Reader’s Picks: Nathan Tobey

8.24.12 (Ryan MacNeil)

8.24.12 (Ryan MacNeil)

All selections and text by Nathan Tobey

Free” 11.22.95 II, Landover, MD

After a terribly (and amusingly) botched “Rift,” the band comes out with a “Free” that is one of the best versions ever played. 33 minutes of dynamic improvisation that features an especially strong performance from Page. At about the 21 minute mark, the jam moves into a quiet, breathtaking sequence featuring Trey whistling that evokes memories of the 12/29/94 Bowie.



Down with Disease” 12.12.95 II, Providence, RI

Thrilling. This jam is an adventure comprable to some of the very best jams from this peak period of Phish. It may just be the most interesting “Disease” the band has played (no offense to 11/12/94 or 6/25/97).



Stash > Ghost” 6.19.97 II, Vienna, AT

Most of you know the Paradiso Wormtown “Stash”—meet its lesser-known little brother, the Vienna “Stash.” A great but straight ahead “Stash” seems to be winding up only to dissolve into a extended funk jam that will have you dancing by the time “Ghost” arrives.



Antelope” 7.29.97 II, Phoenix, AZ

“Antelopes” that venture into true experimental improvisation are few and far between—and this is the best of a very short list. This Desert Sky “Antelope” goes far off the beaten path into a beautiful jam, before finding its way back to close things out.



YEM” 7.26.98 II, Dallas, TX

97-98 is known as the funk period, but Phish always had some funk — mainly in the form of YEM. So, what better vehicle for the cow funk treatment of the 97-98 period? This “YEM” got that treatment. At 29 minutes, the funk goes on (just about) forever—without a dull moment.



Ghost” 9.12.99 II, Portland, OR

I love ’99, but it’s true that the band could sometimes be sloppy or disconnected that year. This is not one of those times. 29 minutes of plugged in, focused playing that shows off 99 at its best—a combination of subtle textures, abstract soundscapes, and powerful grooves.



Down with Disease” 3.8.09 II, Hampton, VA

There a lot of reasons to love the reunion run, but the jams are not usually considered one of them. That’s true for the most part, but this is a huge exception. A 22 minute adventure with a gorgeous Trey-led segment that starts about mid-way through, followed a section of stunning Mike soloing, and wrapping up with a Fish/Trey race to the finish. This one flies under the radar. It shouldn’t.



Simple” 11.16.94 II, Ann Arbor, MI

A 34 min masterpiece that every fan should hear. Like most of the rambling 30+ minute jams of the era, it breaks down at points, but there are several sections of thrilling, jaw-dropping playing that could each have sustained an amazing jam out of “Simple” by themselves. The jam ends with delicate, gorgeous outro followed by a huge ovation. Perfect.



Twist” 7.18.03 II, East Troy, WI

This dark horse “Twist” comes out of nowhere late in the second set at Alpine to create a dark, swirling jam that reaches some menacing peaks before returning to the theme.



Bathtub Gin” 8.7.09 II, George, WA

Unquestionably the best “Gin” of 3.0—and one of the very best jams of 3.0, period. The creativity is pulsing in this jam as the band locks together for 18 minutes of adventurous improvisation that—like the very best of Phish jams—sounds almost composed. This is a jam that stays with you.



Piper” 7.8.12 II, SPAC

Any “Piper” played at SPAC would be overshadowed by the epic, essential 6/19/04 performance. But this “Piper” holds its own, and then some—it’s a stunning, tight powerhouse of a jam that features a thrilling peak from Trey. My favorite 3.0 version (though 10-30-09, 6-27-10, 6-15-12, 9-4-11 and 12-30-11 are all must hears).



Frankie Says” 12.28.03 II, Miami, FL

My nominee for best “Frankie Says” ever. A stunning jam that came out of nowhere in the first frame to set  the tone for an exploratory night of powerful Trey-led, Hendrix-inspired jamming.

[audio:] Tags:

664 Responses to “Reader’s Picks: Nathan Tobey”

  1. MiA Says:

  2. dorn76 Says:

    There’s unrest in the forest.

  3. voopa Says:

    I blame Df.

  4. marcoesq Says:

    Not even halfway through this Allstate ’03 Jiboo and already feels like a monster. Specially after that Simple

  5. voopa Says:


  6. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Send some positive vibes out to Sharon Jones… diagnosed with cancer…

  7. roberto luongo Says:

    nice pimpin my fav 03 fall show I caught.

    had serious doubts after LA through vegas and was run the fuck over by that All State set. dirty jammy. psychedelic. not much bliss. just dirty drugged out psych rock. that jibboo is off the rails. Trey’s tone in sample sounded like a jet crash landing into the venue.

    me and the lady took a few gels and were out of our heads.

    since I missed the heat that would follow that will always be my taste of 03 at it’s strongest. love the crazy high hard energy vibe of that one. great stuff.

    have fun comrades.

    lovin the new Italians do It Better after Dark 2 comp. get on that shit if you haven’t.


  8. BingosBrother Says:

    First time I ate shrooms, we found a tree with my grandmas initials in it. She died a few weeks before. I love trees.

  9. BNCB Says:

    Heading out for a tour of Humboldt Bay on a 100 year old boat. Not a bad sounding day.

  10. BingosBrother Says:

    Allstate 03 is the only show I ever got shut out of. Still pissed.

  11. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Floyd Mayweather just bet $5.9 mil on the Heat -7 tonight….

  12. kayatosh Says:

    ^^^ snap!

  13. dorn76 Says:

    haha, I’m looking at -6.5 right now.

  14. kenny powers Says:

    It’s amazing how even in the midst of their nadir – Vegas 2004 – among all the muck and slop and cringe-inducing Trey shot voice and ill-placed ballads and meanding jams,

    you can still find moments of inspired brilliance. Exhibit A would be the set I closing Taste from 4/16/04. Ho…leee…fuck, Trey is posessed. That strung-out, uncompressed tone works so well and he deftly jumps between that tone and the more liquid, open, enveloping tone. I mean just listen to the section from around 7:30 to 9:00, with the jaw-dropper high note at 8:45. But best of all, IMO, is the run he does immediately after that. Like 8:50-ish to 9:00. That is fucking DYNAMITE! And the finale before the outtro is a series of wailing, crying, bleeding, motherfucking hanuting bent notes. Wowzer!

    I think Taste jams are best dark, brooding, and evil and this one has that in spades.

    that is all

  15. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Haha the happy bday Leo was a reference to the guy who wrote it on the bday card for mike at DTE. Robear knows what I’m talking about.

  16. Jtran Says:

    nice pamp t3 – spinning now

  17. kenny powers Says:

    also, the soundboards at that time were so pure and unfiltered (or sterile, if you like), with no extra audience mics for ambiance like you have nowadays -those things would normally be a major minus because it makes all the flubs and shot voice that much more noticeable, BUT Trey’s guitar comes out so fucking clear and loud, it’s like it’s mainlined right into your jugular. Page’s piano also sounds incredible in that mix.

  18. Leo Weaver Says:

    Goldenrain tree is one of my faves @kaya…nice open canopy makes great shade for an afternoon nap. Great blooms in summer and interesting seed pods in fall. Having plant name plates in parks and on campuses is a great education tool.

    My headspace explorations started over half a lifetime ago and always involved locally sourced fun guys and woods, stars, fields, etc. Communing with nature is where it’s at. Want a really crazy fun time in natural setting? Take Lucy and sit on the edge of Tallulah Gorge all night. Spectacular! On my to-do list is to take Lucy to Yellowstone for acid pool and geyser viewing…it comes highly recommended by trusted friends.

  19. tela'smuff Says:

    @leo – i’ll let you borrow my book detailing all the deaths in Yellowstone since it’s become a park. the number of ways to meet your demise there is expansive. the worst being falling into a hot pool and your skin melting off.

  20. kayatosh Says:

    it appears i may have an insect bite on my forearm that has become infected. oval shaped rash. possible tick bite. getting on it.

  21. Leo Weaver Says:

    Ha…could be a little more face-melting than bargained for.

    Mrs. Weaver and I weren’t too far from meeting an untimely death just outside the south gate in Jan. 2000. We southerners had no business being on snowmobiles in the backcountry without a guide.

  22. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Get elevated in Havasupai. No other place like it.

  23. gavinsdad Says:

    nadir – +5

    i’m on that allstate 03 now. thanks for the rec guys.

  24. JanxSpirit Says:

    Aloha – I’m looking for a pair of pavs for Merriweather night one. One of my best friends in the world, who I haven’t seen a show with since the Clifford Ball, would like to join me that night. I have Bill Graham 2 and 3 and Tahoes, as well as a single Merriweather night one pav to trade. I’d really appreciate it.

    gregg carrier g mail

  25. gavinsdad Says:

    ps…saw the GD at the “rosemont horizon” in 93. if that’s the same room as “allstate” that is a pretty sick little indoor venue. hot as hell in there during those winter shows.

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