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. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    and just over a year prior in the same city was the American Theater Reba

    go ahead and add that to your queue why dontcha

  2. marcoesq Says:

    Allstate P&M is no slouch either. Finishing strong.

  3. dorn76 Says:

    Funny that, I’ve been surfing early ’94 today, unearthing hints of the madness to come later that Summer and Fall.

    April and May are pretty tame.

    Dirty Canuck Tweezer from Vancouver though. First listen for me.

  4. kenny powers Says:

    “April and May are pretty tame.”

    Most likely to a gimpy Trey on crutches after busting his foot. I can imagine how impotent he would feel not being able to bob and weave and just be his jumpy self.

  5. kenny powers Says:

    Most likely “due” to a gimpy Trey. Of course, pretty tame for ’94 Phish is still pretty raging! giggity

  6. marcoesq Says:

    5.22.94 in SBD no less, nice. I’ll give this guy a spin

  7. kayatosh Says:

    i second the MIA endorsed 11.23.94 Tweezer

  8. gavinsdad Says:

    dig the songs feature on PhishTracks. just for looking back for early deep/long versions of a tune. did it for Simple as was confused by the long 94 Simple Nathan picked ^^. didn’t realize that they stretched that year (my first live Simple was 10/21/94 and it was a straight ahead shorty)

  9. MiA Says:

    That’s what she said

  10. dorn76 Says:

    yeah, nailing every composition and hosing tension/release…”tame” by Phish standards.

  11. marcoesq Says:

    Dig phishtracks. period

  12. MiA Says:

    For those looking for SBD goodness (for the quiet parts)

  13. marcoesq Says:

    Fox Tweezer giving me goosebumps right now. Love this thing

  14. MiA Says:

    Flyin’ too much today
    It’s so groovy to float around sometimes
    Even a jelly fish will tell you that
    I said floataion is groovy
    And he said
    And a jelly fish will agree to that

    Yeah, but that old jelly fish
    Been floatin’ around so long
    Lord he ain’t got a bone in his jelly back
    Floatin’ every day and every night
    Ridnin’ high is a risk
    Sometimes the wind ain’t right

  15. roberto luongo Says:


    UIC 94 fall has a Simple that’s one of my fav jams they’ve ever played. hate to use the term type II but just jumps off the simple form and becomes it’s own beast. killer 94 style freeform jam.

  16. marcoesq Says:

    Don’t think that link works, Mia

  17. roberto luongo Says:

    new boards of canada just got dropped I believe

  18. MiA Says:

  19. MiA Says:

    Sorry Marco. Maybe takes a few seconds to complete the upload? Give it a minute.

  20. MiA Says:

    Worked for me? Anyone else?

  21. marcoesq Says:

    Turned off ghostery and now it works. thx

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    worked for me Ghostery (With)

  23. MiA Says:


  24. gavinsdad Says:

    fox 94 tweez. good lookin. this morning i did the ATL 00 Tweez. dig that one alot.

    on the UIC Simple now (dont have the official release). thx AW

    which one of you freaks made it to Bozeman Fall 94? what a trek…Minneapolis>daybreak>Bozeman>daybreak>Olympia then the run down the left coast.

    MIA – you make that run?

  25. BingosBrother Says:

    Ghostery ?

    Straight Ahead Shorty $$$

Leave a Reply