Jam Bands

The twenty best jams of Phish 3.0

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20. "Back on the Train" - American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL, 12/30/09 Starting out as a rousing rock version with Southern swagger, this version quickly took a plunge toward the psychedelic, with Trey Anastasio's guitar screaming a long, sustained note as the guys wove around the Type II jam. An underwater-sounding octopus garden, this jam is a musical score of bass bombs and pedal effects, with Jon Fishman always keeping a steady beat that ebbs and flows with intensity. Minimalistic, the tune charged forward just a little harder with each swell, until it has grew into a crashing wave of sound.

19. "Boogie On Reggae Woman" - DCU Center, Worcester, MA, 2012 This tour -opener highlight was the kind that had venue staff dancing, and the bass sounded like Mike Gordon had extra fingers that night. The funk was thick in this version, and then Anastasio came in smooth as ice, with phrasing that just slid right in and gave the whole jam a more rock-and-roll feel. The Hammond B-3 added another layer to the sound, and the whole thing was just lifted up high, with cymbals crashing and the guitar being dominated. Just when you thought it might be coming to a rest, the funk seeped back in before settling to a stop.

18. "Simple" - Greek Theater, Berkeley, CA, 8/6/10 The guys took off into this jam lightly, with descending notes from Anastasio while the rest of the band built up an intricate, bubbly staccato foundation (called Plinko jamming by some, because it sounds similar to the Price Is Right game music). Glory chords were hit as Page McConnell threw some funky keys in, keeping things danceable yet delicate.

17. "Backwards Down the Number Line" - Jones Beach, Wantagh, NY, 8/17/10 From the song that got the band back together came the jubilant highlight of this show, and the band was full of energy as it shredded its way through it. Anastasio was in full rock-star mode at first and then used the whale call tastefully later. McConnell twinkled on the organ as the band began to climb higher and build to a grand extended peak, with Fishman dropping heavy drum fills at just the right times.

16. "Seven Below " - Times Union Center, Albany, NY, 11/28/09 Opening set two, this rendition marks one of the first moments that really showed that the Phish we knew and loved was still here. The band sounded cohesive, the members playing off one another while supporting each other's ideas. The jam goes into a major-key, mid-tempo groove around the twelve-minute mark that hits the spot, with Anastasio hammering on and off before taking it to a bass-heavy, "Also Sprach Zarathustra"-ish musical space. The group built higher and higher to a gorgeous sustained peak, with Anastasio just giving the hose around the twenty-minute mark. All of that, then the guys took it down and started up a fantastic "Ghost," barely catching a breath.

See also: The twelve best moments from Phish's fall tour

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Leslie Simon