The First of the Year

12.30.2010 - MSG (Graham Lucas)

On the first-ever Phish show on the first of January, Phish threw down a powerhouse performance that capped an unprecedented five-night New Year’s Run, and kicked off 2011 in style. A strong start-to-finish performance peaked with a seamless second set, as Phish punctuated the holiday season with its finest frame. Lacing together a series of improvisational selections, the band wove a non-stop tale of glory in a setlist that rolls of the tongue as naturally as it came off the stage. Without any filler and not a ballad to be seen, the band sculpted a stanza of straight fire that sent everyone home with a cornucopia of musical inspiration for the upcoming year.

1.1.11 (AJ Masthay)

With The Garden eating out the palm of their hands, Phish stepped on stage for the first second set of 2011 and promptly dropped a monster. Jump starting the party with “Crosseyed and Painless,” Phish tore into 2011 with a fire-filled excursion that showcased the well-oiled chops of a band who can once again do what they want, no questions asked. Exploring the song’s classic theme, Trey offered passionate leads over a chugging freight train of rhythm. Without pushing the boundaries of the song, the band swooped in on its jam like a predatory bird, methodically planning its attack, and executed it with precision and ferocity. Bringing “Crosseyed” to a numbing peak, Phish followed the aggressive opener with the more intricate textures of “Twist.”

Progressing into a percussive palette, the band members spun sparse, collaborative lines around each others’ offerings, while Fishman anchored the jam by alternating the tempo of his beats as well as the rhythms, themselves. Mike and Trey stepped out front of this spacious jam with their own two-way conversation that took center stage. Nuanced interplay between all band members throughout “Twist” foreshadowed the moments of the evening that were soon to follow in a transcendent “Simple” jam. Showcasing one of their summer standouts, Phish placed the anthemic vehicle in the spotlight of of the second set and came up with pure gold. A mellifluous jam gave way to an elegant section of open improv that provided the most soul-drenched moments of the entire show.

12.30.10 G.Lucas)

Slowly drifting out of “Simple’s” composed jam and into a mystical ambient soup, the band grabbed the attention of the entire building as they began to build towards the cosmos. Flowing organically, the band collectively built a emotional soundscape with a combination of spiritual guitar licks, warm piano comps, and original bass offerings. While the band navigated this piece as a musical amoeba, Trey initiated a melodic theme that the entire band connected to immediately, washing the audience away in a blissful musical tide that represented some of the most metaphysical moments of the entire Holiday Run. And just when one thought Phish might step back and drop a slower song as a late-set breather, they — instead — cranked up a filthy “Sneakin’ Sally!”

Moving through a mid-song vocal jam, Trey led the troops into the liquid groove with his now-familiar staccato leads that have been so prevalent all week long. As the band converged in rhythmic acrobatics, this swarthy dance session provided the ideal complement to “Simple’s” ethereal psychedelia. Trey wound down the jam with similar staccato picking, looped his pattern, and eased the band into “Maskisupa” with mellow reggae chords. Instead of a token late-set crowd-pleaser, Phish actually focused on this version and created something musically significant. Bringing the piece into slower and thicker territory, Mike pushed a drone bass groove while Trey looped a sparkling pattern underneath the dubbed-out experiment. The two guitarists encouraged their band mates to sculpt an abstract soundscape before sliding back into the ending of the song. Mike gave an “ting” of approval via foot bell before Fishman initiated the cymbal intro to “David Bowie.”

Only the second repeat in ten sets of music, “Bowie” brought an ominous final statement to this stellar set of Phish. Taking the jam in a unique direction, the band’s conversation favored the quiet and delicate before building the demonic intensity we have come to love from “Bowie” this year. The band responded to each others’ ideas with alacrity, leaving a musical path of comet dust behind them. Trey and Page collaborated like maestros on the top half of this piece while Fish and Mike gradually built a more forceful pocket. Popping into the final trills of the song, Phsh punctuated the Holiday Run with an impassioned exclamation point and were, subsequently, greeted with an extended ovation.

12.30.2010 Graham Lucas)

Though the second set flowed better than any of this short run, the first was also filled with great song selection, fusing a plethora of well-played old-schoolers with some post-hiatus rarities in “Round Room,” (the first of this era,) and “Walls of the Cave.” A second-song “Tube” got the show off and running with a brain-quenching hit of Phish crack, again featuring the staccato leads of Ernest the Red amidst a dynamic rhythmic exchange. Phish then rolled out the early-90s one-two punch  of “Jim,” “Foam;” both succinct versions that were played with notable precision. The compositional highlight of the opening half came in an ferocious “Divided Sky” that popped with far more energy than usual, while the improvisational highlights came in the raucous energy of “Walk Away,” and the liquid grooves of “Jibboo” and “Reba” — both top-shelf versions featuring locked-in, full-band exchanges.

12.30.10 (G.Lucas)

Following Halloween’s third-set version with another crushing “Jibboo,” Phish wasted no time splashing into the “Reba” that has been sitting out there all week. Framing the initial part of the jam with f rim shots, Fishman paced the music meticulously, prompting the band to follow his lead into an effortless fountain of aural pleasure. Another piece that with exquisite jamming, this “Reba” illustrated the virtuosity of the band’s listening skills while they simultaneously built to a monstrous catharsis. And to close the first half, Phish played the third “Walls of the Cave” of 2010, (which was technically the first version of 2011).

Following up a spectacular New Year’s performance, Phish dropped a legitimate beast to christen the new decade. With lock-step playing through and through, the band blasted into the new year with notable of passion, just as they wrapped  up the old one. Though we all must now get back to our lives away from Phish for a while, 2010 provided quite a ride…and 2011 only just begun!

Thanks for reading along this year folks! Stay tuned for a full recap of New Year’s Eve, and much more analysis of a triumphant 2010 Holiday Run to follow this week. But first, a long journey home…

I: My Soul, Tube, Runaway Jim, Foam, Guelah Papyrus, The Divided Sky, Round Room, Walk Away, Gotta Jibboo, Reba > Walls of the Cave

II: Crosseyed and Painless > Twist > Simple, Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley > Makisupa Policeman, David Bowie

E: Fee, Frankenstein

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769 Responses to “The First of the Year”

  1. Gavinsdad Says:

    C&P was drum tight.

  2. nedboy7 Says:

    king kong in nyc

  3. jon Says:

    What an awesome show except for some of the webcast snafoos… Great to hear round room again!

    Does anyone happen to have an extra show code for either the 12/31 or 1/1 show would be realllllly grateful. You’d think paying $15 for the webcast would come with the music, but apparently not! Please email me at svencasino@yahoo.com!

  4. kayatosh Says:

    Great review, miner. well-written and descriptive. I was there on the couch tour last night, locked in, wearing headphones (for at least 60% of the show). and i agree with your assessment.

    there were many moments and extended stretches of playing last night of effortless sonic honey – super premium phish magic (simple sneakin maki). I didn’t see or hear C&P or twist). four-headed beast in full effect. Two decades of playing together and developing their group sound. each one a virtuosic player. so fun to watch how they work.

    and there was some moments were trey tries a little too hard, gets stuck/lost and has to bail himself out with some tired sounding licks. I could swear i heard trey strugglin a few times in foam too. But i’ll take the whole package. jedi guitarist. tone control. a powerful right hand to match his inhumanely fast left hand.

    I also have a new appreciation for page after watching him up close. funky chops.

    and gordon – speechless. and fish – so soft, so nuanced. pocket power. $$$ players.

    what a night. what a band. gonna spin simple now. PEACE you all rock.

  5. Gavinsdad Says:

    3 nites in a row of 3:30 am bedtimes. Little groggy

  6. Dr. Pronoia Says:

    Personal circumstances were very different last night than MSG 1. Wisco had just lost, I was with my brother in law (who was in a pretty negative mindset), and what I thought were front row ticketbastard print outs almost got me kicked out of the garden during My Soul.

    But this show transcended all of that. Pure bliss through that second set, easily picking back up the peaks of jam-lock-improv that jibboo and reba had gotten going in frame one.

    What was especially courageous about the second set IMO was that they seemed to play it against the wishes of the crowd at times. I’d love to hear this as an AUD, because I was really trying to pay attention to the way the crowd’s enthusiasm could spur on, or prematurely end, a jam segment. Both happened last night, but they were especially stubborn – with amazing results – in the Simple. They just blissed right through several roars from the crowd that seemed both: “THIS IS FUCKING AMAZING” and “time for the next song.”

    That creative persistence was maybe lacking in the other MSG sets, at least night 1, where they would respond to that roar and just drop another huge, raging, crowd favorite.

    Anyway, another huge victory for phish, over all sorts of personal stuff…

    Great time with all of the BB’ers I saw night one and managed to see briefly last night

  7. kayatosh Says:

    9 mins. into simple it’s like they’re starting a brand new phish song that no one’s ever heard before a slow steady bliss chord jam.

  8. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Best show of my life. Who’s got my spring tour rumours?

  9. JerZ Says:

    What was the other repeated song besides for Bowie?

  10. SillyWilly Says:

    I kinda dig when Trey pushes himself so far that he gets lost. Remninds me of the great bop guys like diz and bird.

    The mistakes are just as beautiful as the well executed.

    Id prefer the composed sections stay sharp, but no big deal

  11. kayatosh Says:

    best sally ever. find me better.

  12. JerZ Says:

    12/30/97 was a REALLY Good Sally

  13. kayatosh Says:

    well put, silly. the thrill of no net.

  14. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Great meeting all you cool cats

  15. SillyWilly Says:

    Totally, Kaya

    In all of its obviousness it reflects life as it really is.

    But also to my mind when the band takes big chances they are saying a big Fuck You to the western and classical tradition of aesthetics

    Haha. I know its weird how I think but I can’t help it.

  16. albert walker Says:

    Airport bound. Flying back. What a concept.

    From rock n roll through frankenstein this run was $$$

    Boys were loose and confident. That was a fuckin phish set.

    Nice seeing yall out there.

    Welcome back to the good team. Perfect show for that.

    Laterz

  17. albert walker Says:

    Was talking about willowd in last post about his. Show treats

  18. kayatosh Says:

    best maki ever? top two, at least.

  19. Gavinsdad Says:

    Yeah @JerZ. I’ll look forward to comparing both of those Sallys. I saw them both live and had real memories of seeing the 97 version last nite.

    Safe travels AW. Good seeing you and K for sure.

  20. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Still love the gorge sally

  21. Mitch Says:

    Don’t let Robear crash @ your place. The kid doesn’t sleep in!

  22. kevdog burning Says:

    seeing how phish made it in ny, i am pretty sure they can make it anywhere. last night was over the top fun.

  23. gavinsdad Says:

    never used my dasani cap @DF…i shoulda hooked you up 😉 Honestly, i was PARCHED and would not leave the show to go get a bottle of water. that’s how good it was. didn’t wanna miss a minute.

  24. KWL Says:

    That cap was clutch

  25. Robear Says:

    As I wipe off the crust and cobwebs, wondering how the heck Miner wrote this piece already!

    Two things come to mind:

    We can make the world a better place by focusing on the health and well being of all children.

    Last night = $$$$

    P.S. Parts of the ‘jiboo’ jam sounded like a ‘SOAM’ jam

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