type II cast

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Episode 65: Nerdgasm, Part 1


Listen to Episode 65

The Ultimate Phish ‘Nerdgasm’ Part 1: The Selection Show

If you’re reading this, you probably consider yourself somewhat of a Phish nerd—someone who gains an unhealthy amount of pleasure in discussing best songs, shows, sets, venues, cities, lyrics, compositions, recordings, jams, lights, and more. With that said, we decided to hold the ultimate Phish nerdgasm, a 64-team March Madness style tournament to determine the best Phish jam of all time. Now, this is nothing new to the Phish blogosphere. We’ve all seen Phish March Madness brackets before, and I’m sure we’ll see them again. But we wanted to make ours just a little different. We did so by taking ourselves way too seriously. And I knew that if there was one person to take on this project with, it was fellow Phish.netter, Mockingbird Foundation volunteer, and list-maker extraordinaire, Steve Paolini.

At first, Steve and I tried picking the best 64 jams of all time. That proved to be an exercise in futility. Just try to name the best 64 jams ever. I dare you. You’ll most likely end up with a battle of 1995 vs. 1997 with an eternal amount of Ghosts and Bathtub Gins. So, we figured we needed to set some ground rules.

Rule #1: The tournament will cover 1993 – 2012 and each year must have at least two entries (automatic qualifiers)
This rule gave us some diversity from different eras and made sure years like 1996 and 2009 at least had some representatives in the big dance. It also led to some brutal arguments over what jams received the automatic qualifier from each year. More on this in the podcast.

Rule #2: No more than five versions of a single song
Let’s call this the “Ghost Rule.” We wanted as much diversity and interesting matchups in this tournament as possible. And with only 64 spots available, nearly half of the entries might have been Ghost, Gin, and Tweezer without this rule.

Rule # 3: No more than two versions of a single song from one year
This came into play when looking at 1995 YEMs, 1995 Mike’s Songs, and 1994 Tweezers. Once again, diversity was the goal.

Rule #4: Segues are permitted, using common sense. However, all songs in the segue count toward the yearly and total song limits
This rule is pretty simple. When you talk about the 7/22/97 show, you talk about the DWD->Mike’s, not the DWD or the Mike’s. The same holds true for the 12/29/95 Bathtub Gin->The Real Me->Bathtub Gin. We needed to make it clear that combinations count.

Rule #5: No limit on the number of qualifiers from each year
We felt the rules we created already gave us enough diversity, so why penalize 1995 and 1997 even more.

Rule #6: No more than one entry per show
Let’s call this the Big Cypress rule.

Now that we had our ground rules together, it was time to make the bracket. Over the next three weeks, we put together a list of more than 150 jams from 1993 – 2012. We listened to all of them – every single one. Then, we began to build the bracket. At first, we agreed on most. But things got ugly. Soon we found ourselves in a struggle to protect our favorite jams and make sure they made it into the tournament. Countless texts and emails ensued.  We were two grown men—both with families and careers—who were treating this project like 10 year old boys arguing Manning vs. Brady. It was great. Once we nailed down the 64 entries, we loosely seeded the jams–focusing mainly on the top and bottom seeds of each region. After all, if we spent too much time on the seeding, all the drama of the tournament would be lost.

So that’s where we stand. Over the next few days, we’ll post the bracket as well as the list of all jams that were evaluated for the tournament. But for now, check out the selection show where we break down who made the cut, who missed the cut, and some of the best matchups in the field of 64. Huge thanks to Steve Olker for not only hosting but breaking some critical ties. Then, tune in next week for part 2 where the competition begins.


- Chris

Click here for the spreadsheet of what made the cut / what didn’t. – Updated – 6:18pm

Click Image to View Full Size Bracket – Updated – 10:10pm

first bracket

Episode 65

Title: Nerdgasm, Part 1.

Record Date: 03/08/2013

Host: Stephen Olker

Producer: Chris Glushko

Guest: Steve Paolini

Run Time: 1:37:38

File Size: 116.8 mb


01. 08/13/93 Gin 6:30-9:30

02. 11/18/95 YEM 10:30 – 13:30

03. 7/23/97 Ghost 16:30 – 19:30

04. 08/16/93 Reba 9:20 – 12:20

05. 06/28/00 Gin 12:00 – 15:00

06. 11/21/97 Bag 15:00-18:00

07. 12/3/97 Bowie 18:00 – 21:00

08. 11/13/96 Suzy 13:00 – 16:00

09. 11/18/96 Simple 12:00-15:00

10. 07/21/99 (Simple) > MLT 10:00 – 13:00

11. 06/26/95 (DWD) > Free 11:45 – 14:45

12. 11/22/94 Bitch 0:00-3:00

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Author: UNOlker

Host and Producer of TWoL and TypeII Podcasts.

26 thoughts on “Episode 65: Nerdgasm, Part 1

  1. outro is of the inamous FunkyBitch->Jam 11.22.94

  2. You should send out copies of the bracket to the email list and have us send in finished copies to see how how it all stacks up… The person who gets the most right should get a shoutout at the end of the last episode… Just my (type) ii cents.

  3. No spreadsheet mention of the 12/11/97 DWD, 12/7/99 Halley’s, or 12/30/12 Carini — and choosing the 11/13/96 Suzy over the Simple five nights later — makes Homer something something.

    Great job otherwise, though! (Until I discover something else to persnicket, of course.)

  4. What a great freakin’ episode! I’ve made a playlist of all of the tracks I’m not entirely familiar with. A few of my personal favs didn’t make the cut (or the cutting room floor!): 12/31/93 Hood, Hartford Zero ’97, Penn St Simple ’97, Osaka DWD ’00, 6/24/00 Tweezer, Bethel Waves ’11.

    As for’96, I would have taken the Deer Creek Mike’s>Lifeboy>Paug over the Suzy or the Simple.

  5. Can you post a text list of the regions and seeding? And did I miss something or did you talk in the first podcast about the method for determining a win in each game? This was an awesome podcast btw.

    • the bracket is posted above. also above are the rules for how songs were chosen. and we reviewed these in the show. there will be 2 more shows where we vote on which jam will win. stay tuned.

  6. NO, 11-29-97 Runaway Jim?

  7. I missed the spreadsheet link, thanks.

    The amount of work to prepare the candidate 150+ and winnow is immense! I’ve seen more than my fair share of shows and heard far too much tape and couldn’t come close to holding up my own in the debates. I’m very much looking forward to the followup shows.

  8. What an awesome awesome idea and episode! To be perfectly honest, there are a fair number of these great jams that I’ve never heard, so I’ve decided to go through and find copies of all of them and make my own choices. I just added the full East Regional to my ITunes and it’s over 7 hours of music! In other words, this should take a while!!! But thanks for giving me a great Phish project to tide me over until summer tour.

    • Oops—I wanted to add that I’ve only been at one of these shows, the great 2011 Rock N Roll-Meatstick and am bummed it’s stacked against the Dick’s Light—talk about a brutal choice! But I’ll be a homer and go with the RNR-Stick.

  9. Wonderful job, guys! What a great podcast. I look forward to the tournament!

    Just for fun, here are my all-time favorite jams omitted from the spreadsheet (that is, the full 150 song list). The omission I disagree with MOST is the 10/31/94 Reba.

    5/6/93 Tweezer
    6/21/94 Melt (or 7/9/94 for that matter
    5/28/94 and 10/31/94 Reba (the latter was the worst omission, to me)
    11/12/94 DWD -> Have Mercy -> DWD -> Lifeboy
    6/29/95 and 7/3/95 Bowie
    12/12/95 DWD
    12/28/95 Tweezer
    8/7/96 Jim
    11/6/96 Mike’s
    12/6/96 Simple
    2/14/97 Disease -> Taste -> Disease
    7/1/97 Cities (or Gin!)
    11/30/97 Funky Bitch OR Wolfman’s OR Stash -> Free -> Piper (all pure hose, imo)
    7/9/98 Tweezer
    7/8/99 and 7/25/99 Birds
    2/22/03 Walls (which I prefer to 2/25 by a lot!)
    12/28/03 Scents
    12/31/03 Stash
    6/19/04 Song I Heard the Ocean Sing

    As for the toughest cuts in the move from the spreadsheet to the bracket – all are so close it’s tough to make a call, so I don’t blame your for your selections. I’d have tried to find room for the 6/14/95 or 6/22/95 Tweezer, or the 12/7/99 Halley’s. Actually, one of the three big jams from 11/30/97 would probably make it too.

    It’s also weird to me that there’s no 1993 SOAM which can make the list, given what an amazing year it was for Melt. But honestly, none stands out enough to me to recommend it.

    As I said, great job!

  10. And ohmygosh, I left out a bunch of Tweezers: 10/22/95, 11/30/95, 8/1/98, and 12/30/99 all deserved at least a spot on the spreadsheet, even if they didn’t make the final cut to 64. And actually, I would have gone with any of these ahead of the Fox 94 Tweezer, which has moments of majesty but is very uneven. And I’d still put 6/14 or 6/22/95 over any of those.

    Honestly, I’d leave 2/28/03 on the cutting room floor for any of these as well, which I find wonderful but overrated relative to other Tweezers and even among jams played in 2003, but I suspect that opinion is unpopular enough that I won’t try to argue it.

    Outside of that, to my ears, there are a few reaches in the final 64: the 10/20/94 Hood, 7/22/97 DWD -> Mike’s, 7/25/97 Gin, 12/30/97 ACDC (I know, I know – I just think it’s not as strong as other Fall 97 jams), the 11/11/98 Halley’s, the 7/15/00 DWD -> WMGGW, and the 2004 Vegas Twist.

    I’d swap in, let’s see, the 8/13/93 Gin, 6/21/94 SOAM, 11/22/94 Funky Bitch, 11/16/94 Simple, the 12/7/99 Halley’s, the 8/14/04 Birds, and then one of the big 11/30/97 jams – the Wolfman’s, I guess, though the Stash would work too.

    Anyway, just my two cents and my little attempt to contribute to the discussion. You guys certainly know your stuff better than I do…

    7/21/99 Simple -> MLT is a very nice call, by the way.

  11. GREAT episode guys. Loved listening to it. Thanks!

    • Agreed on the 7/21/99 Simple-MLT…beautifully serene. Two selections I don’t go for, though, are facing off in the East and that is the 3 seed Bathtub Gin from 11/23/97 and the 14 seed Boogie On>Ghost from 6/26/04. The former I understand being selected as it is just 30 minutes of balls-to-the-walls high energy jamming, but is just not why I like Phish, but the latter just doesn’t do much for me and I thought the segway was a bit sloppy. When I make my picks for my pool, I’ll just push the higher seed but it’ll definitely get knocked out in Round 2. Besides those 2, though, I’ve pretty much been in heaven listening to all these…thanks again!

  12. Okay so who is going to pull all these jams and zip them together? Perhaps a file for each region on to Mediafire?

  13. Love this and great great job!
    Just quick thought on Ghost. First love the “Ghost” rule!

    Prague, although quite the fan favorite doesn’t hold a candle for the Copenhagen Christiana 07/06/98 http://lawnmemo.com/the-daily-ghost-31/. That would have been my pick for 98 Ghost.

    The other that should have at least gotten a mention would be Portland Meadows 09/12/99 http://lawnmemo.com/the-daily-ghost-54/.

    I agree you HAVE to have Radio City, Denver, and Seven Below>Ghost for 2009. I think 06/26/04 Boogie>Ghost is a great choice for 2004 leaving only one spot. So really you did a great job, just those two versions above are next in line for me.

    Thanks for doing this and so much fun!


  14. Great idea for a series! Obviously everybody is going to have songs omitted they feel strongly about. Mine would be the 12/7/99 Halley’s Comet and the Oswego Piper. Can’t wait to see how the bracket pans out though. Great job as always!

  15. Pingback: Episode 66: Nerdgasm, Part 2 | type II cast

  16. Thanks for all the great feedback everyone. It is appreciated!!

    Here is a google doc with links to the 64 jams.


    • Wow—you guys never cease to amaze me with all the work you have put into this. Here I’ve been downloading the songs I don’t have show by show and am three regions through, but this document will make the final one so much easier! Thanks a bunch!!

      PS Perhaps my one BIG whine about a jam that I think should easily have made the top 64 is the 7/30/97 Bowie-Cities-Bowie. Just listened to it again the other day and couldn’t believe how smooth and funky the transition was and the Cities was cow funk heaven. That all said, I know you included a ton of 1997 and there really is NO WAY to do the selection perfectly, just like the real March Madness. Overall, great job!

  17. LawnMeadow—totally agreed on the Portland 9/12/99 Ghost. I was in the front row for that one, right in front of Page—one of my favorite sets I’ve ever seen!

  18. You guys forgot the best jam phish ever did!
    Coventry Soundcheck Jam is the best jam ive ever heard!

    So how is this list supposed to be accurate?

  19. I’m completely puzzled by the absence of the Went Gin. This is considered by some, including me, the best Gin ever and maybe even one of Phish’s best jams of all time. I was convinced it would be a 1-seed so to hear you simply dismiss it as one that missed the cut was shocking. I figure, either you guys have completely different taste than me or, despite all I’ve listened to over the years, I haven’t listened to enough to know the Went Gin isn’t even in the top 64. All in good fun, of course.

    Thanks to everyone for the podcasts. I just discovered them and I’m hooked.

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