Reflecting on 2010, there is a lot to sift through. Summer leg I featured new-to-3.0 playing along with all the cover songs. Summer leg II boasted an improved tone from Trey’s new guitar and better-executed segues. Fall featured Trey’s mastery of his new axe along with completely unpredictable shows. The New Year’s run may have featured the best jamming of the entire year (yes, I am including 1/1).
The year’s entire recap is yet to come. Right now I want to focus on the best improvisation of 2010. Instead of just doing a “Top 10 Jams”, or something, I am going to break it down by song. Also, instead of me saying what jams I think were the best, you will all have a chance to vote on what jams you thought were the best–I will use those votes and write another piece. In the following article I will go song-by-song and declare if I am in agreement or not. So, let’s get started!
For the most part, DwD was used in two different ways this year–a hot 10-minute show opener, or an open-ended second set exploration. While I know a lot of people are going to immediately think “Alpine”, I ask you to think about the less-popular ones from the past couple tours.
Tweezer, as expected, has some impressive jams in 2010. However, I would argue that 2009 might have a greater amount of impressive versions. Tweezer, unlike DwD was primarily used this year as a launch pad for creativity–although there were two occasions where Tweezer was used as a first set rocker–Alpine’s more type-I than Amherst’s.
Rock and Roll was starting to become tiresome by the end of summer because of its growing predicability. However, after the unique Jones Beach version, we saw that it could also be a short rocker–again on NYE. There were moments of brilliance and moments of disappointment.
Drowned was another second set opener that fans were starting to roll their eyes at once it started. Despite the argument that the selection of the song was becoming more predictable, the jams continued to prove unpredictable.
One of Phish’s favorite second set closers in 2010 was You Enjoy Myself, only once last year was it not used as a closer. I was becoming critical of them for always trying to rush a YEM before the end of the show–while some certainly felt rushed, others blossomed (I have a feeling which one is going to win this).
Ghost has had stand-out versions for every tour this year. As I look back to make this poll, I’m actually really impressed with the quality of this song in 2010. Almost each version is unique and extremely fun.
Wolfman’s Brother, while not reaching the lengths it did pre-hiatus or post-hiatus, has coined yet a new style of Phish jamming: the dense jam. Wolfman’s Brother is guaranteed to contain some of the most intense improvisation in the shortest amount of time. Each churns out a bass-tastic dance factory upon the start of the jam.
Unfortunately, Split Open and Melt has lost a lot of intensity from its pinnacle in the ’90s. Nevertheless, there are at least two versions worthy of being voted on.
In 2010, Reba finally started getting back on its feet. The song once known for blissful endeavors into a screaming peak had lost a lot of power upon its 2009 return. However, 2010 would prove differently.
Insert pretty much my exact sentiments about Reba in front of Slave to the Traffic Light.
I have very mixed feelings on what is supposed to be the band’s new jam “vehicle”. Light’s open end has the potential for epic jams. However, I feel like it rarely delivers like it should. There are some stand out versions of 2010, certainly, but my favorite may still be the Gorge’s of 2009.
Bathtub Gin has been bound to a certain linear formula in 3.0. Despite its inability to experiment with new directions, there have been many heavenly moments in the song. Each version seems to come to a life-changing Trey-solo/peak before he inevitably cuts the song too short.
There were also jams that came out of songs that either didn’t have as impressive of a year, or don’t normally have extended improvisation. Here are some categories for them:
After these poll have a substantial amount of votes, I will match my opinions against them. Thanks for voting!