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. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah it’s basically Phish Twitter

    fortunately I only follow the non idiots so my feed just has a few people looking like this ಠಿ_ಠ at the clusterfuck

    I’d unfollow anyone who actually complained about it

  2. vapebraham Says:

    Dreams always my fave Allman’s tune. thanx C. this is qual.

  3. sex&City Says:

    That Space Oddity was special…

  4. dorn76 Says:

    (Deletes tweet lamenting lack of “through 3.0 Phish years thick and thin” in standard vows)

  5. lumpyhead Says:

    extremely

  6. MrCompletely Says:

    space oddity is instant legend

  7. poop goblin Says:

    just for old times sake better add some negativity

    Trey really does have to be writing some of the worst original music on the planet currently.

    everything from the new album makes summer of 89 seem hard.

    who writes this garbage? Troy or that talentless douche Marshall?

  8. MiA Says:

    Most phish fans I know are a bit in the Arrested Development stage of Phish. They can’t let go. It’s easy to let go when you never really grabbed on, or were grabbed by it.

    I’m also appreciate that my wife sees me having the time of my life, and she is so happy I have something I can still have the time of my life too. That I am truly happy for the 5+ hours at a NY show or whatever.

    Would you really take away “Christmas from someone because they should have grown out of it by now?

  9. GWK Says:

    At this point last summer, we were in Texas. sooooo there is plenty to look forward to still!

    Mann will slay bc, hell, Phish can’t play a stinker when that many concentrated BBers are in one place together, right?

    Vape, perhaps you need to put out some Limburger just in case…throw em the cheese. the big stinky cheese.

  10. MiA Says:

    (after christmas I wrote “insert whatever gets you off here” – as if that changes my message at all.

    Agreed with PG. That Breath and Burning song is terrible. Dropping Pages name in it to get woo’s out of it, is just baiting the crowd.

    Trey is lucky he was so talented at a young age. 😉

  11. snowbank Says:

    I just saw Pete Carroll referred to as ‘Coach DeGeneres’ in the PFT comments. That is a Top Shelf slam.

  12. marcoesq Says:

    Haven;t been too many new songs I’ve been into since the return

  13. gavinsdad Says:

    Mr C – I assume you’ve been poking around hoodclips?

  14. GWK Says:

    32 teeth in a jawbone. Tinfoil Alabama tryin for none.

  15. Cal Says:

    I’m way in tune with Phish for the most part during the show. When I pull back into thinking about what actually went down I find myself completely out of touch with what they’re doing. Stupidly let it get the best of me when they busted into Shade. Almost made it the whole weekend without thinking.

    Haven’t listened back to anything, but the concourse between lawn and pav during Boogie On was a crazy seething dance party. Little bits like that at a show are all I need, I guess.

    Anyway, thanks to poop for the hospitality, and glad I got to hang with a few of you for a bit. Remember lastwaltzer? He joined our Deer Creek escapade. Incredibly fun times all three nights. Pretty sure the rest of the tour will be better. I thought Saturday was the best but a tape can’t capture the feeling of Trey wanting to blow out all the windows in Wrigleyville with sheer noise.

  16. Cal Says:

    It’s kinda sad when the encores are the highlights, y’know? Or maybe not.

  17. bob dylan Says:

    TIL the Cubs played their first game at Wrigley on 4/20/1916

    The whales were the first team to play there, hence the whale on one of the posters this weekend.

  18. Joe Says:

    Trey still mining his hands on a hardbody scrapped ideas for new material.

    (Is Manchester 2010 access me an early example of ‘echoplex’? )

  19. jtran Says:

    seems to me that they don’t really have an album ready to go. either that, or they scrapped it and are now road testing material instead.

    if they were psyched on the new songs they had they’d be dropping them left and right like last summer (i think)

  20. StitchStash Says:

    Hi ghost! Are you going to any shows this summer? SPAC is a no go but I’m going to be able to make Syracuse now. Hope to see you there!

    Bob I was totally counting on you being my custie but no worries, snow’s down to chill.

  21. MrCompletely Says:

    hoodclips? that worldstar type site? no, why?

  22. Jerseyjim Says:

    May I ask, how do I find vapefest? Planning Operation Cheesesteak for an Amtrak arrival tomorrow, and gotta figure out logistics/timing, etc.

    I need a day off. Things got heated today over hyphens. Operation Cheesesteak must be deployed.

    Jim5bo5ka5pp at the mail of g, and remove the 5s. Thx.

  23. BingosBrother Says:

    Between the lawn and the PAV at DC is hallowed ground.

  24. lumpyhead Says:

    lol “baiting the crowd”

  25. BingosBrother Says:

    I got real FOMO over Capefest. You guys are so lucky. I’d rent a port a potty if I was Vape though. Echo Plexing slap back.

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