Phish’s Top 10 Jams of 2010, Part 1

Phish’s sophomore year after returning from the grave brought many moments of improvisational excellent, but some stand clearly above the others.  While 2009 had many great jams, 2010 was the year where things really started to take off in a new direction.  After listening to virtually every show of the year, I’ve compiled a list of the cream of the crop from the past year.


#10 – “Down With Disease->What’s the Use?” – 8/14/2010 – Alpine Valley Music Center, East Troy, WI

In the second frame of the weekend in dairy country, Phish threw down a classic piece of modern rock improv.  The jam left its rock and roll roots, launching into the cosmic realm before the band shifted gears yet again.  Before anyone had realized it, they had arrived in “What’s the Use” absolutely seamlessly.  While June contained many awkward transitions, this perfectly executed segue showed the improvement a few months can make.

#9 – “Light” – 10/19/2010 – Augusta Civic Center, Augusta, ME

The improvisational MVP of the year brought a new style of dance to Augusta, Maine this past fall.  Until this point, most “Light” jams had a slower, ethereal feel to them, this one had a more punctuated rhythm, foreshadowing the jams of the new years run.  The band bounced musical ideas around like a ping pong ball before landing in a bouncy dance groove for the remainder of the jam.

#8 “Simple”  – 8/6/2010 – The Greek Theater, Berkeley, CA

After the groundbreaking “Cities” jam in the first set, Phish delighted their fans in the Bay that night with the most exploratory piece of improv of the era at that point.  As the traditional “Simple” jam ended, the band pushed forward into the unknown, surprising everyone, as “Simple” had remained grounded to its roots until this point.  Sculpting a beautiful piece of music that could fit any era, the Greek Simple was the turning point at which many fans realize that they really had their band back.

#7 “Crosseyed and Painless” – 10/16/2010 – North Charleston Colliseum, North Charleston, SC

After a breakthrough first set in a tour that was lacking creativity, Phish blindsided everyone by opening the second set with “Crosseyed and Painless,” delivering the most powerful version of the era.  Demolishing the structured jam, Trey displayed his regained dexterity and prowess on his new axe.  Reprising the lyrics twice during the jam, “Crosseyed” left everyone in the room ready for a breather by the time the ambience bled into the next song.

#6 “Backwards Down the Number Line” – 8/17/2010 – Jones Beach Amphitheater, Wantagh, NY

When the opening chords of “Number Line” were strummed over the PA mid second set, many fans sighed as the song rarely contained any true improvisation.  However, Phish stunned the audience delivering one of the most soaring and majestic pieces of music they have crafted in years.  Trey’s delicate guitar work created a beautiful melody as Fishman’s mechanical drumming created a deep pocket for full band creativity.  Fully arriving in the stratosphere as few jams do, this one proved all the naysayers wrong.


The top five jams will be presented next…


~ by louisvillejams on March 22, 2011.

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