Some Good Points, Some Bad Points

This year’s New Year’s Run was up and down. Actually, it was up to down, peaking on the first night and then gradually declining in musical quality, but for a spike on for 15 minutes on the 30th. For today’s look back at the MSG run, lets look at some of the best, and no-so-great moments.

Good Points

1)  “Piper” 12/30 II

12.30.11 M.Stein)

From my perspective, this jam was head and shoulders above the rest of the Holiday Run. In a show in which Trey and the band struggled to stay on the same page, during “Piper,” something clicked. As the guys broke form, it was like they morphed into different musicians—ones that were suddenly on fire. For the duration of this journey, the band explored many modern textures, evoking the sounds and styles of 2011, while pushing forth into original territory. “Piper” likened a sparkling oasis of creativity amidst a desert of quality Phish jams from the 29th to the 31st, and it is the only piece of music from the run that can flirt with the upper echelon excursions of the year.


2)  “Carini -> Tweezer” 12/28 II

12.28.11 (Michael Stein)

After reinventing the song during Fall of 2010, Phish stayed inside the box with “Carini” in all but one version this year (Essex, Vt). Thus when the band flipped the jam from the menacing to the melodic upon a dime, the audience was ready for action. In the only other truly transcendent jam of the run, the band came together into a gorgeous and cohesive collaboration. Soaring into the stratosphere, Phish had our hearts tied to the music, when, in the midst of things, and totally in rhythm, Trey hinted at “Tweezer!?” On the first night? Indeed! He continued to lay down the opening lick within the mellow groove of “Carini,” and the band formed a near seamless segue around him. “Tweezer,” itself, provided a swank, laid-back staccato funk fiesta that turned out to be the most significant groove-based piece of the run. A quality version with stellar four-part jamming, this smooth-turned-crunchy “Tweezer” completed a musical couplet that was the other keeper of MSG.


3) “Cities” 12/28 I

12.31.11 (M.Stein)

Relistening to this jam in the car yesterday, I was struck by how long the band explored out the fourth song of the show. Amidst more abstract textures, Trey responded to Mike with a funk pattern, hooking the band and audience in the first “moment” of the run. Mike directed the beginning of this jam, while Trey got a chance to stretch out several styles in what turned out to be one of the more interesting jams of the run. Regardless of the fact that “Cities” ended rather abruptly, any time Phish throws down an 11 minute creative jam at the top of the show while passing through multiple feels, that’s pretty much a win.



Bad Points

1)  “Ghost” 12/31 II

12.31.11 (G.Lucas)

After colossal versions of “Ghost” highlighted the second sets of New Year’s Eve in both ’09 and ’10, when the band oozed into the song during the central frame of this year’s holiday show, a distinct sense of anticipation gripped the room. A void of groove-based playing throughout the night was about to be filled by the third, consecutive New Year’s Eve “Ghost” throwdown— or was it? Instead of flexing their funked out or creative muscle, the band played a generic, guitar-based rocker that was completely underwhelming. With nary an original measure, Phish methodically moved through a straightforward and uneventful jam before moving into another improv-less, head-scratcher, “Sneakin’ Sally.”

2)  12/30 Set I

NYE 2011 Logo

A legitimate argument could be made for Set I of the the 30th as being the lightest and most uneventful set in New Year’s Run history. For real. Not only did the band not attempt anything creative, Trey botched almost every song to the point that it was obtrusive to the overall performance. And Phish, as a whole, didn’t play very well at all. Add a setlist that was hard to believe anyone, let alone, Trey would piece together, and you’ve got a genuine frame of “Phish Lite.” Even “Sand,” one of the focal points of the year, transformed into a flat, one dimensional, guitar-only piece. There have been some weak sets in the Holiday Run history, but none quite like this. This one was bunk.

3) “Axilla” 12/30 II

12.30.11 I (E. Battuello)

When Trey and company struggled with the entire opening section of this song, the “record-scratching” flub was indicative of the band’s lack of communication—largely with their guitarist—throughout much of the 30th.  A complete mess, this was one of those times you glanced at your friends with that pained look on your face in jest, because this one really hurt the ears. Ironically, moments later, the guys pulled it together to play the jam of the run in “Piper.”


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631 Responses to “Some Good Points, Some Bad Points”

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  1. Al Says:

    Good points to add:
    1. Weekapug
    2. RnR
    3. Gotta Jibboo

  2. Foul_Domain Says:

    …But it all works out

    Im just a little freaked out!

  3. RoosterPizza Says:

    What effect was Trey using during Carini? It was kind of screeching “Carini had a lumpy head” at about 4:20. Something new, or am I just pulling the noob card again?

  4. Mike in Austin Says:

    Good points: selector jay, roots, coffee

  5. Foul_Domain Says:

    Bad Point: Nobody gave Trey any new shirts for Christmas

  6. Mike in Austin Says:

    Good point: mike has a kick ass sgt peppers jackets

  7. Selector J Says:

    I’m (READ: I’ll be) checking ’em out.
    Morning, MiA!

  8. Fly Says:

    Bad point: looking for jobs in this disgustingly normative society

  9. Selector J Says:

    Porn industry is always hiring @Fly.

  10. Mike in Austin Says:

    Today’s riddims match my mood. Love this tubby track, life is not easy.

  11. Mike in Austin Says:

    Good point: if you are as smart as fly it’s pretty easy.

  12. Fly Says:

    Neurosis way too pronounced for that J

    Not a bad idea though

    Maybe if I did a ton of blow…

  13. Fly Says:

    Ahhhh Mike I wish

  14. Fly Says:

    I like what you said about the three types of motivation, though

    I’m a people guy. I like winning people over

    But I hate institutions and formality

    What do I do? I’m good at Chinese, good with numbers, good writer, like teaching, hate academia


  15. Fly Says:

    Three types being





  16. Mike in Austin Says:

    Fly, you speak mandarin. you can write your own ticket.

    There are tons of recruiters on linked in right now.

    Speaking mandarin is like a financial background from Wharton.

  17. Fly Says:

    Yeah I fail at LinkedIn

    Probably need to stop failing at LinkedIn

  18. SillyWilly Says:

    Morning kids

    Hope everyone is doing well

    Alf, if you’re up this morning, I had a dream last night that I came and visited you and L only this time all of my travel plans worked out and I didn’t have to sneak into your house at 4 am.

    It was good for my soul.

  19. Fly Says:

    Mornin Silly

    Selector extending my keel this morning, no homo

  20. SillyWilly Says:

    hey Fly

    I’m looking for a job, too, man.

    not a lot of public defender offices hiring right now.

    Except for Libby, Montana and (Guy)Utica, NY.

    not sure if Libby is the place for me.

  21. Mike in Austin Says:

    Fly, you have great charisma, you have high social intelligence, and speak mandarin. You dont like institutions, them I see a future in Sales for you.

    I was in sales for 14 years, and it’s like the wild, wild, west. You’re kinda part of a group, but you really make your own rules. Gotta be independent, travel solo, keep your wits about you, think critically, etc.

    And it can be big bucks right away. 6 figure salaries with bonuses, etc.

  22. SillyWilly Says:

    one named peter, one named paul

  23. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    mornin’ peeps

    selecta in my ears
    coffee in my head

    silly, Libby is pretty remote. be sure you are ready for that type of living before you commit to something like that. absolutely beautiful part of our country though, so there’s that. Utica, on the other hand, is not known for being either remote or beautiful…

  24. SillyWilly Says:

    Fly we can team up and start an Immigration Law firm

  25. Mike in Austin Says:

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