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”

  1. BrandonKayda Says:

    It’s weird to think that MPP was the first Wolfman’s to have a vocal jam in it – after the Fall I have just gotten used to the vocal jams in Wolfman’s. There was no vocal jam in tonight’s Wolfman’s


    Thanks. I have a ton of other books I have to read first, not including the ones I will have to read for school, but I’ll get to it eventually. Thank you for the recommendation

  2. BrandonKayda Says:

    Stash gets real interesting around 7:50 on. Check it out.

  3. BrandonKayda Says:

    This Stash is unbelievable – many different segments. Could be the best of 2010 – but that will take a few more listens. This Stash just nails the dissonance so well, from every angle

  4. willowed Says:

    Just relistened to the wolfman’s…….one of the best jams of the night…no doubt

    Great Trey work

  5. BrandonKayda Says:

    Birdwatcher is awesome.

    So, 12/28 brought us “Best of 2010” versions of Stash and Hood. Good stuff

  6. plord Says:

    Just gave the wheel to jtran. More than halfway home.

    Loved tonights show. I believe that when discussing the first set you can’t avoid a Tempo riff. With the exception of the monster, multifaceted Stash and the Rift, the set was a stone clinic on slow bluesy jams. Trey killed them all dead, just one patient well developed shred after another. If that set had an Ocelot and JJLC I think it would have had the complete collection.

    Nice to see Alaska in its rightful place, eh? I’m sold, there is nothing not to like about that song other than the hopefully prior habit of dropping it in the 2nd frame.

    The Wolfmans was also a beast and the crowd was inside it instantly. Sick machine funk, 4-headed bandmember churning it out like clockwork. Thoroughly ill.

    By the time we got to it, the STFTFP was the logical closer. Except then we got birdwatcher so it wasn’t a closer but whatever.
    Big nasty Carini, solid #line and GBotT to open the second. Really high energy in the room.

    BK noted, the -> into LxL was smooth as hell. I’m not a fan of that tune in that spot but they took it out a little. I guess I always want LxL to blow up bigger but that’s not what its for. That’s my problem right there.
    Unorthodox ending jam on that Wedge, with Trey playing the main descending lick wherever he happened to be on the fretboard. Hot but short.

    The Hood, as noted, is magnificent and jumps neck deep into the running for best of the year right away on the strength of the (completely unexpected, delightful, and very clockwork machine like) jam in the middle. A different kind of life-affirming Hood. Just brilliant.

    Bug sure has had ripping solos lately, huh?

    Many many thanks to [cough, a BBer not here to be named] for getting me on the floor, my first. Dancing near KfL, jdub, Willowed, TIII and crew was dynamite and you should all do it.

    If that was my one show for the run, I’m happy.

  7. BrandonKayda Says:

    It’s 3am? Really?

    Well, I guess that won’t stop me from playing this Hood jam one more time

  8. willowed Says:

    We are still up listening to the Sarah Palin Alaska…funny as hell

  9. willowed Says:


  10. BrandonKayda Says:

    We eat, therefore we hunt

  11. willowed Says:

    Me, Spasm, Jdub and Kwl (King of the flegionaires) are sitting here listening to tonights show just laughing are asses off.

    Spun would be understatement

  12. BrandonKayda Says:

    So…everybody needs to hear the Stash/Hood atleast 3 times

  13. BrandonKayda Says:

    How does Trey get that tone around 10:40 in this Stash? It sounds parallel to what he is actually playing which creates a cool dissonant effect

  14. sumodie Says:

    How many 2010 debuts tonight, is it 4? She Caught the Katy, Pigtail, Birdwatcher, and Frankie Says

    Band will surely top last year’s record of most songs played in a year

    Glad to hear the Willowed crew holding down tight at the QI in Woosta!!!

  15. willowed Says:

    We sure are Sumo. Wish I could have seen you.

    We’ll do it again soon

    Listening to the KDF….very solid

  16. willowed Says:

    We are trying to tap into our youth by staying up this late.

  17. BrandonKayda Says:

    Just checked zzyzx stats

    Phish played 247 songs last year
    Including tonight, Phish has played 241

    5 sets to play 7 songs – they might do the same thing they did last year and play a first set full of bustouts on the 30th

  18. sumodie Says:

    anyone else think Trey has a cold, i.e., his vocals are a bit off?

    That may explain his quiet singing in set 1 woosta 1, and some other moments where he didn’t seem to be at full strength

  19. BrandonKayda Says:


    Am I using my youth properly (lol) when my staying up late involves couches and Phish?


  20. BrandonKayda Says:

    Trey’s voice is awful raspy on Shine A Light – but it is kind of fitting considering the song

  21. plord Says:

    @BK the Whammy has harmonizer and octave modes, its probably that?

    I heard a bit of the half-cocked stationary wah pedal tone that Trey lifted from Zappa a couple of places tonight, Carini for sure and I forget where else.

    Some absolutely turgid, pendulous tones from Trey tonight on the slow stuff.

  22. BrandonKayda Says:

    It might be the octave mode that I’m thinking of

  23. willowed Says:

    Voice = shot

    He has a cold

  24. willowed Says:

    Hanging with Plord is treat…..great dude.

    we’ll do it agian soon

  25. butter Says:

    glad you folks had a fun night

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