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On Phish and Super Bowls

Posted 2 years ago by lumpblockclod - 46 comments Link: http://phi.sh/b/510e913b

It’s Super Bowl Sunday, which, as a football fan, is exciting and, as an Eagles fan, mildly depressing. Football, so they say, is a game of inches. A broken tackle, errant pass or missed field goal often is the difference between winning and losing a game. If Eli Manning doesn’t make two of the greatest/luckiest plays in Super Bowl history, Tom Brady has five Lombardi trophies. The flip side of that is that if Adam Vinatieri was never a Patriot maybe Mr. Bündchen has none.

So, what does this all have to do with Phish? Well, not terribly much, if I’m honest. But I was thinking this morning how most sports fans view football teams by how many championships they’ve won... who came through the most often in the big game. What if we viewed Phish songs that way?

I know, I know, there are no winners and losers among Phish shows. Fair point, but you were warned, this is a tenuous analogy at best. But here’s the thought experiment. Let’s pretend we made a playoff bracket of the best Phish jams for every year and voted on them until we had a “Super Bowl” matchup for that year. What songs would appear in the most Super Bowls? Who would “win” the most? And how would the best jam played on “Any Given Sunday” compare to what we thought of as the “best” song for a given year?

Ok, so that seems like a lot of trouble. Luckily, I’ve gone ahead and come up with some mythical “Phish Bowl” matchups for each year since 1993 (think of the pre-’93 years as the NFL/AFL years of Phish). I’ve also declared “winners” for each year. Now, understand, you can and should disagree with nearly everything that follows. I’ve tried to pick what I think are the consensus “best” jams for each year, even if they aren’t necessarily my favorites. But even doing that is a fool’s errand. (Don’t believe me... name the two “best” jams from 1997. Not easy, right?) So, without further ado, onto the games...

Phish Bowl I (‘93): In the inaugural Phish Bowl, the 8/13/93 “Gin” wins comfortably over the 2/20/93 “Mike’s.” So, that’s our “Super Bowl,” but it would be hard to argue that “Gin” was a better played song over the course of 1993 than “Mike’s Song.” In fact, “Mike’s” is probably the most consistently well-played song of the year with fantastic versions played on 2/20/93, 5/8/93, 8/13/93, 8/16/93 and 12/30/93. Still, it made the big game, but came up just short.

Phish Bowl II (‘94): I have this one scored as 12/29/94 “Bowie” by a touchdown over the 11/28/94 “Tweezer.” Again though, it’s probably hard to make a case for anything other than “Tweezer” being the song of ‘94. Still, we’re matching up pretty well.

Phish Bowl III (‘95): Unlike Super Bowl III, the favored 12/9/95 “YEM” wins this one as Tweezer (12/2/95) comes up short once again. And “YEM” is almost certainly the song of 1995, so we have our first year the PB champ is also the consensus best song of the year. Having said that, “YEM” does have one thing in common with Jets winning the real Super Bowl III... we won’t be seeing it again the rest of this column. Y-E-M! YEM! YEM! YEM!

Phish Bowl IV (‘96): I’m calling this one 11/2/96 “Crosseyed” over 11/7/96 “Gin.” If we were matching up the best songs over the course of the year, though, it would be a nail biter with “DWD” edging out “Simple” on the last play of the game (12/31/96 III).

Phish Bowl V (‘97): Good lord, it was damn near impossible to narrow this one down to two jams, but I’m gonna say 11/22/97 “Halley’s” wins this over the 8/17/97 “Gin.” Remember, I’m trying to nail down the consensus favorites, not my personal favorites (which would be just as hard, but would not include either of those). Song of the year is a much easier pick: “Ghost” by a mile, though none of 7/3/97, 7/23/97 or 11/17/97 had enough juice to make it to the big game, making it two years in a row that the “best” song didn’t win our mythical “Phish Bowl.”

Phish Bowl VI (‘98): 4/3/98 “Roses” wins a nail-biter over the 7/29/98 “Gin.” Personally, I’d flip the result of this one, but people love them some Island Tour “Roses.” “Bathtub Gin” is almost certainly the best played song of 1998, though, with epic versions occurring on 7/20, 7/29, 11/9 and 11/29. It did make it to the final game, though and arguably lost on a blown call.

Phish Bowl VII (‘99): I’m giving this one to the 9/14/99 “AC/DC Bag” over the [insert best jam from Big Cypress here... I’ll go with 12/31/99 “Drowned.”] It’s tough to pick a “best” song of ‘99 (maybe because it’s not my favorite year), but I think I have to go with “Sand,” even if it didn’t debut until the Fall. So this is another year where the “best” song didn’t make it to the final two, although a case could be made that “Sand” was, in fact, the best song from Big Cypress.

Phish Bowl VIII (‘00): Another close one as the 7/4/00 “Jibboo” edges the 5/22/00 “Ghost.” You could argue this one either way but “Jibboo” feels like the closest thing to a breakout song of 2000, so let’s call it the winner (and the second time the “best” song wins the Phish Bowl).

Phish Bowl IX (‘03): Another near-impossible year but I have the 7/29/03 “Crosseyed” coming in as our first two-time champ (who saw that coming?) over perennial bridesmaid 2/28/03 “Tweezer.” For my money I’ll take the Viper over either, but there you have it. As far as “best” song of ‘03, I’d have to go with “Seven Below,” although the tour de force of set-opening “Pipers” from ‘03 make a strong case. Don’t worry, “Piper” fans, its big day will come. “Tweezer” fans, on theother hand, should be worried... their “team” is 0-3 in the Phish Bowl.

Phish Bowl X (‘04): The 6/19/04 “Piper” takes down the 8/10/04 “Birds.” Some would call for an asterisk on this strike-shortened season, but the 6/19/04 “Piper” juggernaut would win many other years comfortably. It’s difficult to pick a “best” song of a year with only 16 shows, but it’s probably “Twist,” with outstanding versions from 4/16/04 and 6/20/04 just missing the cut for the big game.

Phish Bowl XI (‘09): Six years after it’s breakout season, the 11/28/09 “Seven Below” takes the prize over its set-mate the 11/28/09 “Ghost,” dropping “Ghost” to 0-2 in the big game. If we had a rule against teams from the same division playing in the Phish Bowl, the 8/7/09 “Sally” would fill in for the Albany “Ghost.” Either way, “best” song of the year is probably “Light.”

Phish Bowl XII (‘10): The 12/31/10 “Ghost” finally breaks through with a narrow win over the 6/25/10 “Chalk Dust.” Some may criticize the “Ghost” as one-dimensional, but the strengthof its power game on the ground was unparalleled and “Ghost is probably also the “best” song in a year where it’s hard to pick one.

Phish Bowl XIII (‘11): The 8/5/11 “Rock and Roll” edges out the 6/3/11 “Disease.” Amazingly, this is the first time “DWD” has made the big game. Sadly it came up just short, in this matchup of what are also the two “best” songs of the year (and “R&R” wins that one, too). First time that’s happened since Phish Bowl III all the way back in 1995.

Phish Bowl XIV (‘12): “Light is both the “best” song of the year and also our mythical Phish Bowl winner with the 9/1/12 rendition laying the smackdown on what -- amazingly -- has become the Buffalo Bills of this little exercise, the 12/28/12 “Tweezer.” Oh and Four for the mighty “Tweezer.”

If you’ve made it this far, I applaud both your stamina and your insanity. What are our take-aways? In 14 Phish Bowls the “best” song of the year has won the Phish Bowl five times (‘95, ‘00, ‘10, ‘11 and ‘12) and made it to the big game an additional three times (‘93, ‘94 and ‘98). Our only two-time champ is “Crosseyed and Painless.” Does anyone consider that the “best” song in Phish’s repertoire? Meanwhile, heavyweights “Tweezer” and “Bathtub Gin” are a combined 1-7 in the Phish Bowl. So suck on that, Steelers fans.

Comments

TheEmu Phish.net Staff Reply
TheEmu This must mean Trey went wide right at the Roxy.
Score: 7
n00b100 Reply
n00b100 This was an enjoyable read, even though I had an actual visceral physical reaction to seeing anything, let alone an (admittedly nice) Jibboo defeating the almighty RCMH Ghost. Also don't think that Bowie's the jam of 1994, but I remain in the minority on that one. Well done, OP. Agree with lots of the "song of the year" picks.
Score: 2
lumpblockclod Phish.net Staff Reply
lumpblockclod Yeah, the Jibboo/Ghost matchup definitely went to OT. And I like the Ghost better myself.
Score: 2
theUNITmonster Reply
theUNITmonster Fun and interesting read! I have often felt this way about whole shows though. Like when I went to MSG for the first time this past year. The whole first and second set felt like a most epic battle of type 1 & 2. Then when all the balloons and confetti dropped, I felt like my favorite team and i had just won the Super Bowl. And for the 2 minutes of ALS I knew what drew brees felt like in Miami. It was the time of my life!
Score: 1
maddyb4me Reply
maddyb4me As a Steelers fan (no reason I am stating this, other than- 6 rings baby!) I agree with the 2012 Phish Bowl. With so many great jams this past year- I find myself listening to the Dick's Light more than most anything else. I am still just as in love with this version as I was when I webcast back in September. There are many unique layers to this jam, and genres too. I hear funky beats, insects beautifully taking flight, and hard AC/DC rock n' Roll! I love how this jam weaves from one style to next in perfect harmony!

I am putting 20$ on Mike's for a return to yester-year as the Song of '13... Jam this one out boys! (I am also putting 20$ on the Steelers to make a return to the Super Bowl next year!)
Score: 1
diddulus Reply
For the '97 Bowl, how could we overlook the mighty Bowie > Cities > Bowie from Ventura, CA? That was the hotness!!!
Score: 0
lumpblockclod Phish.net Staff Reply
lumpblockclod @maddyb4me said:
I am putting 20$ on Mike's for a return to yester-year as the Song of '13... Jam this one out boys! (I am also putting 20$ on the Steelers to make a return to the Super Bowl next year!)
I'll take those bets. I'd be happy to be out $20 to be proven wrong on the first one. Besides, the second bet is money in the bank. Steelers are getting old and Roethlisberger must have the body of a 50 year old at this point.
Score: 3
fluffhead108 Reply
fluffhead108 I lost some serious coin on the 11.17.97 Ghost. It seemed like a shoo-in!
Score: 1
kidrob Reply
kidrob i really enjoyed this. if anything, tweezer gets snubbed in 2010. i think that 12/30/10 Tweezer is better than the NYE ghost. I also think the 6/11/10 Ghost is better than the NYE ghost. everyone has their own opinions though. i also think it's tough not to have Reba in one of the first two super bowls (possibly even the third). however, i cannot argue with the 94 matchup either as i agree it is a big year for bowie and tweezer.
Score: 4
kidrob Reply
kidrob @TheEmu said:
This must mean Trey went wide right at the Roxy.
trey "norwood" anastasio
Score: 3
TheWaves Reply
As a Buffalonian, I say: "Aw c'mon man! Why you gotta throw us under the bus with that last line?!" By and large I agree with you findings though. Fun read!
Score: 1
Jonese Reply
This was an incredibly pointless and ridiculously entertaining exercise! Best waste of 10 minutes I've had in awhile! Enjoy the super bowl everyone!
Score: 2
ckess22 Reply
ckess22 The broncos should still be in the Super Bowl...where's my 'the horse' jam?
Score: 0
telascomet Reply
telascomet I really liked this read but the great went Gin should of had the win. Tweezerfest can't be beat even though 94' bowies are mind blowing. None the less i was looking for some Reba although a short jam section halloween 94' was a good contender. Excited for this summer,and can't wait for some ground breaking jams this year is gonna jam like non other.
Score: 0
telascomet Reply
telascomet So accurate i missed this comment because mine pretty much says the same thing.@kidrob said:
i really enjoyed this. if anything, tweezer gets snubbed in 2010. i think that 12/30/10 Tweezer is better than the NYE ghost. I also think the 6/11/10 Ghost is better than the NYE ghost. everyone has their own opinions though. i also think it's tough not to have Reba in one of the first two super bowls (possibly even the third). however, i cannot argue with the 94 matchup either as i agree it is a big year for bowie and tweezer.
Score: 0
peteyb Reply
peteyb Just jacked and pumped to have been at the gorge r n' r, holy crap that was awesome. Beautiful venue too, came out from Boston and was blown away by the venue. First set first night was tight, boys were playing great and we were taking in the scene at the top of the hill. Moved down to see some UMass folks at the setbreak and then lost my mind when the spaceship took off after #line. Show of life was show of life, but it does tend to show up at a lot of the great shows I go to. Second night was good too, but man, nothing like the spaceship of the rockstickboogie (and farmhouse was cool too).
Score: 0
telascomet Reply
telascomet Ignore tweezer fest comment over looked the date. Bozeman is a great version though.@telascomet said:
I really liked this read but the great went Gin should of had the win. Tweezerfest can't be beat even though 94' bowies are mind blowing. None the less i was looking for some Reba although a short jam section halloween 94' was a good contender. Excited for this summer,and can't wait for some ground breaking jams this year is gonna jam like non other.
Score: 0
Guelah34 Reply
Guelah34 No love for IT Waves?
Score: 1
Fluffyfluffyhead Reply
Fluffyfluffyhead Great read after my team lost today. I love your Jets/YEM chant thing and letting 8/7/09 Sally slide in. AND,,, Mr. Bündchen... HAHA! Nice job!

I guess the Bethel soundcheck Waves doesn't count? The jam is Type II+

GO NINERS!
Score: 0
cerqs Reply
cerqs Stash> Manteca> Dog Faced Boy> Stash wins the 95' SB
Score: 2
GottaJibboo Reply
GottaJibboo As LBC stated, we could and should disagree with the winners. That said, I think most of the contenders are spot on. I agree with others and wish Reba was represented somehow. The only strong disagreement I have is Phish Bowl VIII and how the 6/29/00 Drowned-> RnR was left out. It's close, but I believe it tops both the Jibboo and Ghost. I was in attendance for the Drowned-> RnR as well as the Jibboo. And have listened to the Ghost countless times. No doubt all are fantastic, but I gotta give the edge to the 6/29/00 Set I closer.

Great waste of time on a Monday morning, thanks LBC!
Score: 0
lumpblockclod Phish.net Staff Reply
lumpblockclod For the record, I made a point to only include single songs. I didn't want to have split "winners" in this already pointless exercise. Hence, no Drowned > R&R, which I also prefer to both the Jibboo and Ghost.
Score: 0
lumpblockclod Phish.net Staff Reply
lumpblockclod Also, no MJ today, folks. Sorry.
Score: 1
newbornelph Reply
Fun read...Gin got robbed in '98!!!
Score: 0
ucpete Reply
ucpete @lumpblockclod said:
Also, no MJ today, folks. Sorry.
Glad to hear I can stop refreshing ;)
Score: 0
toddwcorey Reply
Our only two-time champ is “Crosseyed and Painless.” Does anyone consider that the “best” song in Phish’s repertoire? Meanwhile, heavyweights “Tweezer” and “Bathtub Gin” are a combined 1-7 in the Phish Bowl. So suck on that, Steelers fans.

If Pittsburgh were a two-time champ, your point would be valid. But six times? And back-to-back twice? The Eagles are the Dog Logs (yes, that's a Michael Vick reference) of the league.

Sorry to turn this into a football post.
Score: 0
BigPimpinNYC Reply
BigPimpinNYC @toddwcorey said:
Our only two-time champ is �Crosseyed and Painless.� Does anyone consider that the �best� song in Phish�s repertoire? Meanwhile, heavyweights �Tweezer� and �Bathtub Gin� are a combined 1-7 in the Phish Bowl. So suck on that, Steelers fans.

If Pittsburgh were a two-time champ, your point would be valid. But six times? And back-to-back twice? The Eagles are the Dog Logs (yes, that's a Michael Vick reference) of the league.

Sorry to turn this into a football post.
Crosseyed isn't even a Phish song, that's like Wade Boggs winning a WS for the Yankees
Score: 2
MiguelSanchez Reply
MiguelSanchez good times. nice work. i would call mike's song the song of the year in '95, but that's just like my opinion man. can't really formulate a sound argument against yem either...

Score: 0
Spirit Reply
Spirit whos the Eli Manning of Phish?
Score: 0
Fitz2001 Reply
Fitz2001 Philadelphia Eagles = "Possum", you would have expected a mention or two , but still no hardware.
Score: 1
kipmat Reply
kipmat @MiguelSanchez said:
i would call mike's song the song of the year in '95, but that's just like my opinion man.
I second this opinion. Mike's Song earned a lot of "wins" in 1995. The 12/31/95 Mike's must've lost in an upset in the conference championship.

Also, Piper came on strong at the end of '00, but didn't make it to the Bowl, while in '09 DWD was probably a early favorite that faded down the stretch. I suppose sometimes it's about "peaking" at the right time ;)
Score: 1
mcgrupp81 Reply
I enjoyed this post. I know a few fans, some who have gone to shows since 92, who believe that the Hood from 12-30-95 is the best piece of music Phish has ever produced. I can't say I agree, or that it is the best jam of 95, but I thought it might get a shout out.
Score: 0
earlytimes Reply
Not only is the 12/30/95 Hood not the best piece of music Phish has ever produced, but it's not even the greatest Hood of all time. 12/31/93 Hood is (and THAT is the greatest piece of music they've ever produced)...but agree to disagree.
Score: 0
YaMer Reply
@kidrob said: [quote]i really enjoyed this. if anything, tweezer gets snubbed in 2010. i think that 12/30/10 Tweezer is better than the NYE ghost.".

Totally agree. Already listened to that Tweezer once today. So glad I saw it!!!!
Score: 0
mcgrupp81 Reply
@earlytimes said:
Not only is the 12/30/95 Hood not the best piece of music Phish has ever produced, but it's not even the greatest Hood of all time. 12/31/93 Hood is (and THAT is the greatest piece of music they've ever produced)...but agree to disagree.
I used to drink you in college! I've actually been listening to that NYE 93 Hood a lot lately. I'm also partial to 4/10/94 and 12/5/95. Killer versions.

I've listened to enough Phish to know what really good Phish sounds like, but I do not even have a smidgen of the musical knowledge necessary to say what would qualify as the best performance of all time. There are different theories on what constitutes beauty and depending on which theory you most adhere to when making a decision like that, you could vote for a perfectly played Foam instead of an exploratory jam.
Score: 0
Ravinus Reply
Crosseyed disqualified for performance enhancing drug use. It's a cover. Same goes for Rock and Roll, Roses, Drowned...The Jets don't get credit for the Giants wins. Just sayin.
Score: 1
toddwcorey Reply
The Jets don't get credit for the Giants wins!!!!!! Best sentence ever!!!!
Score: 0
curleyfrei Reply
curleyfrei @TheWaves said:
As a Buffalonian, I say: "Aw c'mon man! Why you gotta throw us under the bus with that last line?!" By and large I agree with you findings though. Fun read!

Seconded.

We know our team sucks. No need for reminders!
Score: 0
bobstar Reply
I know I'm late to the show in commenting on this fun exercise in the world of Phish and let me also say that The years I saw the most Phish were 97-200. I wanted to bring up what I think is the most hidden gem from 1998, 8-3 Deer Creek Gumbo 2nd set opener. Not to say that this is better than the Island tour Roses or St. Louie Gin but it's for sure worth giving a good listen to.
Score: 0
GitDown Reply
After seeing most of what they played (in the US anyway) in '97-'99, I was burnt out a bit and saw no shows in '00. I'm so ignorant of this "season," but I absolutely love the 7/4 Jibboo and am surprised to read that it's not a runaway favorite. This just means I need to check out some "NFL Films," as it were.

Shame that sandwiches like the Sugarbush '94 Antelope> Catapult> Antelope and Ventura '97 Bowie> Cities> Bowie are DQ'ed, for I'd think they'd be contenders in admittedly strong years.

And what about the dark horse out of nowhere Alpine '99 Fluffhead?

And then I must be alone in this one because I haven't seen it mentioned at all, but I thought the Camden '09 Sand was far and away the best thing I heard that year, and I damn sure wore a 20-minute hole into that moat. And that soundcheck Waves is like the practice team beating the pants off the gameday squad. Incredible, but sadly doesn't qualify.
Score: 0
iandisoftheworld Reply
iandisoftheworld I'd say the Gin from 08/07/09 deserves mention, in fact if I was to do my personal 2009, it would be 08/07/09 Sally vs 08/07/09 Gin.

06/3/11 DWD wins my vote over 08/05/11 Rock and Roll, although both were fucking outstanding. I am fortunate to have been able to catch both of those.
Score: 0
mgouker Reply
mgouker The Stash from Orlando 95 was spectacular. I love the Albany YEM and the Tweezer from Dayton, but this Stash is unique enough that it should have won. Also, it's silly that the Great Went Gin doesn't win. That game was thrown.
Score: 0

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