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. HarryHood Says:

    Night fellas, Happy New Year to you all!

  2. plord Says:

    Good night folks, Happy New Year!

  3. BrandonKayda Says:

    Happy New Year everyone!

    See you tomorrow night – set II was $$$ and Meatstick on Broadway plus Slave and the First Tube round out set III to a $$

  4. Leo Weaver Says:

    So the second set was pretty fucking hot. The NYE prank was brilliant. We had champagne, fireworks in the street, the Pheesh cranked to 11…good times.

    Father, son, and holy GHOST!

    Oh, and for the record…that was NOT a Manteca tease. Or coincidental chords.

  5. jdub Says:

    Slave and First Tube ended this show on a real nice note. That Slave seemed special to me. Nothing out of hand but just beautifully plaid with a nice peak.

    A great show from my couch, hope everyone enjoyed their stream. Got to get some sleep and get to the city.

  6. tela'smuff Says:

    Happy new year! I luv u all!

    Am I off bade proclaiming that ghost an all-timer?

  7. Leo Weaver Says:

    And the stream quality wasn’t as good tonight.

    Happy New Year from Leo, Duder, NTMarshall, and Guyute!

  8. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    Definitely just a Manteca tease – it’s the same nuggett Trey’s been dropping for years.

    Whoaoooh shocks my brain!

  9. tela'smuff Says:

    2nd set was fantastic

  10. Leo Weaver Says:

    No Telas. Guyute will argue for one of best ever. Not so sure about that, but best of 3.0 perhaps. It reminded me of the Went Gin. A LOT.

    Merry New Year! To Mrs. Telas as well.

  11. Selector J Says:

    Happy New Year!
    Fireworks raging on the east side. PYITE raging… again.

  12. tela'smuff Says:

    Hey SC crew! Happy f’in NY

  13. SillyWilly Says:

    Fuck it…I don’t want to go to bed.

  14. c0wfunk Says:

    happy happy o my friends..

    laughing in stitches during the meatstickpalooza that was genius..

    loved the cypress reprise tonight.

    well played..

    oh yeah one more! Trey forgot lol.. hope ya’ll rang it in nice. Ended up being a blast round here.

    back to the mtns tomorrow, praise icculus.

  15. Leo Weaver Says:

    We missed ya Telas. There was another Jeff here who looks like your twin bro…kept thinking you were here. He’s from Ohio too.

  16. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    Tela – you suck – shoulda been here!

    Nice Ghost! That Sleeping Monkey rocked as well.

  17. tela'smuff Says:

    Man. We did best here. We gots mad love for you all.

    Best NYE prank eva.

    Lovin the boys and the vibe and the BB crew right now.

  18. BrandonKayda Says:

    What Manteca tease?

  19. BrandonKayda Says:


    I’ve been staying up until 4/5am regularly since Sunday – sleep is for…well-rested people I guess. Anyways, I don’t suggest it 😀

  20. tela'smuff Says:


  21. Leo Weaver Says:



  22. c0wfunk Says:

    nah there was no manteca tease. wishful thinking, that. They’ll never play that song again


  23. c0wfunk Says:

    oh yeah

    crab in my shoe mouth

  24. BrandonKayda Says:

    That should be “I don’t recommend it” – and sleep for for tired people, not well rested people. If you’re well rested, you’ve probably slept already – so don’t be greedy about it.

    Anyways, tomorrow night should be fun

  25. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    Sleep is for Wilson

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