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. albert walker Says:

    31 set 2 had everything

    Psychedelia funk with sand and ghost

    Hard rock in 46 days and. Dwd

    Treys best set of the run imo

  2. neemor Says:

    Great Disease here…hearing it for 1st time>Ghost…

    Check out this recently discovered Vietnamese cave, great pics:
    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/01/largest-cave/peter-photography

  3. Hoedown Says:

    31 set 2 had everything

    Psychedelia funk with sand and ghost

    Hard rock in 46 days and. Dwd

    Treys best set of the run imo

    ^ I couldn’t agree more. Favorite set of the run for sure for me.

  4. joechip Says:

    AW-

    Nice description of the pattern/formula of the recent syncopated jams on last page. That’s what I’ve been noticing, and what I thought paid off so well on this run.

    I hear Little Feat in that approach for sure.

  5. kayatosh Says:

    12.31 ghost gives 12/28 Hood a run for top jam of tour. those two are the top two. the ghost is a thing of beauty. high octave riffage.

  6. plord Says:

    What’s up gang. I had a long flight to day and you know what that means: recapping some of the highlights of the Holiday run 🙂

    Woost Hood. I have “was there/on floor/with BBers raging all around” bias, but this holds up for me. I keep coming back around to the fact that despite hearing two takes on the clockwork funk in this show already at that point, its emergence at the start of this jam was a complete surprise and the crowd was all over it from the first bar. I won’t compare to Hoods I didn’t see, but for this year I think Woost beats out Greek, baaarely.

    MSG Tweezer. Completely Red led shred through the 9.5 min point, with a nice peak. @11 min Trey and Mike go for the clockworks but Page stays untethered with the outer space noises on the Yamaha. 12:15 Mike goes for the meatball. This is a solid funk but disconnected. However, PAY ATTENTION TO MIKE for the duration, he is laying it down HARD. At the 14 min mark Page finally goes to ground with the rest of the band and the crowd *immediately* responds. We know what we like. Prediction: if Page goes for the Clav at the 11min mark instead of waiting those 3 crucial minutes, we are talking this Tweezer up endlessly in the comments section of Miner’s 2500 word explication of its many nuances. If they had put a stronger ending on that Light, or not botched the Theme, we’d be talking about that set just as much as 1/1.

    MSG Ghost: Oh hell yes. Reminds me of the Veneta Playin’. Pretty much one consistent and quick tempo throughout, everybody locked in, extended peak, not one wasted note. Monstrous. It’s just phenomenal.

    I have nothing to add to the discussion of 1/1 set 2 that hasn’t already been said. It’s all that. The Twist and Simple do it for me.

    FWIW, Phish Help Desk came back to me and offered all 3 nights free download to atone for the stream issues. I graciously accepted.

  7. kayatosh Says:

    have a $$$ night everyone. peace. thanks for the good discussion.

  8. ThePigSong Says:

    alright fuck it – I was going to save the Ghost re-listen for tomorrow…but here goes

  9. albert walker Says:

    I’m retired from rating jams

    I’ll leave that to pros like miner and kaya inventor of the $$$ scale

    But this ghost is my favorite peak I’ve caught since the went gin

    Of course I can’t remember the late 90s for shit

  10. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Mike is the MVP of the MSG Ghost, IMO.

  11. themanatee Says:

    mike definitely lays it down hard during the tweezer

  12. butter Says:

    for me picking between 12.31 and 1.1 set 2 is like choosing which child i like best

    love both, but they are very different

    12.31 had more adrenaline pumping peaks

    1.1 had better flow, no filler, and the delicate interplay

  13. Mr.Miner Says:

    anyone have links to stream rips of the 30th or 1st…got NYE

  14. poop goblin Says:

    was that our Waste sign guy Trey was ripping on before Tweezer that was holding the Jennifer Dances sign?

    seems like his style

  15. Mr.Miner Says:

    Mike is the MVP of the MSG Ghost, IMO.

    ^ ?really? I haven’t heard Trey shred a jam > peak like that in ages.

  16. Mr.Miner Says:

    I’m retired from rating jams

    I’ll leave that to pros like miner and kaya inventor of the $$$ scale

    ^ rating jams = bad idea.

    appreciate all music for what it is…

    That Hood though…for me….without rating it, was an experience of a lifetime

  17. poop goblin Says:

    OK kids

    off to spin some of this shit. been a great year. thanks for your effort as always Miner

    starting to try to get my head back in to babylon work mode

    could be tough

    laterz

  18. poop goblin Says:

    yeah for me Miner I’d say Greek Light, Miami Tweezer, and MSG Ghost hit me there

    just that old school phish life altering peak

    I wasn’t in the building for Hood

    I’m probably just jealous.

    sounded hip as hell on tape

  19. butter Says:

    did cardio to the MSG Tweez today and recommend it

    easy 20 minutes

  20. Mr.Miner Says:

    Greek light, Miami tweezer are right up there FOR SURE!!

  21. P.S.H.S Says:

    1111 has gusto. The Sally might be my favorite 3.0 moment. They really crush it, very swanky, that funk will give your funk the funk

  22. butter Says:

    simple, sally was just redic

  23. sumodie Says:

    Finally home after a multitude of epic adventures in nyc -exhausted yet supremely satisfied

    Last two shows were freakin’ unbelievable (as you already know) -meatstick prank was brilliant, topping last year’s

    had the BEST time with my CO buddies -though perhaps we three were a bit too crazy for my partner (who opted for 4 operas, only the Phish NYE set 3, and no fluff) -guess we were not in sync for much of the weekend, oops

    MSG’s sound was back to being pristine, IMO. Last year I thought it wasn’t up to snuff. We sat in 3 very different locations (215 behind stage, 427 opposite stage, and 48 Page side half court) and the sound was always great

    My buds had never seen a Phish MSG show -their minds were blown the very first night, especially when they felt the entire room shake. The energy in that venue was just so perfect, IMO. WOW!!! Perhaps the best energy I’d felt at a Phish show in 3.0.

    Roaming the streets post show was a delight too -the window displays in Saks 5th Avenue were particularly trippy. Not to mention the ‘Portal’ we discovered on the north side of the NY Public Library, lol -too hard to explain

    After the 30th show, we wound up at a fantastic bar called Papillon up on 54th & 5th, where I was introduced to Delirium Tremens Belgian Beer. Made the mistake of having one too many there after the 1st show and apparently I disappeared for 3 hours, arriving back to the room at 5:30am. Haven’t done that in ages -I didn’t realize the beer was 8.5% alcohol. One is never too old to be a complete idiot….

    But on the 2nd I made it up to my partner and we hit the Met to check out a couple fantastic exhibits: Art in the age of Kublai Khan and the painter Jan Gossart. We wrapped up our NYC trip by seeing an incredible performance of Monteverdi’s Vespers in a gorgeous Episcopalian Church down near Broadway. A great way to close out the weekend……and then I promptly got sick last night (but better now)

    Glad to hear so many of you also had an awesome time with Phish -how could you not? Twas great to see some of you, albeit briefly, but there’s (thankfully) more Phish on the horizon.

    The future looks brighter than ever for this amazing band and its (mostly) great fan community. Happy New Year to the Blackboard!

    And thanks, Miner, for making this all possible here

    I.Am.Exhausted….

  24. P.S.H.S Says:

    ^almost crashed my truck when it came on today

  25. P.S.H.S Says:

    The last part of simple is a freight train, really powerful stuff, I had a wow moment

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