Jam Bands

The twenty best jams of Phish 3.0

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15. "Down With Disease" - Alpine Valley, Troy, WI, 8/14/10 "Down With Disease" always tends to bring great jams, and this one is especially noted for its beautiful outro and segue into "What's the Use." Fast-paced fretwork and crashing cymbals lead the way as Gordon bounces all over the place, playing with harmonics one moment until they begin to repeat a progression of notes that sends Fishman into a drumming frenzy. The rhythm starts grinding along, as Anastasio throws slithery prog-rock lines out until it gets medieval and metal-sounding. Pounding beats drive together until they become one, and the guitar once again slithers off as the band enters lullaby land, just to have that guitar riff slither back and drop straight into "What's the Use."

14. "Harry Hood" - Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA, 8/5/13 After a pretty standard show in 2011, expectations were shaky about things getting all crazy-exploratory on the Los Angeles crowd, but, boy, did the band ever -- and with "Harry Hood," no less. With McConnell kicking things off interestingly by employing the talkbox, the song got off to a great start. Going Type II just ten minutes in, Anastasio played some sustained notes that suddenly let the band encompass ten times the space with its sound. As the group flowed thematically through various musical genres, start-stop jamming cued the woos, as Gordon and Anastasio both played twinkly lines back and forth. Things got spacier and more prog-rock as the tempo raised and lowered like a roller coaster. Fishman brought the tune back around effortlessly, and while its peak wasn't as high and precise as preferred, there was a nice, loopy outro that fit well thematically with the jam.

13. "Tweezer" - Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, 12/28/12 You could fill this list with 3.0 "Tweezers." This one started out heavy-hitting, and Fishman maintained the beat throughout as piano notes floated around blissfully, with the guys patiently sticking to the theme of the jam rather than building a lot of tension. Anastasio began to play upbeat happy chords, sounding like a joyful song within a song, before the guys released the Kraken and hit a fantastically high peak.

12. "Sand" - Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO, 9/2/12 This version is sexy as hell, with the tempo slowed just a bit to allow room for extra swagger. Things started getting trippy and further out as sounds were looped, and Gordon and Fishman suddenly hit a marching beat that took the jam in a stronger direction. Anastasio sounded like he was having fun up there, mixing gorgeous trilling melodies with feedback deliciousness, as the main theme of the song weaved in and out.

11. "Storage Jam" - Superball, Watkins Glen, NY, 2011 Late-night improv sets are a constant favorite at Phish festivals, and rumors came out pretty quick at Superball to go where the big silver ball was for the late-night set. As the silhouettes of the bandmembers blurrily appeared in the windows of the makeshift "USA Storage" shed, weird sound effects and sporadic moments of distorted guitar came through in surround sound, adding a really cool extra layer to the experience. Inside the shed, the members rotated playing different instruments, allowing for sounds that you would not normally identify as those of Phish. Some people were confused by the abstract music, until they just finally laid down and absorbed the sounds. Things got wild with synthesizers, building peaks and valleys into the open ambient improv for over an hour until settling into the most psychedelic "Sleeping Monkey" that gave everyone a grasp of familiarity. This was headphone music at its finest, and a glimpse into the band's rehearsal world.

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

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Leslie Simon