Jam Bands

The twenty best jams of Phish 3.0

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10. "Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley" - Gorge Amphitheatre, George, WA, 8/7/09 "Sneaking Sally" tends to bring the jams, and this lowdown and dirty dance party was exemplary. Gordon laid the cow funk down hard until the band broke into a spirited vocal jam. McConnell brought things to an extra-funky level on the clavinet before the band dove off into a beautiful droning space, with Fishman picking up the beat and Anastasio coming back to the ground with beautiful, slowly building chords.

9. "Ghost" - Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, 12/31/10 Coming out of the darkness of "Down With Disease," this version of "Ghost" was instantly funky, with McConnell showing off his skills. The guys stepped into the jam delicately as a cohesive group, with clavinet, guitar, drums and bass seamlessly interspersed and no toes being stepped on. As Fishman stepped up the tempo, the music got more layered and continued to build while Trey used tremolo all over the place, making for a hose of pure bliss raining on the crowd's ears as the band completely locked in with each other. When Gordon hit a note, the rest of the band instantly followed right on cue and ended back in the "Ghost" refrain.

8. "Carini" - Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, NJ, 10/31/13 The guys dropped right into this jam with dissonance, as McConnell slammed the keys and Anastasio floated some careful staccato lines above the others. This "Carini" is all about beautiful major-chord swells, as the band played with volume as well as melody. Gordon threw a couple bass bombs in here, and the guys began some thematically major-key wanking away, aiming higher and higher until it was just majestic bliss.

7. "Waves" - Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel, NY, 5/26/11 Sometimes the best music theses guys play is created hours before the doors open, at tech rehearsal or soundcheck. This version of "Waves" is so loose and intimate-sounding; the compositional part is level, with everyone interplaying and weaving around each other at a steady tempo. Fishman holds it all together throughout, continuously sizzling through the free-form jazz portion until the guys go deeper and fall into dirty, psychedelic rock-and-roll territory. Gordon's fuzzy low end sounds bring it all into a cool groove that's already sounding like the smoothest shit ever; things are taken down to an atonal drone until Fishman picks it up, and suddenly, you're in dreamland. If you are having a bad day, clear your head with this.

6. "Rock and Roll" - The Gorge Amphitheatre, George, WA, 8/5/11 The Gorge saw some pretty monster covers of this Velvet Underground classic in 2009 and 2011, but this one takes the cake. The guys came out firing on all cylinders in classic rock-star form, but once they got to the improvisation, they covered a few different complex and varied themes. Dark, dirty dissonance from Anastasio led to a deep, funky groove. The theremin took the whole thing to a deep, ambient, psychedelic place, as barely decipherable singing added to the eerie wonderfulness. Gordon played the funkiest of bass lines, and the guys landed themselves in a deep funk get-down before eventually landing in the "Meatstick" rhythm pattern and segueing effortlessly in.

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

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Leslie Simon