Friday 12/22/2023 by phishnet

40 FOR 40: JAMS (PART 4)

To recognize and celebrate the first 40 years, presents “40 for 40” featuring curated selections by the community to highlight important aspects of the band’s history. Each Friday since the day before the 40th anniversary, we have shared 10 jams to enjoy that represent the depth of Phish’s incredible live improvisational performances across the decades. Today we have 12, featuring a double encore if you will, courteousy of @Icculus.

This is the last installment of the "40 Jams for the 40th" series. We appreciate everyone that sticks around for the encore or showed up at all! Check out the first here, the second here, and the third here. Stay tuned for an epic Expanded Playlist celebrating these 40 Jams available soon, not to mention more in the 40 for 40 series.

Check out the first ten here, the second ten here, and the third here.

Please consider making a $40 donation to celebrate this incredible milestone, support the great resources and community that provides, and enable Mbird’s powerful grant-making work for music ed programs across the US, now totaling $2.4 MILLION.

10/7/23Split Open and Melt” by Slewfoot (David Beckwith) - Mockingbird Foundation Director

It's thrilling to see Phish still breaking new ground 40 years into their career. Boundaries continue to be pushed. Doors continue to be opened. Happiness continues to shine. If there is a luckier fan base out there we certainly don't know about it! Even songs they have been playing for over 30 years continue to develop right before our eyes and can still sound fresh.

Split Open and Melt” is a perfect example of this. Since 2018, “SOAM” has taken on a whole new meaning with the return of dark jamming. This version has some darkness, but it's also different from any other jam out there. The music quickly leaves the boundaries of the song structure and morphs into sounds of swirling, dancing, exploding cosmic flowers.

I can't recall any Phish jam that reminds me as much of Bitches Brew or the early 70's Grateful Dead “Tiger Jam” meltdowns as this. The music completely dissolves while still holding together. Amazing stuff. Thank you for everything, Phish! We love you!

Or listen on

2/16/03Piper” by lumpblockclod - Mockingbird Foundation Director

Somebody has to stick up for 2.0. Early 2003 was a strange time for Phish. We were all starved for shows, of course, but the inverted NYE run didn’t exactly leave most of us sated. The two night Vegas run would be the first shows most of us had heard since that NYE run (remember, had just kicked off and most fans were not able to burn CDs away from home).

The first show was fantastic with an underrated 5-song second set. But, for me the real highlight would come the following night. The set kicked off with a “Disease” -> “Seven Below” -> “Disease” sandwich. “Piper” came later in the set, and as with most great Phish jams, my words are no substitute for listening for yourself below. Suffice it to say that Johnny B. Fishman reaches deep into his bottomless bag of beats and the band faithfully follows from one in-the-pocket groove to the next. Trey actually plays rhythm guitar for much of this jam!

As always, one part Phish listening to each other and one part patience pays off in what remains one of my favorite jams. Trey eventually brings the band back to “Down With Disease,” placing a cherry atop this masterpiece. By the end of the Winter tour, most fans were quite happy with the band’s trajectory, and many might not even rate this as one of the top jams of the tour. But, for me the “Viper” will always stand out as the moment Phish shook off the rust from the first hiatus. Sadly, rust never sleeps and an even longer break would soon be upon us.

Or listen on

10/24/95Run Like an Antelope” by Reed Meschefske - Mockingbird Foundation Director

A blistering cavalcade of rock, jamming, noise, and inspirational musicianship, this exemplifies the band at their most feral and confident and is one of (if not the best) playings of this seminal Phish song. Fall of '95 is in discussion for one of the greatest tours of all time and this is a prime example of why.

Or listen on

9/6/15Down With Disease” by Bizarro_Jerry - Mockingbird Foundation Director and Setlists Team Volunteer

With all of the emphasis I put on 20 minute jams on social media, I've picked another below that timing milestone. Closing out the Dick's 2015 run, this dark horse jam–overshadowed by the epic “THANK YOU” encore that would follow later in the evening–is not only my highlight from the show but is one of my favorite pieces of Phish music from any era.

Trey starts with an idea around 12 minutes in and it builds into a glorious peak a few minutes later. Slow, deliberate, and plenty of time to breathe, this jam is high flying Phish that puts a smile on my face whenever I give it a listen.

Or listen on

8/15/98Ambient Jam” by Doctor_Smarty (Martin Acaster) - Site Team Volunteer

Throughout the 1998 summer tour, advertisements for each venue proclaimed that “in addition to their other extraordinary exploits, Phish would exhibit themselves in a Temple of Fire!” Although there were no doubt many extraordinary exploits during the run from Portland, OR, to Limestone, nowhere did they truly exhibit themselves in an actual temple of fire until late on Saturday night during Lemonwheel.

In keeping with the previous Clifford BallFlat Bed Jam,” the Great WentDisco Set,” and the Great Went “Art Jam,” Phish combined the artistry of the attendees (candle making in this instance) with their own improvisational stylings from the stage. The approximately 55-minute fourth set of this show was played in the style of Brian Eno, lit only by candlelight both on stage and surrounding the concert field.

This thing is all about the vibe. A cerebral cuddle following the reptilian orgy that had preceded it. This jam is imbued with various familiar themes that had characterized the more ethereal and atmospheric style of the summer. The cow funk was no more. Chaotic and undulatory at times. Dissonant where necessary.

It is the forefather of the ITTower Jam,” the SuperballStorage Jam,” and the MagnaballDrive-In Jam.” “The Blob” by any other name is here, there, and anywhere IT wants to go. Light some candles, lie on the floor, drop in for the ride to the land of the Siket Disc. Somewhere in the center of the cube, all lines intersect.

Or listen on

7/31/13Tweezer” by leroy - Site Team Volunteer

These were the last shows for me (so far) outside the Bay Area, and it was the first time we met .netters in the flesh. They sold us tickets and even brought them to our motel room, actually right across the street from the parking lot, which we lucked into at the last minute, perfectly situated to watch the day unfold and hear soundcheck.

We had never been on the rail for a show before, but somehow we made it happen for the 2nd night of this run. We walked in late (even from across the street!) right up to the rail left of Page with a somewhat obstructed view and atop the metal foundation that connects the rail, just room enough for two (sorry for partying) and you could feel the music vibrating. Ten minutes deep in this “Tweezer,” we could feel Mike dropping soft bombs.

Standing on the metal, we were taller than normal so we could see the band over the crowd and they could see us. Then, at a particular moment when we were really feeling it during the quiet moment in a start-stop jam, I raised my hat and my amazing wife said “Wooooo!” She insists Trey was looking straight at us, so I suppose that means she started the wooos! And she has no regrets whatsoever.

We have both seen a good number of shows over the years, especially her, but this night was really special–ending with Sierra Pales on the balcony back at the motel during “Reprise”–and I am supposed to explain why I picked this jam.

Or listen on

11/29/97Runaway Jim” by jackl (Jack Lebowitz) - Founding Mockingbird Foundation Director Emeritus

It’s kind of a fool’s errand to sign on to a project like this, especially if you suck at the Phish. By this I mean, I’m the sort of fan who’s relatively inarticulate about explaining why something blew my mind, in terms of music theory, or the ability to wax on eloquently comparing dozens of performances of the same song like my former Mockingbird/ colleagues (like @Icculus, see below). My brain, alas, is insufficient.

So, in thinking about my choice for a “representatively great” “top 40” jam, my criteria are simple: (1) I had to be in the room where it happened, no reconstruction from recordings, (2) it had to have blown my mind at the time for some reason, and (3) the jam was considered “historical” or a breakthrough both then and still now.

Mulling the criteria, two jams came to mind. The Providence “Bowie” from 12/29/94 which @zzyzx had already claimed for week 3 and the nearly hour-long “Runaway Jim” which comprised most of the second set of Worcester 11/29/97. Both of these jams were breakthroughs of their day simply because of their length. I was buzzing about that “31 minute” “Bowie” and jonesing to hear it again (for most of the two plus years it took me in those days to locate someone who could make me a copy on a cassette tape, such was life in the slow lane pre-Internet age).

So, in preparation of saying something minimally intelligible about this jam, of course, I listened to it again several times on my couch here, through the wonders of the Internet and an audience tape (to my surprise soundboards of this 1.0 show was never released by LivePhish!). Did it hold up to my cherished memories of 26 years ago? Well, not quite, its various twists and turns didn’t have the remarkable Easter eggs or dramatic changes in tone like the evil “Lassie” section of the Providence Bowie.

But, what it did have was the essence of another quantum leap forward in Phish’s improvisational horizons, the same kernel of an idea that manifested itself in many NYE and Halloween “gags” and even in the Big Cypress concept itself. The audacious “hey, what if” proof of concept. “Hey, what if we tried to keep a musical conversation going in the same song for most of a set?” “Hey, what if we did a set where we played non-stop all night until sunrise to greet the millennium?”

So, as proof of concept, in my entirely humble and relatively undiscerning opinion, does Worcester Jim hold up? I’d say yes. The musical discussion itself, while perhaps not pyrotechnic, seemed organic and unforced with a sense of direction and movement, not mere repetitions. Importantly to my own internal rating system, I didn’t lose interest or concentration. I loved the part of the jam near the end that rather than building to a tension and release climax (or whatever the plural of climax is) as often happens rather deconstructs IT down to a bare scaffolding of drums, bass, and then silence.

Or listen on

11/30/97Wolfman’s Brother” by TaylorFranklin - Site Team Volunteer

"No one's paying any attention and we're having like the best tour we've had in years." Trey Anastasio, December 6, 1997, Bittersweet Motel.

Embarking on a journey spanning several weeks, Phish sailed through the chilly, funky waters of Fall '97, their ship navigating the icy northeast currents of Worcester, Massachusetts, unburdened by expectations. A few weeks into the journey, adrift under the radar with freedom and boundless creativity, the band tossed expectations off the starboard side.

On the third and final night of the run, after two nights venturing through long rocky passages, we find ourselves just a day after Phish's record-setting “Runaway Jim” (see above). Immediately following the longest “Funky Bitch” to date—three songs into my first Phish show, we immerse ourselves in the lengthiest “Wolfman's” in the band’s history. Just a few days before, on Thanksgiving, some of the older kids at the table insinuated that Phish was past their prime and “old now.”

The jam commenced in what the band often described as a "tapestry of sound," navigating the undulating ocean waves. Beginning with a slow and funky post-Thanksgiving serenity, the music flowed in and out of grooves, occasionally becoming choppy before returning to serene, beautiful melodies. The jam unfolded with funky and tightly synchronized drums and bass, accompanied by the sparkling notes of guitar intertwined with whale call loops. Amidst this sonic landscape, a Wurlitzer keyboard delicately shimmered, adding an extra layer of enchantment.

The beauty takes a turn, growing rockier and more elusive, defying easy definition. The musical tapestry undergoes a shift, now coasting high above the waters like on a giant wave before descending off a cliff. A sense of unease settles over the crew as the sky darkens, and Mike unleashes THE RIFF, quickly echoed by Trey and Page.

Soon, a touch of psychosis takes hold, plunging into a shared nightmare where the music and fans collectively lose their minds. Esther rises from the dead, and sanity remains elusive. Amidst black clouds, the directive is clear: do not resist the waves; instead, flow with them.

In reality, Trey asks Chris to turn off the lights, singing “Sanity” and “Esther” lyrics in the dark over the cyclical riff and Fishman’s cackling. The lights come up and Trey and Mike appear to have gone overboard, as the riff continues, but they were just hiding behind the amps. I was behind the stage to witness the trick. Is this what Hell sounds like?

A nightmare for some, but with repetition, and tempo shifting subtly between fast and medium, the beauty is revealed. Like Steve Reich or Philip Glass via Zeppelin and Hendrix, the tempo shifts ever so slightly. The former whose "Heartbreaker" riff channeled guitarist Jimmy Page, who once graced this very stage in 1988, or the latter who was born that day 55 years earlier, whose Band of Gypsys blasted on repeat on Phish’s tour bus alongside James Brown circa 1965-69 and Miles Davis’ Jack Johnson. Was this “Machine Gun” from another dimension?

Finally, as the dark clouds part, they drift into a serene, foggy ambiance—a moment of calm. Someone switches on the radio, and they coast along to Elvis Presley's "Love Me.” The promise of calmer waters unfolds in the excellence of set two’s “Stash” and “Free.” Concluding their Worcester journey, the band commemorates their historic three-night run with a birthday nod encore, honoring their potential "Wolfman’s" musical muse Hendrix, featuring Buddy Miles’ “Them Changes,” from the Band of Gypsys.

Or listen on

10/16/21Carini” by askesis (Stephanie Jenkins) - Mockingbird Foundation Director and Associate Professor of Philosophy, Oregon State University

For philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, music is more primordial than language, a fuller mode of communication than speech and writing. Music is richer in meaning, because rather than representing copies of experience like speech, music is experience itself. This “Carini” encore embodies this Nietzschean distinction of musical meaning; it ended the show with a statement much more profound than “don’t skip the encore.”

Convinced there was meaning hidden in this jam, I became instantly obsessed with it. I returned to my hotel room, put the track on repeat to explore its mysteries, thanks to LivePhish. Since its inception, the Chase Center “Carini” has become my most frequently played jam. I have yet to crack its code and I suspect that’s the point; for me, it’s become a vehicle for thought. I listen to it when I am making important decisions, solving tough problems, and preparing for significant events. Only the fifth time “Carini” has appeared in the encore slot, this rendition has exploratory power that feels like it can conjure other-worldly powers; listening to it is a spiritual practice.

IT begins with a joyful segment featuring interplay between Trey and Page. At the nine-minute mark, Trey launches into a powerful sustained note that signals a minute-long transition into a spacey, transcendent jam. At around 10:50, Trey unleashes a minute-and-a-half long series of thunderous delay loops that build into a Hendrix-style jam that still gives me chills every time. Trey’s looping riffs are stepping-stones to a triumphant, major key jam around 14:20 before the band returns to the Carini theme at 17:26.

What does this Carini say to you?

Or listen on

5/5/93, 12/9/95, & 10/10/99You Enjoy Myself” aka “THE Albany YEMs” by Icculus

Although I was asked to submit a blurb regarding a single “jam” for the 40 for 40 effort, consistent with the manner in which this blog series has been posted to this site in the previous few weeks (enormous thanks are due to @Slewfoot and @OrangeSox for this!), I seized this opportunity to annoy PhishNet User ID 29 @Chop by writing, briefly, about THE ALBANY YEMs.

While Chop doesn’t give a shit about this community anymore (easy to forgive), he still cares very much about Phish and tends to “rank” everything Phish (less so Goose) in tiers.You can and should find him on Mastodon these days, and if you do, you’ll learn that he continues to engage in ranking Phish akin to how he used to rank Phishy shit on Twitter in a highly esteemed manner.

In any event, Chop always seemed (at least mildly) perturbed whenever I had the audacity, even sarcastically, to imply that there were multiple Albany YEMs worth a damn, and that it was INAPPROPRIATE to refer simply to THE Albany YEM (12/9/95, of course) in common Phish parlance.

The 5/5/93 YEM is worth your time to hear, if only to imagine yourself hearing it for the first time on tape in 1994, long before hearing 12/9/95, or even before hearing 6/11/94, and LOSING YOUR FUCKING SHIT. Because of course you would. It was THE Albany YEM, after all!

And just as the 12/9/95 “YEM” doesn’t need any more words written about its majesty and nearly thirty-year reign as the favorite “YEM” of countless fans, the 10/10/99 Albany “YEM” surely needs more love as IT HAS TWO DISCRETE, EXCELLENT JAM SEGMENTS PEOPLE!!! AND NO VOCAL JAM!!! So, to “THE” Albany YEM, I say, “Fuck You.”

Or listen on

Enjoy this playlist or LivePhish playlist (missing Antelope, Ambient Jam, Jim, Wolfman's, and THE Albany YEMs), and here's the YouTube playlist for these jams!

If you liked this blog post, one way you could "like" it is to make a donation to The Mockingbird Foundation, the sponsor of Support music education for children, and you just might change the world.


, comment by lysergic
lysergic Interesting nod to Bitches Brew with respect to the 10/7/23 SOAMelt. I'll have to relisten with that in mind. Just the other day, I had the same thought when spinning the 2011 Bethel Waves. Reminds me a ton of electric-era Miles. Super loose playing, and peak listening skills on display as the band members constantly evolve by complementing each other.
, comment by spac_melt
spac_melt Does poor @jackl not know that Jim was released on Live Bait Vol. 3?
, comment by jackl
jackl @spac_melt said:
Does poor @jackl not know that Jim was released on Live Bait Vol. 3?
Oh, man, that’s in the weeds, that’s probably lovingly documented somewhere on this very site somewhere! No, I didn’t think of the Live Bait series (or related archival stuff, festival radio broadcasts and the like). However my piece was edited by people who should know these sorts of things, don’t suck at the Phish and should def know better , and I’m going to bring this to their immediate attention!

Are those Live Bait things available on streaming or the LivePhish app, Spotify, etc?
, comment by jackl
jackl UPDATE: My hunch that some worthy volunteer from the community has indexed the metadata about the "Live Bait" series on dot net is correct. It's in Community>FAQ>Live Bait Index.
, comment by OrangeSox
OrangeSox @jackl said:
@spac_melt said:
Does poor @jackl not know that Jim was released on Live Bait Vol. 3?
Oh, man, that’s in the weeds, that’s probably lovingly documented somewhere on this very site somewhere! No, I didn’t think of the Live Bait series (or related archival stuff, festival radio broadcasts and the like). However my piece was edited by people who should know these sorts of things, don’t suck at the Phish and should def know better , and I’m going to bring this to their immediate attention!
That was totally my bad! I was rushing a little to make the playlists and was certain that Jim had been released but using the livephish app to search (can't even use the web player to search at all!!!), it's such a hassle to find selections from livebait releases. Anyway, this will be repaired! Thanks for letting us know
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