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. Matso Says:

    I had a gut feeling about 1/1 just the way I did for Manchester and I am so glad that it was the one show out of the three MSG where I braved the cold, lonely night here to stay up and watch the webstream (the proceedings kicked off at about 1am GMT and it was 4:35am by the time the last notes from Frankenstein rang out through my headphones). No problems at all with the stream save for getting dropped for a few moments at set break and a bit of chopiness in the second set.

    Couldn’t have asked for more from that show. Blistering first set (I don’t even like My Soul, but that version smoked and everything from there was just great, esp. the Tube, Reba and WOTC) and fantasy Phish in the second (I was sure we were going to get a forgiveable Caspian, Joy, Let Me Lie or something like that , but they just stormed through everything).

    Glad everyone had their brains fried at the show. While the webstream doesn’t even come close to the live experience (it’s a third or so of the cost, but like 1/10th as good as the real thing), it’s still pretty sweet for those of who can’t see shows every tour, much less every year.

    Have a happy 2011 BBers!

  2. weekapaug Says:

    So my buddy ran into some of Phish’s road crew over the weekend. Word is, Phish will be in Europe late winter/early spring. Anyone else hear anything about this?

  3. butter Says:

    simple, sally some of my favorite Phish ever ……easily

    the interspeed communication before and especially after the vocal jam is off the charts, that high speed psych funk – i’m all about it

  4. kayatosh Says:

    my soul is bottom of my list as well, matso, but i loved last night’s version. tube had that extra juice.

    set II last night is a contender for best set of 3.0. pure flow. spinnin the twist now. $$$ version. on point, powerful.

  5. albert walker Says:

    Last nights 2nd set is what we chase

    Those sets may be a little fewer and far between then wed like but I was totally blown away

    No fluff at all. Trey just slaying it

    Too bad this tour just isn’t starting

    Plane taking off
    Back to work

  6. willowed Says:


    I think that second set only had three songs 😉

    Crosseyed >All Out Dance Party* >Bowie

    *first time played

  7. willowed Says:

    This new calypso style funk plunking makes me get the fuck down.

    Love this new style…freakin’ love it

  8. Matso Says:

    @weekapaug –
    That had better be true!! I haven’t heard anything along those lines, but it’s what I dream about every night.

  9. kayatosh Says:

    1.1.2011 simple might deserve its own wing in the phish pantheon of $$$ songs.

  10. kayatosh Says:

    it seems they were picking up on each other’s ideas and playing off each other better than ever in that second set, from top to bottom.

  11. Matso Says:

    I know, I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard them go into that glorious jam at the end. Jaw drop moment.

  12. lot rat Says:

    whats the dirt on a west coast trey run? its been over 5 years since they poked there heads out this way. i highly doubt we will see phish til the summer, and if watkins glen goes down i think the structure of summer tour willl be different than the last two.

    maybe west in june/early july, then alpine>dc>watkins in august.

    never to early to speculate.

  13. butter Says:

    agree wholeheartedly about Trey having us eating out of the palm of his hand

    he truly loves that we love him

  14. phoammhead Says:

    great show last night and an amazing time here in NYC! BEK and I will be making half the drive back to Asheville today – we’re getting a slow start, if you can imagine. 🙂

    we’ve got all the shows locked and loaded for the drive home . . . but, first we’ll try to catch a few more sights here in the big apple – time square and statue of liberty!

    take care and safe travels to those of you traveling home.

    thank you MrMiner for your reviews on this short run and i look forward to reading your new years eve writeup.

  15. kayatosh Says:

    how bout that makisupa dub spaceland excursion? $$$

  16. Mr. Completely Says:


    “I know I usually say that I could never do that again. Too much to think about and all that yada yada yada.
    Well MSG makes you do wacky things.”


  17. willowed Says:

    I am not sure about you guys but I find myself sitting here at 1:00 p.m. reflecting on what went down last night. There are so many little swanky things that the boys did last night.
    Easily the best show of 3.0 that I have ever seen. Hands down.

    I was mush in Trey’s hands last night.

  18. willowed Says:

    Mr. C. I feel like a different person. Such an elevated sense of peace and hapiness.
    It was so special
    TIII and I just walked aroung the city for a few hours after the show. it was bliss.
    So blissed out. TIII is good people!!

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    “and then watch the Eagles try to get respectable again.”

    you’re already watching next season’s games somehow?

  20. willowed Says:

    we stood outside Macy’s for la while just lookng at the window displays.


  21. EL Duderino Says:

    @ willowed

    Don’t worry reality will smack you in the face @ 6:00am tomorrow!! 😉

    I hear ya’ though… Leaving a show feeling like you are is what we chase. We all left 10/16 feelin’ the same way… “Elated” is the word that comes to mind.

  22. Mr. Completely Says:

    re: west coast

    I kept talking about west coast phish dates as a joke

    I haven’t said anything about TAB dates and don’t know anything

  23. SillyWilly Says:

    I’m super pumped by what happened last night, but I definitely have that little whisper of… it’s a long time till the next show

    I say this every couple of months, but my Phish craving only gets stronger and stronger.

    I strive to walk the path of the Head

  24. ThePigSong Says:

    stoked to read such glowing reviews of last night! Can’t believe I didn’t schedule us to stay in NYC for one. more. night.

    I must be a supreme idiot since I can’t figure out the dl from livephish for NYE…

    pulling 1.1.11 and gonna spin while on a run this afternoon 🙂

    cheers to 2011, phish & the bb!

  25. lot rat Says:

    there was an article in jambase or glide last spring w/ hartswick, she said they def. had plans on doing shows out west (the question was asked specifically re: west trey). at the time it sounded as it might happen later that year, possibly this spring.

    Here’s hoping for few midweek shows at the fillmore here in SF.

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