Phish Summer Venues: Best So Far

Great Woods

Best Show: 7-8-94

1: Llama-> N2O*-> Lizards-> Tela-> Wilson-> AC/DC Bag-> Colonel Forbin’s Ascent-> Fly Famous Mockingbird-> The Sloth-> McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters-> The Divided Sky

2: Rift, Sample in a Jar, Reba-> Y-Rushalayim Schel Zahav, It’s Ice, Stash, You Enjoy Myself-> Frankenstein-> You Enjoy Myself, Julius, Golgi Apparatus.

E: Nellie Cane, Cavern

A dental-themed Gamehenge set, the second in nine shows, had to have been a surprise to those in attendance. The second set is no slouch either with a sharp Stash, which was included on A Live One, and a monstrous YEM > Frankenstein > YEM. The following night’s show is also incredible but 7-8-94 is too special not to list as no. 1.

Runners up: 7-9-94, 7-24-93

Camden’s E Center

Best Show: 7-10-99

1: Wilson, Chalkdust Torture > Roggae, Water in the Sky, Back at the Chicken Shack, Sparkle, Bathtub Gin, Golgi Apparatus

2: Tweezer*, Mountains in the Mist, Birds of a Feather -> When the Circus Comes, Fluffhead

E: While My Guitar Gently Weeps -> Tweezer Reprise

There was a weird vibe in the air at this show for some reason – perhaps the rain had something to do with it. But the band sliced through it with a vicious show. The unfinished Chalk Dust soars and falls nicely into Roggae and the Bathtub Gin is a complete dance party. The second set is made by the Fluffhead as the band revs up the ending a little bit with an extended jam and some extra energy

Runners up: 7-4-00, 7-31-00

Star Lake

Best Show: 7-29-03

1: Daniel (Saw the Stone), Camel Walk, Gotta Jibboo, Cool it Down, Scent of a Mule, Fee > Timber (Jerry) > When the Circus Comes, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Golgi Apparatus

2: Crosseyed and Painless > Thunderhead, Brother, Harpua > Bittersweet Motel, Harpua, I Fooled Around and Fell in Love* > Hold Your Head Up > Harpua, David Bowie

E: Farmhouse

* First time played, w/ Fishman on vocals and vacuum.

The first nine songs played at this show were tour debuts. Daniel had been on the shelf for 280 shows and Harpua for 167 shows. Wedged west between 7-27-03 Raleigh and the two Camden shows, Burgettstown was an old fashion “you snooze you lose” sort of night. Nestled in the pine trees, the band seems to have a soft spot for this venue. Amoreena was played for the only time here on 8-13-97 and Bob Marley’s Trenchtown Rock opened the 8-11-98 show. Gold Soundz, another one-timer, was played on 7-21-99.

Runners Up: 8-13-97, 8-11-98

Deer Creek

Best Show: 8-13-96

1: The Divided Sky, Tube, Tela, Maze, Fast Enough for You, The Old Home Place, Punch You in the Eye, Llama, Glide, Slave to the Traffic Light

2: AC/DC Bag, Lizards, Mike’s Song-> Lifeboy-> Weekapaug Groove, Somewhere Over the Rainbow*, Waste**, Train Song**, Strange Design**, Sweet Adeline, David Bowie

E: Sleeping Monkey, Rocky Top

*Page, solo on Theremin. **Acoustic mini-stage.

This show, which was released in its entirety as Live Phish Volume 12, features the an amazing first set, one of the best versions of Mike’s Song ever and Waste, Train Song and Strange Designed played on an acoustic mini-stage, which also saw action at Red Rocks and the Clifford Ball. The 1996 calendar year was a strange one for Phish at the time but the 11 US summer shows were mostly very impressive, highlighted by this Deer Creek gem.

Runners up: 7-25-99, 8-3-98

Alpine Valley

Best Show: 8-9-97

1: Theme From The Bottom, Punch You in the Eye, Ghost-> Taste, Dogs Stole Things, Reba, Lawn Boy, Crossroads

2: Wilson-> Foam, Mike’s Song-> Ain’t Love Funny-> Simple-> Swept Away-> Steep-> Scent of a Mule, Slave to the Traffic Light-> Weekapaug Groove

E: When the Circus Comes, Rocky Top

There is a certain flow to this show that just makes it work on a higher level than most shows from the Summer 1997 tour. The Mike’s Groove that comprises most of the second set is stellar and includes the floating Ain’t Love Funny, a slick Simple and a gorgeous Slave to the Traffic Light before bouncing home with a especially upbeat Weekapaug Groove.

Runners up: 8-1-98, 8-10-96

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14 Responses

  1. Of this group, the E Centre was the only one I saw… Have to say of all the Jersey shows that summer, I prefer 7/15/99 PNC for its setlist, and Frankenstein (which was the moment I knew I was REALLY into this band).

    Since Phish isn’t playing there this summer, I’ll put forward 7/4/00, for the fireworks, and the first set segue.

    Not to re-state the obvious, but Fenway is going to be epic.

  2. I’ve been to every Camden show, and I was 3rd row center for 7/10/99. I’ve got to tell you, it wasn’t that great. It sounds MUCH better on CD than it was at the time. It was probably only the fifth best show I saw that week!

    I would rank 7/3/00, and all 3 post hiatus shows at Camden as being better than 7/10/99. But hey, different strokes for different folks, I guess.

  3. I have been to all the Camden shows as well, and there was something really cool and different about the ‘big’ songs on 7/10/99, I loved the Chalk, Fluff and Tweezer that night more then I had in a long time, and I walked out thinking it was a special show but couldn’t put my finger on why,pumped when the band released it. I think 7-4-00 is the most over rated, I was bored by that Jibboo everyone loved, but you’re right, different strokes…

  4. What is it that people like about 7/10/99? Hands down the worst of the 70 shows I’ve attended and the worst official Live Phish release. Totally lackluster.

    Great list otherwise.

    HT rules.

  5. Yeah, that Camden show wasn’t the greatest thing I ever saw…but the Wilson > Chalkdust are by far the best versions of those two songs ever performed.

  6. I’m having a hard time remembering which ones I was at. I guess that makes them all really good;-)

  7. Those two shows at Great Woods in 94 could be the best I have ever seen. One thing I remember about that second set was thinking, “How is it possible that what is happening now is better than the Gamehenge first set” (I thought that as Mike was getting downright funky during Frankenstein!).

  8. Where’s Red Rocks?!?!?!

    Best outdoor venue ever and home to one of Phish’s greatest shows ever; 6-11-94.

    Set 1: Wilson > Chalk Dust Torture, You Enjoy Myself -> Rift, Down with Disease, It’s Ice > Tela, Stash

    Set 2: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Run Like an Antelope[1], Fluffhead, Scent of a Mule, Split Open and Melt, The Squirming Coil, Maze, Contact > Frankenstein

    Encore: Suzy Greenberg

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