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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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1. “Twist” 8.12 II, Philadelphia, PA

phillyposter

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.”

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

  1. Gumbomaniac Says:

    @c thanks for the 6 8 74 dusborne. I’m giving it a spin this morning.

  2. snowbank Says:

    Brexit is clearly bad for Trey’s psychoanalytical freudian jam complex: britain abandoning the EU triggers mother issues related to abandonment for trey causing a bipolar cycle where he sadistically shortens jams. Then the financial turmoil caused by the Brexit goes straight to Trey’s fear that Fishman will start eating mayonaise from the jar in the middle of a jam causing a cycle of timidity where he just lays back from the jam as if to say ” I just don’t want to end up jamming a beatless section where my drummer gorges himself on mayo.” Who can blame him, really?
    I’m not prepared yet to unveil my financial market/jam quality ARIMA model, so I don’t have any hard data for you today.
    Needless to say, I have a call into Janet yellen with a Buy&Hold plan that should help.

  3. snowbank Says:

    Trigger alert: this gif contains fishman and mayonaise
    https://gfycat.com/FalseCleverArcherfish

  4. bob dylan Says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWQFZ7Lx-rg

    Voodoonola
    Grateful Dead October 17,18,&19 1974 Winterland San Francisco CA

    Pretty good stuff on this video.

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    Garcia broke his voice for the first time at NYE 77, the laryngitis shows are the ones immediately following that run in early ’78

    after that it’s up and down

    I don’t know that any of them are true must haves. They’re the second tier of ’74 shows IMO. Good to greatish but they’re not as famous as the famous ones for a reason. I think the Miami shows are overrated based on the super famous Dark Star jam, but they’re not bad…

    The 6.8.74 Playin’ is my favorite thing out of those. The Dusborne matrix captures the single sickest Wall of Sound tiger/space meltdown of all time in unique glory

  6. Stoney Case Says:

    I have top secret inside info that Poo G does in fact spin Phish at home on occasion.

  7. MrCompletely Says:

    that’s the bonus disk from the GD Movie btw

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    the silliest Triscuit-face photo I’ve ever seen lol https://twitter.com/Phish_FTR/status/747496644661350400

  9. bob dylan Says:

    Will grab that wall of sound show tonight when I get home if you leave them up. Thanks.

    The voodoonola is the bonus disc? It’s freakin great.

  10. snowbank Says:

    I think it would help if someone made signs that indicate to trey if fishman is eating mayonaise behind his back. Like a severe weather alert system. Only with signs held by audience members.

    @poog – not listening to phish constantly definitely makes songy shows mo bettah for me too. You guys got butter

    Off to the gym… later freaks.

  11. lumpyhead Says:

    so how was DC?

  12. poop goblin Says:

    I have far too many albums I’m behind on listening Robear that actually interest me to ever get to jam rawk

    love getting spun and dancing to it. rarely get spun for dog walks or going running tho. prefer other genres for that.

    makes me hate white people to listen to phish on my headphones

  13. gavinsdad Says:

    Every show for me it’s just like “can I just be inside the music?” So many times I get pulled outside of it. Even sat nite…I’m human…there were some fine young woman dancing….enough to ruin any sort of meditation practice I had going on.

    So a lot of times for me it’s more about “am I listening?” than “am I listening to a soundtrack of fire improv?”

    I did a lot of listening at Wrig which was fantastic…but I listened to a band still thinking about it. Waiting for the big Congeal…hope our atl kdf hits us here at the Mann

    The Mann Mercury.

  14. gavinsdad Says:

    I guess we all want the Mann Waves too.

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    74s will stay up thru tonight for sure. The Oakland Playin’ is slap your grandma, run in circles, hide the wife and kids music

  16. sumodie Says:

    Greenboarder claims Trey isn’t using a true echo plex pedal but a Fulltone Tube Tape Echo

    https://www.phantasytour.com/bands/phish/threads/4191540/psa-its-not-an-echoplex#page/1

  17. MrCompletely Says:

    here I’ll make it easy for you

    Duane Allman and some other dudes 9.19.71 Stoney Brook

    Dreams https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jy3mIvcN9Z0

    that plex tho

  18. MrCompletely Says:

    Here’s the Blue Sky which I promise you is not very bad at all either https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLw7P_LATOQ

  19. poop goblin Says:

    Mr C

    I imagine what goes on is other players have it set up for the tempo of a song and what exact style delay the want.

    Troy is up there fuckin with the settings on the fly. probably wouldn’t say many other cats doing that in front of 20K fans. very difficult to use in a wide open tempo and feel changing style jam.

    I for one hope he keeps experimenting with less runs and more effect driven tones.

    worked great in 1999-2004 and I feel he really enjoys digging into it

  20. MrCompletely Says:

    no matter how much of a shit you don’t give about the Allman Brothers it’s hard to imagine any fan of good guitar playing not loving that first solo in Dreams

  21. poop goblin Says:

    I guess I’d say I still think the delay use was in search and not crutch mode. Trey def not afraid to soundcheck over several sold out concerts.

    but then again I haven’t heard any of the echoplex jams of the last 2 years so no real references other than this weekend, Mexico, or last year AV. only recent shows I’ve caught.

  22. Stoney Case Says:

    I’ll be snubbing Bingosbrother this weekend. #Holla

  23. MrCompletely Says:

    I can dig it PG and I def know how much of the detail in the effect hits of 2.0 etc gets lost in the wash of the shitty SBDs of the era

    My question, again not having heard DC, is can he actually develop ideas over the course of a solo or jam in that style?

    That’s all I care about

    I’d much rather have a jam that builds to a weird outer space meltdown or shimmying drone or whatever than a major key happy peak and the effect style could lend itself to that

    but I just want to hear some movement across ideas really, something that goes somewhere different

    I’m not against the plex or anything else. Just want to hear em get outside the box and stay there for a little bit

  24. MrCompletely Says:

    “delay use was in search and not crutch mode”

    ok cool, I will take that from you being in house for sure. The fact it sounds stuck in the mud a little on the couch is irrelevant.

    if he’s searching and just maybe hasn’t fully found yet than nbd

  25. jtran Says:

    what i want to hear, and obviously trey doesn’t care at all, is that if he wants to just rock ‘plex chords out that should be the first section of the jam. once you’re done plexing i’m ready for movement #2, not song #2

    i chatted through friday night’s entire set 2 which seems like it had the jam of tour so far so maybe I just need to listen back.

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