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. Mr. Completely Says:

    @willowed, as much as I love the music, I firmly believe that the music is just a means to an end – and the point is to create a situation where experiences like yours can happen

    way to make the most of it

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    alrighty one more day with the ‘rents

  3. SillyWilly Says:

    “I firmly believe that the music is just a means to an end – and the point is to create a situation where experiences like yours can happen.”

    I love this^^^

  4. SillyWilly Says:

    my neck hurts like i just played a football game from dancing during the webcast

    im pretty uncomfortable. haha.

  5. Oldskool Says:

    So thrilled to hear everyone was so profoundly touched by last night’s show. It is so special when that happens.

    I will need to re-spin but it is all about that Simple to me. It literally sounded like the band was writing a new song on the fly. That type of syncopated improv is breath taking. Happy ’11!!

  6. jdub Says:

    Kids are asleep, wifes at the grocery store, and I’m reliving this delicate Simple jam reconstructing what happened.

    After glow in full affect this morning.

    Great hanging with you pre show @Willowed. I found myself wandering for a bit after the show and ended up back in Tir Na Nog watching a real nice post show band.

    If you don’t know the Irish mythology around Tir Na Nog (I didn’t until last night) google it. A fitting place to bookend a phish show at the Garden.

  7. willowed Says:

    We were going to stop in there and have a beer after the show. I wish I knew you were in there.

    Great rollin’ with ya

  8. jdub Says:

    Phone died shortly after the show @Willowed. Oh well.

    Maki dub style is just sick. So Trey smoked a blunt NYE after the show? Or so he wants us to believe.

    That staccato jamming all of us are raving about has some roots from Hartford ’09s Pong like Icculus intro. The end of Sally into Maki goes from Staccato Trey notes out of Sally to Pong like Trey notes opening Maki. Very nice.

  9. neemor Says:

    Sitting behind willowed, next to TIII for the Simple, directly behind the stage, band’s eye view.
    MSG turned into a bubbling cauldron of red hot Phish fire…Phish owned that room last night.

    And how ethereal was the Round Room?
    Place was built for that tune.
    Last night had everything and was completely enhanced by the lack of ballad…no place to catch your breath until the boys layed down their instruments.

    Peaks and peaks and peaks….they found them everywhere.
    The tension and release is in full effect.

    Time warps repeatedly. Mike’s bass jihad in the Makisupa jam?
    Simple’s ‘organic jam’? Sneakin Sally’s vocal bliss and drop back into the dance party?
    I won’t forget this one soon. Thanks, sumo!
    And you guys are awesome.
    No better way to see a show that with a blackboarder or two.

  10. lot rat Says:

    next show=best show

  11. EL Duderino Says:

    I have two God awful NFL broadcasts for the early slot today…

    Panthers/Falcons and Steelers/Browns

  12. willowed Says:

    That was a perfect throwdown Neemor. Sorry we lost you when we went to the pisser after the show.

    You were probably right in front of me but I was seeing all sorts of visual shit…just no Neemor.

  13. butter Says:

    Pong flav, but much more color, harmonies, and more chunky rhythms

  14. Robear Says:

    seems like most of the cats from this board wound up behind the stage last night.

  15. Mr.Palmer Says:

    funny thing is, i started out on the floor in the 15th row… time space traveled my way up there. Weird.

  16. garretc Says:

    I certainly was behind the stage last night… I fell in love with 400s behind the stage on NYE, had to go back for another round last night!

  17. Robear Says:

    mr. p levitated.

    too crowded on the floor for my tastes, but great sound and visuals.

  18. Gavinsdad Says:

    I got open last nite, behind the stage just soaking in the music, the people, the band….got the fuck down during ?? with TreasureReprise. Place was lifted. Love watching the music simply take people over until they are powerless to do anything other than yell out loud or dance.

  19. ThePigSong Says:

    meatstick shenanigans video posted on including behind the scenes and shots from Mikes cam

  20. dognamedwilson Says:

    Trey loves you, bb

  21. ThePigSong Says:

    after two weeks of vacation, eating and drinking everything in my path I now shall attempt a run.

    should I start with the crosseyed or skip to simple?

    life decisions…

  22. jdub Says:

    @Robear, i experienced back of the stage rage at Providence for the first time and am sold as that being the spot in certain venues. MSG is certainly one of them.

    Nice to see Round Room last night. It seemed rusty, especially the vocals, but has that nice island groove behind it that can go places in the future. Perfect venue for that song and just the right spot.

    One of those shows.

  23. P.S.H.S Says:

    I keep looking at the second setlist, and I can’t help but scratch my head. It’s as if they wrote that set in 97, and Trey found it in and old pair of jeans and said, yeah this should work.
    I’d love an extra sbd dl if anyone has one,

  24. Gavinsdad Says:

    @pageside – I actually felt that way seeing the nye setlists too.

  25. jdub Says:

    Last night felt like an old school show because it had:

    0 songs from 3.0
    2 rarities from “Round Room”
    And the rest were prime choices from their earlier years

    NYE had a similar trend for set 2

    Have they played a show in 3.0 without any new tunes?

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