The Beginning of the End

Unofficial Poster (Otto)

Amidst fresh crystals of snow in a white-washed wonderland of Worcester, Massachusetts, Phish put their best foot forward last night, centering a solid opening show around a transcendent and seasonally-appropriate segment of “Seven Below > What’s the Use?” Though Phish played many things very well last night, the evening’s crowning moment came in this surreal second set scenario. Taking a signature journey down a patient path, the band landed in a pool of improvisational gold on their first night out, opening 2010’s Holiday Run with a piece of music that can only foreshadow great things to come.

After musically noting the weather with a late first-set “It’s Ice,” when the band started their second-set homage to winter, one could tell things were on the verge of going deep. In a show light on open jamming to this point, “Seven Below” provided an ideal portal into Phish’s musical majesty. Coming together in an four-piece master work that completely elevated the show, Trey and Mike also engaged in a stunning example of the dual-leadership they have developed throughout 2010. Weaving their heart-tugging melodies around each other like two sea otters gliding effortlessly in circles, the guitarists’ lead play shone while backed by the sinfully scintillating drum work of Jon Fishman. Evoking the beat-backed “urgent ambient” style born this past August, this jam blossomed in beauty while never losing a sense of rhythmic direction. Amidst this awing interplay, Mike and Trey led subtly wove their knee-buckling melodies into a “mash-up”of Seven Below” and the post-apocalyptic “What’s the Use?” — a musical sequence that peaked the centerpiece of the evening. Following their own lead, Phish bled into “What’s the Use?” out of “Seven Below’s” denouement, completing the psychedelic pairing. Coming down from this segment with a natural flow into “Twenty Years Later,” Phish put a gentle ending onto this journey into the heart of the matter.

11.21.09 (Wendy Rogell)

Though nothing else approached the improvisational level of this peak sequence, Worcester’s opening show was filled with high-quality playing all around — a theme that started with the third song of night “Cool It Down.” Forming an impressive “first jam” of the run, Phish built the Velvet Underground cover into the realm full band interplay. Usurping the feel of an early-show “Bathtub Gin,” the band hit the ground running in Worcester with an upbeat collaboration that sparked the Holiday Run in celebratory fashion. Flowing early on this evening, the band turmed right around and dropped a uncharacteristically sublime “Roggae.” Taking a song known for its symbolic lyrics and composed melodies and transforming it into an ethereal launch pad, Phish toyed with “Roggae’s” theme while simultaneously sculpting an original piece of jamming that came to a cathartic peak unlike any other versions. Clearly enthusiastic from moment one last night, the band used the show’s opening energy to crank through some spirited singles throughout the rest of the set.

10.31.10 (G. Lucas)

While the treasure trove of the second set lied deep within, the band blasted down the doors of the frame with an unorthodox “Groove” of “Mike’s > Mound > Weekapaug.” Following a laid back and methodically-paced “Mike’s Song,” Phish certainly pleased the crowd by busting out “Mound” for the first time since Red Rocks, but didn’t make it through the song without a heafty serving of slop through one of its main sections. Nonetheless, the band picked themselves right up with a scorching “Weekapaug” that has to be considered the runner-up highlight of opening night. This smashing four-piece collaboration featured full-on musical theatrics while never veering too far from the “Weekapaug’s” foundation. Page stepped up on piano while Mike and Fish crushed the rhythmic side of things, but in the end, Trey’s relentless and white-hot leads stole the peak of this piece.

Following the aforementioned “Seven Below > What’s the Use?” sequence, Phish took a moment of reflection in “Velvet Sea” before playing the “Let’s See How Many Set Closers We Can Play In a Row!” game. Starting with “Possum” and following with “Cavern,” the game got far more interesting when Phish dropped another smooth and shredding version of “David Bowie.” Combining delicacy and aggression like only “Bowie” can, Phish flipped the jam into a major key for a blissful oasis amidst the dark surroundings. Punctuating the night with a thrashing aural assault, this “Bowie” picked up a set that had fizzled a bit. As the band rounded out the 27th with a “Loving Cup” encore, everything felt just right as we now stare down the barrel of 2010’s final four adventures.

Get ready, because Phish certainly is.

I: Sample in a Jar, Funky Bitch, Cool It Down, Roggae, Heavy Things, What Things Seem, Roses Are Free, It’s Ice, Mountains in the Mist, Julius

II: Mike’s Song > Mound, Weekapaug Groove, Farmhouse, Seven Below > What’s the Use? > Twenty Years Later, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Possum, Cavern, David Bowie

E: Loving Cup


PS – Any and all Holiday Run photography are welcome at

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916 Responses to “The Beginning of the End”

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  1. MisterChristian Says:

    Nice write up, I love loved the Roggae, it was a very nice early 1st set treat to accent Cool It Down. Next note is It’s Ice, some kids pass this one off, but a many shows ago I knew a kid that loved the song and watching this phreak dance to it was something to behold. I think of that dude when I hear it. MitM is a fave of mine since Camden 99.

    The Mikes Mound Goove was enjoyable but missed a satisfying peak, the twist in Weekapaug was nice though.

    7 below WtU? was definitely a highlight. love the 2nd part of 20 YL, Velvet Sea while a good song just reminded me what time it was.

    Trey sounds very smooth, definitely atoned for those who felt his tone was off early on since reuniting.

    Tonight will be it for me this year, after that, see you all in spring/summer

  2. JerZ Says:

    Greetings all- finally plowed out and heading up now. Wondering if there is a bar that the BBers are gonna be meeting up at. I would love to meet you guys if there is a pre show spot to rage at

  3. BlackEyedKaty Says:

    great review miner. i was surely bummed that i missed the mound bust out. maybe they’ll nail it in msg. my flight is later today to nyc. hoping it is still running and remains “on time.”

  4. phoammhead Says:

    glad to hear it @JerZ – safe travels!

    i’m looking forward to spinning Seven Below > What’s The Use

    glad you made it, MrMiner!

    everybody wish BEK and me luck on our flight to nyc later today . . . my fingers are crossed!

  5. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Can fresh Phish warm up my house because we ain’t got no heat!

  6. phoammhead Says:

    anyone want to hit me up with a download code off an extra ticket stub?

    phoamm at gmail dot com


  7. c0wfunk Says:

    phoam how’d you do w/ the xmas avl snow? We got down to FL before the madness..

    nice review, look forward hearing!

    Off to disney world 🙂

  8. phoammhead Says:

    hey c0w! one foot of snow and beautiful around here – white christmas!

    just been hangin’ out mostly – went out to my parents farm on xmas day – toyota 4Runner does pretty well in these conditions! 🙂

    hope you’ve been well – enjoy florida!

  9. albert walker Says:

    On paper that 7 below > wtu def peaked my interest

    I’m a huge cool it down fan also

    Looks like a great set to get things going

    2 more days of the Babylon grind and I’m out

  10. Luther T. Justice Says:

    Safe travels AW. I’ll be monitoring MSG from an undisclosed location. What a week this will be.

  11. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    howdy folks

    great sharing dance space with willowed last night. I’m sure we’ll be in the same space tonight fishman side back by the soundboard. lots of room to move and do what you need to do.

    sorry I couldn’t hit the meet-up. it was my friend’s birthday show and we went out for dinner beforehand (I highly recommend Via – which is across the street from Brew City – for some tasty italian to fill you up preshow).

    a few notes from my perspective…
    first set was a solid affair highlighted by that Roggae. Cool It Down and Roses were tasty too. the Paug definitely had some extra gusto and as miner aptly pointed out the seven below>wtu>20yl sequence was the highlight of the night. great start to the run!

  12. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    oh yeah, and it was a total meatstick night. not too many mounds around aside from that one in the second set. the bathroom lines proved that out.

  13. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    i can’t get the direct link going for some reason, but if you go to the worcester telegram website there is a nice photo gallery from last night if you scroll down a tad. some nice shots in there.

  14. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    shoot. even that was a bad link.

  15. andrewrose Says:

    A fun opener. Seven Below jam was out of this world. The perfect blend between melodic glory and funky dance action, kind of reminded me of the 12/31/99 Soam->catapult for a moment. There was a What’s the Use sign up front where I was, and Trey basically started feasting WtU in the jam as if they were playing it 10 times faster. Rest of the show kind of paled in comparison. Definitely some good first set moments in Cool It Down and Roggae. Heavy Things featured some terrific Trey action too. Lots of filler through the second set that kind of killed the flow a bit, but certainly a sign of good things to come. Mike was ready to take things out there anytime (seemed liked they might launch Roses but Trey was biting). Here’s hoping tonight is a stronger all round serving). Hear that Seven Below at all costs!

  16. BrandonKayda Says:

    Grabbing the show now – looking forward to hearing the Weekapaug, Seven Below->What’s The Use?, and the David Bowie

  17. jfarns Says:

    Gotta say that I agree with your feedback here miner. Much like yourself I overlooked Julius closing the first set, and it was strong!! Can’t believe I’m saying this, but Heavy Things had a tight, well played jam. CLEW was on it from the get go which helped me enjoy it. I actually missed Sample and FB, did I miss much?

  18. joechip Says:

    Spinning the show with morning coffee. Cool it Down is very nice. Fits very well with the current sound/approach, I’d love to hear it more often.

  19. Mitch Says:

    No heat?! Sucks Palmer. Throw all the tikes on the train and come crash with uncle mango. I wear shorts a lot it’s so hot. Or open the window to the blizzard.

  20. willowed Says:

    glad you made it Miner……..I was hoping you were in there

  21. frottage Says:

    if you write about the quietest phish show in ten years

    an actual *experimental* performance of nearly every song

    without even noting
    or maybe noticing? what went on

    you get an F- for the day’s classwork

  22. frottage Says:

    B- for alliteration in “white-washed wonderland of Worcester” though

    even if “washed” isn’t what you mean exactly!

  23. Mr.Palmer Says:

    frottage- what the hell does any of that even mean?

  24. poop goblin Says:

    let the weirdness begin

    Miner is just a jaded vet

    he tends to miss all the important aspects of shows

  25. Corey Says:

    @joechip, love the avatar.

    Briskly rubbing hands together for you @Mr. Palmer.

    Loved the LACK of signs last night. That said, everyone inside see the rhombusvspinning last night? Though not a fan of big signs being held up all night, that was a creative addition to the art of signage.

    Just once, I’d love for the guys to open up Cavern at the end. They’ve done it before, they could do it again, right? I think it would simply shred.

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