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If this is the first you’re hearing about the Ultimate Phish NerdgasmTM, stop now and go read (and listen to) Part 1 before going any further.
Last week we unveiled the bracket for what we’ve termed the Ultimate Phish Nerdgasm, a March Madness-style tournament where Chris Glushko, Steve Olker and I perform a public service and tell all of you what the best Phish jam of all-time is because, as Chris eloquently put it, “Nobody votes on Type II Cast. We tell you what's better." Of course we say that tongue planted firmly in cheek, but we do hope you appreciate our attempt to rank the unrankable. If you haven’t yet listened to the podcast and would like to do so spoiler-free, I recommend heading over to typeiicast.com and streaming the podcast. If you have already listened, a recap follows after the jump...
The first two rounds of the Ultimate Phish Nerdgasm were a veritable bloodbath as we reduced the field of 64 down to our Sweet 16. Are these the best 16 jams Phish has ever played? In a word, no. Setting aside the fact that our self-imposed rules (and, some would say, our poor judgment) kept some amazing jams out of the final 64, the way the seedings worked out meant some otherworldly jams got caught in the crossfire while others managed to skate through against lesser competition. For more on that, we’ll break it down region by region:
Most Exciting Matchup: One of the most exciting matchups in the first round saw the 11/23/97 “Gin” overpower the 6/26/04 “Boogie On” -> “Ghost.” Either of these jams would have been worthy representatives in the Sweet 16, yet only one made it out of the first round. Unfortunately, the celebration was short-lived for the “Gin,” as it ran straight into the jaws of the “Viper” in the second round.
Biggest Upset: On paper there wasn’t one as all eight higher seeds advanced. But the fact that the 8/19/12 “Crosseyed” -> “Light” -> “Sally” -> “Crosseyed” unanimously took down a Fall ‘97 power in the form of the 11/19/97 “Wolfman’s Brother” has to be seen as at least something of an upset.
Most Exciting Matchup: When “Tweezer” goes up against “Tweezer,” fans are always in for an exciting matchup. Had this been strictly a battle between “Tweezers,” the 2/28/03 Nassau version might have prevailed. But, the 12/6/97 Auburn Hills masterpiece brought “Izabella” along for the ride and her funk jam was enough to put the “Tweezabella” over the top.
Biggest Upset: The biggest upset of the entire tournament took place in the Midwest Region as the much-maligned 8/15/04 Coventry “Melt” played the part of the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles taking down the second seeded 11/23/94 “Tweezer.” Few saw it coming, but a jam from Coventry, of all places, can claim to be one of the top 32 jams in Phishtory. Or the Ultimate Phish Nerdgasm anyway.
Most Exciting Matchup: So many to choose from in the South Regional, but for my money it’s the 7/10 2.0 duel between the 7/29/03 Star Lake “Crosseyed” and the 6/20/04 SPAC “Drowned.” Neither of these jams takes its foot off the gas for even a second, but the “Drowned” emerged a 2-1 winner. Was it because of this video? We can’t rule it out.
Biggest Upset: The Big Cypress representative (12/31/99 “Melt” -> “Catapult”) bowing out in the first round has to be considered a major upset, even if it lost to a jam from another power conference, the Island Tour “Twist.”
Most Exciting Matchup: In what was termed a battle between good and evil the sunshine and rainbows of the 8/13/97 “Gumbo” prevailed over the unholy jam of the night, the 4/16/04 “Twist.” While everyone likes to root for good, let’s be honest: it won on a blown call.
Biggest Upset: On paper, it’s the sixth seeded 8/10/97 “Cities” unseating the 12/14/95 “Halley’s” -> “NICU” -> “Slave.” Really, though, the Radio City Ghost not making it into the Sweet 16 has to be considered among the biggest upsets of the tournament, but that’s exactly what happened courtesy of the 12/29/95 “Real Gin.”
Toughest Road to the Final Four: At this point there are no easy matchups left, but the East Regional looks particularly brutal, with four jams that would all be worthy representatives in the Final Four. For any of the lower seeds to pull it off, though, they’ll need to survive the 40 Minutes of Hell that is the 12/29/94 “Bowie.”
Smoothest Road to the Final Four: Again, there aren’t any easy matchups left but, if forced to pick one, if nothing else, the Albany “YEM” won’t have to take down a number two seed on its way to the Final Four.
Finally, don’t forget to tune in next week when we complete the Nerdgasm and declare the Greatest Phish Jam of All-Time.
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