The Top Show of 2011

1.1.11 (Chris LaJaunie)

Only one show into the new year, and we’ve already got a keeper. Was anybody surprised? On New Year’s Day, Phish dropped a top-to-bottom smoker with one of the outstanding second sets of this era in which the improv never stopped. Crafting a slick setlist to cap the run, Phish tore MSG apart in their first hurrah of 2011, not to mention the first set, whose final four-song sequence also caught fire. In a not-so-bizarre case of prognostication, everyone in the building knew from long ago that this night would hold something special, and when Phish delivered so flagrantly, it made me think.

1.1.11 (A.Sepler)

Advertised separately on their website as “1.1.11,” the band began hyping this show before the holidays even began. And with that in mind, of course they came out and played a ripping show. This brings me to the question of Phish’s current intent when they step on stage, something that I’ve been pondering since the end of this show. In my opinion, the band has now reached a level of proficiency where they can play a two sets at that level at almost any time (once they’ve got a few shows under their belt). But what determines when they decide to go big? Sure, they band was “on” on January 1st, but they have been “on” for quite some time now with very few inconsistencies. And while Phish killed the entire set with tight jams galore, but for one piece of transcendent music in “Simple,” its not like they were throwing down mind-numbing magic; they were giving each jam the creative attention it deserved without concern for what was coming next—something that hasn’t always happened. They were playing with the carefree energy and focus that characterized several nights this fall, and they were doing with the support of a well-crafted, non-stop setlist. Hence we all freaked, and rightfully so, Phish played a stellar show by anyone’s standards. But in terms of start-to-finish shows, why only on the first (and for one full set on New Year’s Eve)?

Many say that Phish alters their type of show to access different sectors of their fan base. But to that I ask, “Was anyone you encountered after 1.1.11 disappointed that the band jammed too much in the second set?” Doubtful. Everyone left Madison Square Garden exactly how Phish wanted them to—jacked to the sky over the best show of the five-night run. Perhaps this possible “premeditation” took place because of a pre-planned New Year’s Run that Phish wanted to end with a bang. But why don’t they come out and play all killer, no filler second sets more often, when that’s—empiracally—what everybody wants to hear?

1.1.11 (C. La Jaunie)

Others may say that the band can’t just turn IT on and play like they did on the 1st whenever they want. But what about the previous four shows when every time the band took an improvisational risk—approximately once a night—they found, arguably, the best jams of 2010 in Worcester’s “Harry Hood,” and “Seven Below,” and Madison Square Garden’s “Ghost.” Additionally, the band also took “Tweezer” on its most exploratory jaunt of the year. My point is, Phish did seemingly, turn it on at a moments notice over the New Year’s Run, and they did so with ease and overwhelming success. Surrounding these musical treasures with various song sequences, each stood alone as the shining star of their particular show. But on New Year’s Day, Phish decided to improvise passionately all night long instead of in fifteen minute bursts— something not so outlandish, but had profound effect.

1.1.11 (Masthay)

On January 1st, Phish didn’t play the best show of their life, but they certainly played one of the most impressive shows of the this era. The band chose a great setlist, but we all know that setlists, alone, don’t make a show. With cohesive jamming throughout, Phish underlined the night with a smooth second half in which each song got full and proper treatment. But was there ever any doubt? Was it was any “harder” for Phish to play a show like January 1st than it was to play any other on the run? I’m not sure. I do believe they intended to make 1.1 the best show of the run—and that they did. I believe that Phish can pretty much do what they intend to do onstage these days; it’s not like the turning of the calendar gave them magical jamming powers. So why wouldn’t they play shows like that throughout the holiday run?

I’m not trying to downplay 1.1.11 at all; I absolutely loved the show. But let’s hope that when we are making best of 2011 lists, we’ll remember January 1st as a show that raised the bar for the year, and not one of its greatest moments.

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


Jam of the Day:

“Bathtub Gin” 7.3.10 I

Another peak at the now-available remasters courtesy of Phish Inc.




3.20.1992 Broome County Forum, Binghamton, New York

Mp3 Torrent, Megaupload < Links

3.20.1992 (Unknown)

One of my favorite Spring ’92 shows, this SBD was highly circulated back in the analog era. With two sets of early-school fire, and a top-shelf. early-90’s “Antelope,” I highly suggest pulling this show if its not already in your stash.

I: Wilson, Reba, Brother, Glide, Rift, Fluffhead, Maze, The Lizards, Mound, Run Like an Antelope

II: Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Sanity, The Sloth, The Mango Song, Cavern, Uncle Pen, Harry Hood, Cold as Ice > Terrapin > Cold as Ice, Possum > Secret Language Instructions > Possum

E: Lawn Boy, Fire

Source: SBD


598 Responses to “The Top Show of 2011”

  1. lastwaltzer Says:


    there is no magic bullet for sarah palin, she is the queen of spin. No politician has ever been able to play the media like her.

  2. KfL Says:

    sorry to hear it kp, best of luck

  3. KfL Says:

    well if there is one thing we know for sure, it’s that ms. palin will get all the airtime she wants to say whatever the f she wants

  4. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    whatcha need, aqua?

  5. Aquaman Says:


    I have a character for your show…..

    Micah Aleph – Smart-Assed street wise kid from Queens. Discovered Phish when his big brothers Hillel friends came home from college and gave him his first tapes as sophomore on HS. He stands 5’8″ 135 pounds soaking wet, skinny to a fault, a mouth that goes for miles, and runs a psycho-pharmacology business out of his backpack. Despite being hated by all but a few tour dudes, he is constantly surrounded by hot women. In college he jumped on tour for the summers, so he can spend the semesters basking the cold hard $$$ earned while on tour.

    He finds himself in Northern CA looking for work, and opening new chapter in his life.

    Micah has just been laid off work from his finance operations jobs, when a routine he was running, that was supposed to torrent tasty shows to the DEV servers, so he could download entire tours at a time, actually made their way to PROD servers. This simple key stroke error blocked trades for the brokers, cost his company hundreds of thousands of dollars and Micah his job. He has also received a call from Elsbeth, one of the hottest girls on tour from 96-98, informing him that their shared night of ecstasy in 1998, has produced a previously unknown daughter, until now. She is now almost 12. All this, on the exact same day.

    Sometime the universe gives you what you need. The daughter of Micah and Elsbeth needs a father……and Micah simply wants a chance to feel needed by someone.


    I never write, like at all……But, this all just flowed off my fingertips. I think I should work now ‘lest I be fired.


  6. lumpyhead Says:

    No, I went to ACL, Charleston, and MSG with no teeb. After watching mkdevo and harpuafsb’s videos on apple TV he was off the goin to shows train…glad that’s over.

  7. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    very nice, aqua.

    “zany coincidences” and unforeseen circumstances abound on that show. we need a working title…

  8. Aquaman Says:

    never understood the 2.0 hate

    ^ this

    Despite Miner’s preference for other Hood’s 😉 , in my book the best Hood ever is a 2.0 Hood.

  9. Mr.Miner Says:

    @ aqua Charlotte hood is spectacular…in a very different way

  10. Aquaman Says:

    You almost have to have a few titles depending on which Network signs the project.

    If it ends up a CBS 30 min sitcom, title = “Solar Garlic”

    If it ends up on NBC as an hour of semi-drama = “A Cactus Sense of Pride”


    Maybe I should work on those.

  11. Aquaman Says:

    @Miner and Hood lovers.

    I got a soft spot for 7.18.2003 – Alpine Hood encore. The Middle Jam is pure Mayhem.

  12. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Sitcom Names:

    CBS- “2 1/2 doses”

    NBC- ” Jam and Disorder”

    Fox- “The Fishman’s”

    ABC ” Dancing Under the Stars”

  13. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    WB – forbin the multibeast slayer

  14. Mike in Austin Says:

    A&E – No More Interventions

  15. Chuck SWE Says:

    TBS – From Executive Producer Ice Cube – Uncle Ebeneezer’s Walk In Freezer

  16. joe Says:

    USA – The Tourist

  17. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Bravo – the real phishheads of Humboldt county

  18. Mr. Palmer Says:

    MTV- ” Fishman’s Teenage Moms”

  19. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Llfa Palmer

  20. Chuck SWE Says:

    VH1 – wo0k rehab

  21. willowed Says:

    “….and this next stage of 3.0 might see me in a dark place all over again”

    How dare you talk this shit. You’re rolling with me brother. We are going to make 2011 our bitch.
    The challenge had been made. We will hit every show in the North East together. Mark my words.
    The gods of rock will look down on us and smile.

    I am not fucking joking!!

  22. Lumpyhead Says:

    ^ hahahaha

  23. KfL Says:

    i think shit just went type 2 in here

  24. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    And that’s the thing right there, kFl, we didn’t plan it. Sometimes IT happens organically when we pick up on one idea and take it for a little ride

  25. KfL Says:

    well… there was a considerable amount of meandering and noodling before things really began to gel and take off


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