Regular readers of this site may have noticed that the admins did not post a “Best of 2016” this year, as we did the last three years. Delicate flowers that we are, 2016 took a lot out of us. For starters, it wasn’t 2015. That may be an unfair comparison, with 2015 being the consensus best year of 3.0, but it’s also the nature of the space-time continuum. So, fine, point conceded: it may be unfair to be critical of any series of shows for not standing up to the band’s most recent high water mark. But Summer 2016 paled in comparison to 2012-14, too. In fact, many of us viewed it as the most lackluster tour since the band’s first post-breakup tour in June 2009.
Fortunately, as lackluster as the summer was, the Dick’s run proved to be a turning point (if you squint a little, you could see the seeds for the turning point start with the west coast run). In fact, a group of us began ranking the 2016 shows and two things jumped out. First, summer really was that underwhelming. There were 45 shows in 2016. Only one show from among the first 25 so much as threatened to make it into the top 10 (7/15/16). The other top 10 contenders came exclusively from the last 20 shows of the year. But -- there’s always a but -- here’s the thing: those 20 shows produce a damn respectable top 10 shows. As good as 2015? Um, no. But when you consider they came from a 20 show stretch, you realize that Phish actually ended the year in quite strong fashion.
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