Miner’s Picks: Denver’s Finale

Official Denver Print (LandLand!)

Two weeks after one of their best stands of the year at UIC, Phish traveled to Denver to put a cherry on top of an already amazing summer. But when the three nights in the Rocky Mountains were over, the band had rearranged the highlights of summer, pushing quite a few more jams onto the top shelf. The momentum started on Memorial Day at Bethel Woods in upstate New York had wound its way through two legs of tour and a mid-summer festival, taboot. And on Labor Day weekend, Phish gave us one more unforgettable experience to celebrate everything that had transpired over the season. What resulted in Denver was the strongest top-to-bottom stand of the year and some of the summer’s hottest musical talking points. Phish hadn’t played six consecutive sets this strong in ages, and they provided the perfect exclamation point to a summer or glory. Below are my favorite jams from Denver and one final sequence from the benefit show in Vermont.



“Stash” I

After a slow start to the opening night in Denver, “Stash” provided the spark to the “S” show and Phish never looked back.


“Sneakin’ Sally > Sparks” I

An awesome combination of old-school covers provided the standout sequence of the opening set. A funked out “Sally” turned dirty before winding its way into “Sparks”—the first version since The Cow Palace in Fall ’96


“Sand” II

A perfect example of how “Sand” has evolved into a full-band jam. In this version, Mike leads much of the way as the band builds to a collective peak.

9.4.11 – Denver (Michael Stein)



“Simple > Steam” II

An ambient “Simple” jam bled into the most powerful version of “Steam” to date.


“Seven Below” II

The most impressive jam of the opening night, Phish moved from an sparkling conversation in groove to the depths of psychedelia.


“Scents > Slave to the Traffic Light” II

This uplifting combination punctuated the show. Trey reached for the heavens in the peak of “Scents” and with a sublime note that he held for quite some time in “Slave.” The “Slave” is below.



“Llama” I

The perfect example of Phish’s on-point playing across the board, “Llama” hasn’t sounded like this since last decade.

9.2.11 (G. Lucas / webcast)



“Wolfman’s Brother” I

A rousing, set-closing version that moved away from center before returning to the theme.


“Down with Disease > Tweezer” II

A hot “Disease” built towards “Tweezer” in what seemed to be an epic transition in the making, But the rug was pulled out from underneath and the band started “Tweezer” from the top. And when they did they dropped one of the defining jams of the summer. This version of “Tweezer” featured the most cathartic build in memory before Trey spiraled out of the groove and began an exercise in looping. Dropping a unforgettable melody atop two looped phrases, Trey takes this version to the bank—one of those jams in which Phish achieve musical perfection.


“Light -> Disease Reprise” II

Deep into the second set, out of the peak of “2001,” Phish unexpectedly dropped into “Light.” Shying from the avant garde, bass led excursions that peppered the second leg, this version favored a melodic canvas in and Trey, and then the band, brought back “Disease” in, perhaps, the most artistic moment of the weekend.


“Run Like an Antelope” II

One of few “Antelopes” of summer that brought some real fire to the table, this time including “Disease” teases within the jam.



“Bathtub Gin” I

In this explosive version that bookended summer with Bethel’s standout, Trey put on an absolute guitar clinic. Moving from rhythm lick to rhythm lick, this one is as dirty and as swanky as they come.

9.3.11 (Michael Stein)



“Tube” I

It’s great that “Tube” is a highlight again. This compact, yet fully developed, jam is an example of Phish’s modern musical marksmanship.


“Twist -> Piper > Hood” II

Perhaps my favorite sequence from the entire weekend, the segues are fluid, “Piper” stands out as one of the jams of the weekend, and the “Hood” is the most spectacular version of the summer. Blending modern stacatto soundscapes with an old-school assault on the song’s theme, Phish crafted a hybrid version of “Hood” that oozed victory.


“Roggae” II

And as a come down from the previous triumvirate, the band played “Roggae.” They opened up the slower piece in the wake of the Gorge’s version, channeling the musical feel of the “Hood” jam that came before.


“Ghost -> Guy Forget -> Ghost” II

Amidst a high-speed and dancy jam, Trey hit an fierce lick bringing the band into the second-ever appearance of the soundcheck legend “Guy Forget.” A smoking sequence put a perfect cap to a weekend that produced in ways nobody could have expected.




“Carini -> Down with Disease -> Slave” – 9.14, Essex Junction, VT

The standout chunk of the benefit show in Vermont was anchored by the stellar combo of “Carini -> Disease.” “Carini” built into something far more significant than we’d seen since last fall, and “Slave” brought a light to the darkening “Disease jam.


The Philler: Denver and Vermont Wrap (interview starts at 50:07)

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