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. Robear Says:

    listening to the worcester ‘HeavenlyHood’. Is Trey playing ‘harmonics’ on the guitar?

  2. BingosBrother Says:

    Holy Ghost before bed. What would be the Father and the Son?

  3. SillyWilly Says:

    Cal is a big prog rock afficianado and has a good ear for that kind of thing, Mr. C.

    He’s in Germany, though, with his fiance so might not hear from him for a bit

  4. Mr.Miner Says:

    manteca, sand, and the holy ghost 😉

  5. Mike in Austin Says:

    Robear = right. Esp. on the Foam communique.

  6. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I have a confession to make. When the boys played Halley’s the other night, i danced. I danced hard. I knew what i was doing was wrong, but i had no control. Sorry about that. 🙂

    Seriously though, it was weird.

  7. SillyWilly Says:

    Speaking of new launchpads: What about Liquid Time??

    Sort of never got off the ground.

  8. BingosBrother Says:

    Nice Miner!

    Lovin the avatar mia!

    Lost invades the lotto, birds fall from the sky, fish with no eyes? phish might be just in time to save us all.

  9. BingosBrother Says:

    Trey damn near falls off the edge on the Holy Ghost, but recovers just in time. This jam just wasn’t even possible last year imo.

  10. angryjoggerz Says:

    respun MSG YEM today in the car and it was heat. It also perfectly matched my drive from a school to a cafe, like door to door, including driving past a shooting during vocal jam. Good stuff.

  11. She Divides Says:

    hey all – hope folks are doing well. Was swamped at work today so just checked out Miner’s post now, and am reading back a bit.

    I’m still definitely in a post 1/1 glow. Amazing. Can’t believe the luck of my little brother to not be a phan and his first show was 10/30/10 and his second show was 1/1/11. The youngest has all the luck.

    Anyway- a few thoughts.

    Our boys are nothing if not intentional, and I agree with the people who said that less than 100% successful explorations like the MSG light are just a part of really going for it.

    RE: recovery lyrics – I think there are a lot of recovery lyrics but they actually appeal to a wide variety of challenging life situations, and since most of us have or have had those time, a lot of people can relate (I know when I was miserable in my job last year I definitely did and still do about how happy I am now.)

    and…Hell yea, the Heat! but I’m totally biased since I went to school with Wade but I’m happy for them!

  12. Mike in Austin Says:

    Thanks BB. You’re absolutely right. This dexterity in his fingers didn’t exist when he was leaning on the Whammy.

    I’ve decided to rematch the Holy Ghost from that .flv rip.

    Mike is REALLY pulling this thing forward early on. You can hear and see his frenetic action. He’s ready to rip this one up.

    You can also see it on Trey’s face. He’s almost slumped down, neck out all troll like, lips moving, ripping those super fast octets of triplets at the 16th fret, mouthing something foreign like “Damn, I’m ripping this shit up.”

    I honestly didn’t think his fingers could move like that anymore.

    But after watching Foam, Guelah, etc, I realize he’s in the wheelhouse.

  13. Mike in Austin Says:

    rematch = rewatch.

  14. sumodie Says:

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


    …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

    ^both accurate, IMO

    All during Fall/Dec I never thought about whether the band had dialed back on the open jamming from leg 2 (however, I’ve never been one to contextualize jam types, either I felt a show had gone deep enough into ‘IT’, or not).

    Whatever jam type was featured this past Fall/Dec, I finally felt the boys were reaching IT much more frequently than not. While I would easily love more open jamming, perhaps I’m just patiently trusting that even more greatness is coming from the band (and the NYE run clearly demonstrated that the band has yet to plateau).

  15. BingosBrother Says:

    “and…Hell yea, the Heat! but I’m totally biased since I went to school with Wade but I’m happy for them!”

    You go to Richards? I live in Mt. Greenwood.

    “I honestly didn’t think his fingers could move like that anymore.”

    So happy we were both wrong.

  16. angryjoggerz Says:

    Mt. Greenwood, wow. Did you go to Rice?

  17. She Divides Says:

    @ Bingos – no Marquette. He was always a pretty decent guy when he was there.

  18. Mike in Austin Says:

    I really like this form of Type I, straight on raging jam or whatever you call it when they stay in the pocket of the original jam. I love a DWD like that.

    Saw too many of them go left field on me. Watched one guy at the Gorge have to leave the show because it freaked him out too much. He was scared. Seriously. Thought Beezelbub was coming down on him.

    I like me an evil jam occasionally I guess, but … not sure I think the band is any more hooked up on that, than playing a DWD like at MSG.

  19. neemor Says:

    You guys are smart.

    Palmer, what’s wrong with dancing to Halley’s?
    I was waaaay happier when I heard Halley’s start then most of the people around me.
    Eff it.
    Song brings back great memories for me and has great potential anytime out of the gate.

  20. ThePigSong Says:

    So I’m looking to track out some of these stream rips and found this program which allows you to open any type of movie file in quicktime, then save as an MPEG. From there the plan is to use iMovie for tracking.

    I’ve got two hours left on the conversion of NYE Set II – so my question is…

    Is there a better program to convert .flv or .avi files to mpeg? I am mostly interested in .avi conversion since that is what my new video camera records in, and I’d obviously like to edit what I shoot.

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    Maui, @palmer

  22. Skyballs Saxscraper Says:

    So, there were more Jennifer Dances “teases” besides 12/30 set II…

    Trey does it again before Gone the next night, first set. Probably others as well.

    Next show, guaranteed JENNIFER DANCES sign.

  23. BingosBrother Says:

    “Song brings back great memories for me”

    Fuckin right. one of the greatest, most spiritual moments of my life happened due to that song.

    “Did you go to Rice?”

    Nah. Oak Forest HS, suburban kid. Moved here cause of my job. closest place I could live to be near the family. My brothers went to Marist though, hopefully may kids can get in to the Ag School cuz they love plants and shit, I ain’t makin private tuition money, and we ain’t Xtians.

  24. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    re; halleys



  25. jdub Says:

    What’s up late night crew?

    No shame in getting down to any Phish tune. Heavy Things is my in the closet boogie song. When Trey starts ripping the ending jam sequence I can’t help myself. Their best pop song FWIW.

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