The Top Jams of Summer Tour

15. “Simple” 7.22 II, Bend, OR: The first hint that something strange was afoot at the Circle K this summer.

14. “46 Days” 8.15 II, Columbia, MD: A murky jam that ended in a huge melodic peak.

13.“Golden Age” 9.4 II, Commerce City, CO: Abstract psychedelia turned ethereal groove highlighted the first night in Colorado.

12. “46 Days” 8.22 II, Watkins Glen, NY: A very original, quasi-ambient take on one of the anthems of summer.

11. “Down With Disease” 8.5 II, Kansas City, MO: A multi-part jam that passed through a gorgeous spacescape en route to some of Trey’s most seething guitar playing of summer tour.


10. “Down With Disease” 9.6 II, Commerce City, CO

Though Dick’s three-night stand was largely the denouement of an incredible summer, one jam that stood out was the final set’s “Down With Disease.” In the last section of this excursion, Trey initiated a melodic motif that would tug on the heartstrings of even a dead man. The whole band latched on to this theme, crafting a life-affirming section of music that provided the four most blissful minutes of Colorado’s three-night run. While some of Phish’s most complex explorations speak to the intellect, and their grooves speak to the body, this jam truly speaks to the soul.



9. “Chalk Dust -> Tweezer” 8.7 II, Cuhyahoga Falls, OH

Blossom Official  S.M. Studios)

Blossom Official (S.M. Studios)

This set-opening combo knocked down the doors of one of Summer’s most complete sets of music. “Chalk Dust” reached a gorgeous, fast-paced, whole-band peak laced with thematic playing that evoked Guns and Roses’ “Paradise City.” When Phish descended from this truly awesome plateau, Trey gradually led them into a seamless transition into “Tweezer.” While this version of “Tweezer” didn’t necessarily stand up to the several monumental versions of summer, it certainly packed a legitimate punch with several swanky sections of improvisation. Trey directed the band with some powerful lead playing that Page supported with stellar work of his own. Towards the end of this piece, the band discovered a very dark, almost-industrial, creative milieu that stood out as the most interesting aspect of this jam.



8. “Light” 8.22 III, Watkins Glen, NY

Magnaball D.Millward)

Magnaball (D.Millward)

Deep in the third set on the band’s most prolific night of their summer-ending festival, they broke out a delicate and very creative version of “Light.” This version saw Trey engage in nimble runs of notes throughout a very connected four-part conversation. Passing through an ethereal plane in its middle stages, this jam saw the band sculpt an open soundscape congruent to their festival surroundings. Landing in an polyrhythmic, digitized exchange replete with a blanket of effects, this version absolutely slayed from beginning to end and is a prime example of how on point the band was on the second day of Magnaball.



7. “Tweezer” 8.1 II, Atlanta, GA

You know it was quite a summer when a near half-hour “Tweezer” with a soaring peak section lands at number seven on this list. This multi-faceted journey was anchored by Trey’s heartfelt and long-lasting leads in the aforementioned peak section in which he brings the jam out of darkness into the heavens with a circular melodic theme that froze time on a sweltering Atlanta evening. Once the band came down from this middle section, they entered a very creative part of the jam that saw the band proficiently chopping it up in a fast-paced rhythmic exchange that prominently featured Trey’s Tru Tron effect (or Trey Tron as I like to call it) that he favored for so much of summer tour.



6. “Bathtub Gin” 8.21 I, Watkins Glen, NY

Magnaball J.Pollock)

Magnaball (J.Pollock)

Phish absolutely annihilated this all-time version of Bathtub Gin in the opening set of Magnaball this August. Taking everybody by surprise with such an explosive, multi-tiered rendition, Phish announced their presence with authority early on in their highly anticipated festival. Another jam in which the band continued to roll through fluid themes with ease, the band christened the summer’s peak weekend of majestic improvisation. The guys built to a breathtaking climax in this middle section of this “Gin,” one that had thousands upon thousands of jaws on the field as the band collectively arrived at one of tour’s most indelible moments. And when the band pushed right through the peak into another section of improv, they just about knocked everyone out.



5. “Kill Devil Falls” 7.31 II, Atlanta, GA

Atlanta Official J.Weinberg)

Atlanta Official (J.Weinberg)

Who knew a day would turn into a week, and who knew that when Phish opened up the second set of this show with “Kill Devil Falls” that they’d wind up with a masterpiece? This colossal jam passed through several distinct phases with notable fluidity, moving from a Tru Tron-based section into darker bass-led textures; through a brief “Manteca” motif into a powerful and extended sequence of guitar narration; through a bluesy exchange into a groovy section of interplay, and finally into a monstrous peak with a “Tweezer Reprise”-esque progression. The band never lost focus or momentum through this phenomenal exploration as the fresh ideas continued to readily flow in lock step fashion, as was the case in all of summer’s top jams. This one was an instant classic and the only thing to be determined was where amongst summer tour’s gems it would land.



4. “Tweezer” 8.9 II, East Troy, WI

The Alpine “Tweezer” is pure butter. Arguably the smoothest jam of the summer, it featured pure cohesion upon a single theme from beginning to end. Unlike the multi-tiered explorations that were so prevalent over summer tour, in this “Tweezer” the band jammed along a single, united path without a wasted note. Fusing groove with melody like only Phish can, this jam represented what can happen when all band members are on the same page and things go perfectly for an entire jam. This one is so flawless it almost sounds composed; truly an opus of summer.



3. “Tweezer -> Caspian -> Tweezer” 8.22 II, Watkins Glen, NY

Magnaball Land Land)

Magnaball (Land Land)

This improvisational sequence was the undeniable centerpiece of Magnaball’s second day. Closing out the first evening set with almost a half an hour of stellar jamming, the band—essentially—dropped two “Tweezer” jams with “Caspian” in the middle. I’m not sure why Live Phish didn’t label the second half of “Tweezer,” as Trey even initiated the segment with a gnarred out, chunky version of the song’s signature lick. Nonetheless, both halves of the jam are nothing short of spectacular. Another excursion that signifies the incredibly tight and exploratory jamming that popped up almost every night of tour, this two-part “Tweezer” packed insane power into its every nook and cranny. While its opening half transformed from thick groove into fast-paced melodica, it’s the second half that boasts the magnificent richness that is Phish. The entire sequence leads up to a mind-bending peak that featured a dizzying Mind Left Body progression.



2. “Twist > Light” 7.24 II, Mountain View, CA

Shoreline Official (J.Santora)

Shoreline Official (J.Santora)

While Bend’s “Simple” teased us of what was to come in a transformative tour, it is this two-pronged sequence from Shoreline that kicked the summer into high gear and showed us that the band was playing for keeps. This dualistic rendition of “Twist” plunged the depths of the Netherworld and then ascended into the heavens with a prolonged, symphonic movement of cohesive bliss. This “Twist” was the jam that changed my summer plans of hitting a few shows out west and the festival to a hitting every show (but Austin). In this monumental improvisation, the band demonstrated the comfort, ease and seemingly effortless communication that allows them to create art in the highest form. And this “Twist” set the bar incredibly high for the rest of the season. Featuring a looser feel than many of this summer’s jams, the style felt very congruent to the Bay Area environs on the heels of Fare Thee Well. This was one of those unforgettable musical moments that will live in the memory banks of all attendees for the annals of time.

And just as “Twist” came to a close, the band crashed into “Light” in a real statement of improvisational intent. The band’s cosmic jamming continued throughout this amazing, multi-thematic jam in which the band eventually landed in an “I Know You Rider” jam in a clear nod to the Bay Area forefathers. A one-two punch like none other of summer, I knew as soon as this combination dropped we’d see it near the top of the tour’s highlights.



1. “Twist” 8.12 II, Philadelphia, PA


Philly Official (D.Welker)

The Philly “Twist” from the second night of the Mann Music Center stands head and shoulders above any other jam from summer. And it’s not even close. This excursion transcends tour highlight status into that of a career highlight. Demonstrating pure mastery of their craft, the band members passed musical ideas with delicacy and precision, echoing and responding to each other in a way rarely witnessed at Phish shows. As soon as they dove into open waters, the guys were like a one-minded organism, improvising with a stunning proficiency that seemed to awe even themselves, as could be seen with the extended pause they took at the piece’s conclusion. The first half of the jam featured a dark exploration of sound, texture and melody fused into one. Trey utilized all facets of his game as he not only played notes but crafted blankets of sound and effect that served to color the music as much as he pushed it forward. The band crafted a dark and abstract—though airtight—jam, that had it ended when they transitioned into the exploration’s second half, would have still landed it near the top of this list. But the guys pushed on as Fishman initiated a slow groove that methodically built into an entire new jam. After navigating another foray into darkness, the band finally emerged from the murk into a monumental peak that was pulled from a fantasy. Trey tore off majestic melodies that sounded like music you’d known for your entire life as the entire band exploded in catharsis. Capping such a deep excursion with an arrival this glorious is the stuff of which dreams are made. As I walked out of the venue this night with a long-time friend, he described this jam perfectly with a single line—“the soundtrack to the universe.”


26,608 Responses to “The Top Jams of Summer Tour”

  1. Mr.Miner Says:

    Pretty mellow start. Dwd, twist, carini and light. Carini really the only really cohesive scene. Trey was real good in light. But yeah, nothing too crazy. Gotta think this will turn up on the east coast. Trey using great time throughout though. Seems like they haven’t played together or practices for a while. Was a good weekend to skip 🙂

  2. vapebraham Says:

    wednesday – abundant sunshine.

    so slicker for Mann1. daisy dukes for Mann2.

  3. dorn76 Says:

    Stoney’s point is well taken. Seems a bit more like the 3.0 we had been accustomed. But as Mr. C noted, it took a few shows last Summer before the band swung south and then rocketed skyward.

    Only 4 shows in I feel like the loose elements that so far make me optimistic (effects, band communicating, errybody but Trey playing well) could come together at any time and go BIG. YUUUGE even.

  4. vapebraham Says:

    Mann central station is a jam nurturing environment.

  5. jtran Says:

    anyone have forum floors? still looking for 2 for sillywilly and slf

  6. dorn76 Says:

    I almost noted the lack of ripcords as another positive, despite a bunch of short-ish song times. I’m glad Miner noticed Trey “taking time”, even if he can’t think of anything interesting to do with it.

    Energy should be off the charts tomorrow for the first stop on the East Coast. Fired up and serious Tues. crowd will be hungry for some soup.

  7. MrCompletely Says:

    it’s just tension and release writ large

  8. snowbank Says:

    stitch is on to one key thang- If phish sold something oriented at kids, I would buy one every show for lil miss snow.

    Buy&hold- ahahahaha

    I don’t feel like the trajectory of this tour is that far off last year. We are short a couple top shelf jams from SHoreline that weren’t that amazing compared to what came at Mann/Magna. If we get through mann/SPAC without any gold, it’s gonna be concerning.

    St Paul seemed more like practice then Bend did. No-FTW’d.

  9. Stoney Case Says:

    One night at Deer Creek is dumn and stoopid. Go way the phuck to crapsville America for one Dosido in the corn porn? #NoThanks #NotAtAnyPrice unless Trey promised to play the 8/10/97 Cities again for me.

  10. bob dylan Says:

    It was a good excuse to go see family but even then I couldnt swing it for one show.

    Also, not like phish is going to sell out Indiana when playing Sunday or mid week. Chicago got the pull with Wrigley and fri/sat. I doubt deer creek even sold out.

  11. Jerome Garcia Says:

    So basically there’s nothing worth listening to for the 1st 4 shows & we think that they’re jamming days are over? Just a quick glossing over the past few pgs. Planning on getting caught up later this PM w/ read back while spinning highlights from SPM CHI & DC.

  12. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    I, for one, welcome our new overlords.

    Oh wait, wrong blog!

    Nostalgia Act’d…

    Cannot wait for Gorge!

    Flux capacitor broken, so I’ll have to.

    #intheroombias is to be the hashtag of tour this summer

  13. snowbank Says:

    I am purposely not writing my arm chair psychoanalysis of Trey per MrC’s past guidance. Can I get some credit for that?

  14. snowbank Says:

    @JG- more like nothing from the first 4 that makes you want to call your jaded vet friend and say “look, phish is crushing again.” at least for me.

  15. bob dylan Says:

    Good job snow. :clap emoji:

  16. snowbank Says:

    @stoney- how did you decide you were worthy of a ceramic eNail? It actually feels to extravagant. I need help getting over the edge.

  17. MrCompletely Says:

    we could use some drama. I say go for it. plus points if you can work in Brexit.

  18. snowbank Says:

    that fits my needs bob

    thank you

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    if you just like listening to average 3.0 phish, there’s no problem JG

    just nothing huge yet (he says still not having heard DC)

  20. bob dylan Says:

    That was for C too. I read recently he’s been proposing the use of more clap emojis.

  21. MrCompletely Says:

    Coming up on last call for the May/June 1974 and NYE run ’80 Dead in the orange

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    oh yea well you’ve got the clap bob

  23. poop goblin Says:

    love being back to only listening to phish at concerts. last notes of Troy prior to Wrigley was on the beach in Mexico

    makes my show experiences near impossible to bore me

    and keeps me from spinning phish

    win. win

  24. bob dylan Says:

    Is 80 the nye jerry broke his voice or was that 79?

  25. bob dylan Says:

    Also, are all those 74 shows must haves?

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