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. sumodie Says:

    Potential songs on new album: Mercury, NMINML, Blaze On, Miss You, Shade, Breath and Burning. Can’t be more than 6-8 unheard tunes…?

    Trey wants a few shows under his belt before dropping more new tunes. It’s quite possible we’ve already heard the best and the jammiest (hopefully not)

    Listening to the DC set one stream last night made me realize I need to back off trying to hear the entire tour (esp fan streams) and enjoy the ride when I hop on

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    I don’t do aud streams at all sumo. Impossible to enjoy, leads to bad impressions

  3. snowbank Says:

    goodshit gDad. I’ve been on that tip for awhile of trying to listen to the music and BB convo’s have helped me up my intention to do it. Compared to the weird trip I had at the Gorge in ’13, I’m way more focused. The voice in my head is so vibrant it can drown out a LOT of lucy and keep me grounded. In St Paul, I had moments where I felt like the show was just over the head of the crowd (like hillbiliies yuckin up during I had a Reason, but I caught myself and went back to imagining/hallucinating/visualing/exeperiecing everything as energy flowing through Toroids and subsequently was locked back into the music.

  4. snowbank Says:

    Oh yeah… listening to the AUD stream is like spending a night in a strip club: it’s waste cause you don’t really get what you want and you feel embarrassed cause you can actually get what you want elsewhere. that said, I’m not perfect at avoiding either situation.

  5. snowbank Says:

    well.. .not embarrassment as much at self pity or something. That was supposed to be funny. not sure how it can be now.

    Bazinga!

  6. little umbrellas Says:

    so no one here probably cares at all to hear about mr K.West is doing.. but did you see his new video?
    post orgy bed sleep scene, with wax models of celebrities including naked Taylor Swift, Bill Cosby, Chris Brown , Donald Trump and George Bush in bed with him.
    ?!? wow. today’s world.

  7. MiA Says:

    Snowbank really likes the word “hillbillies.” Like the 12th time he’s used it. Not that I’m counting.

  8. MiA Says:

    Douche called K.west

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    I love u Um but kanye is the most boring person on earth

  10. StitchStash Says:

    Gdad- I liked your description of trying to be inside the music. I believe that is the goal for most of us on here. There really is no logical way to describe that feeling.

  11. little umbrellas Says:

    perhaps a projection is being made as to why i would even mention it.

    i think it’s obnoxious and boring.

    but its something that is today.

    and it uses the naked image of Bill Cosby, Trump and Bush.
    this is something. not something i care for. but something the world is watching.
    I was surprised as fuck to watch it. if you’re not a little shocked.. (..well then you probably didn’t watch it.. which is fine…)

    but dudes.. this shit is getting weird.. what a strange strange world the entertainment industry has become. Indicative of our world and what type of mind states and things that are happening. EGO EGO EGO.

  12. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    We did a three night Bro and Co run. Miracles abound! We met some of the coolest people. My girl and I give a lot of miracle tickets and we got that back for these Weir and friends shows, we had so much fun. In the moat in Camden, in the trees at SPAC, and on the floor next to the stage in Queens: I never saw the band, I never saw the derp. Donna Jean sang in Queens, stoked.

    Drum and Space for life

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    no I know you didn’t post it because you like it

    I just…everything today is just us on the path to the Transmetropolitan future.

    I don’t mean to be a jackass about it, but it just seem like bougie transgression

  14. Mr.Miner Says:

    just reset the comments with a new thread.

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    basically I’m trying to ignore Kanye but that’s not your problem

  16. little umbrellas Says:

    I understand that many people here could give two fucks about what is happening in the mainstream media. that’s fine. again, this is probably wrong the place to share certain things.
    But I think him doing this is a particularly weird and an offensive thing to have done. like extra extra next level crazy and weird thing to have done.

    (not crazy and weird in an awesome way, the opposite)
    ( i thought people here like to have something up to date to make fun of?
    helloooooo)
    Can you do things like that without getting massive lawsuits sent your way?
    Next level twisted confused states of pop megolith happenings.

    ::

    This Stoney Brook Dreams Allman Brothers jam is fun. Drifting away music indeed. slick playing

  17. little umbrellas Says:

    New Post ! wow. sweet.

  18. MiA Says:

    I think the part about being boring is that nothings shocking. According to Jane’s Addiction.

    I get ya LU. I seem to be almost immune now “10 shocking things you didn’t know about penile implants” or “These people all got fat, the 17th one is the most shocking!” “20 shocking ways to lose weight naturally and organically”

    I’m not sure it’s Kanye that’s boring or his PR and handlers and media agents trying to create the Kanye brand that bore me. But having naked wax figures of Taylor Swift or Bill Cosby is just … boring.

    That said, I’m boring, so there is that as the counter argument.

  19. snowbank Says:

    Mia- I’m jealous of their moonshinin’ and sibling loving ways.

  20. little umbrellas Says:

    ^word yeah. hear ya @C. ignore. that’s fine. i understand.

    different ways of dealing with shit that is happening. like ‘why consume or pay attention to something that is happening that i know i’m not into.’

    to me it’s just like.. ‘woooooowwww.. really!?!’ .. Watching what the world is watching.

  21. little umbrellas Says:

    ^def hear all that too @MiA.. like ho hum.. the pop world is doing more boring dumb stuff.

    it’s already more energy and time then i want to spend thinking about it, just deflecting reactions here and making sure im contextualizing my reasoning for posting.

    For me it was a ten minute moment, of jeeez.. . this shit is just wacko.

    Onto Tour Thoughts>>>>>>>

  22. sumodie Says:

    Deerflax

    Light Age Boogie was jelly enough, as are my legs now

  23. JG Says:

    What’s up w/ the Derp & Bro slowed down tempo of DC’s PYITE?

  24. JG Says:

    That’s the echop in DC Light jam around 11 min? Mike’s bass must’ve been massive in house.

  25. JG Says:

    Just spun majority of DC II save Wangsuit & Shade. Also just like Possum. Fun boogie tune. They’re clearly still getting their sea legs back. Well Terry really. But completely hooked up just not quite happening. Yet. It’ll happen.

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