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. kayatosh Says:

    listened to C&P for the first time. $$$. pace, feel, vocals — all nailed. ferocious jam.

  2. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Great seeing everyboey before the ful colonel toting that went down in there. Echoes of musical phrases are still bouncing through my head. Just basking in the goodness for a while. First sneakin,c&p, and walls for me. So worth the wait. C&p, never saw it comin.

  3. c0wfunk Says:

    lost my shape. trying to act casual.

  4. butter Says:

    click my name or the link below for a few pics of last night

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/41323963@N04/

  5. EL Duderino Says:

    Let Phish rest for a bit…

    Let’s get a T.A.B. tour cookin’

  6. c0wfunk Says:

    that sounds good el dude. I’d love to see red in asheville whoever he brings along 🙂

  7. c0wfunk Says:

    wasn’t there talk of a west coast tab tour in the works the other day?

  8. DukeOfLizards Says:

    @c0w

    Someone mentioned that PDX dates are almost definite, forget who.

  9. EL Duderino Says:

    @ c0w

    I believe that was Mr. C.
    But he also said that there were going to be “club” shows on the west coast.

  10. jdub Says:

    Really nice to hear everyone received the hose with open open arms last night. Set 2 was certainly the king giving us a non stop sonic blanket dipped in crunchy dance grooves, musical alchemy, and pure Phish fire (using Miners style cause it feels right).

    But set 1 was quite good in it’s own right. Walk Away had that place buzzing, Jibboo got funktified and gave me a fleeting what song are we in moment, then the Reba we’ve been waiting for to chill everyone out, only to be capped by a Walls of the Cave that peaked like no other.

    Spent set 1 in the 400s behind the stage with Jtran and company. Nice perch up there and the section was getting down hard. But had to get into the soup for set 2. Found a nice pocket on 200/300 level concourse behind Fishman. What a blissed out dance party, everyone fully engaged in some hardcore get down fueled by the band and various accouterments. Was pleasantly surprised to see Palmer bump into me before Bowie launched us back into orbit!

    A beautiful New Years run by the band made even better by chilling with so many BBers. A nice preshow moment receiving the sacrament with a group of BBers and then splintering off into the big house for unequivequally, without question the finest performance by this band in 2011.

  11. Robear Says:

    Leo, lots of purple lights last night in the Garden.

    Phish Spring Tour through Canada with Faux Trey and the look-a-likes.

  12. EL Duderino Says:

    ‘with Faux Trey and the look-a-likes.”-robear

    Do they have a mailing list??? 😉

  13. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    I am so pumped for the trey-free trey tour. There’s a possibility that I sit in for the toronto show. Better see you all there

  14. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Just got through my first re-spin of the Simple.

    Astounding.

  15. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Gotta love the 5 song set.

  16. willowed Says:

    Thanks for sharing the pics Butter. Get home safe!!

  17. EL Duderino Says:

    That’s funny ‘cuz I count 8 songs

  18. Angryjoggerz Says:

    Heading home, msg’d, great too see and meet some of you folks. Great weekend, really special one.

  19. AintNoTele Says:

    Butter:

    LLamalee and i are directly in front of you in this pic. I’m in the white next to ben, the tall one in blue. Small world

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/41323963@N04/4917101939/

  20. Angryjoggerz Says:

    Spanking air ass for Sally

  21. jtran Says:

    6 spasm. Please, 5 would be way too jammy 😉

  22. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Six song set. Plus two encores. Whatevs. I loved it.

  23. butter Says:

    Miner excellent write up

    agree 100%, set 2 – pure Phish at the top of their game, and had the best flow of any of the MSG sets

    the tube seemed to “juice” this show right form the second tune

    don’ think its possible for a band to communicate any more effectively than what i witnessed last night

    Kuroda killed it last night too, mind blowing stuff during Simple

    during Simple all the tension from the intense weekend was released into thin air

    MSG is a special place to see Phish

    see ya’ll in the bay

  24. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    If you get to the bus station 2 hours early you get to leave 2 hours early. Woo

  25. SillyWilly Says:

    So you think treys a liar??

    Him and sue really sparkin some Js late night??

    Haha. I thought that was really funny

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