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.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2.02-Down-With-Disease.mp3]

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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.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2.02-Chalkdust-Torture.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2.03-Tweezer-1.mp3]

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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.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/3.05-Light.mp3]

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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.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2.01-Tweezer.mp3]

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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.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/1.12-Bathtub-Gin.mp3]

***

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.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2.01-Kill-Devil-Falls.mp3]

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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.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2.04-Tweezer.mp3]

***

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.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2.05-Tweezer.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2.06-Prince-Caspian.mp3]

***

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.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2.02-Twist.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2.03-Light.mp3]

***

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.”

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/2.04-Twist.mp3]

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

  1. vapebraham Says:

    aw, man. I’m feelin the burn. Felt like crap last night and needed to make a call. Didn’t want dorn’s ticket to go to waste, didn’t want to infect gdad and the entire Brosevelt fam on the car ride up, and i’m a no fun, stick in mud when i’m sick.

    tried downing fire cider and emergenC’s but healing efforts were undone by my refusal to abstain from brew and bud. today is an alcohol free day. If i can pull myself together by Fri, i’ll train up and try to score one on scene.

  2. tela's_muff Says:

    i mean, he could go to the show and leave early at a minimum right? i wish vape could write a review of his last minute bailing on MSG. $

  3. [an unrelated] Wilson Says:

    blueberry kush enema seems like something worth trying, actually.

  4. vapebraham Says:

    you guys make valid points, but a cold is a cold, and it takes time. Just trying to be courteous and not spread my vile germs.

  5. vapebraham Says:

    at least, i’m back to breathing through my nose. mouth breathing blows.

  6. MrCompletely Says:

    uh yeah I pretty much just sleep when I’m sick. I don’t like getting high with a cold and don’t want to do anything but chill.

    but I support the idea of the blueberry kush enema just on general scientific principles and for ball busting reasons

    just make sure your report is on the vague side…the abstract will suffice, details not required

  7. dorn76 Says:

    Ticket is still his as of now and probably at least until tomorrow…

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/phish/comments/3yt75x/3_msg_suite_tickets_tonight_1230_anybody/

  9. neemor Says:

    Anything blueberry flushed northward has to be beneficial.

  10. gavinsdad Says:

    Kaya reminds me that I finally get to meet Headys old lady and “baby carlos” who I found out is actually 3 years old which yet again reminds me of how time really does fly.

    Enjoy tonite gang. Gonna be great. May get to cast set 2. Wife and family time tomorrow nite. Looking forward to fri and sat.

  11. neemor Says:

    Suite tickets?!?
    Nice.

  12. RicksFork Says:

    Heady’s gonna be in the building? Nice? Lotta BB heads in NYC cant be a bad thing.

  13. dorn76 Says:

    I sense a set up in the works….

    First, Vape is in for 1/1 at MSG= A happy occasion for his fans in and around NYC.

    Next, Vape is sick and out for MSG = general rending of garments among the faithful.

    With a flourish, Vape is back and pulls a Willis Reed with a Rhinovirus= It’s back on, ecstasy for all!

  14. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    there goes the pope again promising everyone drugs

  15. dorn76 Says:

    I’m on metro north following lines going South.

  16. MrCompletely Says:

    way to spoil the big reveal there. classy.

  17. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    anyone have any big milestone shows on this run?

  18. lumpyhead Says:

    get some!

  19. dorn76 Says:

    Didn’t realize we were going No Spoilers for the nth volume of the The Vape Deliberations.

    Much love to all! Injest.

    Gonna enjoy a solo lunch as is my won’t to start off a run. Get my bearings and not speak for an hour. I do a lot of talking much of the rest of the time. You all know this or are not shocked I am sure…. Even during set 1’s according to Miranda (one quick comment to Berk Head about a girl, if it happened at all). This isn’t one of your fancy law courts, and you can’t sue a Pope anyway.

    May stroll to Gotham West Market where an outpost of The Cannibal, among other ridiculous delights await.

    Bridgeport.

  20. sumodie Says:

    Milestones?

    First time I’ve ridden the bus to catch Phish!

    (I feel naked without my car)

  21. MrCompletely Says:

    Just read a not very good history book about the end of the medieval era & start of the Renaissance, the only compelling part about it was the author’s salacious fascination with the incredibly depraved debauchery of the Popes in that era – I’m talking backstage Phish tour 2003 level depraved, but with waaaay more murders and torture taboot

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    don’t fuck with the Pope is what I’m saying

  23. RicksFork Says:

    Friday night will be 80 for me. is that a milestone?

  24. MrCompletely Says:

    Did someone say Milestones? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZmP8ZZJj4M

  25. dorn76 Says:

    I’ll eat phishies for lunch.

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