Energy and Exploration

12.30.2010 Graham Lucas)

Phish came to New York locked and loaded with almost everything in their arsenal and a national audience of webcasters in tow to blow up the final days of 2010. But responding to the massive, self-built, hype Phish threw down a high-energy show that didn’t flow as nearly as organically as the two nights in Worcester. What amounted to a greatest hits parade with two significant jams, Phish played a certain crowd-pleaser that felt somewhat contrived for setlist — and potentially Internet — purposes. One song smashed right into another for most of the night in a show that carried the opposite vibe of the emotionally driven, delicate and nuanced jamming that took place in Massachusetts.

12.30 Print (Masthay)

The unquestionable centerpiece of the evening came in a gargantuan and exploratory second-set opening “Tweezer.” A jam that was distinctly split down the middle in two halves, Phish got into some tight “Tweezer” jamming for the first, and went into more abstract mode for the second. But the entire piece didn’t totally work for me for a couple reasons. First, after the initial no-brainer crack-grooves that kicked off the jam, the contained jamming sounded rather generic with some serious Trey work layered over the top. And then when the band jumped from ship to shore and explored like Lewis and Clark, they didn’t come up with all that much engaging material. Truly hooking up for only a few minutes of a largely meandering jam, Phish took this “Tweezer” deep into the forest, but spent more of the time searching for musical gold than discovering any.

Some sparse ambient interplay began the second jam segment as Mike stepped out front while everyone else laid back with minimalist offerings. Creating a quiet canvas, the band got into some intricate interplay, tossing ideas back and forth but never developing them for too long. However, when Page and Trey played staccato notes into a bubbling rhythmic pocket, the band did lock into a section of awesome atmospheric experimentation that morphed into the most exciting moments of the night. While I certainly applaud the effort and enjoy the several minutes of unique music that the band found deep into this version, it seemed very atypical of modern Phish to play a jam of this nature and not come up with a colossal payoff.

When looking at the year of 2010 and the song “Light,” one wouldn’t have been crazy to assume that MSG’s year-end version would blown up. But after the many jaw-dropping versions from fall, the song’s final outing left something to be desired. A disjointed opening of the jam came together for an experimental final segment of that seemed like it might bring the band somewhere significant. Yet, before this sequence was allowed to breathe, Phish quickly moved onto a rather sloppy “Theme” before anything really took off. Perhaps it was the pressure of the the big stage plus the webcast that effected the band last night, but much of the much of Phish’s playing felt forced and pre-packaged rather than fluid and organic.

12.30.2010 (G.Lucas)

The rest of the second set contained lots of songs but little substance to speak of aside from a few choice licks in “2001.” To be honest, this show felt much more like MSG ’09 than it did MSG 2010. Phish came out with a fiery setlist, but even their one exploratory jam couldn’t approach the mastery of last year’s “Light” played in the same building. All in a all, it was a fun show, but little, if any, groundbreaking music went down. The locked and loaded highlight of the night came in the first set “Bathtub Gin,” a scorching version that lit up the room proper. Playing collaboratively like no other time in the evening, the band nailed the final “Gin” of the year and cleverly followed it up with Little Feat’s “Fat Man In a Bathtub” — the welcome return of Waiting For Columbus’ opener. This peak of the first set continued as Phish took a full head of steam into “Timber Ho,” completing, in my opinion, the most high-octane three-song sequence of the evening.

12.30.2010 (G.Lucas)

Phish came out firing to start the first set with a string of favorites that included a “Cities” opener, a rare “Quinn The Eskimo,” and a scorching “Maze.” But also included in this sequence was a fourteen-year flashback to the Fleet Center’s first set of 12.30.96 when the PA cut out during “Funky Bitch.” This time the same sound problem happened during Camel Walk,”  but unlike the Fleet Center, Page was the only one who noticed the debacle while the rest of the band played on as if nothing had happened.

When the dust settles, though this show may have been fun, it doubt it will be remembered as one of the stronger efforts of this Holiday Run — and who would have expected me to say that with a twenty minute “Tweezer” involved! Compromising musical authenticity for setlist fire and a non-stop rock show, the band threw down an evening that didn’t build off Worcester, but arguably took a step backwards, with no jam approaching the virtuoso communication present in “Seven Below > What’s the Use?” or “Harry Hood.” I, now, wonder if this pay-per-view Phish is what we will see the next two nights, or if the band will play with the natural dynamics that were displayed throughout Worcester and most of fall tour, regardless what song they played.

Today, we step onto the fifteen year anniversary of of 12.31.95, the best New Year’s Eve show ever played indoors. And Phish finds themselves on the same stage as they did on that monumental evening so many years ago. In a building that used to house guaranteed Phish money shots, the band has now played four “energy-based” gigs within the confines of Madison Square Garden this era. Let’s hope the next two follow the trend of fall tour as evinced in Worcester, and are not a reprise into the setlist-based shows of Fall ’09. With a lot of anthems on the table, tonight could go either way. But New Year’s Eve and MSG just spell magic…we shall see in a short while.

Happy New Years Eve to all!

I: Cities, Chalk Dust Torture, Gumbo, Quinn the Eskimo, Halley’s Comet > Camel Walk*, Maze, Driver, Bathtub Gin, Fat Man in the Bathtub, Timber Ho, Golgi Apparatus, Character Zero

II: Tweezer > Light > Theme From the Bottom > My Friend, My Friend, Axilla, Fluffhead, Boogie On Reggae Woman > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Suzy Greenberg

E: Run Like an Antelope, Tweezer Reprise

* w/ PA issues

1,056 Responses to “Energy and Exploration”

  1. tela'smuff Says:

    I agree with miner. I liked the first set for song selection. Liked maze
    , fatman, and timber.

    I thought tweez was excellent. Without comparing it, I was just happy to have some much needed exploration. The groove mike and fish laid down was strong.

    After tweez nothing excited me. All fun stuff, but not 12/30 worthy.

    So far we’ve got really nice parts to each show, but i’m still waiting for a complete two set throwdown.

    Page was mvp last night.

  2. jdub Says:

    @Dr. P, log in any time. A very good stream by the way with no audio disruption.

    Great to hear from all you guys on site. I can just picture everyone scattered around the city, picking up the pieces as you sip a coffee, and scheming about tonights plans. Or sleeping.

  3. c0wfunk Says:

    im a fan of 12/31/98 over 12/31/95 .. and no contest that big cypress is the NYE to rule them all..

    “I was afraid that the stream pressure would squash the magic, and that seems to be the case imo. ”

    a big reason I’ve been against the idea of streaming in the past. Was a big hit on couch tour, but maybe loses a little live. Not sure that trade works for me, personally.

    Course maybe I’m just bitter because I get no stream or show.


    glad alll had fun

  4. KWL Says:

    The show took a while to get going for me, really until that absolutely spectacular gin fatman timber section. I was completely locked in during gin, & fatman took me right back to ac. Timber was unexpected, but I think miner is right about the flow. Strange choices/placement a couple times

    the tweezer was massive and flowed so well. Can’t disagree more with miner here, and I doubt I’ll change my mind on relisten. it blew up and the crowd responded. There were a bunch of downed phishies in my section though

    After that was a brief touch of psychedelia in light and some high energy, dance party phish. They tapped the garden energy to the max in mife Scilla fluff and closed with some grooves

    the antelope was a nice surprise

    This show was big and in your face, with a truly great piece of the new phish sound to lead off set 2. $$$

  5. c0wfunk Says:

    “and who would have expected me to say that with a twenty minute “Tweezer” involved!”

    not me for one! nice to keep us on our toes miner. 🙂

  6. willowed Says:

    You know the stream was on Trza’s mind based on the Jennifer Dances quote before the Tweezer. He wanted the streamers to hear that me thinks. Then again, who knows.

    Miner this review is spot on. I did like the Tweezer a bit more than you though. I hung on every note last night. I had no outside influence just me and my wife and a volume nob turned to 11.
    Gin – Communication and energy flowed in the version
    Timber – Took it out there a bit. They pushed
    Tweezer – I loved “the search” for something. I thought they found it. Will relisten.
    Those were the goods

    Fun show though. I had a blast.

  7. KWL Says:

    wolf hood tweezer

    staccato style approach to the 3.0 ambient jamming style. Love it

  8. Angryjoggerz Says:

    Solo eggs mission right now, rise and shine styleeeee. Gonna hit the Guggenheim me thinks. Last night was a ton of fun, personal high was the much chased Timber, heavy shit. Maze too. Great to meet dr p, butterfly and neems. Bring on night 2? How was the stream? Chelsea hotel is a freak showz, good stuff.

  9. nonoyolker Says:

    Miner summed up my thoughts about last night’s show perfectly. Something just didn’t click and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Definitely had a good time, tons of high energy moments, but I see phish shows for more than just a good time. To me, Trey seemed a little tentative. Only show I am catching for the holiday run, but oh well

    Highlights: Gin, some of the Tweezer (Miner is spot on, they clicked for a few min which was a solid payoff, but there was significant meandering), and 2001 had some heat. I thought Page was money all night.

    Have a great time tonight and happy new year!

  10. albert walker Says:

    Agreed on lack of flow in first set

    And the greatest hits second set isn’t my thing

    But timber maze bathtub and tweezer were fire

    I love the tweezer but I didn’t dig the worcester hood so we aren’t agreeing here

    I feel all 3 so far have been fairly weak shows but I didn’t dig worcester 1 at all outside 7 below

    That show sucked

  11. butterflyeffect Says:

    I also see where Miner is coming from here as the second set did leave a little to be desired in the jamming department, and while I thought the Tweezer was delicious, it was a bit of a blue-ball. Like that chic you’ve had your eye on at work/school, you finally get her back to your place, you open a bottle of, oh, I don’t know, Remy Martin, one thing leads to another, but she ends up saying she’s on her period and she finishes you off with a handjob. Did that make any sense?

    We must not be blinded by second set favoritism, however. I have yet to relisten, but that first set was molten lava all over my face last night. Maze was devilish, Fatman Gin intricate and evocative, Timber a communcative with, as Miner likes to say, the occult.

    The first set was two sets split by Driver, and both raged. Can’t wait to relisten. After having been at Worcester both nights, I would take 12/30 over 12/27 and 12/28. Trey shredded hard and there was peak interplay as well, especially from Trey and Page. Fishman played like a man possessed in parts. Second half of second set was a little too anthemy, but other than that, a $$$ show in my mind before listening again.

  12. willowed Says:

    @ Del
    “last night i miracled some guy at 8:15, rather than walk in the building because i knew what was to come.
    i hope the guy in sec 76, Row 4, Seat 1 had a blast…”

    Dumbest comment I’ve ever read on this site

  13. jdub Says:

    Gin>Fatman>Timber had me dialed in last night on my couch. That Timber came across as a rolling monster to my ears and the Gin>Fatman combo works really well, both with wordplay and musically.

  14. c0wfunk Says:

    for real willowed.

  15. albert walker Says:

    So I say all 3 so shows far haven’t worked well

    Step it up Trey

    Still feel tweezer was a great jam

    Havent spun yet

  16. SillyWilly Says:

    I need to rush to the store to go buy REO Speedwagon’s NOT SO Silent Night Christmas album.

    Yes, I just saw a commercial for it.

  17. KWL Says:

    forgot about the maze. Also hot

    don’t get the tweezer hate but that’s ok

    At least the haters will come out en mass (what up Ned??), my favorite days on the board are bad review days

  18. albert walker Says:

    Agree this show wasn’t great

    But maze timber gin and tweezer raged imo

  19. Mr.Palmer Says:

    I had a blast last night.

    Cities was a fun opener. Quinn had the crowd going wild. From Camel Walk on i enjoyed the playing. The Bathtub segments were def highlight material.

    Loved Tweezer>Light. No mention of the Antelope encore. I thought it was pretty ferocious myself.

    Last night was pretty much what i expected from msg #1.

    KWL- i ended up right in front of 102, in sec 41 with a friend i ran into. Phone batt. died.. yadda yadda. catch you guys on saturday.

  20. tela'smuff Says:

    Seems like most of us here get that there’s been moments, but the boys need to bring a complete show tonight.

  21. Angryjoggerz Says:

    I thought the tweezer was heat. The tweez>light dream team was not as hype as one would have hoped. What was up with the Boogie ? Feedback crash.

  22. KWL Says:

    Maybe were stepping back into the gamehendge time factory tonight

    give me a hot sand & ghost & I’ll be happy

    so much more goodness coming

  23. kenny powers Says:

    “staccato style approach to the 3.0 ambient jamming style. Love it”

    This, re: Tweez. I can see the argument that it didn’t really go to a specific place per se, but damn I was feeling that groove and the overall sonic soundscape and texture they were weaving. Then again I love the ambient meandering stuff so I guess I’m biased. i think sometimes in late 1.0 and 2.0 they meandered a bit too far sometimes, but this Tweez was perfect length i thought.

  24. kenny powers Says:

    i guess my biggest disappointment was that halfway through that Light jam I thought “this could be a set for the ages”…..tough being a jaded vet sometimes

  25. jdub Says:

    The stream had Mike’s from NYE ’95 playing during setbreak. The game has changed for these guys, that Mike’s came from a youthful fire that isn’t the same drive the boys have today.

    But they have touched on that fire in each show this run. They will put together a set that leaves everyone speachless by the end of 1/1/11. It’s almost as if Trey has only a handful of really astounding ideas and he wants to spread them out. There is a certain calculated demeanor coming from him, comes across in the “clockwork” jams they have developed thus far. But I thought Worcester set 2 was extremely organic, patient, and explosive at times. Wait till they bring that to a set filled with Waves, Ghost, SOAM, and a Liquid Time debut.

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