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. jdub Says:

    Sally vocal jam was hot stuff, and the way they come out of it was even better. Teasing everyone with a reentry until finally slamming back into the jam.

    Love this 1111 MSG set 2. One of the very few sets from 3.0 that I feel compelled to listen straight through.

    Set 1 was extremely strong as well. It can get brushed over but it was easily the best opening frame of the run.

  2. Mr.Miner Says:

    the msg is the msg simple.

    the greek simple is the greek simple.

    get over comparisons…

    Happy New Year!!!!

  3. Mr.Miner Says:

    worcester 2 set 1 is also bomb

  4. butter Says:

    Simple was soooo damn beautiful

  5. Mr.Miner Says:

    qyestion – what program plays the ripped msg steams?

  6. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Greetings Phanners:

    Spent the Holidays in Alaska with my girl’s family and am just now starting to give a proper listen to the MSG shows. Have to agree that something happened in the RnR on the 31st that elevated it all to the next level for the duration and through the otherworldly 1/1 show. Tangible even on the tapes. I think 46 Days is such a great example of the “musical density” that we’ve all been referring to over the past year. Clocking in at only 7:30, but hose on full blast. Not a wasted note in that sonofabitch.

    Love the tweez from the 30th. Fire.

  7. Mr.Miner Says:

    butter – back in the bay buddy…what a trip.

  8. Mr.Palmer Says:

    call me crazy i love 12/30 set I. Lots of good stuff. fun times.

    Miner- you almost took me out during Reba. Good times. 🙂

  9. Mr.Palmer Says:

    miner- VLC for mac

  10. KfL Says:

    sorry chuck… what i really need to do is get myself a vape

    miner, try vlc media player

  11. Mr.Miner Says:

    @ palmer…we were next to each other for Reba? What were you wearing?

  12. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ not that I’d remember ? 😉 were you with GDiddy?

  13. joechip Says:

    re: musical density…1/1/11 Tube took the concept to another level. Never thought a four minute Tube could be so damn satisfying.

    1/1/11 set 2 was just exactly perfect.

  14. kayatosh Says:

    don’t sleep on the staccato hood from 12.28. it’s like musical pointillism. $$$.

  15. Mr.Palmer Says:

    miner- yeah for Jibboo thru end of set I. Grey NY Giants shirt. w/ Gdiddy.

  16. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Palmasterflash- Were you in the building on the 1st? Finally get your C&P?

  17. joechip Says:

    Thank you Leo Weaver for making 1/1/11 a reality for me. I’ll never forget that night. Crosseyed>Twist>Simple, Sally>Makisupa>Bowie…permanently tattooed on my soul.

  18. kayatosh Says:

    @joechip. agree about the tube. 12.30 gumbo was similarly dense and satisfying.

  19. Mr.Palmer Says:

    vegflarrdog- yes sir!

  20. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Has Walls of the Cave converted anyone into fans yet? Shit was ripped up. Trey was loving the closing peaks…

  21. joechip Says:

    Here’s hoping the staccato approach sticks around Trey’s arsenal for a while. It really paid off in spades this run.

  22. BingosBrother Says:

    Palmer FTW. spinning it now for the first time.

  23. BingosBrother Says:

    Has to joe c. Can’t wait for A Clockwork Traffic Light!

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    you folks are acting like this was the first time Trey used staccato fun leads…it has been a part of his arsenal forever….the entire run was amazing, but IMO, Hood is in a different league than everything else played.

    ps: sorry Palmer!

  25. albert walker Says:

    Msg sand and ghost

    So timeless. Blown away

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