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

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Jam of the Day:

“Bathtub Gin” 7.3.10 I

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

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Bathtub-Gin-promo-edit.mp3]

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

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

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598 Responses to “The Top Show of 2011”

  1. EL Duderino Says:

    Does it make me even more lame by like Swept Away > Steep???

  2. kenny powers Says:

    @ verno

    that’s a great call though! what are the chances that out of three jams i mentioned after describing the idea, you mentioned one of the three!

    sweet.

  3. gavinsdad Says:

    i’m sensitive

  4. gavinsdad Says:

    love all that stuff…specially swept and billy b

  5. gavinsdad Says:

    (no maki tho. still hatin…)

  6. EL Duderino Says:

    Billy is another one I’ve always liked

  7. EL Duderino Says:

    @ GDad

    I love a good spicy Maki Roll

  8. verno329 Says:

    @kp throwing it on for a listen right now too. haven’t heard it in a bit.

    also i’ve been having a helluva time trying to download your SBD project. i can’t seem to connect to your link at all

  9. EL Duderino Says:

    @ verno329

    I have no plans for any Mike shows… But if Leo were to go to ATL to party with friends and check out Mike, well that sounds like fun to me.

    I’m really wanting to go to Asheville for a couple of days and hike in snow. Tryin’ to do that sooner than march

  10. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I feel like they never play Billy Breathes anymore. Do they?

  11. EL Duderino Says:

    or Poor Heart and Sparkle

  12. verno329 Says:

    Will ’11 finally be the year of the FMS???

  13. gavinsdad Says:

    i dug the FMWITVS at Woosta.

  14. kenny powers Says:

    @ verno

    is is the new link (whole project in one link)? it seems sometimes the page just stalls….not sure if it’s because it can’t handle too many people at once.

    but other times (like now, i just tried) it comes right up.

    FWIW i just uploaded separate torrents on d e e m o n (do we still have to type it like that?)….should appear in searches soon.

  15. EL Duderino Says:

    We’re using ‘noid now KP

  16. EL Duderino Says:

    “FMWITVS”-GDad

    Forgive me… too many letters.
    What song is it?

  17. kenny powers Says:

    ah, the ‘noid. much better

  18. garretc Says:

    @aw

    I know exactly the Sand lick you’re talking about! I’ve listened through that thing four or five times now, too sick. My favorite jam of the run, easy…

    I’ve had the main staccato theme stuck in my head for like, 5 days now, but yeah, the line that signals switch from funk to shred is just nasty

  19. albert walker Says:

    Forgot how great Ghost Dog is

    Great fuckin flick

  20. EL Duderino Says:

    Ghost Dad?!?!?

    WTF?

  21. verno329 Says:

    @kp yeah that’s the issue for me is it just stalls there, on both projects. i got one of them to go to the page one time after I let it go for like 15 minutes but could never download from there. weird.

  22. gavinsdad Says:

    facemeltingvelvetcheese

  23. pabalive Says:

    “they were giving each jam the creative attention it deserved without concern for what was coming next—”

    I agree with this 1 million percent.

    I have been trying to put my finger on it for so long now, I have had that realization while seeing them this past year. I would go way their playing the fuck out of this tune and then they would end it. Start and new song. I kept searching for the segue. But, that is not happening, instead they are playing songs with incredible intensity, and as you say, without regard for what comes next. Freedom.

  24. gavinsdad Says:

    tail end of sally is funky as fuck AW. fishman has the pocket on lock.

    yet another run thru yesterday and today of 12/31 II and 1/1 I and II. great stuff. the 1/1 tube and foam and div sky were all played so well. the tone trey uses in Div Sky for some of the leads has some extra balls. it’s clean like earliest 90s clean but has a hint of “tube screamer” or whatever the fuck he uses added to it. sweet.

  25. verno329 Says:

    anyone got a spare invite over at “there” then? i can just grab the torrents then

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