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:

    That May ’81 tour is pretty damn good Palmer. Love that Shakedown Bertha set 2 opener

  2. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Any official releases from ’81? I know there was Nassau ’80…

    I think there is a Dick’s pick in ’81?.. I guess what I’m wondering is if there is any year, say between ’70-’90 that isn’t represented with at least one official show released?

  3. bobby weird Says:

    Gans “shed several layers of alligator skin” re phish; is basically a full on convert.

    both hosts were glowing, as were all callers sans one, who did not feel the it from the webcast. (he invited others to chime in on their experience and no one took bait).

    an old head decided last minute to hit Chi sans tickets for Sun. he found four on lot, between $600=$1,000. decided he was finally going to get shut out for the first time. he got to talking to some late teens/early 20-somethings who, after a while, said they had won tickets and had one left, which they then bestowed on the old head for free. old head recalled doing the same as a lad himself, miracleing an older dude with a front row ticket to (if i heard right) a ’79 Dead show. he felt (rightly) that his dated good deed had come back to him in spades for the final show.

    some dude has been writing in to band riders that the left over catering food goes to him, which he has been distributing to local homeless and food shelters since 1991. the idea came to him after seeing a Black Crowes rider insisting on a half ounce of weed in every dressing room. (“they can do that in a rider,” he said?). supposedly he’s fed a billion something since then (cubic feet, not certain. a billion something0.

    that’s my wrap up Palms. replay at 9 EST tomorrow.

  4. Mr.Palmer Says:

    “is basically a full on convert.”

    ^ that is too funny

  5. dorn76 Says:

    That sounds lovely, and formative @lu. Not knockin’ it; BC had “the mods”, since torn down modular housing development for seniors in middle of campus. Mrs d lived there and it provided the equivalent of a four star Lumpy stylee hospitality suite, complete with fridge removed of all shelves and filled with canned beer, hole in floor with hatch for kegs, and upstairs bedrooms…

    It was formative but a net loss of brain cells for sure.

  6. jdub Says:

    Coming in late but that;s ok.

  7. jdub Says:


  8. plord Says:

    Palmer, 5/6/81 was a Dicks’ Pick. The “Bobby Sands” show with the undisputed best ever He’s Gone->absurd sickness jam.

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    great miracle story there Bob!

    Glad to hear Gans has seen the light.

    Dicks Picks 13 is from earlier in that tour Palmer. It’s got the big, famous He’s Gone > Caution/Spanish jam, otherwise not super spectacular. Also could use a modern re-remaster tbh. Maybe a pro matrix.

    MArch 81 is a good to great but uneven tour. May ’81 is pretty close to just great. Lot of nice FOBs. Big Scarlet Fires and Shakedowns

  10. plord Says:

    Make that “Caution/Spanish Jam” -> drums -> jam -> Other One.

    Been a while, forgot it was a proper caution.

    Absurd sickness comment still valid.

  11. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah it goes full legit Caution

  12. MrCompletely Says:

    I’ve been working on initial scouting/planning for best of era/year/tour comps to replace/upgrade most of the old ones I did and many others for about 2 years in the background, waiting for the box to come out to fill a bunch of gaps. gonna be super fun for about a year after it arrives

  13. dorn76 Says:

    Is BobD gonna have time to make the BB team shirts???

  14. plord Says:

    Agreed the rest of that 5/6/81 is kind of light. There is a High Time, always a treat. and hidden tracks on disc 2 include a giant Scarlet->Fire from 11/1/79.

  15. plord Says:

    No really, the hidden track S->F on DP13 is HYOOOOOOGE. almost 40 minutes hyooge. It’s the energizer bunny.

  16. MrCompletely Says:

    like a lot of shows from that era. you either get the show with the huge super-inspired signature jam OR the fiery, well played top to bottom show but very rarely both

    like on a good night they had the same amount of awesome to either blow all on one or two huge highlights or spread evenly across the whole show

    FTW SC1 set 2, bobby kills the “Lady in Velvet” line, forgot about that

  17. MrCompletely Says:

    the slow motion energizer bunny maybe. sounds like Garcia couldn’t find the Persian and had to hit cough syrup or something that night to me

  18. BingosBrother Says:

    Nice miracle story. There was a family on Friday with a sign that said “This family believes in miracles” and at the beginning had the number five circled. About a half hour later five was crossed out. Then four was crossed out. Then three. As I walked past they were on two and inside the show one of our buddies came up and told us they made it to zero. Pretty awesome way to start the show.

  19. MrCompletely Says:


    “This is the season of what now?!?!??

    What now????”

    Another strong Bobby moment though they had a tough time working their way through that one overall

  20. bob dylan Says:

    I get 6 weeks dad leave to finalize the shirt ideas. Bingos and I were talking some shirt ideas. Still percolating.

    I’m not going to have time for shoreline tho. Now that he’s here I’m plenty occupied and happy so no worries. That should mean this is the year for a chuck speery drop, no doubt.

  21. bob dylan Says:


  22. xpun Says:

    Great stories guys.

    Listened to SC2 the whole way through in the car today. That second set may be the roughest of the bunch. Besides phil on eyes, he’s gone just never seems like everyone ever gets on the same page, and brokedown might be the one jerry tune that I felt Bob really sounded bad on. He did wharf rat really well earlier in that set and crushed the tunes in Chicago imo.

    I wonder if the wider spread vocal distribution in Chicago for trey and Bruce was out of charity (letting them have the spotlight), out of sensibility (they both sounded great on their tunes), or simply out of nessity (phil and bob couldn’t keep up with that work load for three straight nights)

  23. little umbrellas Says:

    Took mom to see Inside Out. She wanted to, and was particularly interested being a family therapist. The concept was cool, and fairly well executed, a few trite moments.. but overall, a good one.

    At least it was an original idea and not an adaptation, sequel or remake.

  24. xpun Says:

    I really liked inside out and from a parents perspective has made it easier to talk to the kids about which emotion is running the board a few times already. Which is a great tool to get from a movie

  25. little umbrellas Says:

    Nice xpun.

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