really hang in the game.

  10. little umbrellas Says:

    They were always threatening to take it down. Followed by tree sits to protest the Long Range Development Plan.. they could actually make a lot more money if they built a big dorm building. There was 39 trailers or so,.. they could have been receiving rent from 300+ people with the proper infrastructure.

    One of the last remnants of the 60’s/70’s old school UCSC vibe.

    Kinda the best times.

  11. bob dylan Says:

    I think we all just got shown up. LU lived in a fucking tree.

    I went and drove around ucsc a couple weeks back. Amazing views and looked like an awesome place to go to school.

  12. bob dylan Says:

    So the prediction about dad life equaling more time on the BB is so far true. I’m not ignoring them. Docs are helping mom and baby get acquainted. I’m staying out of the way until I’m asked to help out.

  13. bobby weird Says:

    having just finished my first year with our first one, Bob D, i can assure you that the BB moments will often be few and far between. there will be more than plenty for you to do. Congrats my friend.

    when you get that first smile of recognition or “dadda”, nothing will ever be the same again.

  14. bob dylan Says:

    I have no doubt Bobby. This place has had its fair share of dad talk since the beginning tho. Excellent resource of honest opinions and facts.

  15. bobby weird Says:

    no doubt. absolutely.

  16. bobby weird Says:

    couldn’t have done it without the guidance of the BB. fully agree.

  17. little umbrellas Says:

    UCSC is the most beautiful campus. They filmed the ewok scenes from Return of the Jedi up in there.

    ::So Canada is on Fire::

    ::did anybody actually learn anything or have surprised over the Snowden information. I had been assuming we had no privacy the whole time, can’t understand why people were surprised or shocked.

  18. little umbrellas Says:

    -my friend Goat is the real winner. He built all the tree houses, and then biked from Alaska to Argentina, barefoot. Dude has never paid rent a single month in his life. A very active fella.

  19. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Bobby- I actually wanted to hear Tales today to hear what Gans/Gary had to say about FTW. I know Gary fairly well from my time there so I’m sure he was glowing ( he’s an unbelievably great guy).. Gans has always had an anti-Phish thing going.. I heard him a bit during the shows and he seemed to have come around in re: to Trey and was quite complimentary.

    Did you listen to it today? Anything interesting..

  20. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Tarrytown Music Hall pretty dope little old historic theatre on the Hudson. Early ticket time of 7PM. Decidedly GD type crowd slowly filtering in.

  21. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Gans would always refer to Phish like the TV show Seinfeld…

    “A band about nothing”, I believe this was his exact quote.

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    “Fuck That” – a beautiful guided meditation for those of us that live in the real world

  23. MrCompletely Says:

    Gans is a political fish that swims with the Deadhead currents. He’d change any position rather than alienate his audience. As soon things started going a pro-Trey direction I’m sure he miraculously saw the light

  24. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Currently listening to …..

    5/16/81 set 2.. 1981s contribution to 30 Trips…

    Shakedown Street-> Bertha-> Lost Sailor-> Saint Of Circumstance-> Spanish Jam-> Drums-> Truckin’-> Nobody’s Fault But Mine-> Stella Blue-> Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad-> One More Saturday Night, E: Uncle John’s Band

    Jerry’s voice sounds pretty solid for the most part.

  25. MrCompletely Says:

    Deadhead portraits taken at late 80’s, maybe early ’90s shows (Alpine, Rosemont, Deer Creek)

    They’re just great to look at but I guess the photog is trying to connect with people in them so he could shoot current pics and for the old “now and then” game. On FB people are going in and tagging the pics, I’m sure if you recognized someone you could just go thru the artist site as well

    would be pretty cool especially with some of those kid pix

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