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Summer 2012 Leg One - Ranking the Second Sets

Posted 2 years ago by cglushko - 119 comments Link: http://phi.sh/b/500449a1

by Mockingbird Contributor Chris Glushko

Now that Phish has wrapped up their best tour since returning in 2009, it’s time to take a look back and rank the shows from worst to first. Why? Because we’re Phish nerds here at phish.net. It’s what we do best.

Phish.net is an all-volunteer project produced with two goals: to raise money for music education for children through The Mockingbird Foundation, and to provide the most objective historical reference for Phish on the internet. If you enjoy phish.net’s content, please consider donating to The Mockingbird Foundation, where more than 98% of the money raised is given directly to music education programs.

A few thoughts before we begin:

  • We're looking at second sets and encores only. In a tour full of bust outs, it's too difficult to weigh the first sets with any sort of objectivity. For example, what improves a show more – the best “Wolfman’s” of 3.0 from the first set of 6/16 Atlantic City or the first “Shaggy Dog” since 1995 in the first set of 6/22 Cincinnati?
  • Encores can only add value to the set. They never detract.
  • Rankings are based on the music that ends up on the recording, not personal live experiences. Debating the best live experiences is like arguing over who has the best favorite color.
  • There is very little separating shows within each division.
  • Shows that rank 10-15 on the first leg of this tour would probably be top 10 shows for the entire year in 2011 or 2010. This is not so much because the band is hitting new peaks. Shows from last year like 6/3 Clarkston, 8/15 Chicago, and 9/4 Denver would still be at the top of this list. Rather, the difference lies in the consistency of play night in and night out, leaving 2012 with far fewer bottom-tier shows.
  • This list is just for fun. In the end, the only rankings that matter are your own. Music is subjective. No matter how hard we try to objectify it, your personal experience and enjoyment means the most.

Now, on to the rankings...


Busch Light Division (you won't find many people requesting these shows, but they can still get the job done)

20) 6/10/2012 Bonnaroo
Golden Age > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Chalk Dust Torture, Carini -> Shafty > Rock and Roll, Alaska > Harry Hood -> Light > Character Zero > Rocky Top E: Show of Life > Julius > Tweezer Reprise
The Meat: Good question. I guess there are a few really interesting seconds as “Carini” transitions into “Shafty.”
The Achilles Heel: Festival Set Syndrome strikes again as little to no risk was taken.
The X Factor: For those who watched at home on YouTube, Alice Cooper was putting on a fantastic show on Bonnaroo Channel 2.

19) 6/19/2012 Portsmouth
Back on the Train > Rift, Split Open and Melt > The Mango Song > Backwards Down the Number Line, Limb By Limb, Shine a Light, Lengthwise -> Maze, Cavern > Fire E: Mexican Cousin > Slave to the Traffic Light
The Meat: Um? Trey plays the “Maze” intro with a toy light saber?
The Achilles Heel: Along with Bonnaroo, this is the only other show of tour that does not feature a jam worthy of a second listen.
The X Factor: Although the “tuck show” lacks meaty play, it is full of banter and fun antics. Fortunately, there was an official webcast so those at home could see the fun since this is definitely a had-to-be-there type of night.


Heineken Division (at least it's not Busch Light)

18) 6/20/2012 Portsmouth
Rock and Roll > Tweezer > Free > Guyute, Birds of a Feather, Harry Hood -> What's the Use? > Wading in the Velvet Sea > Possum E: Sleeping Monkey > Tweezer Reprise
The Meat:Rock and Roll” and “Tweezer” provide a very tasty opening sequence. However, the real action lies in the transition from “Hood” into “What’s the Use?
The Achilles Heel: If “What’s the Use?” had only gone back into “Hood” instead of “Velvet Sea,” we would have another contender for best moment of tour.
The X Factor: Soft-shell crabs were in season and the venue is right on the Chesapeake Bay.

17) 6/17/2012 Atlantic City
Drowned > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Reba, Roses Are Free > Chalk Dust Torture > Prince Caspian -> Silent in the Morning, Bug > A Day in the Life > Down with Disease E: Gotta Jibboo > Quinn the Eskimo
The Meat:Drowned” provides the set with a huge lift off. The “2001” is up there with Worcester from the prior weekend as the best versions (not paying tribute to Michael Jackson) since 97-2000, and a mid-second set “Reba” provides a welcome surprise.
The Achilles Heel: All the momentum gained in the first half of the set is obliterated during the “Caspian” through “A Day in the Life” sequence.
The X Factor: A rocking “Disease” closer and groovy “Jibboo” > “Quinn” encore continued the roller coaster theme of this show, closing on a high note.

16) 7/4/2012 Jones Beach
Boogie On Reggae Woman > Tweezer > Twist > Taste > Quinn the Eskimo > Julius > Rock and Roll > The Horse > Silent in the Morning > Harry Hood > Shine a Light > Show of Life > Slave to the Traffic Light E: Sleeping Monkey > Tweezer Reprise
The Meat:Boogie On” > “Tweezer” > “Twist” opens the set with fantastic energy, and both the “Tweezer” and “Twist” contain jams worthy of a listen or seven.
The Achilles Heel: The second half of the second set is quite ballad-heavy. Also, it was July 4 and there were no fireworks. America was insulted.
The X Factor: It’s not often that you get a “Hood” and “Slave” in the same set. Unfortunately, they're also the only songs that kept people on their feet in the second half of the set.


Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Division (not among the elite, but still damn good)

15) 6/8/2012 Worcester
Down with Disease > Sand -> Nellie Kane, Mike's Song > Makisupa Policeman > Weekapaug Groove, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Also Sprach Zarathustra, Character Zero E: The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg
The Meat: An solid “Disease” and compact but fierce “Sand” give this set plenty of mustard.
The Achilles Heel: The Mike's Groove is average at best and “Wading” kills any momentum coming off the “Weekapaug.”
The X Factor: Putting aside the Camden 2010 Michael Jackson tribute “2001,” this “2001” along with the Atlantic City version one week later make up the most interesting and exciting performances of this tune since its 97-2000 heyday. Also, don’t discount the “Character Zero.” It might be the most interesting version of this standard rocker since Hartford 1997.

14) 7/1/2012 Alpine Valley
Crosseyed and Painless > No Quarter > Light > Ghost -> Back on the Train > Farmhouse, 46 Days, Heavy Things > Joy, Julius E: Meatstick
The Meat:Crosseyed” > “Ghost” delivers a thrilling four-song sequence to open the set with “Light” providing the jam of the night.
The Achilles Heel: Following the “Ghost” is a collection of songs that most fans would probably rather not see late in a second set.
The X Factor: This version of “Farmhouse,” a ‘beer and bathroom song’ for many in the 90s, is an absolute pleasure to listen to.

13) 6/24/2012 Blossom
Golden Age > Ghost > Sweet Virginia, Rift > Tweezer -> Walk Away > The Horse > Silent in the Morning > Piper > Waste > Run Like an Antelope E: Loving Cup > Tweezer Reprise
The Meat: This is a love/hate set full of “almost” moments in the “Golden Age,” “Ghost,” and “Tweezer.” In the end, the best played pieces of the night were a scorching “Walk Away” and tease-filled “Antelope.”
The Achilles Heel: For as great as “Golden Age” > “Ghost” looks on paper, neither delivers, save for an exciting minute or two in each. In addition, the “Tweezer” is a bunch of different disjointed ideas that never comes together.
The X Factor: This is a classic example of a show that was a blast to see live, but doesn’t translate well to the recording. If this list was a survey of the best live experiences, I have no doubt. this show would be near the top.

12) 7/7/2012 SPAC
Down with Disease -> Blister in the Sun > Down with Disease > Boogie On Reggae Woman > Golden Age -> Also Sprach Zarathustra > Backwards Down the Number Line > Prince Caspian -> Scent of a Mule -> Blister in the Sun -> Scent of a Mule > Mike's Song > Contact > Weekapaug Groove E: Sabotage
The Meat: The “Disease” contains some thrilling jamming while “Blister in the Sun” teases throughout the night kept the fun-factor high.
The Achilles Heel: Outside of the “Disease,” there’s not much depth to any of the tunes. The truncated “Golden Age” > “2001” exemplifies this. Also, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a fan with “Number Line” > “Caspian” > “Scent” on their second set wish list.
The X Factor: Thanks to a “Blister in the Sun” infusion, both the “Number Line” and “Scent” are quite fun. And, the “Caspian” is one of the more interesting versions the band has played.

11) 6/30/2012 Alpine Valley
Backwards Down the Number Line > Carini > Wilson > Golden Age -> Also Sprach Zarathustra > Rock and Roll > Steam > Piper > Quinn the Eskimo, Harry Hood > Character Zero E: Good Times Bad Times
The Meat: The “Rock and Roll” > “Steam” > “Piper” sequence may be the most underrated segment of the entire tour.
The Achilles Heel: Up until the “Rock and Roll,” an average setlist produced average to below average versions of each song.
The X Factor: Even though the set has no true highs outside of the “Rock and Roll” > “Piper,” it also has no lulls.

10) 6/22/2012 Cincinnati
Down with Disease > Guelah Papyrus, Kill Devil Falls > Twist > Halley's Comet > Sand -> Roggae, Carini > Chalk Dust Torture, Golgi Apparatus E: Fluffhead
The Meat: “Disease” provides a solid opener. However, it’s the “Twist” that will set your stereo on fire – a best of 3.0 version as well as a contender for jam of tour.
The Achilles Heel: Following the “Twist,” the set suffers from a touch of ADD with six more songs played in less than 40 minutes.
The X Factor: “Fluffhead” appears in the encore slot for the first time in nearly 22 years.

9) 6/28/2012 Deer Creek
Mike's Song > McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters > Back on the Train -> Hold Your Head Up > Bike > Hold Your Head Up > Weekapaug Groove > Prince Caspian > Waves > Bug > David Bowie E: Show of Life > Tweezer Reprise
The Meat:Waves” delivers the jam of the night, but it’s the surprise of a rarely jammed “McGrupp” that elevates the ranking of this set.
The Achilles Heel: “Caspian” and “Bug” keep this set from having any upwards momentum following the Mike’s Groove.
The X Factor: Fishman’s guitar debut during “Weekapaug” adds a fun-factor to an otherwise standard version.


Racer 5 Division (tough to find flaws, but still a level below the best)

8) 6/16/2012 Atlantic City
Crosseyed and Painless > Slave to the Traffic Light > Light -> Manteca -> Light > Theme From the Bottom > Golgi Apparatus > Sand > Backwards Down the Number Line > Run Like an Antelope E: Good Times Bad Times
The Meat: The ‘Lighteca’ is one of the best jams of tour and packed with thrilling improv.
The Achilles Heel: Following the “Light,” the rest of the set is very average with a “Golgi” and “Number Line” that many fans would consider poorly placed.
The X Factor: The transition from “Crosseyed” to “Slave” is simply gorgeous.

7) 7/3/2012 Jones Beach
Chalk Dust Torture, Sand -> Golden Age, Wolfman's Brother -> Walk Away, Bug > Fluffhead > The Wedge > Run Like an Antelope E: Character Zero
The Meat: “Sand” -> “Golden Age” delivers one of the jams of tour and the “Antelope” is a best-of-3.0 version.
The Achilles Heel: “Bug” > “Fluffhead” in the middle of the second set takes away momentum of what had been a very jam-heavy set up until that moment.
The X Factor: High tide was coming in during the show and flooding some sections. Once the “Walk Away” was over, the ocean got scared and the tide receded.

6) 6/29/2012 Deer Creek
Down with Disease > Sand > Twist -> Rift > Bathtub Gin -> Fluffhead > Ride Captain Ride > Run Like an Antelope E: Cavern > Sanity, First Tube
The Meat: “Disease” > “Sand” provides 25 minutes of solid heat to open the set.
The Achilles Heel: “Twist” and “Gin” are cut extremely short. “Rift” and “Fluffhead,” while fantastic songs, take up 20 minutes of prime second set real estate that might be better used on less structured tunes.
The X Factor: “Ride Captain Ride” provides a rare treat. Follow that with “Antelope” and a three-song high-energy encore, and nobody will care about the lost jams from earlier in the set.

5) 6/15/2012 Atlantic City
My Soul, Birds of a Feather -> Back on the Train > Heavy Things > Twist > Piper > Billy Breathes, Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley > David Bowie E: First Tube
The Meat:Birds” -> “Back on the Train” provides one of the best jams of tour. The “Bowie” set closer also contains a plethora of interesting teases taking it beyond a standard set-closing version.
The Achilles Heel: From “Twist” on, the set lacked any earth-shattering improv. And yes, I only wrote that because I had a blank space in this section.
The X Factor: Outside of the rarely played “Billy Breathes, there is little to no downtime in this set. Given that even the “Heavy Things” rips; there’s not one bathroom moment.


Heady Topper Division (Vermont's finest)

4) 6/7/2012 Worcester
Carini -> Taste > Ghost > Boogie On Reggae Woman > If I Could, Quinn the Eskimo > Harry Hood > Cavern > Buried Alive Reprise E: Loving Cup
The Meat: Where do you begin? The “Carini” is the best “Carini” in a tour packed with great versions and qualifies as one of the many best jams of tour. The “Ghost” is the best version of tour, and may be the best version since 12/31/2010. Then, you have the scorching “Boogie On” – one of only three jammed out versions in the 3.0 era, along with Red Rocks 2009 and Raleigh 2010.
The Achilles Heel: The “Taste” isn’t perfect, and one can say the set loses some steam after “If I Could.” But we are really nitpicking here.
The X Factor: A beautiful rendition of “If I Could” that in many fans' minds ranks behind only Holmdel 2000 and Greatwoods 1995 among all-time greatest versions.

3) 7/6/2012 SPAC
Chalk Dust Torture > Carini > Sand, Roses Are Free > Punch You In the Eye > Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley > Ghost > Suzy Greenberg > Run Like an Antelope E: Loving Cup
The Meat: “Carini” > “Sand” wets the palate with some nice jamming. But it’s the “Sally” – a top five jam of tour – that takes this set to the next level.
The Achilles Heel: “Punch” is more of a first set tune? There were better “Sands” this tour? “Ghost” could have been longer? “Suzy” didn’t contain the rare bonus third jam? I’m trying.
The X Factor: Start to finish, this was the most high-energy set of tour with absolutely no downtime.

2) 6/23/2012 Star Lake
Gotta Jibboo > Mike's Song > Simple > Light > Weekapaug Groove -> Seven Below, Bouncing Around the Room > Julius > Slave to the Traffic Light E: The Lizards
The Meat: The “Light” through “Seven Below” sequence may be the most thrilling segment of tour. “Light” shows why it’s currently Phish’s top jamming vehicle while the “Weekapaug” is clearly the best version of 3.0.
The Achilles Heel: “Bouncing” > “Julius” mid-second set takes away a good chunk of the momentum coming off “Seven Below.”
The X Factor: “The Lizards” encore makes you forget about the “Bouncing” > “Julius” so you can remember the good times.

1) 7/8/2012 SPAC
Axilla > Light > Twist > Kill Devil Falls -> My Friend, My Friend > Swept Away > Steep > Piper > Free > Kung > Harry Hood > Cavern > David Bowie E: You Enjoy Myself
The Meat: “Light” once again delivers a memorable jam. But for once this tour, it is not the star of the show. That honor goes to a thrilling 15-minute “Piper” that alone would have been enough to carry the set.
The Achilles Heel: Picking out a weak spot of this set is grasping at straws. On setlist alone the “Kill Devil Falls” > “Steep” segment looks to be the low point of the show. But “Kill Devil Falls” ended up being one of the top three versions of the song (with only Bethel 2011 a clearly better version) and “Steep” even contained an interesting outro.
The X Factor: In terms of sheer quantity, there is more exciting jamming in this set than any other of the tour. And then you get to the “YEM” encore.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments.

Comments

Dundun Reply
Dundun Very interesting picking only the second set/encores. In my rankings I might bump the 7/6 down a peg (because I really liked the Worchester I), and swap the AC shows.... although that BoaF to Heavy Things segment was some special stuff.

I might also lower AC3 and up the tuck/saber Portsmouth show because of the fun factor.

Although I agree with SPAC III as the best 2nd/encore, I wonder where it would have ended up if the whole show was taken into account. I felt the show started reallllly slow.
Score: 0
MusicalPhish Reply
tough to rank all of them like you did but SPAC3 was definitely number 1. I thought that set was ending like three times. over a two hour set+encore I think!!
Score: 4
phootyjon Reply
phootyjon i agree on your top 10; not in that order but whatever. Good work!
Score: 0
andrewrose Reply
andrewrose Well first of all I think it's silly not to factor in the first sets. I understand the reasoning somewhat, but it seems to me like a more honest answer would be 'with so many songs and bustouts, it would be too much work.' The way I see bustouts is actually more like the 'recording vs. live factor' that's outlined later in the disclaimers ... ie, being there for Shaggy Dog might be more exciting than listening back to it (which is somewhat the point of this list, right? to establish which shows are worth revisiting the most? as opposed to who had the best time?). Especially if they end up playing Shaggy Dog five times on the second leg. Now if say, the crowd reaction, the song itself, the performance, a possible segue (like, for example Tube-> Psycho Killer-> Tube) creates something that makes for good listening back .. that should factor in.

More to the point though, in disregarding first sets we're completing overlooking some great jams. The 6/8 Roses, the 7/1 Fee (one of the highlights of the tour). Frankly I'm surprised that official .net nerds signed off on this truncated summary (who collecitvely voted on this list anyway?). What happens when you want to start comparing the above to previous 3.0 shows? Do we rule out 8.7.09 I? 11.17.97 I? Why are we giving Phish a pass on the first sets and telling them they don't matter?

I'm being a bit facetious and ultimately just nitpicking as well; this list is great and I agree with much of the above in terms of second sets. A few exceptions:

I think 7/3 is among Vermont's finest. The Sand-> Golden Age sequence may be the best jamming of the tour. And in terms of fourth quarter filler in this day and age, I'll take a Bug Fluffhead Wedge over Cavern, Julius, Suzie..

I'd also take some issue with the 7/6 praise on the strength of the Sally. It's a great jam and one of the better sets of the tour. But better than the 7/3 Sand or Golden Age? The 7/1 Fee? The 6/15 Birds? The 6/23 Light? The 7/8 Piper? The 6/7 Carini? It's just not in my top 5 jams is all.

And I think I prefer 6/28 to 6/29, and 6/22 to 6/16.

My two cents!
Score: 25
ThinMan Reply
I am little disappointed that Bug comes up so many times in the Achilles Heal section. I understand if it is surrounded by other slows tunes (6/17/12), but for being a breather amongst the fury, Bug is a tremendous tune whose soaring end is many times more powerful than any other "jam" tunes.

Great list tho, great tour...can't wait for leg 2

Score: 14
ProfJibboo Reply
ProfJibboo Fun read. Perhaps a tad biased against Prince Caspian.
Not so sure I agree that #2, #3, or #4 belong after 7/8. Not so sure 6/7 ever or 6/23 ever lost steam.
Score: 0
skidmorephish Reply
i know this is all a matter of personal preference, but having been at the SPAC shows i'd rate 2nd set SPAC II over SPAC III....it was just total mayhem.
Score: 3
RunawayJim Reply
RunawayJim But can be a great song, but it's a great first set song. It drags down a second set. It may have a powerful end, but it's rarely, if ever, interesting.
Score: 0
actionjackson Reply
actionjackson Thanks for the effort in objectively ranking the sets. The Phish nerd in me loves this!!! I do wonder why many people say the DC Weekapaug was standard, though. When Trey starts the beginning of the song on drums and then both Mike and Page get to take funky solos is certainly exceptional, although it was also a moment that was best witnessed in person. Also, I think that the AC Piper, though short, deserves some credit for interesting improv. Finally, I was actually more impressed with the DC Twist and Gin on re-listen than I was at the show. At eight minutes, the Gin gets pretty deep before the segue into Fluff. At the show I was a little disappointed, but the set still flowed nicely. These are just a few points that I haven't seem anyone mention.

Once again, thanks for the outstanding article. I can't wait to see more comments from others.
Score: 1
RunawayJim Reply
RunawayJim Crap, that was supposed to be "Bug can be a great song".
Score: 3
bertoletdown Phish.net Staff Reply
bertoletdown Andrew, I agree with some of your critique (of the critique) esp. the first set piece. I have never liked Miner's tendency to do this either. Who do we know who skips first sets and shows up for second sets?

Even the Grateful Dead frequently played first sets worthy of mention, and yes, the 7/1 Fee is better than many of the jams mentioned favorably in this piece.

But overall I think CG did a good job with this. The task is sort of herculean.
Score: 7
That_Guy_Chino Reply
Overall a solid depiction of the 2nd sets. I hit AC 1,2,3 and couch tour the rest. I'm just steering away from being a critic at all. Any Phish is good Phish. But for the sake of this review, I think it's a fair ranking of 2nd sets. It's a bit hard to not incorporate the 1st set, the vibes, the energy, etc, but the article was fair and objective for to the point of isolating 2nd sets.

Well done.
Score: 2
J_D_G Phish.net Staff Reply
J_D_G Great work, @chopg. I think the critiques of the form of the critique are quite literally missing the point. Chris ranked the second sets because that's an exercise he found to be interesting and useful. It doesn't mean first sets don't matter; anyone is fully welcome to compose a post analyzing the first sets of the tour if you want.

But Chris G's point is well-taken that, nowadays, with so little to differentiate between first sets (other than technical execution of compositions, an element with which many fans are not very concerned), it's very difficult to have a substantive argument about the merits of a particularly good Type I jam versus the perceived historical importance of some breakout.

What would be even more helpful for me is simply a list of the best jams of the tour.
Score: 3
phiendwmd Reply
phiendwmd It really bothers how it seems to be a trend that the best nights of a run are the first ones, and as the run goes on, it gets worse. Obviously it is not a set in stone rule and there are exceptions, but thats how it seems to go for the most part. I'm not sure if they run out of gas, would rather play the big songs on Friday instead of Sunday, or what, but they need to work on fixing that immediately.
Score: 0
Wilson Reply
Solid list, and while I agree Bonnaroo should probably be at the bottom of the list, take a relisten to Carini> Shafty. There's more than just a "few minutes" of worthwhile stuff here. The Carini goes to some pretty interesting places, which, if they occurred anywhere else on the tour, would have been catapulted to "best of the tour" lists.
Score: 5
andrewrose Reply
andrewrose @bertoletdown said:
Andrew, I agree with some of your critique (of the critique) esp. the first set piece. I have never liked Miner's tendency to do this either. Who do we know who skips first sets and shows up for second sets?

Even the Grateful Dead frequently played first sets worthy of mention, and yes, the 7/1 Fee is better than many of the jams mentioned favorably in this piece.

But overall I think CG did a good job with this. The task is sort of herculean.
Agreed. My critique of the critique was somewhat tongue-in-cheek if that didn't come across. @J_D_G, I do think it's worthwhile exercise, was never refuting that. Only suggesting that maybe there was a way to still consider potential first set meat, so-to-speak (ie. Type II jams, segues, etc), without having to somehow objectively weigh the merits of a Skin it Back vs. Happiness is a Warm Gun. But as @bertoletdown points out, that would have made an already hefty task pretty daunting. Maybe someone wants to do a "ranking the first sets"? Certainly not as fun, but there are great moments peppered throughout the tour that are worth hearing. The aforementioned 7/1 Fee being one, for sure...
Score: 2
ledzepmaster Reply
ledzepmaster Seven Below was played up a whole step. (key of D instead of C)
Score: 5
Jevers Reply
Jevers Couldn't agree more about SPAC 3 being the highlight of the tour. Was luckily enough to be in the pit and it was non stop. Even less energetic songs Swept Away > Steep were a welcome break to pick your jaw off the floor and soak it all in. Harry deserves mention as well as a concise and powerful MFMF. And what better way to end a set/run/tour than with YEM. Especially in the first tour I've every heard of YEM being so sparsely played.

Also, I think SPAC 2 is very underrated. Not the best quality jams and BDTNL and Caspian were not ideal song choices, BUT that is one of the funniest sets I've ever heard. Lots of energy and crowd pleasers even if not jammed out to their potential.
Score: 1
johnnyd Phish.net Staff Reply
johnnyd Great write up and summary. I like the format a lot. Even if one disagrees with the rankings and analysis, it provides a concise refresher for all the sets.

@J_D_G said:
What would be even more helpful for me is simply a list of the best jams of the tour.
Dream big...
Score: 2
tweezer Phish.net Staff Reply
tweezer @J_D_G said:

What would be even more helpful for me is simply a list of the best jams of the tour.
You will get that sometime next week depending on my internet connection in the middle of nowhere Finland.
Score: 2
tweezer Phish.net Staff Reply
tweezer Interesting tidbit:

The word bug is actually Latin for Achilles Heel.
Score: 5
CreatureoftheNight Reply
CreatureoftheNight A great list and always fun to get the debate started.
7-1 Light> Ghost is a top 3 jam IMO. I know the Fee can't enter into the equation, but I have a much higher opinion of this show. Glad I added SPAC to my summer at the last minute!
Score: 1
OrangeSox Reply
OrangeSox I *LOVE* Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but since it's all arbitrary placement in a way, both second sets from Deer Creek deserve Racer 5 imo because that's an even better beer.

The McGrupp is truly amazing, and the spectacle of the Weekapaug after Bike really has no comparable moment of which i'm aware. And, if Bug is the heel, it's not an Achilles'. The segue from Waves is amazing and could not have found a better denouement. Furthermore, Caspian before Waves is a great combination, for obvious lyrical reasons, and Caspian was a nice break to talk about the silliness of Weekapaug, not to mention a sweet dance jam picked up out of thin air once instruments returned to their normal hands.

Oh yeah, i only caught Deer Creek first leg so everything i've just written is probably moot!

But, thanks for the nerd-out. Need more of it... What about a ranking for first sets? Then a combination of the two rankings for complete shows? Just dreaming...
Score: 7
RovingReporter Reply
RovingReporter This is a pretty solid ranking. I'd put 7/6 No. 1 because of the Sally. But you really nailed in my opinion. Worcester 1 might be my second, but who the hell cares what I say.

Really, aside from 'Roo, there is no wrong answer. Your top five is just exquisite.
Score: 1
lenuto46 Reply
Having gone to all the SPAC shows and both Beach shows, I can say this is about right considering just those shows. Having listened to every show of the tour, I would also say this is mostly right. SPAC III is one of the best shows of 3.0, third (in my mind) only to Utica and Mansfield, NH 2010, however based on second sets alone, SPAC III might be better than both of those as the insanity of Utica was primarily set 1, and Mansfield ranks so high as a whole show with stunning best ever Alumni > LTJP, Curtain With, and immaculate Ice > Cave first set action, paired with that ridiculous set spanning (sans Possum opener, which was also REDONK), segue rich Mike's groove with Llama reprise closer at the end of Paug in the second set... a YEM encore on that night would have made my head explode, but alas, shine a light. None of that nonsense at SPAC III however. Seriously. I knew it was coming, but hearing Trey count off the 1..2..1234 and then actually getting it in all its rare splendor these days was totally euphoric after what was a blistering second set.

My only real complaint about this scale is that it does not take into account that the 7/1 Fee may be a best-of all time version with that Jam. There have only been 3-4 Fee jams, and while there was one in '99 that was longer and arguably better than the most recent, busting out the first Fee in over a year in that fashion shows a band that is completely locked in and more comfortable with their immense catalog than ever before. The state of Phish in 2012 is better than anyone could have expected. They can do it all in one show.
Score: 2
tomthumb86 Reply
Listing the DC1 Waves as "meat" and then Bug as "Achilles", thereby separating a complete and beautiful segment in a near perfect show into strength and weakness is absolute nonsense. If that Bug ruined your set you are really not allowing yourself to appreciate the show in front of you.
Score: 11
tweezer Phish.net Staff Reply
tweezer Great post Chris! Very creative format as well. Your thoughts on Phish are always thought provoking. I enjoy them much more than your thoughts on sports.

:)
Score: 3
deadphish28 Reply
Leaving out the 1st set IS kind of dull, imo. That's like cherry picking shows from 1997 when they played 5-7 song first sets, pointing to them as greatest shows ever, and disregarding the 2nd sets. I think you should take the whole show into account. If they didn't jam or create "original music" enough for your tastes in the first frame, then reduce the show's ranking accordingly. I'm tired of people basing a show's merit on 2-3 jams in the second set. You don't review a play on a per-act basis, I don't see why this should be any different. That being said, I appreciate your taking the time to do this, and it's truly difficult either way. I just can't get behind what is essentially a review of 50% of the music that was played.
Score: 3
amberdawn Reply
i love you all, but i just have to say i disagree with "ranking" anything. IMO this encourages comparison, and criticism saying one is better than the other, when we all know that every song, every show, every feeling is different for each individual and that it's not right to compare because they're all good for their own reasons. I'll never forget after my first show how everyone was talking about how it was the worst show of the tour, and it made me felt confused because it was my first show, it blew my mind away and I didn't understand why anybody would want to say anything BAD about it or "rank" it in any way. Anyways, peace and love phorever <3
Score: 3
whatstheuse324 Reply
whatstheuse324 Great job with the list, no complaints from me. I had the pleasure of catching seven of these shows and they were all great in their own way. Piper from SPAC night 3 is one of the most dynamic jams of 3.0 and should definitely silence some of the critics of late. Overall, an amazing first leg. Phish is like sex and pizza, even when it's bad, it's still pretty good. Phish nerds unite!
Score: 2
YorkvilleBeerLover Reply
YorkvilleBeerLover I'm happy the shows I went to were beter than average all nights : AC1, AC2, JB1
Score: 0
StStephen Reply
StStephen Overall, awesome job taking on a tough task. While I would certainly quibble on the placement of many, I think your "divisions" are fairly accurate. That said, your take on Alpine1:

"The X Factor: Even though the set has no true highs outside of the “Rock and Roll” > “Piper,” it also has no lulls.

What about the Golden Age from Alpine1?? I thought it was excellent, with a very groovy/funky, extended take on it, and into a very funky, albeit perfunctory, 2001.
Score: 3
cprinos Reply
cprinos having caught 3 of the top 4 (had to cancel pitt) i'd agree that all the shows i caught were SOLID. I don't know that any 2nd set that i caught this tour would be considered a standout...everything was very even imo. i agree with the 7/4 comments entirely..based on what i saw that set had a ton of potential out of the gate and lost some steam..i was fortunate enough to be in the flooded section however which made that set super special to me...never caught a show standing in 6 inches of water before.

The soundcheck from SPAC day 2 deserves it's own category. 7-8 songs. must have been about 45 mins. awesome experience catching that on the lawn playing wiffle ball.

tube > psycho killer > tube and the sabotage were fun but horrible renditions imo. trey's sing-songy lyric style doesn't work with sabotage anymore. the tube was slow and the psycho killer can't touch Hartford 09.

-cp
Score: 0
ZapRowsdower Reply
ZapRowsdower Even a Busch Light can satisfy your thirst on a hot summer day.

Score: 4
NigelTufnel Reply
NigelTufnel The difference between Star Lake and SPAC III is that they connected in Star Lake the way we dream about. So many ideas flowing from each member, they latch on, move on, latch on, without hitting a bad note if they tried. Absolutely floating. I find the Light and Piper from SPAC III to be almost workmanlike...they shred for 95% of it while trying to reach that transcendent plane. In my humble opinion, I didn't feel like they got there. Star Lake Mike's Groove is one of the all time why-I-listen-to-Phish in-a-nutshell sequences. No massive jam, but they were connected ala 8/5/11, 11/17/97, you name it. It doesn't get better than that.
Score: 3
joechip Reply
joechip I think the assessment is pretty on point, except I'm baffled that Deer Creek Night 2 would be ranked ahead of Night 1! I thought DC 2 was one of the only sets of tour that featured the dreaded "ripcord", and really thought it had very little to offer beyond the DWD> Sand. DC 1 had a much much better 2nd set to my ears.

To @NigelTufnel, I'm surprised you don't feel like they "got there" in the Light and Piper from SPAC. I thought that was some of the most cohesive and purposeful jamming of tour. They explored a really interesting similar melodic idea in both of the jams at length, and each resolved very naturally. Similar to Star Lake, where the ideas from one jam spilled into the next. Both really great shows. I think both featured really connected playing.
Score: 3
HighGearAntelope Reply
HighGearAntelope It's ok to rank 2nd sets, but to get a FULL picture you HAVE to include the 1st sets! Take 6/23 Star Lake/First Niagara/Burgettstown/Pittsburgh for example.. that Scent of a Mule was KILLER, and then the first (and a very good) YEM of the tour?!...... BOY!

Speaking of the Burgh show, Weekapaug had a something going for it, something different (which is good), but I can't give it "best of 3.0" status. Not unless all 3.0 Weekapaugs have been crap. There are certainly others that eclipse this one.
Score: 2
Axilla2 Reply
Axilla2 I do think 1st sets should be included, even with bust outs you still had some jams. Should i mention the skin it back jam? Not only a throw back bust out, but a dank ass jam ensued right after. Although some opening sets do leave me scratching my head, I think if were going to discuss the "best shows" of tour, the 1st set should be included. I do agree with the #1 slot though.

(Other than star lake and deer creek, when can we hear fully loaded mike's grooves?)
Score: 1
Posterdog Reply
Posterdog Good job at objectively tackling a subjective subject. Naturally my subjectivity would tweak a few shows but for the most part your divisions are on point. Hard to rank a leg that was so consistent.
Score: 2
MiguelSanchez Reply
MiguelSanchez Re: dcu night one/there only being 3 jammed out boogie on's in 3.0

Don't forget, they jammed out boogie on at telluride.
Score: 0
conradjohansen Reply
conradjohansen @HighGearAntelope said:
Speaking of the Burgh show, Weekapaug had a something going for it, something different (which is good), but I can't give it "best of 3.0" status. Not unless all 3.0 Weekapaugs have been crap. There are certainly others that eclipse this one.
Examples please?
Score: 1
MiguelSanchez Reply
MiguelSanchez @joechip nailed it. I thought creek 1's 2nd set was much more engaging, and it had better flow. Few on the .net forum are more vocal about their disdain for bug and caspian, but I actually thought they fit the set well. Hell, they even cut caspian short to go into a pretty nice waves. Either way, the caspian> waves> bug> Bowie stretch looks like something that I would not enjoy, but I found it to be pretty nice. Maybe I enjoyed it more because I got my skull crushed in the 1st set!
Score: 3
kidrob Reply
kidrob i don't like that some of the critique is on songs that are breathers (EG, Star Lake). So what if they played bouncing in the second set late. that set was raging, and to calm it down with a fan favorite is not wrong. i was on the rail for this show and listened to the recording, and thew most disappointing piece of this set imo is a below average Slave.

Bamd doesn't really hit the mics with energy, and the playing on this version is standard at best, actually i thought a little weak, and i took this from the recording. with that being said, i did enjoy it at the show.

so to me, it seems like some set lists are being judged on song selection rather than how the song was played.

finally, i'm not sure we need to saturate this site with more rankings of best this best that. can we not just go to shows and enjoy them. and when we do go to shows, can we not come back to boards that try to kill your post show buzz by people's opinions who were not there. although i will agree with write up that blossom was much better to be at than listen to. nonetheless, i still enjoyed being at it and hearing the second set later.
Score: 2
dscott Reply
Putting 6/19 and 6/20 near the bottom makes this list questionable right off the bat. Put down the stopwatch and enjoy the other things that make Phish music special.
Score: 2
dscott Reply
@tomthumb86 said:
Listing the DC1 Waves as "meat" and then Bug as "Achilles", thereby separating a complete and beautiful segment in a near perfect show into strength and weakness is absolute nonsense. If that Bug ruined your set you are really not allowing yourself to appreciate the show in front of you.
This is what a valid opinion looks like! :)
Score: 2
HARRYHOOD213 Reply
HARRYHOOD213 Having gone to 6/7 and 7/8, I personally loved the 6/7 set better then 7/8.

Carini -> Taste > Ghost > Boogie On Reggae Woman > If I Could (about as good as it gets).

Plus HOOD Plus the Buried Reprise = amazing.

This is the set of the summer that I listen to most. I thought 7/8 picked up towards the end, but did not think it got off to a great start. Just my $.02.
Score: 0
strikly_commerical Reply
@ZapRowsdower said:
Even a Busch Light can satisfy your thirst on a hot summer day.
Absolutely. Having seen them for 25 years, through thick and thin, the SPAC sets should be up there
Score: 0
Phan2112 Reply
Phan2112 I guess Blossom isn't as good on recording than live. The show was fantastic and the recording is good. I was thinking that could be top 10 material. But whatever. The Golden Age> Ghost was awesome and the -> from Tweezer into Walk Away was probably the best -> of the year. But it's just more fun seeing them do stuff like that with the quotes live.
Score: 1
oh_kee_dono Reply
oh_kee_dono dead on with the blossum(i still spell it that way from last year's plossum). that was one of my shows this year and it WAS a blast to be at but pales a bit on the audio only listen. I will gladly take any show on this list as opposed to the phishless dark years. see you all on the second leg!!!
Score: 0
ReeYees Reply
ReeYees Coming up with my own list of favorites was like comparing all the different shades of blue at Home Depot. This was an amazingly consistent leg. Nice job on putting this together though. I'd have to say my favorite 2nd set was probably Alpine 7/1 but SPAC 7/6 and Star Lake 6/23 would not be far behind.
Score: 1
neyney77 Reply
I had 5 Sierra Nevada's, one Racer 5, and one Heady Topper! Sounds Like a good night to me!
Score: 3
phunky58 Reply
wow i am sorry but this is way offf. i have listened to this whole tour. and without question it is neck and neck between the 2nd set of star lake and the 2nd set of alpine night one for the first and second spots. and you have alpine night one ranked 11!!!!!! wow imo that is far off the track but i guess to each his own. i urge you to go back and listen to alpine night 1 set 2 almost perfection straight thru. yet i still give the edge to star lake for #1 then alpine #2. night 3 of spac can be considered top 5 along with jones beach night 1 and its a crap shoot for the fifth spot. but i'd go with 6/7 worcester. without a doubt though alpine and star lake take the top two spots!
Score: 5
Fudada Reply
I'm totally with phunky58 about Alpine I. Golden Age --> 2001 was "average to below average" ?!?! Not if you like the funk, my friend.
Score: 2
Lemuria Phish.net Staff Reply
Lemuria
Rankings are based on the music that ends up on the recording, not personal live experiences. Debating the best live experiences is like arguing over who has the best favorite color.
Gen. ius. Loveit.
Score: 1
cglushko Phish.net Staff Reply
Thanks, everyone for the feedback. If I have time, I'll respond more tomorrow, but for now I just want to make a few points.

1) In a perfect world, this would have been a list of whole show reviews. It was painful to not include things like the Alpine Fee, A/C Wolfmans, Jones Beach Skin it Back, Worcester Roses, SPAC Light Up, etc. But in the end, it was nearly impossible to be objective on the first sets. Since the first sets are largely song-based, with the exception of a few shows, rating would come down to sets with my favorite setlists. That's just too subjective.

2) I have nothing against Bug. I've even grown to not hate Caspian as much as I did in the 90s. But this list is about ranking. Therefore, comparisons have to be made. The Bug and Caspian don't make shows like Deer Creek1 a bad show. But what makes a set better -- a late set Bug and Caspian or a late set Ghost or Sally? There's nothing wrong with a ballad, but when other factors are even, typically the set that keeps up the heat is going to get the nod.

3) The only shows on this list that I would consider weak shows are in the first two divisions. And, it's even a bit of a stretch to call the Heineken Division "weak." As I said at the top, shows that ranked 15-10 just on this one leg would have been top ten shows in all of 2010 or 2011. That's the whole point of this list -- that there is so much depth compared to the last couple years. For example, I think both nights of Alpine are fantastic. It just so happens this was a really good tour and when forced to put the shows in order, I think there are 10 shows that are even better.

Cheers,

Chris
Score: 9
cglushko Phish.net Staff Reply
Oh, one more thing. To those who say we shouldn't rank shows -

What drew me into Phish many years ago is the fact that they play different shows every night. You get to compare and contrast. There used to be nothing like hearing about some legendary performance and then getting the tapes in the mail a few weeks later.

Without bad shows, you can't have good shows. Without terrible shows, you can't have legendary shows. If you prefer to just take an "it's all good" attitude, more power to you. But for me, if every Phish show made me feel exactly the same, I might as well go on tour with Steve Miller.
Score: 15
phunky58 Reply
@cglushko said:
Thanks, everyone for the feedback. If I have time, I'll respond more tomorrow, but for now I just want to make a few points.

1) In a perfect world, this would have been a list of whole show reviews. It was painful to not include things like the Alpine Fee, A/C Wolfmans, Jones Beach Skin it Back, Worcester Roses, SPAC Light Up, etc. But in the end, it was nearly impossible to be objective on the first sets. Since the first sets are largely song-based, with the exception of a few shows, rating would come down to sets with my favorite setlists. That's just too subjective.

2) I have nothing against Bug. I've even grown to not hate Caspian as much as I did in the 90s. But this list is about ranking. Therefore, comparisons have to be made. The Bug and Caspian don't make shows like Deer Creek1 a bad show. But what makes a set better -- a late set Bug and Caspian or a late set Ghost or Sally? There's nothing wrong with a ballad, but when other factors are even, typically the set that keeps up the heat is going to get the nod.

3) The only shows on this list that I would consider weak shows are in the first two divisions. And, it's even a bit of a stretch to call the Heineken Division "weak." As I said at the top, shows that ranked 15-10 just on this one leg would have been top ten shows in all of 2010 or 2011. That's the whole point of this list -- that there is so much depth compared to the last couple years. For example, I think both nights of Alpine are fantastic. It just so happens this was a really good tour and when forced to put the shows in order, I think there are 10 shows that are even better.

Cheers,

Chris
appreciate the time you put into this piece and enjoyed reading it, i just cant understand how you have alpine night one so far down the list. i mean from pretty much start to finish it was flawless one of the better sets i heard in a longg time. im baffled
Score: 2
kiddomarink Reply
I would love to see one of these for first sets of leg one.
Score: 0
kiddomarink Reply
now reading aforementioned point about it being a "favorite setlist" contest. I somewhat agree, but still think you could judge one set 1 against another based on flow and the rarity factor of first set bustouts.

That said, this is a great list and I completely agree with your top 3.
Score: 1
trampledbylambs Reply
oh yeah that is definitely my number one set. and also the 6/15 AC second set. mmmhmm.
Score: 0
deBebbler Reply
deBebbler DC1 II was amazing, and probably the set I've listened to most upon return. Caspian Waves Bug Bowie sequence was great, and I really loathe seeing Caspian. Star Lake was fantastic, to be sure, but DC1 definitely deserved higher.

Trey mangled Mike's in PA, and it wasn't until Light that things got going. At DC, the Mike's was ripping, the McGrupp contained an amazing and rare jam, and BOTT clocked in at 12 min. Add a Fishman song, and the heist of Trey's axe, and I think there is a hell of a lot that transferred to tape that rocks. Hell, it is more enjoyable on tape probably, because you likely aren't in 110 degree heat!

Oh yeah, did I mention Caspian > > > Bowie? :)

Tough task you had here, and I was intrigued by your stated constraints on judgement, wondering perhaps if you were Mr. Miner.

Great job!

Also loved "America was insulted." from the 4th.
Score: 1
Psylo_Joe Reply
Psylo_Joe The portsmouth shows definitely need to be bumped up, because of the light saber/tuck shenanigans, and possibly bump down the AC shows.
Score: 1
jimmyinspace Reply
@cglushko said:
Oh, one more thing. To those who say we shouldn't rank shows -

What drew me into Phish many years ago is the fact that they play different shows every night. You get to compare and contrast. There used to be nothing like hearing about some legendary performance and then getting the tapes in the mail a few weeks later.

Without bad shows, you can't have good shows. Without terrible shows, you can't have legendary shows. If you prefer to just take an "it's all good" attitude, more power to you. But for me, if every Phish show made me feel exactly the same, I might as well go on tour with Steve Miller.
Score: 0
dscott Reply
@cglushko said:

2) I have nothing against Bug. I've even grown to not hate Caspian as much as I did in the 90s. But this list is about ranking. Therefore, comparisons have to be made. The Bug and Caspian don't make shows like Deer Creek1 a bad show. But what makes a set better -- a late set Bug and Caspian or a late set Ghost or Sally? There's nothing wrong with a ballad, but when other factors are even, typically the set that keeps up the heat is going to get the nod.
This is where my mileage varies from many pholks. A set that "keeps up the heat" often feels flat to me, no matter how raging it might be. Dynamic changes in mood & tempo make it a much richer experience IMO. Whether those changes come in the form of a 30-minute jam on one song, or 5 songs spanning the same half hour, is merely academic if they pull it off effectively.
Score: 0
phootyjon Reply
phootyjon @andrewrose said: But better than the 7/3 Sand or Golden Age? The 7/1 Fee? The 6/15 Birds? The 6/23 Light? The 7/8 Piper? The 6/7 Carini? It's just not in my top 5 jams is all.

And I think I prefer 6/28 to 6/29, and 6/22 to 6/16.

My two cents![/quote]

dead on balls accurate Andrew; that's a well put TOP 5 jams list
Score: 0
tweezedout Reply
They jammed psychadelically and hard 6 19...
Score: 0
757phan Reply
757phan I haven't taken the time to read everyones comments this morning, but I will...so forgive me if I repeat somebody else.

Chris excellent job with the article. I very much enjoyed the format you setteled on to deliver the content. The "X factor" portion was my favorite and the way you ranked them by brews was fresh as well.

I am curious....is this based purely off being able to re-listen to the shows? If so I understand the low rankings for shows like Ptown 1 and July 4.

Do you plan on doing the first sets? There were some pretty good ones out there.
Score: 0
jage9 Reply
Rankings, as provided, are legit to me. But I would agree that if first sets were included, 6/23 wins. All around, best show I heard this tour. My 2 cents.
Score: 0
jage9 Reply
And, I was expecting to see 6/16 a little higher up, but again, I'm thinking about the first set as well.
Score: 0
Jayem Reply
Jayem So it's been a GREAT summer so far

Does that sum it up?

I have been saying since 6/7 went down that set 2 was the best of the tour. I still stand by that. I think if you drop that set mid tour at SPAC or some other big venue it is #1 with just about everyone. That set has had a hard time shaking the "great for first night of tour" label. Oddly in a game of numbers I think the closest competitor is 7/6 set 2.

Why does everyone not mention the Chalkdust to start set 2 on 7/3?? I thought it was great and really got that set going.

Can we all agree that Light and Sand were the most consistent songs? Every version is great with some even greater than others

Score: 2
Kodiakfloyd Reply
Alpine shows and set 2's should be ranked better. Funk and tight. Even the 6/30/12 Zero was Trey showing confidence and whipping out classic Jean Pierre Teases with a knock out punch. 6/30/12 Set 2 was full of funk and classic playing. Maybe you just had to be there to understand how funky it got and dance party. Many great shows but AV1 set 2 is not at #11. Fun read though! #sand #getintothegroove #FishmanRules
Score: 2
drshaws Reply
drshaws I was pretty stoked that such a fine 2nd set came out of the tour opener - being present being a huge bonus. Carini > Ghost > Boogie gets at least one re-listen a week. Solid rankings. Being at both Worcester shows, totally agree on night two's second set rank - although might change the brew to say, Hamm's, Olympia, or Utica Club - classic brews great going down served cold, but certainly somewhat forgotten after consumption.
Score: 0
phunky58 Reply
@Kodiakfloyd said:
Alpine shows and set 2's should be ranked better. Funk and tight. Even the 6/30/12 Zero was Trey showing confidence and whipping out classic Jean Pierre Teases with a knock out punch. 6/30/12 Set 2 was full of funk and classic playing. Maybe you just had to be there to understand how funky it got and dance party. Many great shows but AV1 set 2 is not at #11. Fun read though! #sand #getintothegroove #FishmanRules
alpine's first night set 2 is either the best set of this tour or extremely close number 2 behind star lake. its not even close
Score: 3
Gandalf Reply
Gandalf @dscott said:
Putting 6/19 and 6/20 near the bottom makes this list questionable right off the bat. Put down the stopwatch and enjoy the other things that make Phish music special.

Haters gonna hate, those shows were awesome.

"Along with Bonnaroo, this is the only other show of tour that does not feature a jam worthy of a second listen"
Maze, cavern> fire has a ton of energy and the mexican cousin> slave to close is on point. Def worthy of a listen. U need to lock it up and tuck it in
Score: 3
Spirit Reply
Spirit the order i would rank them in, in shows i attended would be:

SPAC 1, SPAC 2, AC 2, AC 1, JB 2, SPAC 3, AC 3, JB 1
Score: 0
He_looks_too_much_like_Dave Reply
He_looks_too_much_like_Dave Great Post! I was hoping someone would provide some sort of ranking. This was well done and a great read. I thought Mikes Simple Light Groove was the best music of the tour.
Score: 0
ADAWGWYO Reply
ADAWGWYO @amberdawn said:
i love you all, but i just have to say i disagree with "ranking" anything. IMO this encourages comparison, and criticism saying one is better than the other, when we all know that every song, every show, every feeling is different for each individual and that it's not right to compare because they're all good for their own reasons. I'll never forget after my first show how everyone was talking about how it was the worst show of the tour, and it made me felt confused because it was my first show, it blew my mind away and I didn't understand why anybody would want to say anything BAD about it or "rank" it in any way. Anyways, peace and love phorever <3
Hippie
Score: 2
StStephen Reply
StStephen @Kodiakfloyd said:
Alpine shows and set 2's should be ranked better. Funk and tight. Even the 6/30/12 Zero was Trey showing confidence and whipping out classic Jean Pierre Teases with a knock out punch. 6/30/12 Set 2 was full of funk and classic playing. Maybe you just had to be there to understand how funky it got and dance party. Many great shows but AV1 set 2 is not at #11. Fun read though! #sand #getintothegroove #FishmanRules
Couldn't agree more. The entire set had a flow that few other sets from this tour matched, imo. All of Alpine was thundering to the grooves unleashed by Phish that night. There wasn't a single let down that whole set. Top 5 of the tour, easily.
Score: 2
makisupaman Reply
makisupaman These pretzels are making me thirsty....interesting (read: delicious and thirst-quenching) methodology presented here. What's so great about Phish 2012 as far as I can tell is that preference is starting to outweigh objectivity, so that one's preference for one show becomes more or less equally valid to another's preference for another show without much by way of objectivity to give the former more credence than the latter. In that case, could we possibly be reaching Phish 4.0? Thanks for your incredible effort here Chris, a fun read at the very least.

My minuscule contribution: Deer Creek night 1 as my favorite of four shows from DC> AV. 'Waves' and 'BOTT' from said night seem underemphasized in the review, which is certainly understandable considering the vast amount of awesome Chris attempted to review in one sitting.
Score: 1
phunky58 Reply
@StStephen said:
@Kodiakfloyd said:
Alpine shows and set 2's should be ranked better. Funk and tight. Even the 6/30/12 Zero was Trey showing confidence and whipping out classic Jean Pierre Teases with a knock out punch. 6/30/12 Set 2 was full of funk and classic playing. Maybe you just had to be there to understand how funky it got and dance party. Many great shows but AV1 set 2 is not at #11. Fun read though! #sand #getintothegroove #FishmanRules
Couldn't agree more. The entire set had a flow that few other sets from this tour matched, imo. All of Alpine was thundering to the grooves unleashed by Phish that night. There wasn't a single let down that whole set. Top 5 of the tour, easily.
absolutely thank you, i mean its not even close definite top two. also 7/3 should be bumped up a notch posibly two
Score: 0
MiguelSanchez Reply
MiguelSanchez @cglushko said:

Without bad shows, you can't have good shows. Without terrible shows, you can't have legendary shows. If you prefer to just take an "it's all good" attitude, more power to you. But for me, if every Phish show made me feel exactly the same, I might as well go on tour with Steve Miller.
I like this paragraph a lot. It should be perma plastered on the top of the forum!
Score: 1
llama Reply
Since we all now live in a tucked world... Lengthwise> maze from Portsmouth deserves a YouTube watch... Absolute fire phish
Score: 1
phootyjon Reply
phootyjon @tweezedout said:
They jammed psychadelically and hard 6 19...
i saw ten this leg - AC1-3, P-Town1-2, AFC North, DC1-2....and still to this day 6/19 was my favorite show of the tour. maybe not the best extendend jams but it was 100% pure unadulterated cock-rocking fun.

with that said - 7/3, 6/23, 6/7, 6/15&16 and 6/28 were the best on re-listens I had.
Score: 0
bouncin7 Reply
bouncin7 I like this list and agree the ANTELOPE from 7/3/12 was sicky icky wickedy - can't get it out of my mind or out of my minidisc player. I'll also say this, that first set HEAVY THINGS from 6/15/12 is breathtakingphish bubbles. WOW! If The Phish keep spawning like this, it's gonna be an interesting 2012 - 2013 - 2014 and beyond. I applaud the semi-new stuff BDTNL, JOY, STFTFP, Undermind, etc.
Score: 1
bertoletdown Phish.net Staff Reply
bertoletdown By the way, I have the best favorite color.

It's praple.
Score: 3
deBebbler Reply
deBebbler And DC1 wasn't Fishman's guitar debut. He rocked Rock-A-William on guitar at DC in 1997.

I know. I saw him do it.
Score: 2
planetneutral Reply
planetneutral @dscott said:
@tomthumb86 said:
Listing the DC1 Waves as "meat" and then Bug as "Achilles", thereby separating a complete and beautiful segment in a near perfect show into strength and weakness is absolute nonsense. If that Bug ruined your set you are really not allowing yourself to appreciate the show in front of you.
This is what a valid opinion looks like! :)
Co-signed.
Score: 1
smuggs Reply
smuggs best first set jam ? AC TUBE !
Score: 1
bearito Reply
Agree with most of your picks/order but I believe AC 1 deserves more love.

No mention of the AC Piper? I'd say that it was definitely "meaty" & next to SPAC's masterpiece, is my favorite Piper from tour.

Thanks for the analysis!

Bring on the first set rankings!

Score: 0
phunky58 Reply
@bearito said:
Agree with most of your picks/order but I believe AC 1 deserves more love.

No mention of the AC Piper? I'd say that it was definitely "meaty" & next to SPAC's masterpiece, is my favorite Piper from tour.

Thanks for the analysis!

Bring on the first set rankings!
spacs piper takes the cake then alpine is a definite second. I reallly enjoyed ac1 and was in attendance but they could of really went places with that second set especially if they didn't pull the chord on bott. oh well real good show neway best of ac imo
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bearito Reply
@phunky58 said:
@bearito said:
Agree with most of your picks/order but I believe AC 1 deserves more love.

No mention of the AC Piper? I'd say that it was definitely "meaty" & next to SPAC's masterpiece, is my favorite Piper from tour.

Thanks for the analysis!

Bring on the first set rankings!
spacs piper takes the cake then alpine is a definite second. I reallly enjoyed ac1 and was in attendance but they could of really went places with that second set especially if they didn't pull the chord on bott. oh well real good show neway best of ac imo
Will have to spin that Alpine Piper again. So many damn highlights!

I just love the whole band interplay on the AC Piper not to mention the crazy energy of the crowd with all the "Woo's" during the intro. Tons of fresh ideas getting tossed around like a hot potato, and that lick that trza starts playing at 4:50 or so is $$$$! While the BOTT is short, they slide into it beautifully, and the Heavy Things that follows is pure high octave Trey bliss imo. Twist> Piper is swanky! A pretty well played/placed Billy Breathes cool down followed by a late set surprise Sally, and a killer Bowie closer had me thrilled to be a witness. Yes, I am an AC 1 fluffer ;)
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DanceTheJig728 Reply
DanceTheJig728 Yeah I too agree that it is silly to factor out the first sets, but to each their own. First sets can really play a serious role on the outcome of the second set as we all know. The perfect example would be that if you factored in the first sets, 6/28 would be waaaay ahead of 6/29, maybe just my opinion though. But I agree with most of these rankings and appreciate the work and thought you put in! Really love how you last night of SPAC as #1, I almost felt like I was the only one who thought that second set was the best of tour! So spacey and psychedelic!
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nichobert Reply
nichobert "Bug is a tremendous tune whose soaring end is many times more powerful than any other "jam" tunes."

ANY other?
Wo-wo-Wow.

It doesn't matter, I guess. Harry Hood has a shank in a back alley for you though.
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nichobert Reply
nichobert IMO, bdtnl> Caspian-> mule was sublime. Shocked it fell so low.
I'd go Worcester 1, spac3, ac1, star lake, ac2, spac2, spac1

That AC heavy things is maybe my fav solo from this tour, weirdly enough
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dscott Reply
@nichobert said:
That AC heavy things is maybe my fav solo from this tour, weirdly enough
Trey's solo on the SPAC 7/6 Heavy Things is cut from the same cloth. Fluent, bubbling melodic majesty. The ideas just come pouring out at a dizzying pace, and they're all good ones. Really, really good ones! Nothing weird about calling either solo a favorite.
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johnnyd Phish.net Staff Reply
johnnyd @nichobert - Agreed on SPAC 2.
The BDtNL from 'Roo of all things is in my top 10 jams of the tour. Not kidding. Its so light and airy and fluid and delicate and connected. I'm personally over the cornyness of the song, I've been enjoying the instrumental part so much. Not a beer/pisser song for me at all.
And the SPAC version - shit, if that "drained the energy"...I dunno. Maybe start getting some exercise or eat some more vegetables or something.
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phunky58 Reply
Just wanted to throw this in there for all the BDTNL fans or haters. I happen to like the song alot. However if you hate the song or love it I strongly urge you to listen to the 8/17/10 version. by far the best version ever played. enjoy i sure did upon listening (this is no ordinary number line my friends)
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VBSteve Reply
VBSteve I think the Portsmouth shows are very underrated on this list!
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Rutherford_the_Brave Reply
listened to the excellent Waves > Bug > Bowie from Deer Creek 6/28 last night--does anyone else hear Mike tease Blister in the Sun at the beginning of Bowie? (0:11-0:12 on the SBD). I hadn't seen anyone point that out yet; I thought that was interesting in hindsight of SPAC.

love the Steve Miller reference within the context of the beer rankings. Excellent stuff.
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waxbanks Reply
waxbanks Charmingly, 'Mr Miner' at phishthoughts.com has another 'tiered ranking' of the summer's second sets. It's largely the same as this one -- his 'top tier,' for instance, is

[6/7, 6/15, 6/23, 6/28, 7/6]
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AlbanyYEM Reply
AlbanyYEM @waxbanks said:
Charmingly, 'Mr Miner' at phishthoughts.com has another 'tiered ranking' of the summer's second sets. It's largely the same as this one -- his 'top tier,' for instance, is

[6/7, 6/15, 6/23, 6/28, 7/6]
"charmingly" lmao
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rozboz Reply
Spac 1 for me is the highest energy set of phish I've heard in a long time ...it's had some spacey parts during carini, the sand is funky,punch you in the eye for me was a nice second set surprise , Sally pretty much all that needs to be said really ...one of my favorite post break up jams , ghost was rockin, then the antelope with Tom Marshall and pollack totally killer show and set !!! My favorite show of tour .. Just my thoughts
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aajder Reply
These rankings are really fun and informative, as is the commentary provided by the readers. I attended five shows so far this summer, and I felt like they were all great, with the exception of 7/7. I personally agree with the rankings put forth here, but I can also see why there are differing opinions. SPAC 3 is a great combination of classic and new tunes jammed out to completion, which is why I think it deserves to be on the top of this list. Other fans like other things, but this is the Phish that I love.
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phunky58 Reply
@AlbanyYEM said:
@waxbanks said:
Charmingly, 'Mr Miner' at phishthoughts.com has another 'tiered ranking' of the summer's second sets. It's largely the same as this one -- his 'top tier,' for instance, is

[6/7, 6/15, 6/23, 6/28, 7/6]
"charmingly" lmao
and it's a shame because both this review and mr miner's left alpine night 1 set 2 out of the top spots. i feel so strongly that star lake and alpine night 1 are neck and neck for the number one spot and both reviews dont even have alpine in the top tier so to say. Give alpine night 1 second set another listen, from begiininng to end just flows like no other with gream improv all the way through. the other shows they put at the top were good no doubt but they had a few realllly good moments or jams then came songs being cut short or just played straightforward with no risk taking. whereas alpine and star lake brought it from start to finish without these aspects
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headyburritos Reply
headyburritos awesome review! I have trouble keeping my favorite sets/songs from the tour in order in my head..it's always nice to see how someone else's 'best' stack up against mine. I'm going back through the tour right now and picking out some of these top jams..the only thing I would have changed would have been moving 6/7 up a little higher..for some reason that ghost> boogie on jam just gets me every time. cheers!
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ghostboogie Reply
ghostboogie really enjoyed this amusing read. nice job with the formatting and even handed commentary. a few ideas came to mind as i was reading this that i thought i'd share with you (fyi, while i've been listening as best as i can to all the leg one stuff, i only hit five shows this summer- JB -> SPAC):

1) seemed like you had trouble searching for SPAC night 1's "achilles heel..." well, for me, something that slightly killed momentum was the amount of repeats from JB night 1, just a few days earlier. i completely agree with you about the solid quality versions of songs throughout the set, but just like when you get a ballad and/or non-jamming tune in the second set, sometimes repeats can bring you down a little. like i knew the antelope wasn't gonna be anything near JB's jam-fest. same deal with sand (though in general, i'm not complaining as much about getting a 3.0 sand any night). chalkdust set 2 opener again? i don't know, i flew across the country to catch phish's last 5 shows of their tour, expected few repeats, and got LOTS. i know that they surpassed their 200 song goal, but to some extent i'd rather hear them play multiple versions of the more rare tunes than play 6-8 versions of the most common 3.0 go-to's...

2) IMHO, star lake's light still holds up as the jam of the tour. as a fan who is consistently rooting for the band night after night, i really don't think that anything else from this leg got to that level. and to add on to the "x-factor," let's go to the videotape (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjsO6qbQVvQ&feature=plcp#t=26m16s), where kuroda absolutely kills it. a true fifth member of the band level sequence here... however, it seems like ck5 killing it is just standard op's these days. anyway, for this jam alone (and i don't even have to go to the sick paug, et. al. to make this claim), i'd put star lake as #1. but #1 vs. #2 is small potatoes i guess. clearly you dig the show.

3) sadly, the "achilles heel" for JB night 3 had to do with my personal expectations. i think sometimes this is something we all have the capacity to struggle with from time to time, but it really hurt me that night. so much so, i might rank it as my least favorite show of the five nights i saw phish (maybe one notch above JB night 1). for some examples, here are a few things that got to me- to not get a reba or a divided sky, after they had only played the former twice and the latter ONCE all tour, after seeing 5 sequential phish shows was unprecedented IMO. i could've used a theme too (again, only played twice this tour)... also with a last show of tour, especially in 3.0 (closing it out on their home turf venue, no less), there's the possibility of them busting out the big guns. harpua, icculus, forbin's -> mockingbird... welp, i guess not this leg. so, in other words, song selection can sometimes hold you back from getting there. perhaps that idea might thematically sum up a downside of this tour. there's some great stuff in there, of course, but in no way are they entering a new "era" as some people like to say... 4.0?! give me a break. none of this stuff is even 3.5, 'fellas (and personally, i still don't think we've gotten anything close to as epic as the gorge rock & roll. honorable mentions being tahoe's light, and CO's tweezer last summer). for most of us, it takes the band going WAY deep for the show to get there, and frankly, they just haven't been doing that. hopefully that's what will happen in leg 2, and we'll get less odd choices in our second sets, less songs in general in our second sets, and a willingness to taking it out there.

4) last but not least, and on a slightly unrelated note, i hadn't ever had heady topper until SPAC night 2 post-show. as beer-snobby as i've become living on the west coast these last 5 years, heady topper stands up to any beer i've ever tasted. truly a top quality american beer... i mean, with this one brew alone, the east coast really gains some serious relevancy/notoriety, which as a former east coaster, pleases me. so yeah, between SPAC night 2 and following the show up with a few of my first heady toppers, it was basically like i was cumming all night. you know, like arnold in pumping iron?
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AlumniBlues420 Reply
just curious would only picking the 2nd sets of shows this run have anything to do with Deer Creeks and night 2 alpine set 1 being severe heat???

just curious tho like set 1 creeks blow shows out of the water same with set 1 alpine night 2 but lets not talk about those sets lol.....

just seems weird u focused just on the 2nds sets lol but I guess it works whats next nastiest first sets from leg 1? oh but then you'd have to show respect to the midwest shows lol
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AlumniBlues420 Reply
@Rutherford_the_Brave said:
listened to the excellent Waves > Bug > Bowie from Deer Creek 6/28 last night--does anyone else hear Mike tease Blister in the Sun at the beginning of Bowie? (0:11-0:12 on the SBD). I hadn't seen anyone point that out yet; I thought that was interesting in hindsight of SPAC.

love the Steve Miller reference within the context of the beer rankings. Excellent stuff.
thats not blister in the sun thats just mike messing with his bass.. I hear slightly what you mean but no thats him just getting his notes ready. like stretching out lol

you forgot Prince Caspian, Waves> bug> Bowie

Caspian is a song that wears on people. Its an amazing song when played to full potential but it also has alot of potential for spaciness and also when its bad its bad.... but this caspian was 4mins 50secs long and non stop beautiful caspian jamming (obv if you get passed the first 40secs lyrics I mean) so again relisten to this caspian as it is amazing to me. I wish all caspians would be like this short and powerful. Both nights creek were amazing. They fell short of epic but who cares they were still amazing shows. and their first sets crush same with night 2 alpine...
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AlumniBlues420 Reply
and to the author of this thread

you say 6-28-12 caspian and bug stop the second set from having any momentum after a nasty mikes groove

well you obviously didnt listen to caspian or bug from this show sir....

caspian for caspian is one of the better versions and also with bug?

to hate on these versions of each song to me you are just hating on the song / placement of the song. trust me i wanted a YEM to after the groove but once it didnt come I was very happy with the well played caspian and bug!! re listen for me ok... especially to caspian what more are you gonna expect from a caspian again you are purely hating on the song prince caspian and the 2nd set placement as this song (which isnt even 5mins lol) is very very well played probaly best 3.0 caspian sir
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towerhippie Reply
Wait what?! THAT was the number one set??? That was among the weaker sets I've ever heard. The band sounded out of sync. They did jam a little more, but they never seemed to get on the same page. They sounded tired (and in their defense, that's absolutely understandable!). My fiance, my long-time friend with whom I've seen god-only-knows-how-many shows, and I all left rather disappointed. We weren't alone. I saw a lot of people leave early. I'm surprised to see this set ranked as number 1. I know a lot of people thought SPAC 3 was the best of bunch, so I figured the set would rank higher than where I'd palce it, but to see it at number 1 is shocking. Personally, I don't get it.
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joonze Reply
joonze Interesting way to look at and compare sets like like beers...
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tanner3422 Reply
man, you really hate on fluffhead
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tanner3422 Reply
and i think Spac night 1 was better than spac night 3
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downwithvito Reply
downwithvito Disagree on the best weekapaug of 3.0 that belongs to the one from 12/29/11 for sure.
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FACTSAREUSELESS Reply
Opening and ending shows of the run seemed to me to be the best.

But like I've said before, Phish is like sex....when it's good it's really good and when it's bad it's still pretty damn good.
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tweezedout Reply
someone probably already said this but portsmouth shows although not long jams had incredible energy....the SOAM from portsmouth was one of my favorite moments of this summer tour...
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