A Five-Night Flow

12.31.2010 (George Estreich)

When digesting a Holiday Run, one must step back and take in the whole ride rather than look at each show in a vacuum. This year, Phish sculpted an artistic musical contour over five nights that possessed a natural flow from Worcester’s kick-off through Madison Square Garden’s finale. Highlighting divergent styles on different nights, and peaking the run with two of the most successful sets of the “year,” Phish not only played four out of five outstanding, individual shows, they crafted an unparallelled five-night adventure to ring in 2011.

Amidst outlandish blizzard conditions, fans fought their way to the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts for an early start to 2010’s New Year’s Run on December 27th. After braving treacherous traffic and road conditions, and navigating clogged-up, east coast airports, the initial show felt like a reward for the efforts expended by all fans to reach the promise land. Worcester’s first set started off more fully invigorated than most opening sets, featuring surprise, jammed-out versions of “Cool It Down” and “Roggae,” as well as a string of inspired singles. The second set initiated the run with a smoking “Mike’s Groove” that favored a heavily-improvised “Weekapaug.” An emotive “Farmhouse” set the table for one of the pieces of the entire run — an enchanting sleigh ride through a sublime “Seven Below.” As patiently glowing, open interplay led into a mind-numbing mash-up with “What’s the Use?” this excursion quickly jumped onto the top-shelf of 2010 Phish jams. The band eased out of this defining piece into “Twenty Years Later” and an elegant rendition of “Velvet Sea,” before finishing with a triumvirate of classics — including the run’s first “Bowie.” Kicking off their their holiday celebration with a well-rounded shot of musical adrenaline, Phish welcomed everyone to the end of the year showcase.

12.28.2010 (James Reed)

The following night in Worcester was the tale of two sets — the first was strewn with upbeat improvisation and spurts of shining psychedelia, while the second became a coherent frame of delicate introspection. The opening set carried the energy from the first night in dynamic explorations of “Wolfman’s” and “Stash,” while also featuring “She Caught the Katy” and the catchy debut of Anastasio and Marshall’s newest effort, “Pigtail.” After “Carini” opened the second set with a surprisingly contained jaunt, the band ventured into more meticulous jamming around mellower, emotionally-driven selections for most of the set. In “Back On the Train > Limb,” Phish wove together two sharp, contained pieces with a seamless segue and a sense of understated eloquence. Following a notably well-played “Frankie Says > Albuquerque,” in which individual notes and the space between them were given equally attentive care, Phish dropped into — in my opinion — the jam of the entire run in “Harry Hood.” United by a selfless ethos, Phish fused precise rhythmic interplay into a blissful and futuristic collaborative canvas, resulting in a life-affirming tale of experimental triumph. Using this masterpiece to peak the set’s stylistic theme with perfection, the band then came down from the stratosphere with a scorching and extended version of “Bug.” Highlighting intricate and quiet interplay all set long, Phish created a beautiful calm before the oncoming, big-city storm.

12.30.2010 G.Lucas)

Madison Square Garden provided a stark change of scenery from snow-covered New England landscape, and Phish responded to the high-key environs by playing a largely energy-based show that also featured some, classic, 30th-style exploration in “Tweezer > Light.” Taking two of the year’s most successful songs, Phish went for it, first coming up with a fierce peak in “Tweezer” before drifting into engaging (if not totally locked-in) bass-led, atmospheric jamming during the piece’s second half. “Light,” a song that hadn’t delivered a lackluster version all year long, notched its first with an aimless exploration that never gained liftoff. On a night that traditionally enters darker realms before an upbeat party on New Year’s Eve, Phish certainly followed that vibe on the 30th, but for whatever reason, didn’t play with the same fire and fury that displayed throughout the following two nights. When “Tweezer > Light” didn’t necessarily reach the places it might have, the band took the course of energy anthems for the rest of the night in the only underwhelming show of the run. Sandwiched in the first set, however, was the show’s certain high-point in a smashing “Bathtub Gin,” followed by Little Feat’s “Fat Man In a Bathtub,” and “Timber Ho!” Thus, while the overall musical achievement didn’t reach the level of the four surrounding shows, the 30th, nonetheless, provided the darker, exploratory experience to fit the overall, five-night contour.

12.31.2010 (George Estreich)

When Phish came out on New Year’s Eve, they immediately sounded more dialed in than the night before. Even through a relatively uneventful first set, their playing was clean, crisp and refreshing. But when they came out for the second set, the New Year’s party got quite serious. Launching off the arena rock vigor of “Wilson” and “46 Days,” Phish dropped a peak version of “Sand,” and an all-time version of “Ghost” that has become an instant classic. With Trey at the top of his game for the final set of the 2010, the band showcased how far their improvisational skills have come within two years as they annihilated the peak of the show — “Disease > Ghost, YEMTeca.” Combining assassin-like precision, Phishy humor laced with musicianship, and a “Ghost” that will bring a grown man to tears, Phish peaked the entire four nights with this holiday sequence. (But the fifth was yet to come!)

12.27.2010 (A.Hill)

The third set of New Year’s Eve brought the well-documented, feel-good event of the year in the Global Meatstick Extravaganza. Following the theatrics with with a series of succinct rock songs that kept the party moving, Phish chilled briefly in a serene “Waste” before climaxing the night with”Slave.” Traditionally, this celebratory evening capped the Holiday Run with noisemakers, silly glasses and relatively innocuous third sets. But this time, we had another show! And one didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to sense that it would be the most complete effort of the run.

Building off New Year’s celebration, Phish doused their audience with two frames of musical focus, including a second, airtight set of creative interplay that went unrivaled by any other of the run. After a linear “Crosseyed” jam got the blood coursing through people’s veins, the rest of the set was chock full of original musical exchanges. “Twist” brought a meticulous conversation between all four band members that pushed the limits of “contained” jamming, while “Simple” broke into the transcendent realm, melting hearts with original improv drenched in spirIT. Never letting up within this entire set of adventure, Phish kept the pedal to the metal with a swanky “Sneakin’ Sally,” a dubbed-out “Makisupa,” and one final, magnificent “David Bowie” to end a season that featured so many incredible versions. Taking this Holiday Tour to another level with a fifth night, Phish peaked the run with its most cohesive show by a long shot, ending — and starting — the year on an incredibly high note.

But January 1st’s peak was but one part of a five-night ride that started in a winter wonderland and ended in a concrete jungle. And along the way, Phish sculpted their shows and jams with parallel direction. Starting with a spark, the band turned to the emotional and intricate side before greeting New York with energy and exploratory intent on opening night. Then, blowing out The Garden with their two finest efforts of the week, the last two nights peaked the run with notably different shows. I’m sure everyone has their favorite night and favorite jam, but when looking at 2010’s Holiday Run from a macro-perspective, it contained an organic path from beginning to end — and plenty of great music in between.

1.1.2011 (Chris La Jaunie)

Here are some recommendations:

12/27: Must Hear: Seven Below > What’s the Use, Weekapaug // Other Highlights: Cool It Down, Roggae, Mike’s, David Bowie

12/28: Must Hear: Harry Hood, Stash, Wolfman’s // Other Highlights: Kill Devil Falls, Pigtail, Back on the Train > Limb, Bug

12/30: Must Hear: Bathtub Gin, Tweezer // Other Highlights: Maze, Fat Man In a Bathtub, Timber, Boogie > 2001

12/31: Must Hear: Sand, Disease > Ghost > YemTeca // Other Highlights: Ocelot, 46 Days, Slave

1/1: Must Hear: Twist > Simple, Sally // Other Highlights: Tube, Walk Away, Jibboo, Reba, Crosseyed, Makisupa, Bowie


Jam of the Day:

Seven Below > What’s the Use?” 12.27 II

The central sequence in Worcester’s opening night, and one of the most impressive jams of the year.




12.27.2010 DCU Center, Worcester, Massachusetts

FLAC (via etree), Mp3 Torrent, Megaupload < Links

Official Worcester Print

I: Sample in a Jar, Funky Bitch, Cool it Down, Roggae, Heavy Things, What Things Seem, Roses are Free, It’s Ice, Mountains in the Mist, Julius

II: Mike’s Song > Mound, Weekapaug, Farmhouse, Seven Below > What’s the Use > Twenty Years Later, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Possum, Cavern, David Bowie

E: Loving Cup

Source: (FOB) Schoeps mk5> KC5> M222> NT222> Aeta PSP-3> SD 744t (@24bit/96kHz) – (taper: taylorc)

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711 Responses to “A Five-Night Flow”

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  1. purplehumpbackwhale Says:


    still havent listened back to twist, simple, sally, makisupa, bowie, or yemteca.

    sometimes after i see shows there are parts that i feel like i should wait a while before i listen back. those were intense moments… have respun the ghost and tweezer and sand tho. will prob wait a week or so and hook up the stream to my hdtv and bane before all of 1/1 set two.

  2. plord Says:

    I’m the opposite. I’ve got another long flight tomorrow and I’ll be playing the highlights from this run again the whole time 🙂 I think I’ll go in reverse this time though, so I can get the whole 1111/2 in without interruption.

  3. mittens Says:

    You forgot to list the Rock and Roll from the end of the 1st set on the 31st Miner. Trey was dialed in on that completely owning the last 4 minutes of that song really setting up that unfuckingbelievable 2nd set. We forgive you.

  4. Matso Says:

    The year started with the Chicaghost and ended with the Holy Ghost (or rather, the Hose-y Ghost – sorry, couldn’t resist). Both monster versions, although the latter is clearly the one which we’ve all been chasing. It is up there with the all-time peak spiritual jams (Went Gin, etc).

    I completely agree about the run as a whole. Still working my way through parts of it, but everything I’ve heard – whether mellow or balls-out rocking – has been played with care and attention. It is so incredibly heartening – and sometimes still surreal – to hear our band like this after where they ended up in ’00 and ’04. Here’s to more good health and face-melting jams in ’11.

  5. phoammhead Says:

    immediately after msg1 i was thinkin’ wow, i just got hosed and thought at the time that i might have preferred a song easing up on the throttle in that 2nd set . . . haven’t respun, yet . . . but, in any case i can’t agree with “underwhelming”

  6. Selector J Says:

    wholly agree with matso. Hose-y ghost and all. What a version!

    reggae show is bumping. click my name to listen.

  7. nonoyolker Says:

    Nice macro view summation of the run. When listening from start to finish, you can see the planning and progression that lead to the undeniable peak of MSG II and III.

    I agree with Miner of the 30th – left the show very with very mixed feelings. Only show I caught of the run and I was “underwhelmed” as Miner writes. It’s been discussed at length – maybe it was the unattentive crowd (had 2 guys sleeping behind me), first night jitters at MSG, a warm up rock anthem show, bad soy milk in their cereal, i don’t know… On tape, you hear a different band for the next 2 nights, plain and simple.

  8. punkmug Says:

    Holy Shitbats! That was a great recap Mr. Miner. Thanks for doing what you do.

  9. Brimley Says:

    Thinking back from the opening shows of Chicago to MSG, I think the biggest single event that changed their playing and caused more consistency was the Ocedoc…
    Trey phased out alot of the aimless whaling at the Greek,and I think the music started to get consistantly better and built up to the over the top MSG shows…

    I was personally a little wary that they wouldn’t come around to the type of playing that we all new they were capable of, or Earnest in particular, after Leg I. I was wrong and we should all thank Paul for giving Trey his “magical new guitar”…
    I loved Leg II > MSG and will be going back to listen to a lot more material from this period than anything from Hampton> Leg I 2010…

    Sorry about the rambling and thank you Miner for all that you do for all of us… I look forward to your future opines and especially what musical direction you think the boys are headed in 2011..

  10. sumodie Says:

    @Miner: Excellent NYE run recap!! Thanks for the great analysis all year long, not to mention all the other tasty tidbits sprinkled throughout this site.

  11. sumodie Says:

    This nye run has clearly shown me that I’m all about organic flow at phish shows, particularly multi-night runs. That’s what drives me to follow this band all over creation. And this run stands as the most unique, cohesive example of flow in phish 3.0. What a gift to begin the new year!

    Just because some of us consider a show (e.g., the 30th) underwhelming doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun. I had a blast on the 30th -we raged it all night long directly behind the stage in section 215. A personal MSG highlight happened during Axilla, where I pogoed in rhythm with the bouncing of the entire venue. What an amazing experience, even if the show was underwhelming by (my) phish standards 😉

  12. Dr. Pronoia Says:

    ^ I agree @Sumodie.

    I was solo and free as a bird on the 30th, and was drenched and transported by that show. Great, great time dancing all around the venue.

    Then on the 1st I was with someone who was in a very negative head space and wasn’t into the music. I knew throughout that 1/1 was “better” from a musical/flow standpoint, but set and setting conspired against me that night so it was a very different type of experience.

    Moral: Only see shows with BB crew!

  13. angryjoggerz Says:

    Big up mi selecta j pon the sound, sounds so nice, gonna play it twice.

  14. phoammhead Says:

    yeah, i’m not sweating the “underwhelming” designation by MrMiner and others – but me in msg hearing phish on the 30th was just simply not underwhelming in any way shape or form

    there are a lot of great moments from that show

    and, there are a lot of great moments from the entire run

    we all have a lot to be thankful for


  15. whoooooat Says:

    cheers miner, really bring the memories and the experience to life. amazing article, thanks for giving us interesting insights and a “macro” perspective (haha, loved that line)

  16. nonoyolker Says:

    Agreed Sumo. Wasn’t floored at the 30th, but certainly had a good time. I had a similar moment during that Axilla. I could feel the rafters bouncing in rhythm below me – very cool. Had a nice boogie sesh during the late set 2001 as well. A 30th type show of Phish is better than the best of 99% of all other activities, so you have to be grateful for that.

    Decided to spin the whole run from cover to cover. The more I hear of the DCU shows, the more impressed i am by them. The combo of Cool it Down and Roggae in the first frame is $$$. Was even digging on Red’s work in Heavy Things. Just keep finding gems in the run. So nice.

  17. KfL Says:

    i was floored by every night, so…

  18. nonoyolker Says:

    Now, the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum,
    What might be right for you, may not be right for some.
    A man is born, he’s a man of means.
    Then along come two, they got nothing but their jeans.

    But they got, Different Strokes.
    It takes, Different Strokes.
    It takes, Different Strokes to move the world!!!

  19. KfL Says:

    and thought the 30th was great if only for its context in the run… coming off the laid back and delicate playing in worcester, the 30th was such a jump in collective energy, born out by the post-light section of set II in particular (mife, axilla, fluff)

    the band harnessed MSG’s energy in a way that was so totally different from what transpired in worcester, and after the exploration of the tweezer (which i loved, and still do), i was totally down with some rocking, dance party, celebratory phish in the round room

  20. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    gotta agree with this song, selecta. you have to fire that gardener if he won’t water your marijuana tree. that’s just plain wrong.

  21. KfL Says:

    and as miner says, the bathtub bathtub timber segment in set I was bomb

    maze and zero providing the other highlights (i’m not a zero fan, and haven’t listened back, but it stands out as providing a spark to the show)

  22. butterflyeffect Says:

    unless a show is at either polar extreme, for me, because of substances, build up to the show, people you are with, etc., the experience at the show will be of a different nature than the more private, academic relistening and evaluation of the music

    for example, even though i was spun like mad at coventry, glide was hideous. harry hood at worcester was triumphant.

    but, for most other songs, the combination of the energy in the venue and the substances in my head often skew my ability to evaluate the intricacy of the jamming in the moment, unless, like i said, it is at a polar extreme: transcendental or atrocious

  23. KfL Says:

    kinda forgot about the PA cutting out during camel walk (spin an aud version, the sbd feed didn’t cut out, hence the stream didn’t either)

  24. Jtran Says:

    Second Dr. P’s “see shows with BBers”

    So much fun, always

  25. voopa Says:

    Nice recap Miner, and Brimley, I totally agree.

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