Last week, I asked you all to participate in the survey I posted. Now it’s time to look at the results. Most of them I agree with, while others, I feel may, have been influenced by short-term memory–with some of the votes swinging in favor of more-recent shows because they’re more fresh in people’s memories. Let’s take a look.
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For the best show of tour, we had a battle between Bethel2 and Pine Knob. Readers were allowed up to three choices; as you can see by the bolded results, I voted for both (along with Blossom). If I were able to only bring one of them to a deserted island (or a Widespread show), I’d have a real tough time choosing. Bethel2 featured amazing all-around flow and, something I find real important, first-set jams.
Not only did Bethel2 start with the first Theme opener since Alpine ’97, the versions of Cities, Halley’s Comet, Runaway Jim, and Bathtub Gin are some of the best Phish had ever treated us to. Hell, I’d be happy with that as a second set.
In the actual second set, we were treated to some fantastic playing centered around a silly Makisupa Policeman that bred the inside joke of “Page’s House” that lasted all tour long. Harry Hood was the first traditional version that began the song’s climb back to excellence. Also, the end of that Bowie makes my face absolutely melt! (Bowie ending below)
However, Pine Knob had a number of factors working in its favor: Mike’s first birthday show since 1989, the first time playing at a beautiful venue (also the case in Bethel), a very unique setlist (including a beach-ball-requested Tela), and extended jamming. The second set was only six songs long–unheard of this era. The Down with Disease was the longest single jam of 3.0. However, a long jam is nothing if it sucks–this one is great. The jam goes through a number of different movements; some led by Mike, some by Trey. The jam also includes a Love Supreme jam before segueing into Fluffhead. The segue into Fluffhead is the best I think they have ever done it in their careers. After the impressive Fluff, the outro sunk into an extended and eerie Bowie intro (intros have been lacking a lot in 3.0). The 16+ minute Bowie featured some delicate and thoughtful jamming before going into the blazing end–a very refreshing take on a song that’s been played in quite the cookie-cutter fashion since 2009.
I’m gonna say, all things (re)considered, I’m going to have to say Bethel2 was the best overall show, and Pine Knob featured the best set.
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In only 18 shows, Phish have treated us to a number of unique jams. It’s no surprise that Pine Knob’s Disease was loved supremely, what’s more interesting are the runner-ups.
It’s nice to see that the 100th Ghost ever was awarded second place. The jam took a page out of the insta-classic MSG Ghost from last NYE. Trey hosed the sweaty crowd down with darting guitar leads and a thrilling peak. While I would place MSG’s above it, it’s the second-best version of this era. Also, after PNC’s relatively jamless take, it was nice to actually get a real version.
I thought the tour-closing Sand from nTelos was certainly a fantastic jam–however, I would have placed the Bethel Bathtub Gin -> Manteca -> Bathtub Gin before it. I think that the Sand had some great jamming; it was nice and thick. Also, I’m a total sucker for some meaty stop/start jams. However, I think the quality of improvisation from the Bethel Gin, paired with the Manteca, takes third place easy.
I know there are a lot of Walnut Creek Melt fans out there but I’m not one of them. I think the jam certainly has a lot of potential, but I think Trey sounds immature and lost in it. Not lost like ambient lost, lost like I don’t know how to play my guitar in this lost. Then, when the jam finally seems to be locking into a jam, it’s like Trey looked at his watch and was like, “wow, we have played this too long–we need to go into Golgi right now!”. I can’t believe the Pine Knob Bowie and the Darien 2001 aren’t above it. I’m just gonna chalk it up to it being at the end of the tour.
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So far, there have only been three Rebas played this summer. After it didn’t appear in the first seven shows of the tour, people were starting to treat it as a bust out. The song is usually in rotation far more often than that.
After bitching about how the song didn’t bring the soaring heat anymore in 2009 and 2010, we were given 1.1’s. In my opinion, 1.1 was the first version approaching the song’s true improvisational meaning. Then, when it was played in Riverbend, my jaw hit the ground. So far, 2011 is the year of Hood, Bowie, and Reba making their comebacks–Riverbend’s note-flowing version signified this. The final minute of it is just fantastic. Merriweather’s was really good too. Charlotte’s was just average. The result of this poll is the exact opposite of how I’d have rated it–it’s going most-recent to less-recent.
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It was hard for me to choose my favorite Wolfman’s Brother. I really like Bethel’s and Merriweather’s for how they segued into standout versions of Walk Away and Boogie On, respectively. However, Charlotte’s seems to be the better-quality jam. Mike’s Playing with Fish smoother and fresher than Mr. Clean’s ass. Trey played cleanly and in a simplistic manner atop. Hmm, now that I’m thinking about the drums, Fish really lays into his kit during the Bethel version.
Gosh, this is difficult.
Okay, I’m changing my favorite to Bethel’s because of Fish starting the tour off with a literal bang before seguing into a smokin’-hot Walk Away.
Um, well now I’m listening to the Charlotte version and Trey hit probably the best peak out of any of the others played. I really don’t know anymore.
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I let readers pick two favorite Bathtub Gins because Bethel’s is the easy winner. Basically, we’re looking at the best version other than Bethel’s. Gin has been consistently great in 3.0–like Wolfman’s. However, the jam is beginning to become somewhat repetitive. The jam almost always takes the same route. While it’s hard to complain because all of them are good, I really wish we’d get some unique versions soon.
I chose Riverbend as my second favorite because I felt that Trey kept pushing the jam farther and farther. He was provided a lot of outs, but decided to keep taking the jam higher. It’s a beautiful, sunny version.
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During the two years before 2011, 2001s have, generally, been cookie-cutter and short. This year we’ve seen some more unique versions with longer jamming. Darien’s was my favorite combination of length, creativity, and dancability. The Golden Age and Happy Birthday teases were certainly a nice treat, but the extended What’s the Use? tease that Page picked up on was amazing. And it was all wrapped inside a funky little dance party. These results are how I would have listed the versions.
The last Tweezer of 2010 was the longest and most deep version we’ve seen since the band’s return. Unfortunately it wasn’t foreshadowing anything we’d see from the song in 2011 (so far). Tweezer has been remarkably decent this year. Used more as a launchpad than a jam vehicle, Tweezer led into songs that took attention away from the jam.
The only version I will be listening to in the future will be Riverbend’s. The swampy, thick jam eventually yielded to some snarling licks by Trey before popping into Crosseyed. It’s a fantastic version to get you pumped up. I’m glad this version ended up winning.
Alpharetta’s was probably the most frustrating and Bethel’s was the most unexpected.
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I think the best Crosseyed was Merriweather’s. Trey sounds crispy as hell in it and the entire jam reached a peak after Fish’s extended snare roll. Trey’s peak reprised the song’s theme. Hot version.
The last two years I have come down on Harry really hard. I basically begged the band to stop playing the song if they weren’t going to play it right. Yes, last year’s NYE version was awesome–but I was still looking for the song to return to its beautiful glory. 2011 was a has been a huge step forward for the song. Trey’s improved dexterity this year has been highlighted during the Hood jams.
Like Gin, I allowed readers to select two versions because of the tour’s obvious favorite played at Blossom. The Hood -> Have Mercy -> Hood from Blossom was amazing. Aside from the phenomenal segue into and out of Have Mercy, the way Trey weaved the Mercy and Lizards teases into the end jam was blissful.
I think Darien’s would be my second favorite, although I liked Alpharetta’s a lot too. Keep up the great work Trey!
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Bowie is another song that had a version that stood very tall among the others. The Pine Knob version was the obvious favorite. While I thought Great Woods’ was the bomb, and Alpharetta’s brought the heat, I voted my second favorite to be Bethel’s because of its wicked ending. The end to the Bethel version did so much for my confidence in the song. I started to stop caring about Bowies–I was getting so sick of how they all sounded the same. Hearing the end of Bethel’s was like a breath of fresh air. To hear the end of the Bethel version, see the audio clip at the top of this post.
The next two songs were pretty lame during June; You Enjoy Myself and Light provided very little for us to chew on. YEM was kept in its role as a second-set closer, each time more rushed than the last. It’s almost like they are playing it because they feel like they have to play it. There were only three versions of the song, and none went anywhere impressive. Charlotte’s was only 18 minutes. I voted for Riverbend because I felt that it had some cool drum work and some potential before the jam was killed to make curfew. Here’s to its epic return at SBIX. This song really deserves better.
Light was painfully bland too. I voted for nTelos because the outro of the jam was unique–even though the song should have never been played; it killed the Sneakin’ Sally jam big time.
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Rock and Roll from Charlotte was the heavy favorite. I liked this version a lot too because of the impressive jam before seguing nicely into the second-best Ghost of this era. I had to go with Merriweather’s though. I loved when the jam flew into space. Check out the bubbly sounds before segueing beautifully into Albuquerque. (clip below)
All the Antelopes this year have been fantastic. My favorite was the Blossom version because of the solos at the end (including CK5) after a blazing-hot jam. Antelope was beginning to get a bit stale by the end of 2010, thankfully Trey has knocked each one out of the park so far this year. Other than Alpharetta’s, I also think every version includes at least one tease.
The Suzys this year have been amazing to0. Page’s energy has been more explosive than ever. It seems like “Page’s House” is really lighting a fire under his ass! Without a doubt, my favorite version is Great Woods’. Trey invited us into Page’s house during a dirty-ass jam over serious nuclear warfare from Mike. (check clip below)
Alpharetta’s was the most frustrating. In the middle of a show that featured one standard song after another, Trey tried to force the end of the song before Page was ready, and a major hiccup ensued. Page should have slapped Trey silly.
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Harpua and Tweezer were obviously the best two openers of tour. I love Buried Alive, but I’d probably put Theme ahead of it because of its unusual placement. Aside from Theme and First Tube missing from the leader-board, I’d say I agree with the overall outcome.
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There were a lot of memorable moments in June. The inside joke of “Page’s House” took the cake. It will be interesting to see if it continues through the second leg–even if it doesn’t, we forever have a new phrase to use to describe jams, “damn, we got raped in ‘Page’s house’ during that 2001”. I’m surprised that the Harpua opener isn’t first or second though–not because that’s what I would want, but because that’s what I’d expect. I’m even more surprised that No Quarter took second place.
As you can see from my vote, I see the return of frequent teasing by Trey (other than Streets of Cairo) very important. Aside from it being an unpredictable treat in any show, it further shows Trey’s improved musical focus.
On the topic of teasing, I swear that there are many jams this tour that feature subtle Manteca jamming. For a while I thought maybe I was hearing it just because I wanted to hear it, but I think that it’s seriously surfacing more than people are noticing. Your thoughts?
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43& of you said that the tour should be rated 8/10; the next place is 7/10 with 26& of the vote.
Initially, I voted five; but upon further reflection, I realized that was a bit too harsh. I was trying to keep it relative to other Phish tours; however, the rating of 5/10 implies it was exactly average. I think I’d revise my vote to a 6.5–it was above average, but you know they can do so much better.