With the start of the Phish Summer 2011 tour almost two weeks away, this is a good opportunity to look back on some of the best jams of 3.0 thus far. Most can agree that Phish has gotten progressively better since the Hampton come back. In fact, tour by tour they seem to be switching it up and becoming more and more entertaining. Whether it is throwing obscure covers into a set or busting out songs they haven’t done since the 1980s, or throwing a Manteca in the middle of YEM, Phish has been keeping fans on their dancing feet.
With the introduction of the Plinko Phunk sound exhibited in several jams throughout 2010, this summer has all the makings for a classic, yet new, Phish experience. In the meantime, here are some of my favorites.
(Ducking and covering from heady vets who say Phish 3.0 doesn’t jam)
Also, make no mistake, this is my top 10. Comment below and tell me if I missed one on your list!
10. Seven Below> Ghost (11/28/2009)
While this may be the most over fluffed jam of 3.0, or even beyond, it still makes the top 10 because it was the point that had most realizing that Phish could still jam. While aimless at times, this was over 40 minutes of straight shredding, with Seven Below teases woven in through Ghost. There is some good type 2 jamming throughout Seven Below, which ended up lasting over 22 minutes.
If you are a fan of listening to Phish jam and find a groove during some noodling by Trey, with incredibly high energy from the fans, and the whole band in the experimental mind set, this one is for you.
Even if it is over fluffed, this was a BLAST. It was the most talked about jam of ’09. Well except for maybe # 9 on the list.
9. Camden Sand (6/7/2009)
I guess we’ll just go with another possibly overfluffed, but awesome jam of 2009. In my opinion, this jam was well ahead of where Phish was at this point in 2009. In fact, this whole show was pretty incredible, boasting a four song encore, flubbed Fee lyrics (yes this was a plus for comedic factor), and experimentation.
The jam starts off real slow, easy and phunky setting the mood for a killer second set. Phish always seems to be on in Camden and 6/7/2009 was no different. Mike settles into a real nice groove right around the four minute mark, and Trey and Page play nicely off of the funk. Fishman does his usual thing, setting the back beat and hangin’ in the shadows.
The next 15 minutes are what Phish is all about. While it was a little all over the place, and would have probably been better if tried currently, it was another sign that these guys still have it in them to jam the hell out of a song.
8. Miami Tweezer (12/29/2009 VIDEO)
This was my favorite part of the entire Miami run, which was absolute fire the whole way through. 12/30/2009 seems to get all the credit, but this Tweezer may have been better than anything played over the course of that whole night, or even the whole year.
Everything is textbook Tweezer for the opening vocalizes sections. It is definitely upbeat and has the crowd thumping at this point. I still didn’t know what I was getting into until when “Uncle Ebenezer” entered the room and things started to get super tripped out. Just before five minutes Trey starts in on a Manteca-like jam. Phish settles into this groove for about three minutes, with Trey singing something fairly inaudible during the jam. At this point things are about as phunky as it gets.
Around 8 minutes Page blasts through some laser noises throughout the jam, continuing a Tweezer/Manteca mash up jam. At about 8:30 Page and Mike take over this jam, and Trey laying back and the weeds and letting the rest of them do their thing. Mike hit the fight bell at 9:28, marking his approval, and then dropped into some serious bombs, with Page throwing the laser noises in between. It was an unbelievable jam with all four on fire.
This one had the entire arena dancing hard, especially that dude with the glow stick suit. You know who you are.
7. Maryland Second Set, most notably from ‘I Saw it Again’ until the ‘Fire’ encore (6/27/2010)
This whole show was outstanding, with a rare ‘Walfredo’ with the band switching instruments to start the show, ‘Tela’ and a nice ‘Antelope’ with ‘Brian and Robert’ teases. But the REAL show started when they busted into ‘I Saw It Again’ in the second set, which took the show to a whole new, darker level.
Things got straight up evil sounding at one point, and that is in the best of ways. The second set started with a nice dark rendition of ‘Wilson’ which segued into ‘Meatstick.’ Then it started, and it was like a bomb went off. The energy in the whole building shifted. It was dark and everyone was tuned in.
This began the theme of the rest of the show. What began as a nice, happy upbeat show had suddenly turned into a murderous thriller. ‘I Saw it Again’ jammed right into ‘Piper,’ which has been lacking in 3.0 but this one served as a nice bridge into ‘Ghost.’ Things stayed dark and twisted throughout this hard, quick rendition of ‘Ghost.’ Right around the 8:30 minute mark of the ‘Ghost’ jam it seems like they are going to tease ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ by the Stones. I never thought they’d actually do the whole song, but they did and it was a highlight of the night. ‘Piper and ‘Ghost’ had ‘I Saw It Again’ teases throughout.
‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ segued back into ‘I Saw it Again’ which then segued into a funky ‘Contact.’ Love it or hate it, this went well. ‘Contact’ went right into an outstanding ‘YEM,’ which teased ‘I Saw it Again,’ ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash,’ ‘Meatstick’ and even ‘Daniel Saw the Stone’ during the vocal jam.
The show ended with ‘Fire’ by Hendrix, also with ‘I Saw it Again’ teases.
Possibly even more memorable than this second set was the intensity of the police presence right after the show. Helicopters and all spotlighting on Gypsy hula hooping and me selling waters. I couldn’t believe it.
Mr. Miner says this Reba is up there with the all time best, and like usual, I completely agree with him. I’m not going to lie, when they started up Reba during the encore of what was already a fantastic second set, I almost blew my gasket. Whatever that means…
This was a classic, tight ‘Reba’ jam for the first 10 minutes, but then it started to go way out there and eventually popped into a ‘Manteca’-like, type 2 jam. Fishman picked up on it right away and started with “Crab in my shoe mouth” and they jammed it out for a few minutes.
Before they could drop into full out ‘Manteca,’ Trey sent the jam back into type I ‘Reba’ that ended it abruptly with no whistling ending. I still wonder why they didn’t just finish the show in classic, vintage style instead of unneedingly finishing with ‘Backwards Down the Number Line.”
5. Worcester Hood (12/28/2010)
Pretty much everyone going into the Worcester run thought it was going to be an absolute throw down, due to the fact that Phish had yet to play a poor show in that city and that there was a huge snowstorm the day before. Unfortunately, the REAL throw down started at Madison Square Garden, but these shows are still no slouches.
The highlight of the run, in my opinion, was the Harry Hood. It came in a sweet run of ‘Frankie Says’> ‘Albuquerque’> ‘Hood.’ Absolutely fantastic. Best of all, this may have been the beginning of a new and hopefully often used type of jamming: what is being called Plinko Phunk.
The ‘Hood’ starts pretty groovy, with some nice, subtle bombs dropped by Mike. Following the “Thank You Mr. Miner” segment, this jam goes in places previously unknown to Phish 3.0. It is 11 minutes of top notch Phish jamming, with each member firing on all cylinders. The plink, plank, plonk sound coming from Trey and Mike becomes apparent right around the six minute mark and sets up perfectly for excellent fills by Fishman and some excellent work on keys by Page.
Just before the eight minute mark, things start to get VERY plinko. The DCU Center, AKA the venue formerly known as the Centrum, goes nuts. Very nice jam. Just before 8:30, Gordo bounces into what sounds a lot like ‘The Land Lady.’ The fans catch on around 9:00. Meanwhile, Trey and Page are plinking away with the bass jam to ‘The Land Lady’, with Fishman adding in key fills. This groove stays nice and steady until about 10:30 and then Trey noodles around a bit and enters back into another separate plinko jam segment.
I remember as this was happening, I looked over at my buddy Billy and I thought I was going to have to take his jaw off the railing he was leaning on.
Just before 12 minutes, Trey holds a high note and things get ambient leading up to the ending chorus. A very nice four minute closes out to the song, and then a seamless transition into Bug to close the set. If music like this is an indication of what’s to come, then we are in for it.
Check back for the top 5, and several honorable mentions, tomorrow!