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. kenny powers Says:

    crap, sorry Verno….let me know if you don’t have any luck after your next try, i can give you the older Megaupload links. All the same music, but the tracking and titles are slightly messed up for a few tracks i added after the fact. nothing a little post ID-tagging on your part can’t fix, but you know.

  2. kenny powers Says:


    i got your heady invite, what’s your email

  3. gavinsdad Says:

    @pabalive – i know we (the bb) are way past dealing with 09 but since philly and msg 09 i’d been trying to describe what you are talking about. i called it “thickness” at the time…which is way different than the “musical density” thing we talk about here…the “thickness” was mixed with power and HEFT. i felt the music was bigger than in previous years. more GIRTH.

    and i brought this up the other day but I really feel like when we step out 5 years from now the playing that went down this year is going be perceived as some of the sickest ever. i am really amazed that these guys can continue to be phish and at the same time be phish of a new era as well. the whale>magic wood era is 3.0 for sure.

  4. sumodie Says:

    @mrP: Gorgeous version of Billy Breathes at RR ’09 -just perfect. Not sure it’s been played since

  5. KfL Says:

    hartford 10 light>billy b

  6. EL Duderino Says:

    Phish has shaken the community on many, many levels since their return.

  7. verno329 Says:

    @kp chris dot vernarsky at gmail thx brother!

  8. kenny powers Says:

    @ verno

    you got mail.

    so, i’m fucking frustrated because i uploaded both torrents over an hour ago but they’re still not showing up – not only after searching for all things Phish on the ‘noid, but even when i look at ny own uploaded torrent list!

    the FAQs say if 10 mins passes try to upload again, so i did but it said “that torrent was already uploaded” WTF? hopefully it will be working soon.

  9. kenny powers Says:

    see if you’re able to jump on using this link in the meantime. curious if that works, lemme know

  10. verno329 Says:

    @kp I’m on it now and pulling

  11. kenny powers Says:

    nice! wonder how long it’s gonna take for it to show up via search, for others. hope it speeds up to….it only shows 20-30 kbps upload on my end, even though i have a crazy fast connection.

  12. butter Says:

    i’m with ya GD

    that we have a healthy Trey with a magic guitar…..and the rest of the band on point…..

    give thanks (i am giving)

  13. EL Duderino Says:

    praise Jah Rastafari

  14. butter Says:

    and Go Bears

  15. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Butterz

    My confidence is getting a bit shaky with all the experts saying we don’t have a chance… I’m a little worried

  16. kenny powers Says:

    what the F happened to Undermind

  17. EL Duderino Says:

    haven’t had the luck to catch one yet 🙁

  18. Gavinsdad Says:

    Tommy is the weirdest movie ever.

  19. EL Duderino Says:

    especially if you’re dosed 🙂

  20. Foul_Domain Says:

    Hey BB.

    Havnt been posting much lately, but just wanted to say thanks, Mr. Miner for the DOTD.

    Spun it on a long drive this morning and it didnt disappoint.

    Killer Mikes Groove, Lope, and Trey tears Brother a new one.

    Hope everybodys well! Peace

  21. Foul_Domain Says:

    Love the Tweez->Theme to follow @KfL

    very decent show

  22. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    had high expectations for Tommy the movie.


  23. ae Says:

    kp, i seem to be downloading now. it says 3 hours, and i’ll leave it all night and tomorrow to seed. i think that’s how this works.

    i tried from your blog this am once or twice without success.

  24. ae Says:

    update/correction – 45 minutes. 🙂

  25. garretc Says:


    Expectations? Come on man, what do we always say about expectations? Haha

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