Phish played so many oustanding jams during leg two, that several top-shelf excursions have flown under the radar. Below are four jams that one shouldn’t forget when making his Leg Two playlist.
“Simple” 8.18 II, SF
Buried in the least impressive second set of Leg Two was this ambient “Simple” jam that came a bit late to salvage things, but has plenty of post-tour playback value. The band trickled out of Trey’s solo and into a near-beatless realm anchored by ethereal harmonies. Painting a crying solo over the band’s drone canvas, Trey added an emotional thread to the abstract conversation. Speckled with loops and effects, this piece evoked the feel of Bay Area psychedelia and is probably the most undersold jam of the tour.
“Rock and Roll” 8.24 II, Pelham, AL
As Leg Two turned towards Colorado, this “Rock and Roll” had my vote for jam of tour. Once springing the piece from high octane rock textures, the guys moved into a clavved-out section of darkening percussive grooves. Trey carved out a sinister solo atop this momentum-filled segment, but when the band seeped out of this faster section and Fishman hit a medium-tempo groove, the quartet converged in a dreamscape of bliss. The second half of this jam is one of the most heavenly passages of Phish music this year.
“Golden Age” 8.25 II, Atlanta, GA
For whatever reason, Lakewood doesn’t stick out in my mind when thinking back over Leg Two, but the show had two outstanding second set jams—“Chalk Dust > What’s the Use?,” (featured yesterday) and this “Golden Age.” The band dialed it back a bit on their new-era cover this past leg, but certainly not on this night, as they dove head first into an expedition in robofunk. Trey turned to his signature, Fall ’97 guitar scratches as Mike took over with envelope-filtered bass leads. This groove template actually popped up a few more times over the rest of tour, specifically in Dick’s “Chalk Dust.” Gordeaux forged forth on his bass led jihad, while the rest of the band danced gingerly around his atomic leads. Rarely did Phish give themselves to this type of focused rhythmic excursion over a blissed out leg two. After demolishing the dance floor, the band oozed into a storage-laced comedown that likened a soundtrack to the underworld. With so much to listen to, this one can easily get lost in the shuffle. It shouldn’t.
“Limb By Limb” 8.28 II, St. Louis
Phish played, arguably, the greatest “Limb by Limb” in history, rivaled only by 12.3.99, and nobody seems to be talking about it. Following a seamless stretch of music lasting almost forty minutes, when the guys started “Limb,” it felt like a cool down selection. But it turned out to be the highlight of the show. The band burst into wide open territory, when Trey hit an evil lick in the middle of the normally temperate jam, things got buckwild. Completely exiting the song structure and into one of the most compelling 2012 passages of music that didn’t take place at Dick’s, the band dove into deep waters. (Something many fans wish they would do more often with “Limb.”) Peaking the jam with a dramatic six-string expose, Trey took this one to the top with a rocket on his back. The St. Louis “Limb” is on the level of anything from summer tour. Simply awesome Phish.