Best Phish Jams
for Travel and Road Trips
Travel and big jams go together. The cowfunk-psyschedelia-shredding-ambient jams of Phish are like nothing else, and they go hand in hand with the road. Here are my recommendations for some of the best Phish jams to go along with long backpacking trips in foreign countries, long train trips, hikes and other travel and road explorations.
am adding paint spatters to go along with different Phish jams. I am a color-grapheme synesthete, and while that is not a form of synesthesia directly correlated to music or sound, I subconsciously associate colors with jam sequences, and will often remember a jam by its color. These ink spatters are my attempt to visualize the color combinations of these jams.
1998-07-29 Bathtub GinRiverport Amphitheater, Maryland Heights, Missouri
Many consider the Riverport Gin to be Phish's most impressive jam. I think it's the best piece of improvised music ever created live by anybody. All cylinders are firing for this jam.
1997-11-22 Halley's CometHampton Coliseum, Hampton, Virginia
This Phish masterpiece is one of the most unique jams. It goes way out there into deep space. The jam is so intense that the quiet, eight minute MIDI-horns outro is almost needed.
1999-07-18 Runaway JimOswego County Airport, Volney, New York
This twenty-four minute Runaway Jim grooves and is a great example of a sound invented by Trey that is often referred to as whale call. It sounds like the guitar is being played backwards.
1998-07-06 Piper -> Makisupa PolicemanLucerna Theatre, Prague, Czech Republic
This Piper, played in a tiny theater in Prague, blisters with energy. The key to good Pipers, say Phish fans, is a slow build on the opening rhythms. This Piper is a great example of that slow build, but the pay-off to is when it gains steam into intense 'Machine-gun Trey' style jamming.
2017-07-25 Sample -> Lawn Boy -> My Friend, My FriendMadison Square Garden, New York,New York
Lawn Boy is known as one of Phish's shortest songs. I had always wondered if it could ever be taken places. On night 4 of Phish's donut-themed residency at Madison Square Garden, Phish proved to their audience that they were serious about the themes of each night's donut. This night was jam-filled donuts, and Phish took Lawn Boy into outer space. Page McConnell used his Moog Liberation keytar (formerly owned by James Brown) to take Lawn Boy on a thirty-minute funk voyage.
1999-12-31 Sand -> Quadraphonic TopplingsMadison Square Garden, New York,New York
Phish's millenium show was the highest attended concert of the millenium. The idea was that Phish would play all night until the sun came up. They took this challenge so seriously that they installed bathrooms on stage and hired security guards who were ordered to keep them from leaving the stage. The result is Phish's finest performance. This segment from early morning in the new millenium is vicious, dark and ambient at the same time.
2003-08-02 Ya Mar -> Runaway Jim -> Reba -> Birds of a FeatherLoring Commerce Center, Limestone, Maine
A huge and creative Ya Mar, the second song of the first night of the It Festival, sets the tone for one of Phish's best festival weekends. The rest of this segment oozes with creativity, especially the Reba.
1997-07-23 Ghost > SampleLakewood Amphitheatre, Atlanta, Georgia
This Ghost encapsulates Phish's transition into fall 1997 cowfunk. It features elements of all the jam styles Phish has worked up to, and ends with an extended midi outro.
2000-06-14 Twist -> JamDrum Logos Chuo-ku, Fukuoka, Japan
Towards the end of 1998, Phish started experimenting with deep ambient segments. This Twist from Japan may be the most well known example of that ambient era, and for good reason. The soundscape is sublime, and unlike anything else. One of the keys to the best Phish is the word patient. This jam defines patience in Phish, one of the best qualities of their music.
1999-07-15 Split Open and Melt-> Kung-> JamPNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, New Jersey
Experimental, loose jamming with ambient segments and wild peaks.
2004-06-19 Song I Heard the Ocean Sing -> Piper -> Gotta Jibboo -> Limb by LimbSaratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, New York
An almost thirty-three minute Piper, surrounded by other great jams.
2017-08-06 Simple->Rise/Come Together->Starman->You Enjoy MyselfMadison Square Garden, New York, New York
Every show of Phish's 13-night run at Madison Square Garden in summer 2017 had a donut theme. This final night, centered around a Glazed Donut theme, featured an amazing Simple, which featured weird and funky synth effects by Page McConnell, as well as the rare use of his Soviet theramin instrument.
1997-07-22 Down with Disease -> Mike's SongWalnut Creek Amphitheatre, Raleigh, NC
This segment features some of Phish's deepest cowfunk jamming, and a flawless, creative segue from Down with Disease into Mike's Song.
2012-09-02 SandDick's Sporting Good Park, Commerce City, Colorado
This Sand, the best version ever played, moves effortlessly between funk and ambient jams.
1998-08-11 Runaway JimStar Lake Amphitheatre, Burgettstown, Pennslyvania
A unique, patient Runaway Jim. This song has a simple premise. A dog has run away from his master, and is tearing across the world. At it's best, Runaway Jim puts you in the place of that runaway dog, zipping across the world.
2009-11-28 Seven Below -> GhostTimes Union Center, Albany, New York
Fire and darkness prevail in this huge jam from Phish's comeback year.
1997-07-02 StashParadiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands
This 30-minute Stash, from one of Phish's most recognized shows, is pure, spontaneous adventure.
1997-12-29 Tube, You Enjoy MyselfMadison Square Garden, New York, New York
This Tube and You Enjoy Myself from the end of the second set are pure and heavy cowfunk. I have never been able to get enough of this sound that was really unique to the second half of 1997.
1997-08-17 Down with Disease -> Bathtub GinLoring Commerce Centre, Limestone, Maine
This Bathtub Gin is described by Phish fans as the superlative example of hose; that point where the band is playing a major-key jam so well that they appear to be hosing the audience with musical euphoria. But I'm particularly drawn to this Down with Disease, which jumps effortlessly through several of Phish's 97 jamming styles.
2014-07-13 Chalk Dust Torture -> Light -> TweezerRandall's Island, New York, New York
The Chalk Dust Torture takes center stage in this mindblowing jam segment from 2014. This jam soars for 28:30 minutes, and alternate between major-key soloing and chordwork by Anastasio.
2015-08-12 Harry HoodThe Mann Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This Harry Hood might be considered standard by many, but the light fingerwork by Trey Anastasio makes this one of the most unique Harry's to my ears.
1997-12-06 Tweezer-> Izabella -> Twist -> PiperThe Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn, Michigan
This long segment of four songs is like a single idea, even though it pulses through cowfunk, ambient space grooves and Hendrix-era Rock.
2017-07-25 Fuego->Thread->Crosseyed and Painless -> Makisupa PolicemanMadison Square Garden, New York, New York
An epic Crosseyed and Painless is the centerpiece of this well-played opening of set II on the famous Jam-filled Donut night of the Baker's Dozen. This thirty-three minute version of the Talking Heads cover is rich with warm hues and interesting segues.
1997-11-22 Mike's Song -> I am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Harry HoodHampton Coliseum, Hampton, New York
The opening four songs of set one from a groundbreaking show for Phish are exquisite. Lots of 1997 funk, and lots of space.
2011-08-05 Roggae, Rock & Roll -> Meatstick -> Boogie on Reggae WomanGorge Amphitheater, George, Washington
Beautiful jams from the northwest. First set Roggae is tight and bright, but the Rock & Roll is deep and dark, with Page McConnell keeping it weird on the theremin. The beauty in this jam is hearing a slow, funky groove evolve out of the darkness.
2003-08-03 Mellow Mood, GhostLimestone, Maine
The second night of Phish's It Festival featured an extensive, celebratory Ghost that ascends into hose territory.
1999-07-15 You Enjoy MyselfPNC Banks Art Center, Holmdel, New Jersey
This is my go-to You Enjoy Myself for its funky speed. It sounds great on solo hikes.
2017-07-28 Chalk Dust Torture-> You Sexy Thing -> Mercury -> You Sexy ThingMadison Square Garden, New York, New York
The sixth night at the 13-night Baker's Dozen residency had the theme: chocolate donut. They celebrated that theme with Hot Chocolate's You Sexy Thing, which followed a dark and intense Chalk Dust Torture. In an amazing residency, this may be the single best jam segment.
1997-11-23 Black-eyed KatyLawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
This instrumental, which Phish only played for a short time before shelving and replacing it with a similar song with lyrics, was always a great medium for improvization. This version
2016-10-28 Golden Age -> Simple -> LightMGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Las Vegas
I had always been waiting for Phish's cover of TV On the Radio's Golden Age to go somewhere. It always sounded like it had the potential. Finally, in 2016, it went there. The jam, which explores darkness and bright, ambient space, was the best Phish jam of 2016.
1997-12-30 AC/DC BagMadison Square Garden, New York, New York
This enormous AC/DC Bag, filled with grooves and funk, takes forays into Jimi Hendrix's Third Stone from the Sun and Talking Heads' Psycho Killer.
2015-08-22 Drive-In JamWatkin Glen International, Watkin Glen, New York
Phish had a lot of good vibes on their 2015 summer tour, following Trey Anastasio's sit-in on lead guitar on the Fare Thee Well tour. Phish fans, eternally conflicted by associations and comparisons with that other band, seemed really proud of Trey, and they wanted to hear if his practicing Garcia licks would influence Phish's sound. Those positive vibes culminated in Phish's most successful post-haitus run. But this final night of their late summer Magnaball Festival ended with a secret fourth set, in which Phish played a nearly hour-long instrumental jam. There are only a handful of these long festival jams, but they are made to be played on long road trips on lonely roads.
2015-07-31 Kill Devil FallsAaron's Amphitheatre at Lakewood, Atlanta, Georgia
This Kill Devil Falls was one of the highlights from Phish's glorious summer 2015 run. Part dark Phish, part rocker, part funkytown, this Kill Devil Falls works patiently through twenty-three minutes towards a beautiful peak.
1997-12-07 Theme from the Bottom, Tube > Slave to the Traffic LightIrvin J. Nutter Center, Dayton, Ohio
The improv highlight of one of Phish's most celebrated shows is this first set Theme and Tube into Slave. This Theme from the Bottom doesn't waste time moving into pure hose. But what follows is a showstopper. The Tube is easily one of the best from 1997, but it has a false-stop, and starts all over again as a lyric-free jam.
1998-04-05 You Enjoy MyselfProvidence Civic Center, Providence, Rhode Island
The funk is laid heavy on this classic You Enjoy Myself on the final night of the celebrated Island Tour. So-called for four shows in Long Island and Rhode Island, the Island Tour is considered one of Phish's most successful runs.
2013-07-31 TweezerLake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harveys, Stateline, Nevada
The Tahoe Tweezer is a big, evil and triumphant jam with complex segments and intriguing twists. It's thirty minute length goes by fast. Highly recommended for long road trips.
2004-06-20 Waves, Drowned, Seven Below -> Ghost -> TwistSaratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, New York
A few months from this show would be Phish's near demise and 5-year haitus. These amazing segments first and second-set segments, including a brilliant drawn-out Drowned, are among the best live material beforePhish called it quits.
1998-04-04 Tweezer -> Taste, Birds of a Feather -> 2001 -> Brother Providence Civic Center, Providence, Rhode Island
Segments from the first and second sets of this night of the Island Tour are twin masterpieces. This show represents the audible decision by Phish to start veering away from cowfunk, and to begin experimenting heavily with space and ambient jamming. Perhaps this show is the bookend between 1997 funk and 1998-1999 ambient jamming.
2017-07-26 TubeMadison Square Garden, New York, New York
After years of unspectacular 3.0 Tubes, Phish starts to let loose with this straight-to-jamming jam. But this is not your 1997 Tube. It's synth-ey, spacey and weird, and a first-set heavyweight.
1997-11-17 Ghost -> Johnny B Goode -> Jesus Just Left ChicagoMcNichols Arena, Denver, Colorado
This jam segment is a favorite of Phish fans: creative, singular, groovy and spacey.
2017-12-31 A Song I Heard the Ocean SingMadison Square Garden, New York, New York
This third set New Years jam was tied to the night's oceanic gag theme, in which the set was turned into a ship, and synchronized wristbands on the audience turned the venue into a rolling ocean. This ASIHTOS is spellbinding and it exemplifies a new sound the band is toying with in the second half of 2017.
1995-10-25 RebaSt. Paul Civic Center, St. Paul, Minnesota
This is an unusually long Reba, clocking in over 17 minutes. It is also one of the best, going deep and taking Reba to new places.
1997-7-31 Prince CaspianNaeba Ski Resort, Niigata, Japan
This 10-minute Caspian just flies. It's Trey in both shred mode and underwater-whale call mode. It's a short jam for this list, but packs a punch of energy.
2017-12-3 Down with Disease->Steam->LightMadison Square Garden, New York, New York
The apex jam of New Years 2017, this monstrous jam segment has deep, dark segments and wide open improvisation.
2003-12-29 PiperAmerican Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida
This 16-minute Piper is packed with Machine-Gun Trey and a tight sound from the entire band.
1997-12-30 Black-eyed KatyMadison Square Garden, New York, New York
This instrumental jam, which eventually developed into The Moma Dance, packs a punch as a tight, little jam. This version has great textures and a beautiful build.
1998-07-20 Bathtub GinVentura County Fairgrounds, Ventura, California
A firestorm of a gin, this is one of the three most well regarded Bathtub Gins. To many, this is the most flawless and intense.