Enchanting and Entrancing

'Nuff Said

On December 30, 1995, Phish changed my life with the power of one jam – “Harry Hood.” And fifteen years later, they did it again with the same song. Combining every musical element that I love about this band into one next-level piece of music, the game changers just changed the game again. Within the context of a strong two-set show — with notably mellow selections throughout the second half — the band used one of their oldest songs in their catalog to remind us why there is no other musical act on earth with the power of Phish.

Though I have yet to re-listen to “Harry Hood” — because sometimes peak experiences must stay untouched for a while — I have no qualms about touting the piece as Phish’s defining on-stage moment since they have returned. While the band has offered up many inter-dimensional adventures this go-round, none transpired quite like this. Fusing delicate rhythm playing into the onset of the jam, Trey directed this version in a completely other direction, leading the band into, in my opinion, the most utterly astounding piece of music since their return. Morphing sublime grooves into an ethereal journey, Phish crafted a journey for the ages with mind-bending virtuosity and soul-tugging passion. Within the course of one jam, an entire night vanished by the waysides, leaving us with a musical monument for all time. Just wait until you hear this one…

10.19.10 (Ryan Gilbertie)

But the show that disappeared in the majesty of a moment, contained a bevy of creative jamming that illustrated the well-oiled machine of Phish on the brink of 2011. Regardless of setlist — and last nights’ second half was rather mellow — the band is giving each note they play utmost care and bringing to life every song they roll out. Last night’s first set contained several pieces of top-shelf improv, highlighted by “Wolfman’s” and “Stash” — two songs that have been reborn since fall tour. Capping a late-year run of original “Wolfman’s” jams, last nights represented the cherry on top. Bringing the song through dirty grooves and dynamic mini-peaks, Phish threw down a exalting dance session to follow up the out-of-left field bust out of “She Caught the Katy,” in a musical couplet that got the show rolling in earnest, (though even the “Kill Devil Falls” opener was drenched with fiery exchanges.)

Unofficial Poster (AJ Masthay)

And then,in the waning days of 2010, Phish debuted, their most impressive new song of the year — an Anastasio/Marshall collaboration called “Pigtail.” A Phishy dance number of the likes we haven’t seen this go-round, Trey begins a signature series of rolling licks out of the composition, leading into a catchy jam that will inevitably blow up. As all instruments dropped out, Phish ended the song with the reprise of “I’m conscious again” — a lyric that couldn’t hold more literal meaning to Trey — and all who believe in him — after his well-documented struggles and new life.

But perhaps the most indelible first set highlight came in “Stash.” The version that capped a late-fall run of stellar outings may have been the most impressive one of all. Beginning with sinister delicacy, the band continued pushing this “Stash” into an outer realm, eventually reaching sacred ground. As all four members swirled original ideas with the tightness of Krazy Glue, the jam transformed into a legitimate psychedelic juggernaut with the type of lead guitar sorcery that makes us drool. If each rendition of every song in a Holiday Run represents a punctuation at the end of their year-long sentences, “Stash’s” was certainly an exclamation point.

Phish jump-started the second set with a fierce “Carini” that remained on the dark side instead of breaking through into the major-key jam that transformed the song into a vehicle of transcendence this fall. While anchored to song structure, however, Phish cast down a bubbling cauldron of evil spells that boiled into a seething stew of dementia. Good to the last morsel, this torrid adventure seemed to be setting up further fireworks, but after the opening bomb dropped, the set took a distinct turn for the mellow. When “Number Line” started, it sure seemed like it would be one of those elusive monsters that are so few and far between. But despite impressive interplay, this second-setter danced well within the confines of the song, leaving us with a scorching, “standard” version — a theme that would soon continue.

10.10.10 (C.Klein)

When Phish started up “Back On the Train” in the second set of a holiday show, one couldn’t help but flashback to Miami’s best-ever outing of ’09. But much like “Number Line,” this version contained nothing but impressive interplay, yet never transcended song structure, falling short of a face-melter while still providing a enjoyable ride and seamless segue into “Limb By Limb.” Laced with tightly woven creativity and coming to a soaring peak, the song, nonetheless, brought a mellower vibe to a set that just kept getting quieter with beautiful playing through and through. Clearly saving all the big guns for Madison Square Garden, Phish played a second set sequence of “Limb,” “Wedge,” and “Frankie Sez.” But upon the end of “Frankie Sez,” the band oozed into an ambient build-up that had “2001” written all over it. But in a classic case anti-climax, the band instead whispered into the Neal Young ballad, “Albuquerque.” But when “Albuquerque” ended, “Hood” began, and our night circles back around to the aforementioned odyssey that forever upped the cosmic ante.

Phish brought the crowd back to earth with a painstakingly emotive “Bug,” a move that provided ideal reentry to Worcester, Massachusetts, and a magnificent guitar showcase to end the show. Finalizing the song-based affair with “Shine A Light” — an encore selection that matched the set’s vibe perfectly — Phish capped the night with unparalleled artistry. Enjoy the day off, because tomorrow, Phish, Madison Square Garden, and the New Year’s Run converge for the first time since 1998, as the band will scribe another chapter to their historic legacy. Start spreading the news…

I. Kill Devil Falls, My Mind’s Got a Mind of Its Own, Alaska*, She Caught the Katy, Wolfman’s Brother, Pigtail**, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, Rift, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Birdwatcher**

II. Carini, Backward’s Down the Number Line, Back On the Train > Limb By Limb, The Wedge, Frankie Sez > Alberquerque, Harry Hood, Bug

E: Shine A Light

* w/ Sarah Palin toy, ** debut, ^ debut, a cappella

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1,799 Responses to “Enchanting and Entrancing”

  1. poop goblin Says:

    Taj mahal cover

  2. Mitch Says:

    I know it’s taj mahal. Was making a point that I could really feel that little feat album influence.

  3. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    oh, gotcha. didn’t make that connection in what you wrote.

  4. Lily Says:

    Extra 12/31 is GONE.

    Have fun, folks.

  5. Mitch Says:

    Realizing j didn’t make that clear. Still early. The comment you made last night about good Phish is good Phish – bluesy light ambient etc. Def fits in that mold hence them dusting it off.

  6. Jtran Says:

    Agree with kFL on all accounts.

  7. Mitch Says:

    Fuck

    “Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

        conkiln.e@gmail.com

    Technical details of permanent failure: ”

    Really need to step up my a game this morning

  8. mrfergie Says:

    wow, that hood is something else…

  9. garretc Says:

    Damn… Out To Lunch is a sick album… Glad I finally got around to hearing this one!

    To be honest though, I expected something a little more out there, being Dolphy and all… It definitely has it’s moments where I can imagine non-jazz folks shuddering at the honking or what have you, but for the most part, well, it’s just a dope ass jazz record!

  10. Dr. Pronoia Says:

    Holy Hood!

  11. c0wfunk Says:

    gettin ready to dive into 12/27 right now

    when I first saw the list I told my wife I was 90% sure she caught the katy was a little feat song 😉 til the wikipedia reminded me otherwise. .. had it confused w/ skin it back.. Definitely has that feat crunchy delta blues feel to it..

  12. poop goblin Says:

    nice

    our 7:50 out of midway departed on time this morning

    looking good for tomorrow

  13. goochy Says:

    Just starting to listen through – She Caught The Katy is pretty sweet.

  14. andrewrose Says:

    Yeah Ive yet to relisten as well but I think Miner gets it right here on the Hood. I was right up front and there was a great vibe that eventually landed in this boogie groove during the Hood that was old school disco get down kinda stuff, they were just dancing in outerspace. Somewhat reminiscent of the Seven Below from the previous night, but a notch higher and longer. It’s like they fused the funky Little Feat (and Taj Mahal) grooves with the urgent ambient jamming and gave birth to yet another defining style that bodes well for MSG and 2011. You can hear it in the Wolfmans and throughout the show but it really busts open in earnest during that game changing Hood. Only thing I’d say is despite some of the mellow vibes I thought the second set had great flow and good song selection. Was amazing to hear Alberquerque and they slaughtered it with soul. (Surprised Miner didnt mention the nods to 12/28/98 with song choices last night.) Everything was perfectly executed with neat fills or variations. The Limb jam was pretty atypical, intricate.. No complaints last night people. Wish I could to MSG it’s gonna be scary hot. I have a feeling we may be looking at a no repeats run here, there’s a lot of big guns left.. Onto webcast couch tour!

  15. tela'smuff Says:

    garret – you know what i meant. too busy with work to formulate a good sentence. especially after drooling on my keyboard post Roggae face meltage.

    i’m lovin that it’s gotten to the point it doesn’t matter what they play, when or where. they just shred everything. Heavy Things was rippin for godsake.

    It Feels Good…

  16. goochy Says:

    Pigtail has some real potential

  17. garretc Says:

    @tela

    I did, but what the hell else am I gonna do in the Charlotte airport besides be a douche on the internet?

  18. Jtran Says:

    Pigtail was s uper catchy

  19. BTB Says:

    Anyone remember where Pigtail came from? I’m thinking Trey tour, but could be wrong. Can’t remember…my mind is filled with occasional GAPS

    10 bonus points for anyone who knows where “my mind is filled with occasional GAPS” is from

  20. tela'smuff Says:

    ha. i don’t blame ya!

    MOST UNDERRATED SONG OF 2010 —– JULIUS.

    I said it. IT happened for me in Telluride with this usually dreaded song. Every version since I’ve loved.

  21. Mitch Says:

    it’s nice that i finally listened to a jam of the day and can discuss with you guys.

    obviously that was a freaking awesome hood. you could put that in a box, stamp phish on the side and it would hold up as a stellar 3.0 jam.

    i expected something a lot more face melting as miners go-to pick from this era but then again, he is mr miner after all.

  22. Litteringandd Says:

    Two things for NYE-
    1. I think it is finally time for liquid time
    2. Mark it, the band/ audience participation will fuck with they peeps on the live stream. I could easily see something like an intentional stream cut out only to come back having it staged that something monumental was missed.
    I think they fucked with a radio audience in philly one year? Can someone back that up?

  23. BTB Says:

    Every time I listen to Frankie Says it takes me back to 1998…I can feel it. The red and black. Hard to explain, but it takes me back every time.

  24. c0wfunk Says:

    @tela the t-ride julius was beyond special for me too. I’m a big fan of that song ordinarily, but that one really had the Itness.. something that had been building through the set and reached a tension during stash and started to unwind through cavern wedge and possum just came hurtling out through that tune, as the darkness descended in the valley and the mountain spirits came to terms with what was going down there.. Listening back still gives me the goosebumps..

    the Julius from alpharetta was a peak moment often overlooked amidst that crazy set too .. down front the dance party got to be furious and wild.

    Then you have the classic horns version from halloween .. Definitely an unsung hero this year!

    re: out to lunch – that was my first foray into Dolphy’s solo stuff after hearing his freakouts with coltrane. I too was surprised to hear how “straight” it comes off .. groovy little album that.

  25. tela'smuff Says:

    Mike’s>Mound = butta

    didn’t think the Mound was played all that flubby for as little as it’s been played live in the past years. still have vivid memories of the Mound from 10-28-95. Dark and ominous show that was.

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