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. BingosBrother Says:

    That Twist was ill.

  2. vapebraham Says:

    no phish to the dome til tomorrow night. crazy otherwise.

  3. lumpyhead Says:

    lol lightning bolt hawk

  4. MiA Says:

    Have to admit, I started fading off to the guitar solo at my desk. Great soaring playing.

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    it’s on theme with the song title I think. Just meant to kind of take you out and let you drift

    he died less than 2 months after that show

  6. sex&City Says:

    Hey Sally, Negev, and dudes… Been way too long. Trying to get back in to the swing of things. Life is hectic as fuck, job search still in full swing, but no excuses to not have at least made one boner joke since tour has already started. I hope you can all forgive me that my noob-like attitude has been missing. I hope to stick around for the rest of the summer and I really hope to see some of your pretty faces at Dicks. Nothing like Dicks and pretty faces. Hope you are all enjoying the tour thus far. Somehow Mrs. City found a pic (I’m assuming on FB) and forwarded to me. Looks like there were many of you at Wrigley. Hope you all happy, healthy, having fun and staying safe!

  7. vapebraham Says:

    Selector J/Tela’s/ and all digital dj’s: if one of yall has a flaxy mix of tunes, bust it out and it will get played at kayafest, along with Get Steppin and WRA vinyl session.

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    He takes the first solo in Blue Sky and you can hear the other side of his playing there, the clean technical shred

  9. dorn76 Says:

    Flat out at work and home life for the next 20 hours. The we gotta get on the road, destiny unbound.

  10. sumodie Says:

    Oteil has been super cool this Dead&Co tour. He’s been going out of his way to meet up with GLBT fans. Before Charlotte he & his wife extended an invite to meet with a group at a local bar.

    Then he posted on FB about trying to find a rainbow colored guitar strap(s). Finally a friend met him in NYC this past weekend & hooked him up.

    Seems like a fun, chill guy. And if some gal wants to pay his way to Iceland next Januaury to teach guitar to a few cu$ties, why not?

    (I think it was two Jamcruises ago that he was asked to officiate at an onboard gay wedding, and he did)

  11. MrCompletely Says:

    thanks for all your work as always verno

  12. bob dylan Says:

    Jimi is the other one that comes to mind when thinking about songs that float and drift and take me to a dreamlike place. Love that type of music.

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    sure and today he and his wife (?) are out miracle-ing people

    Oteil is by ALL accounts a GREAT dude and that’s going back 25+ years with no dissenting opinions I’ve ever heard

    The Taraleigh thing is just funny, man. She’s got a weird hustle but he seems like a guy that just loves that good hippy energy.

    Same thing with the bolthawk – it’s silly, but from another angle so is most of my life

    I laugh, but I love Oteil

  14. dorn76 Says:

    Oteil lover here. Owe one of my most intense psych experiences to him, his bass and that weird fuck Col. Bruce.

    Bass notes like so many giant purple drops of water floating around and bouncing off the crowd, the walls, one another. The he started in with the vocal jamming, and I had to step back from the front of the stage for a bit or risk being swallowed whole.

  15. JG Says:

    ‘…anything to distract me from the shitshow #phishwife convo on twitter right now…’

    ^go on

  16. Fat bastard Says:

    Amazing how tight the allmans sound in that era and they are what 21 years old? Imagine that sound developed over 10 20 years with that talent

  17. sumodie Says:

    I was initiated into the double secret fruit farmers’s union so I can no longer offer easy grab & go mangoes. On the plus side I’ll have flaxgalore once I link ’em myself. DC later today

    Will poke around for that Allmans. Maybe I already have it; if not I’m sure that greenboard thread has it

  18. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah I had some heavy mindfuck ARU nights in which Oteil figured prominently as well man

  19. sumodie Says:

    Agreed, laughing at/with Oteil is part of the fun. I think he’d agree.

  20. MrCompletely Says:

    definitely, he doesn’t seem hung up at all on being serious

    seems like every time I get my approval for one of those flax illuminati sites it gets shut down or moved and no one tells me where lol

  21. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    nothing worth expounding on. just typical phishies overreacting to a dumb blog post. I won’t link it because it is clickbait aimed at us

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    it’s the same stupid bullshit as last time some fan’s non-fan wife blogged about letting her hubby go have fun. such an idiotic form of butthurt

  23. marcoesq Says:

    people are the worst

  24. bob dylan Says:

    I found all those phish wife links to be positive. Maybe I didn’t see the correct one, but its a bunch of ladies who don’t understand their husband’s passion and are accepting anyway because thats their passion. What else could you ask for if they don’t get the music?

  25. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Needed this Dreams!

    Been a while for got how much the non-blues tunes Allmans really hit home.

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