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. jtran Says:

    plex jam = funk vamp

  2. poop goblin Says:

    especially during the twist. seems like he would have a nice hit that would fit cleanly and he’d keep pushing it out until it didn’t work.

    pushing the boundaries of what worked by not working. ha

    I loved the last section of DWD and Twist after they finally got hooked up and I thought there was def some progressive delay stuff in each that caught my ear

    they lil hits to pull the twist jam out of the soup seemed espcially tasty

    seems pretty textbook not quite sure what I’m doing yet but I have something in my head I’m looking for Trey. not afraid to bork and abandon in front of a crowd looking for it.

    but what do I know. dude may have just had a blister so was stomping on pedals instead. ha

    really haven’t thought much.

    but live I felt everytime he went weird pedal wise felt like I could actually hear him looking around in the groove and pocket and such. testing the waters.

    made for pockets of bars here and there with very hip feels. just not fully connected is how I took it kinda

  3. MrCompletely Says:

    That makes total sense PG because I def get the feeling this is building to something. I thought the bomb was gonna drop last night

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    for all we know the slapback in Wrigley had him boxed in with the delays

  5. poop goblin Says:

    when it worked seemed darker. more angular. more complimentary than lead. and not very melodic.

    so if this does get developed further.

    a 03-04 drum n bass style with an even more experimental storage style Trey up top could be quite cool.

    but this could not be what’s goin on at all.

    but I heard some big heavy DnB grooves at this waiting for Trey to lock this up and weird out.

    that’s all I got.

    laterz kids.

    this next summer.

  6. voopa Says:

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

    Which may explain why my addition to the Echoplex Wiki page wasn’t accepted. Maybe.

  7. Jerome Garcia Says:

    SPACast announced. Any Front Ranger BBers planning on casting this wknd?
    http://webcast.livephish.com/Summer-2016-Webcasts-SPAC.html

  8. poop goblin Says:

    and as mentioned by many I imagine

    that Space oddity

    one of the hippest things I’ve seen em do in hundreds of shows. and that’s something I rarely say in 3.0

    jaw on ground. so phish. so well done. perfect

  9. bob dylan Says:

    Yeah, its really special when they can pull out something so unique and so phishy after all these years.

  10. marcoesq Says:

    Sup folks. Getting ready for my sole show of the summer on Wed. Things are setting up nicely for the next 2 days.

    So far a few wrinkles but really, really loving this Twist from Friday. Back half of Disease is pretty solid also. On 1st spin of Light right now

  11. marcoesq Says:

    Kinda got a little calypso feel to it, similar to Star Lake ’12. Wish there was a black hole to follow

  12. bob dylan Says:

    Aaaaaaaaand theres the allman echoplex. Thats pretty sick. Def perked my ear up.

  13. marcoesq Says:

    He’s been leaning on that delay quite a bit. Feel like this Light could’ve taken off once they settle into the drum n bass groove

  14. marcoesq Says:

    Trey actually playing the Sand bassline and then turning into a nasty GA intro. Pretty interesting

  15. JG Says:

    Please tell me that TotD has a running piece on Oteil’s lightning bolt hawk… I’ve been out of the loop this wknd obv but holy shit that thing is…something…

  16. bob dylan Says:

    I’m getting a lightning bolt in the back of my head for bill graham. hetty.

  17. verno329 Says:

    Any DC links up yet? My blog is updated thru Wrigley 2

  18. MiA Says:

    Thanks for the ABB drop Mr. C. Don’t really know the song, but the solo is really good like you say.

  19. marcoesq Says:

    Verno, I can pass along the link I used

  20. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    @verno
    I’ll get you one

  21. MrCompletely Says:

    it’s just his tone and phrasing are so perfect and…dreamy

    and then that spray of echoplex halfway thru

    but mostly the tone. so sick. can’t fake that

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    all I know is I really like the Duane era Allmans when they’re NOT playing just straight blues

    which is like…5 songs

    but Dreams is one of them, and was probably the oldest?

    anyway

  23. verno329 Says:

    Thanks @T3. Grabbing it now. And thanks @marco

  24. vapebraham Says:

    Mingus – Work Song (from get steppin mix) — $$$+

  25. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    anything to distract me from the shitshow #phishwife convo on twitter right now, verno

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