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”

  1. themanatee Says:

    pigtail blows burn that bridge out of the water. blues based rock songs like burn that bridge does so much less for me than quirky phish groove pop

  2. albert walker Says:

    although the open jamming has gotten reigned in last fall Miner

    I’d say when they did go it was pretty consistently huge

    I didn’t see much fall though so you’d def have a better sense than me

    I’ve only caught 45 shows and it’s been a hard chase to find open jamming for me during 09-or 2010

    maybe every other show it felt like

    AC got the fat Stash kickdown

    Carini > Sand was real nice

    like I said I’m not on tour enough to probably pick up the drop off. seems pretty consistent to me

    I think Trey’s kind of had a I want to be DMB vibe since he’s been back. can’t really tell if it’s gotten worse or better as far as getting open in the jams.

  3. butter Says:

    def personal pref @Jdub, just an easy pref for me, lots more heat

  4. albert walker Says:

    the only thing that would every worry me is if they were stagnant

    Trey seems to be pretty hip to the fact that with cats seeing multiple shows a tour the sound has to be constantly evolving

    until they drop the vocals and go all instrumental I don’t know if I’ll ever be fully content with the amount of jamming

  5. themanatee Says:

    im waiting for a Phish “Peggy”

  6. Mr.Miner Says:

    although the open jamming has gotten reigned in last fall Miner

    I’d say when they did go it was pretty consistently huge

    ^ absolutely true 100%

  7. albert walker Says:

    that little pinner Have Mercy jam went so huge

    I think they are in a transition phase

    need a new Light

    Light bombing at MSG was just one of many things pointing in that direction

    no Joy on the new years run

    time for a new direction.

  8. angryjoggerz Says:

    Is it too much to ask for them to just drop the entire 2011 tour dates on us so we can plan our holidays, friends weddings, changes of jobs, birth of children, etc. accordingly?

  9. Mr.Miner Says:

    @ butter, you’d take tub, tub, timber over katy, wolfman’s stash?

  10. Mr.Miner Says:

    need a new Light

    ^ yup. need another new jam vehicle..

  11. angryjoggerz Says:

    That Timber was a high point for me, been chasing it for a while, was sure I would get it at the Greek because I was reading Sometimes a Great Notion, but no mas. I was eating that shit up and my ears really really focussed at that point. Good stuff. Thanks Phish.

  12. Mr.Miner Says:

    i feel they’ve explored light pretty sufficiently..keep em coming, but add another

  13. albert walker Says:

    yeah great tune. welcome addition. just lay off it for a few tours

    usually there were a few new vehicles per era that were heavily rotated

    3.0 really only had Light

    hopefully the next batch of tunes has more than 1 that goes big

  14. Mr.Miner Says:

    and because every time they went for open jamming it went absolutely huge, my question naturally follows, why aren’t they going for it more? it HAS to be more satisfying…or maybe its a been there done that type of thing? That would suck

  15. albert walker Says:

    I feel Trey wanted to clean up the overall sound of Phish when they came back which I get. didn’t want the sloppy moniker, deserved or not, he got in 3.0

    I also think he’s wanted to be a song writer guy since the Shine era.

    I def feel both these things have caused the pure improv to take a back seat

    I also feel unfortunately that cats like us are in the minority and we get the shaft.

    I guarantee that if they went 3.0 style as far as jam to song ratio a lot of these older yuppie fans wouldn’t be as interested

    who knows though. just speculating

    cuz the chops aren’t there to jam excuse def can’t be used these days

  16. albert walker Says:

    I’m all for the happy medium like say 95

    but you have to give me a taste in at least one set per show hopefully at least once in both sets

    go huge and creative for the few of us crazy kids and play a nice tight show the rest and I’ll be fine

    just make sure if it’s more rare it’s fuckin dope
    and give me a piece every night

    then everybody is happy

  17. Robear Says:

    Liquid Somethingorother

  18. Mr.Miner Says:

    2.0 style you mean?

    So is this nostalgia?

  19. albert walker Says:

    tale of two bands for me man

    like I said set I 12/31 was the evil Phish the DMB Phish

    then the second set slayed

    as usual I’m sure it’s all Trey being a douche

    Mike and Page need to have a talk with his sober ass

  20. joe Says:

    is it time for a new album? seems the material is there, with a big jam vehicle somewhere scattered. Agreed about the songwriter trey thing, trying to crack the adult contemporary charts.

  21. albert walker Says:

    but as others have stated

    don’t want to have glorified memories of the past

    there was def clunkers in every era

  22. joe Says:

    I like evil phish, which is what I call the mind-fuck balls to the wall jamming phish.

  23. albert walker Says:

    it’s the yin and yang of 3.0

    the Miami Tweezer and the Greek Light

    but why the fuck not more

    that shit is laughable to discuss in a nostalgia argument

    just need more jams that make me know you’re not

    either way
    had the time of my life in NYC
    the boys seem happy and healthy
    life is good

    laterz ya’ll

  24. joe Says:

    (I think we’ve set the new record for post-tour deconstruction blues leading to the doubts about the future. Usually takes another week or two to kick in)

  25. Mike in Austin Says:

    Funny, I’m watching Foam -> Guelah -> Divided and seeing them pretty much hit every note well. Not one jam vehicle.

    While they were all done at AC, to much praise, it’s like some people aren’t excited to see them preform the finger acrobatics mastery anymore.

    These basics are what made the Type II and Type III stuff so tight and well connected. The fundamentals. The communications that were there to make that stuff smoke, have to be there to get the jams to smoke.

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