The twenty best versions of Phish classics
Phish just finished a stunning run of shows on the East Coast last week in which the band debuted new material. While the new tunes will no doubt inspire much debate, the band's already sprawling archive of performances provides endless fodder for discussions of which versions are the best. Admittedly, there are probably as many amazing renditions as there are individual opinions and preferences, based on everything from longest renditions to most exploratory. And obviously, there are multiple online communities that have spent years dedicated to haggling over this very thing. Nonetheless, drawing upon all our years of Phish fanaticism, here's a list of the twenty best versions of Phish classics.
See also: Phish's twenty most interesting covers
20. "You Enjoy Myself" - Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, CO, 6/11/94
The compositional part of the song is played with high energy; Mike Gordon's bouncy bass keeps a hard funk beat, as Anastasio hits every cue with swagger, sliding the notes in time with a bluesy rock feel. The guys step into the improvisational part carefully, with Fishman keeping a tight and steady rhythm as sustained guitar chords build tension and release into a great rock and roll solo, breaking down to a slapping bass line. The vocal jam starts out boisterous with straight beat-boxing and ends on a choral high note.
19. "Carini" - Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, 12/30/12
This dark "Carini" was a surprise, as the hard rocking song hadn't been properly jammed out in a while. The band devolves into sounds of primordial ooze, bringing in different effects and pedals, with Kuroda even darkening the lights to go with the sinister dark jam.
18. "Simple" - Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis, TN, 11/18/1996
This version is a really joyful rendition, both vocally and in spirit. The drums chug along forcefully as Fishman keeps the hi-hat beat steady, and high notes are hit and laughed about on the microphones. The tempo goes down a notch, as a triangle is hit, and McConnell plays with key. Trey makes his guitar roar like a tiger, bringing the song to the prettiest highest peak before dying down gently.
17. "David Bowie" - Providence Civic Center, Providence, RI, 12/29/94
This version really showcases how psychedelic and weird the band could get in this era. Transitioning out of "Guyute" with a "Digital Delay Loop Jam" that is quick and prog-rock-ish, Fishman brings the signature hi-hat intro in, while things stay weird for a while before launching into the song. As the guys get past the verses, they quickly go off the deep end. Trey's guitar tone sounds sinister as Fishman keeps the steady "Bowie" beat swelling in and out. Things get almost demonic sounding as a cacophony of noise and feedback mixes with McConnell's playful major keys. Things become downright celebratory and then turn on the audience, the band whistling, whispering oddities like "Lassie, come home." Screaming leads to screaming guitar until they shoot their way through an intensely charged ending.
16. "Slave to the Traffic Light" - The Great Went, Limestone, ME, 8/16/97
Starting out delicately, the buildup to this version is gorgeous, with Trey's guitar sustaining and swelling in and out as if it was his heart beating, building with tremolo picking and soaring into the peak.