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. dognamedwilson Says:

    @rageside- you got mail (merely a fwd, though, i take no credit)

  2. kayatosh Says:

    was excited to hear round room. apt lyrics (“toas garden that’s round”). tricky tune w/ whistling that has to be executed smoothly to come off right. last night’s version gets it done. right into walkaway. what a juxtapositon!

  3. kayatosh Says:

    the lyric should be: “If I pass out take me to the round church, where echoes resound and my spirit is found, And when i float high, take my arm and I’ll fly you by, the outskirts of town to a garden that’s round.”

  4. butter Says:

    Don’t know if you saw last night @Palmer, but I wNt to mail you a ww shirt so hit me up. Ebutter1 at Mac dot com

    Spaced the set break meet up, frozen in a dream

    Hope to meet in Summer!

    So stoked for you to get you CEP and have it be that destroyed version

  5. kayatosh Says:

    yeah, palmer. that was the best C&P in a long time. certainly The #1 3.0 version.

  6. jdub Says:

    A couple more thoughts on last night before I get snapped back into family and work.

    They kind of bridged all the eras over this News Year run while giving it a unique mark that will stand the test of time. Last night felt like the culmination by playing a show filled with both incredible playing and a fantastic setlist that appealed to everybody. The music came across with very little judgement from anyone in the room or online from what I have gathered.

    I am not trying to overstate the playing last night, although it had a subtle power to it at times that I first felt in Woosta and floored me, I just felt a major shift in the reception of the music. As if all ages of Phish fans came together and spontaneously agreed that this was IT, no need to wonder if they would ever be like again. It doesn’t matter. And that all happened within seconds of the Crosseyed intro and remained straight through the end.

    Kids are up and I am out. Have a great one folks.

  7. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    repost from late late last night;

    had a blast burnin’ banesticks with neemor on the floor for night one (thanks gdad!)

    also had a blast burnin banesticks with jtran and garret up in 400′s behind stage last night… what a sick location. i roamed all night checkin out diferent views and areas… but that spot was bumpin.

    it was cool to meet some bbers i hadnt met before like AW, aj, and butterfly, and garret and df. it was also cool so see some BBers i hadnt seen for a while, like kwl (who gave me two joints this run) gavinsdad (who bumped me up to floor night 1 with neems) and Robear, who besides being the nicest guy ever, also hooked up df, who had originally gotten shut out of msg posters.

    really saw the BB come together in a million ways throughout this run. seriously cant even think of all the BB interactions that went down, between tix, crashspace, bane, the bars, and just around the shows.

    holy second set last night!
    and new years! my 21 year old noob brain can’t compute! need a few weeks of sleep

  8. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Butter- we met briefly at setbreak. I was pretty spun.

  9. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Word up purple

  10. butter Says:

    oh wait was that you, that was talking with AW and i during set break

  11. butter Says:

    ^up in the 300’s

  12. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Yup. Grey giants shirt. Gdad was with us as well.

  13. butter Says:

    sweet …….great to meet you!!

  14. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Classic. Good times.

  15. butter Says:

    Bears are lookin to do you a favor and knock Green Bay out!

  16. Mr. Palmer Says:

    It would be nice . Giants deserve what they get. From the drivers seat to the outside looking in , in 7 minutes. Fuckin eagles.

  17. albert walker Says:

    Home sweet home

    And to think after worcester I was a bit worried of the rust

    Still can’t believe how perfect the set 2s from the last 2 nights went down


  18. EL Duderino Says:

    With ATL kickin’ the Panthers ass and locking up the 1 seed, I would expect the Bears starters will only play for a half.

  19. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Football is boring….

  20. EL Duderino Says:

    Would love to bounce Green Bay out of a play-off spot.
    Robear’s Lions won again!

  21. butter Says:

    Nice AW, sittin at JFK, own bed tonite

  22. Lumpyhead Says:

    My thoughts from last night: Lumpyhead Says:
    January 2nd, 2011 at 3:05 am
    These are my final thoughts frOm my first msg or nye experience… wouldn’t say it if it wasnt true man…Tweezer from the first night, ghost from last night were really the only things that got me off the past two nights. Everything else was just phish, which happens to be really good. But, every single song from set 2 tonight, plus Reba, jiboo, and even walls of the cave was steaming hot fat piles of daddy treatment.
    Ps fee with trey on megaphone and Frankenstein with page on keytar is the best encore there is. (in my humble opinion).

  23. Mr.Miner Says:

    Likin the tweeze more with each listen. While not uberchron, it still has a cool initial peak and some solid and original atmospheric jamming…

  24. Lycanthropist Says:


    I would have bet a fLEGION of cash that you were gonna rave through the roof about that Tweezer..

    That had space groove that he haven’t had since the likes of 2.0

    Granted it didn’t push to a huge melodic peak, but I thought you lived for that sort of excursion into the ambient waters.

    Must say I was surprised by your mere “meh” initial reaction.

    I am glad you are liking it more on more listens..

    I would assume that it goes without saying that this is by no means a personal attack or even a question of your opinion. Just surprised by it tis all. 😉

  25. albert walker Says:

    i agreed with Miner Lycan to a certain extent

    like the Brim Ghost there were some brilliant moments but it didn’t have that almost orchestrated like smooth jam like the Miami version

    that’s kind of what happens when they just open it up without such a set path it seems. wander from great section to great section but not always held together coherently.

    it did kind of fizzle out after that sick last groove. although I still love the version some kind of dramatic ending or smooth segue would have topped it off

    I just loved the feel that they got loose on it and tried a few things. made for a good get down jam wither several very creative moments.

    there is so much good stuff on this run

    Bathtub > Bathtub getting several spins this morning.

    can’t wait to hear last night on tape now that I’m back at the crib

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