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. phoammhead Says:

    so, did MrMiner answer the question about where he would put 1.1 if he was to put it in his 2010 top 15?

    if not, where do people think he would place it?

  2. willowed Says:

    Phoam. I think he said it would be top 5. I think he said that ealier.

    Which is great…now I can tell all of my friends I liked it. I have been waiting to find out how I should feel about it. Ha 😉

  3. phoammhead Says:

    ^yeah, i can see top 5 – that show just phlowed so beautifully all the way through and came off sounding so effortless and relaxed . . . i would say a sign of things to come!

  4. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    true… but we haven’t mastered the commenting density aspect of this thing just yet. sometimes it takes 17 or 18 pages before we find that one idea.

  5. phoammhead Says:

    i’ve been busting it at work, highly motivated and aggressively seeking new business to feed my phix 8)

  6. willowed Says:

    Plus I think TIII is holding back. He is chosing not to turn on the hose tonight.

  7. kenny powers Says:


    It’s a deal brah. Summer tour will rule.

  8. Jtran Says:


    Keep your head up. You’re a great guy and I can’t wait to chill again at the next show. Hope everything works out for you.

  9. kenny powers Says:

    Thanks Jtran. BTW I got my voice back last week.

  10. halcyon Says:

    @ KP

    Good Vibes your way * Keep your chin up

  11. kenny powers Says:

    Gracias Halcy

  12. willowed Says:

    You bet your ass it will. Willowed and KP Summer Tour sponsored by Grey Goose and 7. We’ll roll in style!!

  13. kenny powers Says:

    on a bright note I’m sitting at an amazing Worcester bar for the first time, The Dive Bar. Holy dank craft brews on tap.

  14. Mike in Austin Says:

    Decided to exit the work day on this 2-15-03 Hood … and this Hood is quite delightful. Really truly inspired stuff here.

  15. kenny powers Says:

    with roll being the operative word

  16. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    you and me still need to grab a beer together some time. we live too close to each other not to. dive bar is one of my favs

  17. Jtran Says:

    I like how the Dive Bar is actually a sick bar

    (first bane post of the day)

  18. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    you saying I’m not trying?

  19. EL Duderino Says:

    “MTV- ” Fishman’s Teenage Moms””-Palmer


  20. kenny powers Says:


    I know man. The Horseshoe can’t be beat in terms of distance from my apt (3.7 minutes) and sheer amount of choices, but in terms of dankness concentration this place and Armsby Abbey can’t be touched by anything in Boston as far as I know.

    I think you live near what is reportedly a crazy good beer store, Julios

  21. Leo Weaver Says:

    What’s up guys? Still sitting here at the office trying to get work done whilst you fellas talk of bane posts, oxy years, and holy dank craft brews on tap. Arrrrggh. At least it’ll help pay for some phishing trips this year…just hope I don’t work myself into a situation where I can’t get away from the office. Wtih no work to speak of the past two years, making it to shows has been pretty easy.

    @KP…good vibes your way. Sounds like you guys are doing it for the right reasons. Don’t let it keep you from making back down to the dirty south for some shows and maybe a UGA-AU ballgame this fall.

    ’03 Charlotte Hood is mind-bending.

    OK…back to the drawing board.

  22. Leo Weaver Says:

    Enjoying your free time Duder? 😉

  23. kenny powers Says:


    funny this is, it totally looks like a dive from the outside…shady even. But its all a facade hiding serious craft brews and smoking hot hipster bar tenders

  24. kenny powers Says:


    if Phish does a souther run, I am at all of the shows!

  25. EL Duderino Says:

    “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!!”-willowed

    You’re good peeps!

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