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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 one 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.

2000-07-04 Gotta Jibboo -> Saw it Again -> Magilla ->
Twist -> Slave to the Traffic LightE Centre, Camden, New Jersey

There are many great spacey ambient jams of 1998-2000, but I'm always drawn to this sublime Jibboo, the longest one ever, and the way this exploratory Twist culminates into a fine power jam. These five songs represent the entire second set from this night's show, and you can piece this set together through two Live Bait releases: vol. 4 and vol. 14.

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.

1999-07-31 2001 -> David Bowie, Wading in the Velvet Sea -> Prince CaspianNaeba Ski Resort, Niigata, Japan

The 10-minute Prince Caspian on this amazing set 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.

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. The 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.

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.

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.

2000-05-22 GhostRadio City Music Hall, New York, New York

This Ghost, from the small 6,000 seat Radio City Music Hall, is among Phish's most revered jams. This twenty-seven minute Ghost personifies the hallmark ambient-groove sound of the 1998-2000 era.

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

Phish Tube Jam

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 before Phish 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.

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

Black Eyed Katy Jam

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

Best Phish Jam Ever, Ventura Bathtub Gin

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.

2017-12-28 No Men in No Man's Land -> TwistMadison Square Garden, New York, New York

No Men in No Man's Land Jam

A 24 minute No Men in No Man's Land and a 16 minute Twist in the third quarter of night one at this MSG run puts together all the new directions Phish took their music in 2017 and showcased it in the beautiful two-song jam, which includes dark themes and ambient bliss.

1998-04-03 Mike's Song -> Weekapaug Groove, Reba, Roses are Free -> PiperNassau Coliseum, New York, New York

Phish's Island Tour in spring 1998 was a transitional period between the cow funk era and new experimentation with ambient space and other styles going into summer 1998. These three jam segments are among the highlights of that outstanding short tour.

Down with Disease, WavesLoring Commerce Center, Limestone, Maine

Two standout set II jams from one of the most fabled of all Phish shows.

1999-09-14 AC/DC Bag -> GumboLoring Commerce Center, Limestone, Maine

This AC/DC Bag is a dark, venomous flight into very new territory for Phish and the song itself. This exquisite Bag resolves into a beautiful funk-jam Gumbo with overtones of Queen's Another One Bites the Dust.

1998-04-03 Mike's Song -> Weekapaug Groove, Reba, Roses are Free -> PiperNassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY

A standout funky Weekapaug Groove, a sublime Reba and a twenty-seven minute Ween cover, Roses are Free, that develops into a wonderful mellow groove. I am partial to the Piper, however, which is dark and ambient and perhaps the most unique Piper to date.

2003-08-02 Down with Disease, WavesLoring Air Force Base, Limestone, Maine

Down with Disease Jam from Loring Air Force Base

Two stellar jams from Phish's first night of the IT Festival.

2015-08-21 Bathtub Gin Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, New York

While Phish's post haitus era, which began in 2009, had its share of detractors, the shows of the Magnaball event, however, signalled a new intensity for the band. This first set closer Bathtub Gin, from the first night of Magnaball, defines that intensity.

1998-08-12 Mike's Song->Simple -> RiftVernon Downs, Vernon, New York

I had never heard this set until LivePhish released this show as an archival release. This Mike's Song and Simple knocked me out. Groovy, forceful and driving.

2003-2-16 PiperThomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nevada

This Piper evolves into an upbeat jam with exquisite, bright interplay from the band.

2015-08-22 Tweezer > Prince CaspianWatkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, New York

A unique Tweezer dissolves into a Tweezer-infused Prince Caspian that is just a thing of pure dynamite beauty. I've sometimes heard this referred to as the Tweespian, other times as the Magna Caspian. Either way, the band lights up Watkins Glen with a jam for the ages.

1999-09-18 Boogie On Reggae WomanCoors Amphitheatre, Chula Vista, California

Boogie On Reggae Woman Jam

It's pretty easy to say you can stick with the original Stevie Wonder studio cut, but the strength of this 21-minute cover is a mellow percussive rhythm that climaxes into firey melodic playing. This show was recently released as an archival release by Phish.

1998-04-02 Stash -> HornNassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York

Phish's Island Tour shows of spring 1998 are filled with highlights. Don't miss this epic Stash, which features darkness jamming and a wonderful ambient outro.