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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.

I

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

Best Phish Jam: Bathtub Gin

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

Best Piper Jam

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 Jam

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 Jam: Sand into Quadraphonic Topplings

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

Phish Reba Jam from 8-2-2003

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

Ghost into Sample Jam from 7-23-1997

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

Phish Twist Jam

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

Best Phish Jam: Runaway Jim from 8-11-1998

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

Stash Jam

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

Randall's Island Phish Jam

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

Tweezer Jam at the Palace

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

You Enjoy Myself Jam

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

Las Vegas Golden Age Jam

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.